TOEFL Speaking Test: Questions, Practice Test, Sample, Syllabus and Score Calculation

By Mrunmayai Bobade Updated On - Jul 05, 2022 06:11 PM

A solid understanding of the pattern and syllabus before preparing for the examination can help students to achieve their desired TOEFL test score. This article discusses everything in detail that you need to know about TOEFL Speaking Section.

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TOEFL Speaking Test: Preparing for language proficiency examinations, particularly the TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language, can be the most stressful of all entrance exams. When it comes to the TOEFL syllabus, one of the most difficult areas that stands out from the rest is the TOEFL Speaking Test. It consists of four tasks in which applicants must speak on certain TOEFL speaking topics and record their responses using a microphone. 

Many people find the TOEFL Speaking Test intimidating, but it doesn't have to be if you prepare carefully! Moreover, if you put in the effort to prepare for this section, you may find that the Speaking test is the easiest part of the TOEFL exam. 

It is, thus, important to understand the different types of questions you will be asked and how to handle them along with important tips and tricks, the exam pattern and score rubrics. 

Need Help Preparing for TOEFL Speaking Section? Get Expert Guidance for FREE

Overview, Structure, Format of TOEFL Speaking Test

The TOEFL Speaking Test is the shortest section of the TOEFL exam, lasting only 17 minutes. During this time, you will have to complete four different activities, each with its own time limit.

The first task of the TOEFL Speaking test is independent, which means you won't have to read or listen to anything; instead, you'll have to think of a response and speak it. The remaining tasks are integrated speaking exercises, which demand you to listen, read, or do both.

The TOEFL speaking test scores are also based on raw points that are translated to a scaled score of 0-30. The TOEFL Speaking questions, on the other hand, do not have correct/wrong responses. Instead, experienced scorers will rate each response on a scale of 1 to 4 based on the official TOEFL Speaking Section rubrics.

TOEFL Speaking Section Tasks 

Common Topics 

Duration 

Task 1: Independent 

Social issues

1 minute

Task 2: Integrated (Reading and Listening)

Student life

3 minutes

Task 3: Integrated (Reading and Listening)

Academics

3 minutes

Task 4: Integrated (Listening)

Combination of the previous two tasks

3 minutes

Now that we have a general understanding of the TOEFL Speaking Section test format and test structure, let's break down each task separately so we know what to expect on test day.

Independent Speaking in TOEFL Speaking Test Task 1 

  • Preparation time: 15 seconds
  • Response time: 45 seconds

Independent speaking involves answering a question of general interest on a topic and expressing your personal ideas about it. There will be no readings or listening passages provided in this section. Instead, you must respond based solely on your experience. This question tests the quick thinking ability of your analytical mind and how fluently you can express your thoughts in English.  A final 15 seconds will be allowed for you to think and plan your answer. Next, you will be required to record and submit your 45-second response into the microphone.

Integrated Speaking in TOEFL Speaking Test Task 2 

  • Reading time: 50 seconds
  • Audio clip: About 1 minute
  • Preparation time: 30 seconds
  • Response time: 60 seconds

The integrated speaking section deals with campus situations. The reading passage is accompanied by a listening conversation in which you have to sum up and combine information from both sources.  Answering the question requires you to listen to a conversation and read a passage related to a campus-related topic. Afterwards, you will have a 30-second period to prepare your response and a 60-second period to deliver it into the microphone.  

Integrated Speaking in TOEFL Speaking Test Task 3

  • Reading time: 45 seconds
  • Audio clip: About 1 minute
  • Preparation time: 30 seconds
  • Response time: 60 seconds

The third task involves analyzing a first-year college textbook in order to describe a subject or key concept. There are two parts to this exercise: you must read a passage on an academic subject and listen to a segment of a lecture on the identical topic. Afterwards, you will be given 30 seconds for planning and preparing your response, and 1 minute for presenting it.  

Integrated Speaking in TOEFL Speaking Test Task 4

  • Audio clip: About 2 minutes
  • Preparation time: 20 seconds
  • Response time: 60 seconds

Similarly, Task 4 entails listening to a lecture and expressing your response in the form of speech. Here, no reading passage is assigned. Additionally, you will be given a time limit of 20 seconds for preparation and a maximum of 60 seconds or one minute for vocalizing. As a general rule, answer questions in the form of a summary of the lecture.   

TOEFL Speaking Test Syllabus 

When attending a lecture, asking about a topic, or presenting a PPT, speaking in English becomes the most essential competency, and the TOEFL Speaking Test assesses the necessary skills to ensure fluency. The major purpose of the TOEFL Speaking Test is to assess the candidate's level of comfort speaking English in educational settings. Experts recommend reviewing the TOEFL Speaking topics from recent years to better grasp the questions and exam pattern.

Speaking Questions Covered in TOEFL Speaking Section:

  • 1 independent task 

  • 3 integrated tasks – Read/Listen/Speak 

Types of Questions in TOEFL Speaking Test

There is a wide range of TOEFL speaking questions on different topics including physical science, social science, literature, history, and art. No worries, you do not have to be an expert to answer the questions, because it is not necessary to have any prior knowledge of these topics. This test only tests how well you can structure your judgement logically and your dexterity in English. 

TOEFL speaking questions can be divided into several types. Here are the types you should know:

  • Explain a lecture

  • Describe a problem with campus life

  • Choose a single option

  • Choose One of Two Options

  • An explanation of a lecture topic

  • Describe your opinion on a campus issue

Wishing to get a Perfect Score in TOEFL Speaking Section?

TOEFL Speaking Sample Questions

Now that we are well aware of the different question types that can come in the TOEFL Speaking test, let us take a closer look at some TOEFL Speaking sample questions by categorization.

Three Choice Questions

  • In the future, there will be a television show aimed at students. Which would you prefer to watch? (3) Interviews with school leaders, (2) Debates among students about topics such as politics and social issues, and (3) Comedic sketches about school life.

  • In an event organized by the International Student office, the International Student Office will offer three different kinds of activities. Which one sounds the best to you? 1) An international food fair 2) An international music festival 3) An international film festival.

  • What is the most significant impact on environmental protection among the following choices? 1) Government regulation 2) Environmental awareness groups 3) Efforts on the part of the individual.

  • As far as your final project is concerned, which one would you prefer? (1) Making/giving a presentation (2) paper writing work  (3) making a video.

Agree/Disagree Questions

  • Would you agree/disagree that students should perceive a job while they are studying at a university or school? Be specific and use examples to explain your position.

  • In your opinion, does it make sense that the young population should learn some domestic skills, cooking, sewing, and how to take care of their children?

  • While some think libraries will disappear with the development of technology and the Internet, others believe libraries are vital for the development of culture. Would you agree with either opinion?

Explanation/Description

  • Should parents be allowed to provide education to their children at home or should they be obligated to send their children to school? Describe your answer with examples.

  • Would you think the person's license should be revoked if the police stopped him or her after he or she was driving drunk? Describe your answer with examples.

  • Should parents teach their kids the basics of managing money? Be specific and give reasons for your opinion.

How is TOEFL Speaking Scored?

Let us now examine the TOEFL Speaking scoring mechanism. Human raters will provide a score from 0 to 4 in whole numbers for each task. These scores are then averaged to give you a raw score for the task, which is also in a range of 0 to 4. (note that decimals are possible here due to averaging). Finally, the raw scores for each of the tasks are averaged and translated to a final scaled Speaking score ranging from 0 to 30.

But how does ETS transform your raw Speaking score (from 0-4) to a scaled Speaking score (from 0-30)? An official graphic demonstrating the raw-to-scaled-score conversion method is shown below. 

Average Raw TOEFL Speaking Score

Scaled TOEFL Speaking Score

4.00

30

3.83

29

3.66

28

3.50

27

3.33

26

3.16

24

3.00

23

2.83

22

2.66

20

2.50

19

2.33

18

2.16

17

2.00

15

1.83

14

1.66

13

1.50

11

1.33

10

1.16

9

1.00

8

0-6

Your final TOEFL Speaking Test score will appear at the top of your TOEFL score report; however, you will not be able to examine your raw scores for each work. Rather, you will receive raw score ranges for jobs organized by topic. These raw score ranges are as follows, according to ETS:

  • Weak: (0-1)

  • Limited: (1.5-2)

  • Fair: (2.5-3)

  • Good: (3.5-4)

TOEFL Speaking Test Score Rubrics

The official TOEFL Speaking rubrics varies slightly between the Independent and Integrated assignments. All Speaking tasks are graded on the basis of three components in both rubrics:

  • Delivery: The clarity and intelligibility with which you talk (this includes pronunciation, flow, intonation, and pacing)

  • Language Use: How well you express yourself using language and vocabulary.

  • Topic Development: It refers to how well you construct your response by connecting thoughts and expanding on topics.

Each raw Speaking score is accompanied by a general summary of what that score means in terms of the speaker's overall English proficiency. Furthermore, each of the three rubric components includes descriptions for the four score levels.

Independent and Integrated TOEFL Speaking Rubric

The general descriptions of each score level for the Independent and Integrated Speaking tasks are provided below. 

TOEFL Speaking Test Score

Description

4

The response meets the task's requirements with just small gaps in completion. It is highly understandable and has a sustained, coherent narrative.

3

The response appropriately addresses the job but may fall short of being completely developed. Though there are some notable failures in the expression of ideas, it is typically clear and coherent, with some fluidity of expression.

2

The response addresses the task, but the topic development is limited. It contains understandable speech, despite issues with delivery and/or overall coherence; meaning may be hidden in parts.

1

The response is either very limited in content and/or coherence, or it is just marginally related to the task, or the speech is mostly incomprehensible.

0

The speaker makes no attempt to answer OR his or her response is irrelevant to the topic.

How to Ace the TOEFL Speaking Test?

We have shared a few winning strategies below to help you prepare for your TOEFL Speaking Section effectively:

  • Take Quick Notes: It is clear that you cannot recall everything you hear during the speaking tasks. To ensure that you stay focused on the main idea of the topic, it is incredibly important for you to note down some key phrases or words. Once you have prepared your response, you can refer to your notes to ensure that you are on track.   
  • Answer Your Questions Fully: Be as clear as possible when expressing your ideas. For maximum effect, make sure to connect ideas properly between your statements in order to convey your opinion clearly.
  • Good Delivery of Speech Should be Prioritised: By speaking without any hesitation and displaying clear, fluid, and good grammar, you will have a better chance of scoring high. Furthermore, you should speak at a normal rate, sound natural, and avoid the impression that you have memorized the topic or presented it like a robot.
  • Make Use of Correct Pronunciation: The correct pronunciation of words is crucial. If you face difficulty pronouncing words on a daily basis, create a list of 10 difficult words and practice pronouncing them. 
  • Manage Your Time Wisely: Keep track of your time while speaking during preparation days. It will help you gauge how long you need to spend answering a question. Make sure you learn how to answer the questions in the exam within the allotted time.
  • Take Ample of the TOEFL Speaking Practice Tests: The saying "practice makes perfect" is probably familiar to most of us. In fact, practising is a surefire way to score well. To prepare for the test, practise mock tests, sample papers and solve last year's test questions. The TOEFL Practice Tests from ETS are available for free. Moreover, the TOEFL practice tests will help you prepare for the test. Answering genuine TOEFL speaking practice questions can help you better grasp the types of questions you'll be given, how much time you'll have to prepare, and how lengthy your responses should be. You can also seek help from our TOEFL 2022 Question Papers to practice for the TOEFL Speaking Test. 
     

For more information about the TOEFL Speaking Test or any other study abroad exam, write to us at abroad@collegedekho.com to resolve your queries at the earliest with help of our expert guidance!

Still Unsure About How to Prepare for TOEFL?

FAQs

How does computer scoring work in the TOEFL Speaking Test?

Your responses to the speaking questions are recorded and forwarded to ETS, where the SpeechRater service analyses them. The SpeechRater service was created by processing a large number of responses to Speaking section questions and assessing the aspects of the responses (pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary, and grammar) alongside human raters' scores. The scores are tallied up, and the final result is transformed on a scale of 0 to 30.

What questions are asked in the TOEFL Speaking Test?

Here are six TOEFL Speaking questions that are asked in the TOEFL Speaking Test:

  • Task 1: Choose From One Option
  • Task 2: Choose From Two Options
  • Task 3: Explain an Opinion on a Campus Issue
  • Task 4: Explain a Lecture Topic
  • Task 5: Explain a Campus Life Problem
  • Task 6: Explain a Lecture

How difficult is TOEFL Speaking?

TOEFL Speaking Test cannot be characterised as hard or difficult. If you practice and utilise the right strategies, you are sure to succeed. To help yourself with the speaking section, keep these points in mind:

  • Make sure you have a solid grasp of your grammar
  • Become fluent in an extensive vocabulary
  • Don't forget to express your ideas clearly
  • Make your sentences clear and concise

What is the best way to practice speaking for the TOEFL Speaking Test?

The official ETS website offers practice tests that can help you prepare for the TOEFL Speaking Test. Furthermore, you can practice by solving sample papers and previous years' question papers. Apart from that, practising English in a social setting with native speakers can be of great help.

If I want to score 26 on the TOEFL Speaking Test, what should I do?

Practising and putting in the effort will definitely help you reach the TOEFL Speaking Test score of 26. Plan your study plans carefully and incorporate practising speaking as much as possible. Aside from that, you must also have a clear understanding of the basics and good note-taking skills. By practising extensively and by attending TOEFL Speaking multiple times, you can achieve a score of 26.

What is TOEFL Practice Online?

TOEFL Practice Online is the only official practise test that simulates taking the real TOEFL iBT exam. You will practice by answering actual questions from previous tests, and your scores and performance evaluation will be provided within 24 hours.

How can I get the most benefit from my TOEFL Practice Online Speaking score?

The best way is to take the tasks seriously, just as you would take the main TOEFL Speaking Test. Taking the practice test as though it were a real test will help you get the most accurate result. If you react casually or negligently to the speaking challenges, your score will be lower. You should offer full, comprehensive responses in English during both the practise exam and the TOEFL iBT testing session.

How strictly is TOEFL Speaking scored?

Each problem is graded using three components, according to the official TOEFL Speaking grading rubrics: delivery, language use, and topic development. The tasks are then graded on a scale of 0 to 4. Following that, the raw values from the tasks are averaged and transformed into a final Speaking score on a scale of 0-30.

Is TOEFL Speaking Test easier than the IELTS Speaking Test?

The TOEFL Speaking Test is a 20-minute rapid-fire of reading, listening, taking notes, and (most importantly) speaking. Furthermore, the TOEFL Speaking Test is divided into six sections. Hence, it takes 20 minutes, whereas IELTS takes 11-14 minutes. On TOEFL, you must also speak to a computer while watching a timer. During this section, there is a lot to accomplish and keep care of, and it is easy to become overwhelmed. Therefore, IELTS is considered to be easier than TOEFL by most of the test takers.

What is the highest score for each task in the TOEFL Speaking Test?

Each of the TOEFL iBT Speaking Tasks is scored on a scale of 0 to 4 with 4 being the highest. Your total score on all speaking tasks is subsequently converted to a TOEFL iBT speaking section score between 0 and 30. On the TOEFL iBT speaking section, a score of 25 or more is considered good.

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