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TOEFL IBT Speaking Question Types
By Mike H. Furdty
Question 1
For this question, candidate needs to answer to personalized problems. You will answer by familiar things, such as people, place, or event. Answer time is around 45 seconds. Actual exam topics may change from time to time, but your response needs to be the basis of own personal experiences. For example, candidate needs to talk a place where once visited, an important event in the life, s special person, or a favorite activity.

This question requires candidate to describe a certain kind of things (for example, important events, favorite activities, or influential people). Meanwhile you should give the reasons why they are important, or your favorite, how they affect you, and so on. In order to ensure the integrity of the answer, the answer had better contain the specific details or examples.

After you get the topic, you have 15 seconds to prepare. During this time, you can briefly write down some notes, but do not try to write for a complete answer. Not only because of the time is not enough, and raters want to test the ability to answer questions, rather than the ability to read aloud. When answering, you shouldn’t rely on notes as possible.

Tips:
  • Prepare a list for familiar topics, such as describing a place or reviewing an experience.
  • When answering, try to avoid too many details and examples, which will reduce chance and time to explain, analyze, and summarize.
  • Record own practice, and check whether it is in correct pronunciation and clear description.
Question 2
For this question, the candidate will see two hypothetical scenarios, views, or behaviors, you need to choose to the better one and give reasons. Your answer should be finished in 45 seconds.

The usual topics in this question are involved with student, study, and school. For example, learning at home is better than in library? Students should focus in certain major, or multiple disciplines or courses? Freshmen should live in school dormitories or live off campus? Besides, candidates possibly see popular social topics in this question, e.g., the TV is for human benefit or bad?

You need to say what you agree with and explain with own arguments. Basically, this question requires you to state own choice and explain. You need organize well the reason, explanation, and details to support choice; express them clearly. It is a question about logic and speaking, which side you choose doesn’t impact final score. Like Question 1, there is no "right" or "wrong" options in this question. The good score is from clear logic, complete content, and clear expression.

Like Question 1, the topic appears on the screen; its title will be read loudly. Then you have 15 seconds to prepare. During the time, you organize own thoughts, and you can also write down some notes. But remember, do not write down the complete answer, just need some words and phrases to hint own answer.

Tips:
  • In practice, try to state views or options clearly and loudly, with various reasons, examples, and details.
  • Learn to use the word or phrase commonly used to express their views, such as: in my opinion, I believe
Question 3
For this question, candidate will first read a short passage regarding to campus life. Then heard one or two people talk same topic as reading content. You need to answer the question by what you read and heard. Common topics are as the quality of university education, rules and procedures, and plans of university, campus facilities, or campus life. The question is designed to easy understand for all candidates. It does not require experience of campus life in North America as background knowledge.

Reading materials are various, but usually related to school. For example, it may be an announcement of the new parking regulations, a letter to discuss dormitory radio regulations, or a proposal of building new football stadium in the school newspaper. The material usually presents a proposal and gives two reasons for support or opposition. It is very short, about 75 to 100 words; and you have 40 to 45 seconds to read. The exact time depends on article length.

Then you will hear a dialogue or monologue based on the reading material. The listening material is people, usually student, to discuss the topic of reading material. If there are two interlocutors, one of them will express a clear view - support or opposition, and explain reasons. The hearing material lasts 60 to 80 seconds.

After hearing material broadcast, you have 30 seconds to prepare before starting 60 second answering time. Candidate needs to answer question based on reading and listening. You need to use reading material, as well as view and reason to support or oppose in dialogue, to organize answer. This question does not require you to give own argument, only state the attitude of the interlocutors, summed up the reason behind this attitude.

Tips:
  • You can take notes to help answer, especially for what you heard.
  • Before answering, be clear what the title needs and what it doesn’t need.
  • Summarize information from reading and try to get reason behind words. Reading material is for you to understand listening material, it isn’t for question directly.
  • When listening, pay attention to attitudes of each interlocutor, may support or oppose.
  • Through intonation, reread, and choice of the word as far as possible to determine the specific attitude of the interlocutor.
Question 4
For this question, the candidate requires to read a short academic essay, listen to a lecture excerpt. Subsequently, answer questions based on the reading and listening material. Your answer time is 60 seconds

The topics in this question are in a wide range: life science, social science, natural science, and even anthropology. Although they are academic, the question does not assume you to have related special knowledge of subject.

Reading material is in length of 75 to 100 words. It provides the necessary knowledge to understand the listening material. Usually it will introduce concepts or terms on common scenes. Listening material is the key of the question. It contains refined details, and usually adds a few examples, analogies. Or it offers practical application of the concept in reading material. You need to integrate information in both reading material and listening material to give right answer.

Tips:
  • The views in reading and listening material may be just similar or even different, take notes and write down the outline.
  • In practice, try to change with different words or sentences to express the contents of reading and listening.
  • In practice, try to list outline of essay quickly, then talk its summary.
Question 5
For this question, candidate will hear a brief discussion about campus issues; then answer problems based on discussion. Typically, the dialogue will include a question and two possible solutions. After listening to the dialogue, the candidate needs to briefly describe the issues discussed in the dialogue and put forward own method to solve this problem. The topic of this question is almost based on the ordinary campus scenes. You should answer in 60 seconds.

Two roles in dialogue are usually 2 students, a student and a professor, or a student and a university staff (teaching assistants, library members, administrators, etc.). The topics are in campus issues, such as coordination of conflict, the absence of resources, student elections, or economic difficulties. Sometimes, it isn’t a real discussion. Only one contributes suggestions, another just presents problem or difficulty. The dialogue usually is 60 to 90 seconds.

In general, you need to answer the following parts: First, to describe the topic of the problem; then explain which solution is better in your view. In your reasons, you should include what just hear, and you also can use personal experience. If you have similar story, you can cite it as reason to support your choice. There is no "right" or "wrong" choice at the question, your score is based on how to describe the problem and how to prove your view with reasons. So don’t focus on correct choice in nature, but easy choice to prove by mouth.

Tips:
  • Regular exercise is very important to enhance dialogue skills. A good way is to participate in English club, get chances to talk with native speakers of English.
  • In practice, notice topics of campus, for example, travel arrangements for class, student doctor's appointments, job interview conflict, and so on.
Question 6
The last question is of academic. At this question, candidate will hear part of a lecture excerpt and answer problems based on listening material. The time allowed to answer is 60 seconds.

As question 4, the topic of this question involves a wide range, such as life science, social science, natural science, and anthropology. Similarly, to answer this question does not require candidate to have basic knowledge of subject.

Listening material focuses on a topic, is of 60 to 90 seconds in length. Usually a professor will define a concept, emphasize a problem, or introduce a phenomenon at beginning of lecture; and then discuss some important aspects and features. Lectures will include the explanatory examples to help explain the key ideas. The problems you need answer are typically among the examples or key ideas of lecture.

Tips:
  • Take note when listening; try to write down details of examples and key ideas

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