The TOEFL Speaking section might seem challenging, but with the right preparation, you can impress the graders and achieve your desired score. This section plays a crucial role in showcasing your spoken English proficiency in academic settings.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why Speaking in English Language Matters

1. Authentic Communication

Universities seek students who can effectively communicate in English classrooms and beyond. The speaking section reflects your ability to express yourself clearly and engage in academic discussions.

2. Test of Confidence

Your spoken English skills demonstrate your comfort level and command of the language. Acing this section shows your readiness to thrive in an English-speaking academic environment.

3. Understanding the Format

The TOEFL Speaking section consists of four tasks designed to assess different aspects of your speaking abilities. These tasks simulate real-life academic situations, so you can expect a blend of independent and integrated tasks.

4. Independent Speaking (1 Task)

You’ll be given a prompt to express your personal opinions or experiences on a familiar topic.

5. Integrated Speaking (3 Tasks)

Get ready to combine listening and speaking skills (or listening, reading, and speaking) to answer questions based on provided materials like short lectures and readings.

TOEFL Speaking Exam Section and Format

The TOEFL Speaking section assesses your ability to communicate effectively in English, especially in academic contexts. Here’s a breakdown of the types of questions, time allocation, and what to expect from each task:

TOEFL Speaking Exam Types

IBT (Internet-based Test)

This format includes four tasks that evaluate your speaking skills in real-life academic scenarios.

PBT (Paper-based Test)

The format is slightly different, comprising four tasks that focus on speaking about familiar topics and discussing material from readings and conversations.

Types of Questions Asked in TOEFL Speaking Exam

Independent Speaking Task

Express your own ideas, opinions, and experiences within 45 to 60 seconds, drawing solely from your thoughts.

Integrated Speaking Tasks

Combine your English-language abilities—listening and speaking, or listening, reading, and speaking—similar to interactive classroom situations.

Time Allocated to Each Task

Prep Time: You’ll have 15–30 seconds to prepare before responding.

Speaking Response: Your responses should be 45 or 60 seconds long.

Test Time: Completing the speaking section typically takes around 16 minutes.

What to Expect from Each Task in TOEFL Speaking Exam

1. Independent Speaking Task (Personal Choice)

Express and support an opinion on a familiar topic within 45 or 60 seconds.

2. Campus Announcement (Integrated Task)

Present information from a reading and a related conversation about a campus situation, stating opinions and reasons within the given time frame.

3. General to Specific (Integrated Task)

Explain an academic concept using details from a related lecture within the allotted time.

4. Academic Lecture (Integrated Task)

Describe an academic lecture, focusing on specific processes or examples mentioned in the lecture within the time limit.

Each task assesses different aspects of your speaking abilities, from expressing personal opinions to presenting information in academic contexts.

Success in these tasks requires clear communication, effective organisation of ideas, and concise yet thorough responses.

Common Challenges in TOEFL Speaking Exam Prerparation

1. Using a Wide Range of Vocabulary and Grammar Correctly

Using a diverse vocabulary and applying grammar rules accurately can be a task. Students may find it challenging to find the right words to express their ideas and to use complex grammatical structures correctly.

Learning synonyms, practising grammar in context, and recording speaking sessions for self-assessment can help improve vocabulary and grammar skills.

2. Nervousness and Anxiety

Many students experience nervousness and anxiety during the TOEFL Speaking Section. This can affect their ability to speak confidently and fluently.

Strategies like deep breathing, positive self-talk, and visualisation techniques can help manage these feelings and improve performance.

3. Speaking Fluently and Clearly

Expressing thoughts smoothly can be challenging, especially under time pressure. Students may struggle with organising their ideas, using transitions effectively, and maintaining a natural speaking rhythm.

Practising organising thoughts, using transition words, and varying sentence structures can enhance fluency and coherence.

4. Time Management

Managing time effectively within the allocated speaking slots can be a struggle. Students may find it challenging to cover all points within the given time frame, leading to rushed or incomplete responses.

Strategies like practising timed speaking sessions, prioritising key points, and using concise language can help improve time management skills.

5. Accents and Pronunciation

Students from non-native English-speaking backgrounds may face difficulties with accents and pronunciation.

This can impact their clarity and understanding during the speaking section. Techniques such as listening to native speakers, practising pronunciation drills, and receiving feedback from instructors or peers can aid in improving accents and pronunciation.

6. Understanding Complex Topics

The TOEFL Speaking Section may present complex or abstract topics that require critical thinking and analysis.

Students may struggle to grasp the essence of these topics, resulting in unclear or superficial responses. Engaging in active reading, discussing diverse topics, and practising speaking about varied themes can enhance comprehension and analytical skills.

TOEFL Speaking Exam Preparation Tips and Strategies

Here are some tips and strategies to help you in your speaking section:

1. Structure your answers:

Start strong with a brief intro and topic mention: Begin your response with a clear introduction that briefly introduces yourself and the topic you will discuss.

Organise your body with clear points, examples, and transitions: Structure your main points logically, support them with specific examples or reasons, and use transitions to connect your ideas smoothly.

Wrap it up with a concise summary and a lasting impression: End your response with a brief summary of your main points and leave a memorable impression on the listener.

2. Fluency and coherence:

Speak clearly, articulate, and avoid extreme speeds: Focus on speaking clearly and avoid speaking too fast or too slowly to ensure that your ideas are easily understood.

Use pauses strategically. emphasise key points: Use pauses effectively to emphasise important points and allow the listener to digest the information.

Mix sentence structures: Keep it natural and engaging. Vary the length and structure of your sentences to create a natural and engaging flow in your speech.

Minimise fillers: avoid “um” and “like” to maintain flow: Avoid using unnecessary filler words like “um” or “like” that can disrupt the flow of your speech and make you sound less confident.

3. Confidence and preparation:

Listen actively: Pay close attention to the prompts and questions. Focus on actively listening to the prompts and questions to ensure that you understand what is being asked.

Project confidence: speak clearly with good posture. Project confidence through your voice and body language by speaking clearly and maintaining good posture.

Manage your time: Plan responses to stay within the limit. Be mindful of the time limit and plan your responses accordingly to ensure that you cover all necessary points.

Showcase your vocabulary and demonstrate your English proficiency: Use a variety of vocabulary words to demonstrate your English proficiency and showcase your language skills.

Practice Resources for TOEFL Speaking Exam

Accessing personalised, extensive resources can significantly enhance your TOEFL iBT speaking preparation. The TOEFL TestReadyTM portal offers a one-stop solution with practice tests, courses, guides, books, performance insights, and progress tracking.

For personalised instruction, connect with independent tutors at Preply® who specialise in the academic English used in the TOEFL iBT test. 

Using practice tests effectively is crucial. The Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) official website features numerous sample TOEFL speaking tests, available in the TOEFL TestReadyTM section, along with free practice tests, mock tests, section tests, focused practice, and TOEFL books.

Furthermore, ETS offers a paid online practice test platform, TOEFL Practice Online, which simulates the actual test-taking experience. 

For free resources, YouTube is an excellent platform, with channels like Test Success, E2 TOEFL, and William Hearn providing valuable TOEFL speaking tips and practice.

Several dedicated TOEFL apps, such as Magoosh, TOEFL Go, and TOEFL Test Pro, are available to help you improve your speaking skills.

Find a Study Buddy

Partner up with a classmate or friend who is also preparing for the TOEFL. Schedule regular practice sessions where you can take turns giving each other prompts and providing constructive feedback.

Online Tutors

Consider connecting with a qualified online tutor who specialises in the TOEFL Speaking section. They can provide personalised feedback and help you target specific areas for improvement.

With consistent practice, thorough preparation, and confidence, you can master the TOEFL speaking section. 

How Our TOEFL Course Helps

1. TOEFL Speaking

Conquer It with Us! Feeling anxious about the TOEFL Speaking Section? We’ve got you covered. Our course equips you with the tools to succeed:

2. Powerful Strategies

Learn proven techniques for fluency, organisation, and impressive vocabulary.

3. Expert Feedback

Get personalised practice sessions with TOEFL instructors. They’ll identify your strengths and weaknesses, guiding you to shine on test day.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

Our practice sessions will boost your confidence and speaking skills.

Enrol now and take control of your TOEFL journey!

Visit TOEFL COURSE by LA FORET to learn more.

Wrap Up

Get a free, personalised TOEFL speaking practice session with an expert TOEFL instructor.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses and receive valuable feedback to improve your speaking skills.

Don’t wait! Visit TOEFL COURSE by LA FORET to secure your spot and unlock your TOEFL success!