The Best TOEFL Speaking Topics for Realistic Practice
- February 10, 2018
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Similar to the writing and reading section, understanding how the TOEFL speaking section works is a crucial part of your TOEFL iBT test preparation.
The speaking section is a total of 20 minutes long and constitutes six tasks. Over the course of this blog, we’re going to highlight what to keep in mind when preparing for your speaking section. We will go over possible questions and topics that will aid you in your TOEFL iBT test preparation. Let us begin!
Integrated and Independent
Akin to the writing section of your TOEFL, the speaking section can be split into two forms of questions. These are integrated and independent questions. The two can be most simply distinguished as:
- For Integrative topics: They are usually questions on academia or are academic in nature. They also rely on two skills; listening and speaking, hence the label ‘integrative’.
- For Individual topics: These are, unlike integrative ones, based mainly on speaking. Common subjects of questioning include personal details. These can be facts, ideas or opinions, as well as preferences. Clarity of communication is key here.
Topic 1: One from Many
The starting topic will likely be rather simple. You will be asked broad base questions on topics of personal interest or relevance. This could relate to your taste in sports, books or leasure activities, to name a few. Alternatively, you could be asked for details about your family, an interest or pastime, or something you have achieved and are proud of. You can find a number of potential questions from TOEFL online practice tests and sample papers.
The trick here is not to waste time choosing which topic to speak on. If asked during your TOEFL about your favorite sports team, pick the first player that comes to mind and start talking about why they are your favorite at once!
Topic 2: Preference between Two
The second prompt might be akin to a number of those received in the TOEFL essay section. You will be required to choose between two options and then justify the choice you make with your words. A simple example could include:
- Some cycle for exercise. Others prefer to swim. Which do you think is better and why?
If you break this question down, you have your either/or choice, in this case; cycling or swimming. You then further have to justify your choice or explain why you chose it. Choices can include any of the following and more, so be careful:
- Air travel or Sea travel
- Horses or Donkeys
- Rice or Bread
- White or Red Meat
- Fossil fuel or solar power
And the list goes on. Just remember, regardless of what you choose, you will have to explain your reasons for choice! Education seems to be a hot topic with these tests, so ensure you know your educational preferences. Favorite teachers, subjects and work methodology are all things you want to be clear on.
Sample Questions and Topics
Below is a variety of questions that commonly appear on the exam. Though the words might vary, the gist of these questions could likely be repeated. These include:
Questions for Task 1
- Discuss a purchase you recently made that pleases you. What did you purchase and why does it please you?
- Discuss a situation when a task was more difficult than you were expecting. What was your aim and what caused the difficulty?
- Which personality trait is most important in a friend? Why?
- Discuss a deed done by someone close to you that made you proud. What was done? Why did it make you feel proud?
- Has anything significant happened in your country? What is it? Why is it important? Give details.
- Places change over time. Describe one way you feel your country might change and describe this change in detail.
- Pick someone famous you feel would be fun to speak with. What would you speak with them about? Share details as well as your reasons.
- Pick a subject taught in school you feel is irrelevant. Explain your answer with details as to why.
- What is your preferred mode of transport for long journeys? Why is this so? Provide detailed specifics.
- Is there a course you want to take but have not? What is it? What do you expect from it, and why?
The questions above are just some examples of the kind of content you can expect in your upcoming TOEFL iBT speaking section. Please note that sentence structure and English used will vary. Refer to our free online student resources for more accurate question samples.
Questions for Task 2
- There are those who prefer working outdoors. Others prefer closed indoor spaces. What is your preference? Why is it so?
- Is the following statement correct according to you? Provide examples and details as to why or why not: Lizards do not make good pets.
- Some feel pressurized by time. Others prefer time boundaries. What about you? Explain in detail.
- Does this statement make sense to you? Justify your answer with details as well as examples:Parents need to allow children to eat whatever they like.
- Is the statement below agreeable? Furnish your answer with details as well as examples: Learning when done out of the classroom is more effective than that which is done within.
- Some countries have regular rainfall. Others are dry and only experience rain once or twice a year. Which do you like better, and why?
- Does the following make sense to you? Why or why not? Answer with details as well as examples: Military training should be mandatory for all high school students.
- Is the statement below correct? Why or why not? Explain with details as well as examples: Couples should be forced to visit a marriage counsellor before divorcing.
- There are people who communicate via text message. Others prefer direct calls. Which works for you, and why?
- Does the statement below make sense? Explain your answer with examples and details: Monetary compensation is better than privileges and perks at work.
Again, please note that the questions in your TOEFL iBT will be worded differently.
The most effective strategy to fine-tune your speaking skills is to practice as much as you can. Waste no time answering, be clear and precise. This is especially true for the more personal questions. If you feel you require further assistance with your TOEFL iBT, look into an online preparation course to up that score!
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