There are four types of TOEFL speaking questions.  This page has sample questions and answers for each question type (integrated and independent).  For strategies to  answer these question types, check out the main speaking page .

TOEFL Speaking Sample Questions and Responses

Agree/Disagree Style Questions (independent)

 

 “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.”

I agree with the idea of giving children homework on a daily basis.  I feel this way for two reasons. 

First of all, I think that it will help children to retain what they learn for a much longer period of time.  The only real way for kids to absorb a lesson is to actually go home and repeat it as much as they possibly can.  And in the long run this kind of thing will lead to a lot more academic success.

Secondly, I believe that homework can actually give children an opportunity to bond with their parents.  For example, I got a lot of daily homework when I was in elementary school. And I’d go home and do it with my mom and dad, and I’d ask them questions whenever I was having trouble. And in time we actually became really close.

 

“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.”

I think it’s a great idea for kids to do household chores as soon as they’re old enough.  

First of all, this can teach children some really valuable skills that will come in handy later in life.  For instance, I was responsible for cooking breakfast for my little brother every day before we went to school when we were both kids.  As a result, when I went away to college as a teenager I stayed really healthy because I could cook my own meals instead of always going out for fast food like my friends and classmates.

Secondly, parents and children can do household chores together and this gives them a chance to bond.  You know, as they work on things like cleaning dishes or cooking food they can chat, and the kids might open up about what’s going on in their lives.

 

“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?  It is better for children to have teachers who are young, even if they are inexperienced.”

I think it’s better for students to have young teachers even if they’re a little bit inexperienced. 

First of all, young teachers can relate more to their students.  They simply have a lot more in common with them in terms of personal interests and pop culture awareness.  As a result, it’s easier for them to connect the classroom material to the real lives of the students.  This can encourage kids to stay motivated and keep on task for their whole school day.

Secondly, younger teachers have a lot more energy.  Class sizes are huge now.  In fact, they’re probably bigger than ever before.  This can create trouble for older teachers who might run out of energy and not be able to finish their lessons if they have a huge group of students.

 

“Do you agree or disagree with the following sentence?  We can learn a lot from making mistakes.”

I totally agree that we can learn a lot from making mistakes.

First of all, we always remember how our past mistakes made us feel and since they usually make us feel really terrible, we try to avoid repeating them, so we don’t feel that way again.  We also take deliberate action to avoid it.  For instance, last year before my big science midterm I made the mistake of playing video games all day long.  As a result, of course I failed the test and I felt miserable. But, I learned from that that it’s very important to study and prepare for tests.  So, the next year during exam season I buckled down, I studied, and I learned a lot.

Paired Choice Style Questions (Independent)

 

“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.”

 I prefer studying for my tests all by myself.  I feel this way for two reasons.

 First of all, I can focus entirely on what I need to learn.  When we study in a group everyone has different weak spots, and they all deserve to be touched on, even if some members of the group are really strong in those areas.  In contrast, when we work alone we can focus entirely on our own weak spots and therefore get the best possible test score.

Secondly, I’m easily distracted which can have disastrous effects when I study in a group.  For instance, last year I was preparing for a midterm exam with a bunch of classmates but we ended up chatting a lot about music and sports instead of studying.  And, therefore, my test score was quite bad.

 

“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.”

I definitely prefer to watch the news only occasionally. There are two reasons for this.

First of all, too much time spent watching the nightly news makes me feel really anxious.  For instance, if I hear about some new war or disaster every day of the week I get really depressed and this make it a lot harder to function in my daily life.

Secondly, I think watching the news every day can be a waste of time. Like, if I spend an hour every day watching a news broadcast I just don’t have enough time for more important things. For example, this month I stopped watching the nightly news and suddenly it became a lot easier to get all of my homework assignments done.

 

“Some teachers encourage their students to work alone on projects and compete with each other. Other teachers encourage to collaborate and work in groups. Which approach do you think is better?”

I think teachers should encourage their students to collaborate on assignments.

First of all, this teaches students skills that are useful in the workforce.  For example, in my senior year I had a history class where I worked on a major assignment with five different students.  While working on the assignment, I had to handle scheduling and I even had to deal with interpersonal-conflict between different members of the group.  Both of these things taught me skills that I use almost every day in my career now.

Secondly, group projects simply have better outcomes.  Group projects benefit from the expertise of many different people.  As a result, the final project is usually of a higher quality than a student would complete on their own.

Good Idea Style (Independent)

 

“Some companies have rules that forbid employees from using personal cell phones during working hours. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.”

I think it’s a really terrible idea to tell employees that they can’t use their phones during working hours. 

First of all, our personal phones are the only way for us to hear about emergencies affecting our loved ones.  And this is something we want to hear about as soon as humanly possible.  You know, if a worker feels nervous about being out of touch with his loved ones during the day, he might actually start looking around for a job that lets him use his phone and this would be really bad for business.

Secondly, I think personal phones can maybe improve our morale at work.  We can relieve our stress by making a quick phone call or looking at a social media post.  And if we feel happier we’ll probably performer a lot better.

 

“Nowadays, some people use extreme methods, including surgery, to change their appearance. They do this because they want to look more attractive. Do you think this is a good idea? Support your answer with details and examples.”

I think its a really fantastic idea to get surgery to change your appearance.  I feel this way for two reasons.

First of all, it can make us feel a lot more self-confident.  If we really like our appearance we can feel a lot less shy when talking to people.  And it will be easier to interact and therefore we’ll achieve more success in our personal and professional lives.

Secondly, if we don’t like the result of our surgery we can always change it back.  I mean, plastic surgery is really affordable these days, so if you get some surgery and it looks bad… you can just get another procedure done.  For instance, I’ve changed my nose about six times already, and the expense to me has been pretty minimal.

 

Campus Announcement (Integrated)

(get the reading and conversation here)

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.

 

General to Specific (Integrated)

(get the reading and conversation here)

According to the reading convergent evolution is when animals living far apart from each other evolve the same features or characteristics.

The professor elaborates on this.

First, he explains why antelope and pronghorns look similar. He says that their habitats are distant from each other, but both are flat grasslands with few trees. They need to be able to notice predators quickly and escape from them. As a result, both species have evolved legs and lungs that help then run quickly, and huge eyes that improve their vision.

Next, he explains that bats and dolphins share a unique feature. He mentions that bats live in dark caves and hunt at night and that dolphins live in the ocean, which is also very dark. To survive without being able to see well, both species have evolved to use echolocation to spot objects in their surrounding environment.

 

Academic Lecture (Integrated)

(get the lecture here)

The lecturer explains how two animals survive in environments without much light.

To begin with, she describes how the spookfish uses tube-shaped eyes to hunt its prey. She notes that it lives in almost total darkness. However, its eyes always point upwards, so it can spot the faint outlines of fish swimming above it. When this happens, it quickly swims upwards to catch and eat the fish. Its eyes are quite large, so it is able to notice even very small prey.

Second, she describes how the lanternfish is able to produce its own light to both catch prey and escape from predators. She says that it has tiny organs throughout its body that produce light through a chemical reaction called bioluminescence. As a result, it can attract the attention of other fish, which it eats. In addition, it uses the light for protection. By matching the intensity of light sources above it, it can disguise itself from potential predators.

TOEFL Speaking Guides and Templates

 

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