Fred’s Preparation and Exam Taking Strategies

The Speaking section in TOEFL® iBT comes right after the 10-minute break. It measures the test taker’s ability to communicate in English orally. The six tasks in the Speaking section are divided into two types – independent speaking tasks (2 tasks) and integrated speaking tasks (4 tasks).


Students must prove they are able to speak effectively under the following requirements:

  • Deliver adequate oral responses to questions
  • Participate in everyday conversations
  • State a clear opinion about the discussed subjects
  • Summarize and orally reproduce the information read in textbooks or heard in the classroom
  • Communicate with university officials in libraries, sport centers, housing offices, bookstores, etc.

General Speaking Strategies
Speak, Speak, Speak.

Whatever else you do, without speaking you will never make it. So, start speaking to build fluency. Do not fear making mistakes, try to avoid them the next time you speak. It would be better if you speak with a native English speaker. However, non-native speakers are also an option. Even speaking to your reflection in the mirror is better than not speaking. Thinking aloud is a good strategy. Give voice to your thoughts and reproduce your thoughts in loud English speech.

Practice organizing your speech.

In TOEFL® iBT you are given short time to think of what to say to answer the question. You should use the time to think of a layout to follow during your speech.

Write down the main points you would follow when speaking.

Support the main points with some details (write down just words or short phrases that will help you to remember what to say). You will have 15 seconds to make this layout.

Record and listen.

Record your practice speaking and listen to it again to find where you did well and where you did not do well. Listen to your past records and compare them with the new ones. Do you see any progress?

Develop fluency!

Put on a headset, start listening to this material, and repeat all you hear after the speaker. Paraphrase!

Repeat aloud.

Another good method to develop fluency – read aloud. The more you do this, the more you will start to think in English and thus avoid translating from your language into English.

Systematically improve your pronunciation.

You should pay attention to the words’ stresses, intonation patterns and pauses. You should try to sound as natural as possible.

For the Independent task you will have to speak about familiar topics. Make a list with familiar topics and practice speaking on each of them. First start with a description of your city, country, place, event, etc. After, it is important to state your personal opinion/preference and support it with sound reasoning, examples, and details. For the integrated speaking task, you will have to combine information from different sources in order to answer the question. Therefore, it is of importance when you read texts or listen to lectures and conversations in your preparation, to orally summarize in short what you have read and heard. You may also state (orally) an opinion about the passages you have read or listened to. Suggest a solution if there is a problem described in the reading or listening.

At the exam strategies

  • There is a very good chance that some of the other test takers would already have started their speaking before you and the noise they make while speaking may disturb you. The only good strategy in this case is to disregard the noise. There is some time to listen to instructions. During this time concentrate entirely on what you hear and pay no attention to what is going on around you. Use the preparation time effectively to draw the outline and details of your response.

  • Time management is a very important component. It is neither good to finish long before the time is over nor is it good to be unable to complete your response within the time. Try to answer the question as completely as possible within the given speaking time.
  • Relax when speaking! Try to sound confident. Remember that even native English speakers make mistakes, repeat sentences, and correct themselves.

  • Use appropriate signal and linking words to switch between ideas, to add information, etc. That helps the listener to follow your thoughts.

  • Practice your speaking skills. You will benefit from the professional scoring that gives you feedback about all the weak points in your speech and ways to overcome those weaknesses.
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