The TOEFL speaking section is all about checking if candidates can communicate their ideas in an academic setting.
Since the candidates are going to study and work in a similar environment even after getting admission to a university, it is highly beneficial to prepare for the TOEFL speaking section before attempting the test. The TOEFL speaking section includes multiple tasks to be completed in a few minutes. Candidates who have never prepared for the speaking section take more time to prepare their responses. So, it is a good idea to see the speaking section template and learn how to speak fluently with the help of specific examples and sample answers. Below is a list of topics for TOEFL speaking topics with sample topics and questions for practice. Read on to prepare for each TOEFL speaking task and ultimately achieve a high score on the TOEFL test.
TOEFL Speaking Section Overview
Most students consider speaking the most challenging part of TOEFL. This is understandable as TOEFL speaking topics come from many categories. That is why preparing for the TOEFL speaking section well in advance is a good idea. Students have to complete the TOEFL English-speaking section in 17 minutes. The test taker must complete four tasks during this short period, including one independent and three integrated tasks. The tasks are designed in a way that they will check the mastery of the test-taker in the English language. This includes reading skills, listening skills, vocabulary, and grammar. The independent speaking tasks check the applicant’s ability to speak on topics such as friends, family entertainment, and day-to-day life. On the other hand, integrated tasks check the test-taker’s listening, reading, and speaking skills. The questions also check the test-taker’s self-confidence by asking them to express their opinions and thoughts on situations related to campus life. Answering sample questions does two things for study abroad aspirants: they build confidence for the real test and reduce their response time.
TOEFL Speaking Tasks
TOEFL speaking is divided into two parts: independent speaking and integrated speaking tasks. Below are two types of tasks, along with some specific examples:
TOEFL Independent Speaking Task
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The first task of the TOEFL exam is the independent speaking task. In this task, candidates are presented with situations or options and asked to choose only one out of them. The candidates are asked to explain why they chose one option over the other. Candidates must prepare their responses in the first 15 seconds and then explain their choice in the next 45 seconds. The questions in this task are usually around everyday topics like the internet, video games, fast food, household chores, and elementary school. The answer’s score does not depend on the candidate’s chosen option. Instead, it depends on how well candidates can explain their choices in a small time window. Here is a list of some sample topics and questions under those topics for the TOEFL independent speaking task:
- Who is your favourite family member, and what is the one thing you like about them the most?
- Who is the most mysterious person you have met in your life, and what qualities make them mysterious?
- Name a place in your hometown that you like the most.
- What qualities do you seek in your roommate?
- What is one favourite subject you can study for your whole life?
- What is your opinion on female and male university students having the same residence halls?
- Some people like reading digital books, while others prefer reading paper books. Which types of books do you choose and why?
- What most valuable skills do you think schools must teach their students?
- Who was your favourite tutor during mid-school, and why?
- Do you think TV shows are a necessary part of a child’s entertainment or a complete waste of time?
- What is your favourite social media app, and why do you prefer it over the others?
- Who was your favourite TV program character in your childhood, and why?
Topic: Your Life
- Describe a typical day of the week in your life when you are not going to school.
- What do you think is the best way to get important information: (a) Reading newspapers, (b) Reading books, (c) Reading Magazines?
- What one moment in your life would you want to revisit?
- What is the most productive time for learning: childhood or adulthood?
Apart from these topics, ETS (which conducts TOEFL) also includes topics in the independent speaking task, such as food, work, travel, country, and sports. But topics are just one way to categorise the TOEFL independent task questions. They can also be categorised on the basis of question types. Examples of question types are agree/disagree, advantages/disadvantages, choosing one option over the other, and three-choice questions. Below are a few sample questions categorised according to different question types:
Question Type: Three-choice questions
- What is the most helpful feature of a smartphone for students: (1) Camera, (2) File Sharing, (3) Internet?
- What do you think is the most crucial part of campus life: (1) Academic learning, (2) Making friends, (3) Learning how to work in groups?
Question Type: Agree or disagree
- Do you agree or disagree that social media is more harmful than it is helpful for students?
- Do you agree or disagree that domestic skills are as necessary as business skills?
TOEFL Speaking Topics of Integrated Tasks
As the name suggests, these tasks require candidates to use more than one skill. Prior knowledge about any topic is not required for these tasks. Candidates can score good marks using reading, listening, and speaking skills.
- First Integrated Task
The topic for the first integrated task is campus life. The task is divided into three parts. First, the candidates must read a short passage on campus life and then listen to a conversation between two people about the same topic. Finally, candidates have to summarise the main speaker’s opinion in 90 seconds. This way, candidates have to use reading, listening, and speaking skills in this task. They get 30 seconds to prepare their response and 60 seconds to complete it.
- Second Integrated Task
The second integrated task is based on an academic topic, unlike the first one. Examples of academic topics used in the second integrated task are life science, social science, arts, physical science, and the humanities. The task is divided into three parts. First, the candidates must read a short passage on an academic topic and then listen to a lecture on the same topic. Finally, candidates have to summarise the passage and lecture. Like the first one, the second integrated task also checks candidates’ reading, listening, and speaking skills in 90 seconds. Candidates have to prepare their response in the first 30 seconds and then complete it in the next 60 seconds.
- Third Integrated Task
The third and final TOEFL integrated task is also based on academic topics such as life science, social science, and physical science. But unlike the last two tasks, this one is segmented into only two parts. In this task, candidates must listen to a lecture and then summarise it. In this task, candidates’ listening and speaking skills are used. They get 20 seconds for response preparation and 60 seconds for response completion. Most candidates get overwhelmed thinking they must prepare for academic topics. But the answers to the TOEFL speaking section questions come from the given passages. So, candidates do not have to use their prior knowledge of the topic. Candidates are suggested not to give ‘extra’ knowledge on the given topics and stick only to the information in the passages. The general topics for TOEFL speaking are every day, campus life, and academics. Everyday topics include food, work, country, entertainment, travel, and so on. Educational topics include life science, social science, humanities, physical science, and so on. Candidates are given passages and audiotapes for the integrated speaking tasks. Candidates can get a high score by practising sample questions and perfecting reading, listening, and speaking skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any books for TOEFL speaking section preparation?
Yes, there are a lot of books out there that can help applicants prepare for the TOEFL speaking section. Before buying a book, students should always check whether the book is updated according to the latest TOEFL format or not.
What if I fail to answer the speaking questions in TOEFL?
In case you fail to answer the speaking questions, you may register for the TOEFL exam again after a gap of 12 days.
Is there any penalty for wrong answers in TOEFL speaking test?
There are no wrong answers in the speaking section for TOEFL. The answers are subjective and judged according to how well the candidates have stated the reasons for their choice.
Is there a limit on how many times I can take the TOEFL exam?
There are no caps on attempting TOEFL. The fee for TOEFL iBT is $190 in India. So, it is recommended to practice mock tests before attempting TOEFL exam.