Understanding TOEFL Speaking Question Three

In the third TOEFL speaking question, you will first read a short passage.  This can be either an announcement posted on campus or a letter published in a school newspaper.  This will describe either an upcoming change happening on campus, or will propose a change that should occur.  After reading this passage you will listen to two students discussing it. Finally, you will be asked to talk about the opinions of one of the students regarding the change.

The Reading

The reading part is about 100 words long, and you are given 45 or 50 seconds to read it and take notes. 

The changes could be something like:

  • A change in a university policy or the introduction of a new policy
  • Changes to the requirements of a class or major, or the introduction of a new requirement for students in a specific department
  • Changes related to a university facility or the introduction of a new facility.

Note that two reasons for the change will always be mentions in the reading.

The Listening 

Next, you will hear two students talk about the reading.  One of the students will agree or disagree with the contents of the reading.  He/she will give two reasons for their support or opposition. These reasons usually support/challenge the reasons for the change mentioned in the reading.

The structure of the conversation is usually something like:

  • Introduction of the topic (something like “Hey, did you see this…”)
  • First reason for the strong opinion
  • Reaction from the other speaker
  • Second reason for the strong opinion
  • Reaction from the other speaker

The Question Prompt

 The question prompt will be something like this:

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

You will be given 30 seconds to prepare, and 60 seconds to speak.

Answer Template

Your answer can look something like this:

Reading Main Point

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

Reason from Reading

  • “This is because…”


  • “The man does not think this is a great idea for two reasons.” // "The man thinks this is a good idea for two reasons."

First Reason

  • “First of all, he argues that…”

Second Reason

  • “Moreover, he mentions that…”

Sample Answer

This is the answer to a question found in TOEFL Quick Prep Volume 1, page 23.

Reading Main Point
According to the article, the school’s sculpture program will be eliminated.

Reason from the reading
This is because there isn’t much interest in it, and the university’s budget is limited.

The man does not think this is a great idea for two reasons.

First Reason
First of all, he argues that enrollment is low because students are busy taking required classes, not because they are disinterested.  These mandatory classes are mostly about painting and drawing, however if they are changed more students will take sculpture classes.

Second Reason
Moreover, he mentions that the budget problem can be solved by hiring a part time professor. Additionally, many current instructors have a secondary field, so one of them could probably teach the class. In fact, some of the current painting teachers are also great sculptors

Video Lecture