What is TOEFL Speaking Question One?
(updated August 25, 2019)
TOEFL Speaking question one is called the "Personal Choice" question, and it has four main styles: paired choice, multiple choice, agree/disagree and advantages/disadvantages. When you take the test you will get one of these styles. You will be given 15 seconds to prepare your answer, and 45 seconds to speak. Note that it is the same as question two on the old version of the TOEFL.
Style One: Paired Choice
This is the most common style used. You must pick between two contrasting choices. It looks like these samples:
“There are many different approaches to academic studies, and all of them have specific benefits. Do you prefer to study for tests in a group, or to study alone? Include details and examples to support your explanation.”
"Some people like to watch television news programs every day, while others like to watch them only now and then. Which do you prefer? Include details and examples to support your explanation."
Style Two: Multiple Choice
In this style, you must pick one of three (or four) options from a list. It looks like these samples:
"If a museum is planning to host an exhibition for children, which
of the following themes do you think will be most attractive to its audience:
- robotics technology
- ancient dinosaurs
- space exploration
Include details and examples to support your explanation."
"Nowadays, people are more concerned than ever before about staying healthy. As a result, they participate in a wide range of activities. Of the following methods of staying fit, which do you prefer:
- joining a fitness class with people you know
- riding a bicycle to work or school instead of driving
- participating in a team sport like baseball or soccer
Include details and examples to support your answer."
Style Three: Agree/Disagree
In this style, you are given a statement (usually a single sentence) and asked whether you agree or disagree with it. It looks like these samples:
"State whether you agree or disagree with the following statement. Then explain your reasons using specific details in your argument. Teachers should assign daily homework to students."
“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Children should help their parents with household chores as soon as they are old enough. Use details and examples in your response.”
Style Four: Advantages/Disadvantages
This is the least common style, and it requires a special answer template (provided below). It looks like these samples:
“Some people like to take classes online instead of attending them in person. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this choice? What do you prefer? Use details and examples in your response.”
“Your university is planning to make class attendance optional. What is your opinion and why? What are some advantages and disadvantages? Use details and examples in your response.”
Answer Template for Styles 1-3
For the first three question styles, you can organize your answer using a speaking template, which should look something like this:
Main Point (pick one)
- "I agree/disagree with the idea that..."
- "In my opinion, it is better to..."
- "I believe that..."
- “I feel this way for several reasons."
- “First…” + “For example…” (and a personal example)
- “Second…” + “To be more specific…” (and a few more details)
Tips and Tricks
- Avoid Repeating Words. Vary your vocabulary as much as possible.
- Use discourse phrases like “as a result,” “consequently," “moreover,” “therefore" to link ideas.
- Use a mix of simple and compound sentences.
- Don’t copy from the prompt, especially at the beginning.
- Avoid using idioms.
Sample Question and Answer
(“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Children should help their parents with household chores as soon as they are old enough. Use details and examples to support your answer.”)
The template is included in bold.
I agree with the idea that kids should help with housework right away.
I feel this way for several reasons.
First, doing household tasks will teach them really valuable skills. For example, I was required to prepare breakfast for my little brother before school, so when I grew up and moved away to attend college I had no problem preparing healthy meals for myself. As a result, I stayed really strong and fit when I was a student.
Second, shared responsibilities can create bonds between family members. To be specific, young people are sometimes shy, but if they spend a lot of time with their parents doing chores they might open up a bit. Accordingly, they will be more likely to discuss their feelings
Answer Template for Advantages and Disadvantages Questions
- “There are certainly both pros and cons of _____.” (state the issue)
- “First of all, one advantage is _____.” (+1-3 sentences of elaboration)
- “However, a major disadvantage is _____.” (+1-3 sentences of elaboration)
- “Overall, though, I guess it’s better to _____.” (quickly state your choice)
Sample Answer for Advantages and Disadvantages Questions
(“Some people like to take classes online instead of attending them in person. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend? Use details and examples in your response.”)
There are certainly both pros and cons of choosing to study online instead of taking classes on campus.
First of all, one advantage is that we can get an education even if we have a job. Usually, classes on campus occur during the daytime, which makes it almost impossible to balance employment and a busy academic schedule. In contrast, if we use the internet we can learn when we get home from work in the evening.
However, a major disadvantage is that we won't interact very much with classmates. Sharing our ideas with like-minded peers is a big part of an education, but this won't happen if we don't go to a university in person.
Overall, though, I guess it is better to take online classes.
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Read on for help with TOEFL Speaking question two.