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Posted on September 03 2020

Tips to ace the self-study routine in TOEFL speaking section

By  Editor
Updated April 03 2023
TOEFL Coaching

Self-study for the TOEFL speaking section can be quite challenging because this section does contain no answer for right or wrong answers. Besides this, there is no score or feedback given for performance in this section. How do you get over these hurdles and prepare efficiently for this section? Here are some tips to help you.

In the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT (computer-based) version you will have to listen to and read prompts, and then respond to a headset. The TOEFL iBT consists of four tasks which have a duration of over 17 minutes. The tasks are:

Tasks 1: Independent Task

  • This task does not include any additional material to listen to or read other than the topic.
  • This task will ask you to describe your preference between two opinions or situations.
  • You are given 15 seconds of preparation and 45 seconds of speaking time.

Tasks 2-4: Integrated Tasks

Task 2:

  • You will read a brief passage on a campus-related topic, listen to a speaker addressing the issue, and then summarize the opinion of the speaker on the issue from the passage.
  • You'll have to prepare for 30 seconds, and talk for 60 seconds.

Task 3:

  • You will read a short paragraph on an academic term, then listen to a speaker to provide additional details or examples of the word.
  • You would then clarify how the examples or supplementary details from the speaker illustrate the term from the reading.
  • You'll have to prepare for 30 seconds, and talk for 60 seconds.

Task 4:

  • You will listen to, and then summarize, part of an academic lecture.
  • You'll have to prepare for 20 seconds, and speak for 60 seconds.

Mistakes you can make when practicing for the speaking section

A lot of students will look at one speaking task and then take 30 minutes to compose a perfect response with a translator's help. Using extra time, using technology, and writing instead of speaking would do you no good since these are not the actual test conditions. You must practice speaking out loud under test time limits.

Record with a headset unit, because that's what you're going to use on the exam. Go through all four tasks rather than one-by-one so you'll get used to questions progressing. Don't memorize "standard" responses because test reviewers can easily tell when they're being used and lower your score.

Complete your speaking practice by reviewing your recorded audio, as well as having others listen. Think about the following as you listen:

  • Topic Development: This is your ability to follow instructions and answer the prompt for each task. Someone with a high score would be able to talk about the prompts naturally and give full answers. Someone with a low score will not respond to the prompts, will use a memorized response and/or their speaking time will be filled with long pauses.
  • Language use – Vocabulary: This is based on the ability to use a wide variety of theme-related and prompt phrases. Creating vocabulary lists that answer TOEFL speaking prompts is the best way to improve your vocabulary.
  • Language use – Grammar: Grammar is about precision and range. If there are so many mistakes in your grammar that the listener can't understand you, your score goes down. But even though your grammar is perfect, if you just use very brief, basic sentences, you can still get a low score.
  • Delivery: This is about pronunciation, rhythm and intonation. Students neglect the delivery and concentrate instead on memorizing vocabulary. It doesn't matter how many English words you know by heart: it's wasted vocabulary if you're saying them in a way the listener cannot understand.

With Y-Axis Coaching, you can take up online coaching for GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, SAT and PTE. Learn anywhere, anytime!



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