This guide will demonstrate how to answer the fourth speaking question on the TOEFL.



TOEFL Speaking Type Four Questions

Type Four questions consist of a reading (article) part and a listening (lecture) part.  You will have 45 seconds to read a short article (one paragraph) about an academic subject.  You will then listen to a lecture that goes into more detail on the same topic by discussing a specific aspect of it or by providing an example.

The Reading Part

The reading part is about 100 words. It takes the form of a very short academic article. Students are given either 45 or 50 seconds to read it. The topic or the article is something that might appear in a freshman university textbook. The topics are most often related to:

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Business

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)

The lecture provides more specific information about the topic of the reading. It lasts about 2-3 minutes, and is usually one of the following:

  • Two specific examples of the topic discussed in the reading.
  • Two personal examples (from the lecturer’s life) that relate to the topic of the reading
  • One specific example of the topic discussed in the reading (the example will have two clear features, however)
  • One personal example of the topic discussed in the reading (the example will have two clear features, however).

The structure of the lecture is usually:

  • An introduction of the example or examples that will be discussed (1-3 sentences)
  • The first example/features + details (5-8 sentences)
  • The second example/feature + details (5-8 sentences)

How to Answer

Very quickly summarize the reading (one or two sentences).  Then summarize the examples provided in the lecture.

Answer Template

  • The reading is about...
  • It states that...
  • The lecturer elaborates on this by providing several examples/an example.
  • First of all, he mentions...
  • Secondly, he says…
  • In this way, the professor expands upon the topic of _____.  Optional.

Sample Answer

This is a sample answer to a question contained in TOEFL Quick Prep Volume 4.

The reading is about behavior modification.  It states that people modify their behavior if they are aware of the consequences. Positive consequences cause people to repeat behavior, while negative consequences discourage repetition.  The lecturer elaborates on this by providing an example.  First of all, he mentions a student who has just started school. This student doesn’t know the rules, so he runs around and interrupts class. He is punished by not being allowed to play outside, and thus he learns to avoid repeating this behavior.  Secondly, he says that the same student might later raise his hand to speak and pay attention during classes. After doing this he will be praised by his teacher, or get some nice stickers. This positive consequence will cause him to repeat his polite behavior in the future.

Video Lesson (Including Sample Answer)