The Speaking section of TOEFL iBT assesses the candidate’s competence in communicating in English orally.

For some test takers, particularly foreign students who need to hit the perfect 26, the rapid-fire twenty minutes of TOEFL iBT Speaking Section are game-changers.

Many students spend years and hundreds of dollars on the best possible TOEFL preparation guides to achieve this score.

Just like other standardised tests, TOEFL iBT Speaking is not just about demonstrating fluent and accurate spoken English—it also requires one to be efficient in their responses.

We provide you with some sure-fire time management tips, which will help you pace yourself.

Beat The Clock

Read on if you wish to increase your chances of maximising your score and getting into a top grad school of your choice.

1. Know the structure of the Speaking section

First and foremost, you should familiarise yourself as to how test questions are structured. This will help you use every minute productively during each task. To that end, let’s first introduce you to the TOEFL iBT Speaking Section:

  • It includes six questions, which consist of two independent speaking tasks and four integrated speaking tasks.
  • Questions 1 and 2 are independent speaking tasks. You will get 15 seconds to prepare for each question, and another 45 seconds to provide an oral answer. Ideally, your response should draw upon your personal experiences and opinions.
  • The remaining four integrated speaking tasks require you to utilise more than one communication skill to present your answer.
  • For questions 3 and 4, you will have 45 seconds to read a written passage. Then, you will have to listen to a one-minute lecture. In another 30 seconds, you will have to plan and prepare an appropriate response. After that, you will be asked to deliver it orally within 60 seconds.
  • Questions 5 and 6 require you to only listen before speaking. For these final tasks, you will get an audio clip to listen to. Then, you will get a preparation time of 20 seconds, after which, you will need to articulate it in the next 60 seconds.

2. Practice speaking on a regular basis.

If you wish to improve your English-speaking skills, the best way to do it is practice until you get better. It’s recommended that you practice spoken English daily. However, if you are tied up with other things in life, the bare minimum time you should allocate to this activity is 2–3 hours a week.

Also, keep in mind that this practice is not restricted to your oral responses to TOEFL iBT Speaking questions; you can even engage in English conversations with your friends.

While you take the TOEFL practice test, do not forget to time yourself. This will help you gauge how long you take to prepare. Also, this is a good exercise to improve the way you speak and learn to respond to a question in a calm, controlled manner.

3. Understand what your responses should entail in advance.

You can easily get a 23 or a 24 with an average spoken English proficiency. However, if you are targeting a 26, then it’s important that your oral answers be  on a par with native English speakers’ communication skills.

For this reason, you must first understand that in order to prove that you can speak English fluently, you should:

  • Deliver above-average responses while you answer practice TOEFL questions;
  • Participate actively in casual chats and academic discussions;
  • Express your opinion about the discussed topics clearly and succinctly;
  • Summarise all the information you read in textbooks and/or newspapers and reproduce it orally.

Knowing beforehand what ETS is looking for in your oral responses saves a lot of time during the test.

4. Develop an effective note-taking strategy.

Since the last four questions measure your listening skills, it is always a good idea to take down notes while attempting the TOEFL iBT Speaking Section. The reason is that you are given a preparation time of a meager 15 seconds.

Writing the main points down will help you compose your answer in your head before you articulate it orally.

Follow these steps for faster and more useful note-taking:

  • Create a habit of taking down notes while listening to online podcasts and talks.
  • While you answer practice TOEFL questions, focus on the keywords as you read a written passage or listen to an audio clip. Catching the keywords correctly is vital for your  response, as they encapsulate the main ideas of reading and listening tasks.
  • Use symbols which denote certain ideas as you take notes. Here are a few examples:
    • Analogy / Likeness: =
    • Difference: ≠
    • Argument: A
    • Example: E

Don’t forget to keep these symbols in practice so that you may use them comfortably during the actual iBT Speaking test.

5. Practice organising and structuring your speech.Organizing

As you already know, you don’t have the luxury of time in the speaking section of TOEFL iBT.

Hence, it is essential that you train yourself to make the most of the precious 15 seconds you get for preparing your speech.

Outline a layout with main points and supporting details that you would deliver. To keep things simpler, write down keywords or short phrases that will help you frame an apt response.

6. Build your English Vocabulary

How well-stocked you are with words plays a pivotal role in determining your English-speaking prowess.

It’s good practice to expand your vocabulary. Read books, newspapers, etc., and look up a word online whenever you stumble upon something new and unknown. Acquiring a good vocabulary ensures that you don’t repeat yourself.

Although you don’t need to sound like a walking dictionary, adding a few less common words and phrases to your oral response can actually push your score up a notch.

If nothing else, it will save you time in thinking of newer, better words to phrase your sentences.


Bottom Line

You might find the TOEFL iBT Speaking Section quite intimidating. However, it is not a hard nut to crack if you learn how to use your preparation time wisely.

Still feeling the pressure? Practice TOEFL iBT tests with one of our qualified tutors eager to assist you with probably one of the best TOEFL preparation courses online.

Read More