About TOEFL Speaking Question 4

Type Four questions consist of a reading  part and a listening part. 

The Reading

First, you will see a short reading (about 100 words) about an academic topic.  The most common topics are biology, psychology and business. The reading will have a clear title, 1-3 sentences that introduce the topic, and 3-5 sentences that give more information. You get 45-50 seconds to read it.

The structure of the reading is usually:

  • A clear and specific title
  • An introduction (1-3 sentences that clearly state the topic of the reading)
  • Details (3-5 sentences that elaborate on the topic)

The Listening Part (Lecture)

Next, you will hear a short lecture about the same topic.  It will contain either one or two examples of this topic. The example(s) might be from the personal life of the speaker.  Note that if there is one example it will have two “parts” (before/after, cause/effect, etc).

The Question Prompt

The question prompt will look like one of the following:

  • “Describe what _____ is, and how the professor’s example illustrates this phenomenon.”
  • “Describe how the example of the ____ illustrates the concept of ____.”
  • “Explain the concept of _____ using the examples of ____ and ____ given in the lecture.”
  • “Using the examples from the lecture, explain the concept of ______.”

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

Answer Template

Your answer should look something like this:

Stating the Topic of the Reading

  • "_____ is _______" (state the topic and quickly define it)

Giving some Detail

  • “The reading states that…” (state a quick detail from the reading)


  • “The lecturer elaborates on this by providing an example/two examples.”

First Example/First Part

  • “First of all, he mentions…”

Second Example/Second Part

  • “Secondly, he says…”​

Sample Answer

This is a sample answer to a question contained in TOEFL Quick Prep Volume 2, page 29.

Stating the topic
“Revealing coloration is how animals use colors to protect themselves from predators.”

Giving the detail
The reading states that some animals suddenly reveal a bright color to confuse predators and escape.

The lecturer elaborates on this by providing two examples

First Reason
First of all, he mentions that the front wings of the peanut bug blend in with the environment, but its back wings have very colorful spots. These back wings are usually closed, but when it is attacked it quickly opens them to startle the predator while it escapes.

Second Reason
Secondly, he says
that parts of the morpho butterfly’s wings are very shiny and can reflect sunlight. These parts are usually hidden. However, when a bird approaches it flaps its wings to reflect light and confuse the bird.  The bird can can only see the light reflected from the wings, and therefore the butterfly is able to get

Video Lesson