About TOEFL Speaking Question Two

Here’s how TOEFL speaking question two works:

  • First, you will read a short announcement, article or letter. It will describe a change that is happening on campus, or it will propose a change.  It will mention two reasons why the change will be made (or should be made). You will have 45 seconds to read it.
  • Next, you will hear two students talk about the reading. One of the students will agree with the change, disagree with the change, or (rarely) have a mixed opinion. 
  • He/she will give two reasons for their support or opposition. These reasons will address the reasons for the change mentioned in the reading.
  • After hearing the conversation, you must summarize what you have read and listened to.  You will have 30 seconds to prepare your answer, and 60 seconds to speak.

You can see a sample question right here.


Content and Length

The reading part is about 100 words long, and you are given 45 seconds to read it and take notes. 

The changes are often related to:

  • Buildings on a university campus
  • Classes and majors at a university
  • Transportation on a university campus
  • Extra-curricular activities at a university (sports, clubs, etc.)

The conversation is usually about 1.5 minutes long.  It is always between a man and a woman.  The speaker seems to support the change 50% of the time, and oppose it 50% of the time.


The Reading

The reading will look something like this:

Campus Fitness Center to Close

The campus fitness center will permanently close at the end of this semester. This decision was made by the university administration in coordination with representatives of the student’s association. Unfortunately, the building currently housing the center is very old and the university can no longer afford the cost of maintaining it or providing heat and air conditioning as required. Furthermore, the popularity of the center has declined since the university formed partnerships with several private fitness centers in the city. These partnerships mean that all full and part time students can access five privately owned gyms across the city at no cost.


The Listening

The conversation will go something like this:


The Question Prompt

The question will look something like this:

“The woman expresses her opinion of the university’s plan. State her opinion and the reasons she gives for holding that opinion.”

After the prompt is displayed, you will have 30 seconds to prepare. You cannot see the reading while you prepare or speak.


Sample Answer

(see also: my video guide to this task)

  • According to the announcement the campus fitness center will be closed. 
  • This is because the school can’t afford to maintain it properly, and students can go to private gyms in the city for free if they want to exercise.
  • The man opposes this.
  • To begin with, he points out that the university will still have to maintain the building even if the fitness center closes because it could become a dangerous fire hazard. On top of that, it will be very expensive to hire construction workers to tear down the building and replace it with something else. 
  • Moreover, he argues that all of the gyms in the city are quite far from the university, so it could be hard for students to reach them if they don’t have their own vehicle. The closest one is more than thirty minutes away by car. Additionally, it can be quite hard to find a taxi from campus into the city late at night.


Answer Template

The good news is that you can always use the same template to organize your answer to TOEFL speaking question 2.  Try this one:

Reading Main Point (6 seconds)

  • “According to the announcement/article/letter…”

Reasons from Reading (6 seconds)

  • “This is because ___ and ___.”

Transition (2 seconds)

  • “The man/woman opposes this.”
  • “The man/woman supports this.”
  • “The man/woman has a mixed opinion of this.”

First Reason (23 seconds)

  • “To begin with, he/she points out that…”

Second Reason (23 seconds)

  • “Moreover, he/she argues that…”

Tips and Tricks

  • Link ideas by using discourse phrases like “as a result,” “consequently,” “moreover,” and “therefore.”
  • Spend about 10-13 seconds talking about the reading… at most. Spend the rest talking about the conversation. Remember that most of your score is based on the listening part.
  • If you are a slow speaker, don’t mention the reasons for the change.
  • Use a mix of simple and compound sentences.

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