TOEFL Speaking

#1 Most Important TOEFL Speaking Mastery Tip (Smoothness)



Speak without hesitations and uhms and uhs in your speech.


Adapt a calm, cool speech with few unnatural pauses, hesitations, repetitions, uhms, and uhs. They break your flow, create a hard-to-follow speech, show lower fluency, and eat up your speaking time, which limits your content. It's tough, but NoteFull will teach you how.


Chapter 3: TOEFL Speaking Mastery: Confidence, Not Stress


Video introduction to this chapter of your TOEFL book:




Don't Feel Confused Or Stressed With The TOEFL Speaking back to top




Are you ready for step 2? Click below to take your next step forward:


Click now to learn which program is best for you to reach your TOEFL score.


Remember that NoteFull is here for you every step of the way: to answer your questions and guide you through difficulty. We will succeed.


TOEFL Speaking Overview back to top


Before you can excel, it's important that you understand how you're graded and the basics of the TOEFL speaking section (though you probably know this already, I must make sure). The TOEFL speaking section contains 6 questions that you answer with recorded speech and the maximum possible score on this section is a 30. With that out of the way, let's get down to the details.


Each of your 6 questions are evaluated by two separate graders. Graders are trained to rate your recordings according to strict requirements and will assign each of your answers either a 1, 2, 3, or 4 depending on the quality and strength of your answer.


A 1 is uncommunicative; students who earn this score may have survival English but nothing more. A 2 is limited; this is for students who can survive comfortably with English but cannot express themselves very well. A 3 is communicative; students with this score are comfortable with English and have next to no limitation with the language. A 4 is nearly fluent; this is awarded to students who display a fluent command of the language. Why does this matter and why am I telling you this? Read on.


Most students struggle to earn high scores on this section, such as a 26, because they don't understand that the difference between a 3 and a 4 is significant: there's a big difference between communicating well and communicating fluently. So, you must understand that achieving a 4 means that you hit certain requirements that the graders are listening for and you need to earn 4s to earn higher scores in the TOEFL speaking section.


TOEFL Speaking Math back to top


When you're assigned a grade out of 30, the scores from the two graders are added up and then converted to your actual score. How does this work? It's a bit tricky, but I'll do my best to make it clear with an example.


Let's imagine that you're one of the many students who needs a 26 on the TOEFL speaking. How would you actually get it? First, let's understand how to earn a perfect score.


For a perfect score, each grader gives every one of your answers a perfect rating, that's 6 questions rated a 4, which would yield 24 points total from one grader. Since there are two graders, that produces 48 points (since each of the two graders gave you full marks). That's the maximum raw score you can earn. 48 raw points will then yield a 30 on your actual TOEFL score results. Confused? Don't worry. By going back to our example of how to earn a 26, we'll clear things up.


Again, the maximum actual score you can earn on the exam is 30. What percentage is 26, our desired TOEFL score, of 30? Bringing back our basic math from elementary school: it's 26 / 30 = .87 or 87%. Now, what's 87% of our raw score? 48 x 87% = 42, approximately. How can we get a score like this? We need about 6 4 ratings and 6 3 ratings. How does that work out on a test? Something like this.


Question 1: rated a 4 and a 4 = 8

Question 2: rated a 3 and a 4 = 7

Question 3: rated a 3 and a 4 = 7

Question 4: rated a 3 and a 3 = 6

Question 5: rated a 4 and a 4 = 8

Question 6: rated a 3 and a 3 = 6


Grand total = 42, which yields a 26. If you look at this breakdown, that means that in general, you must do fluently well on 4 questions and do fair on 2. That's how you earn your 26 on the TOEFL speaking section: deliver masterfully fluent answers on 4 questions and so-so answers on 2 questions. Magical isn't it? I guess that's why they call it the "magic 26." Anyway, this should also illustrate the basic math behind earning any score that you're aiming for.


TOEFL Speaking and Your Accent back to top


Does your accent affect your score? Yes, but probably not in your case. If you're reading this blog and understanding it, odds are that your accent is not strong enough to hurt your ability to communicate (it might be; but, it's unlikely). Don't stress too much about it. After all, natively fluent English speakers don't just speak in an American accent. British and Australian accents also exist, right?


However, it does matter if there are points in your speech that are unclear. My main piece of advice to help with accent rests on speaking with power. Too many students have a lazy way of answering these questions--so much so that you'd think the TOEFL wasn't that important to them. Maybe an analogy will help. If you were racing a race that would determine your future, wouldn't you give it all you got? I don't hear this when I tutor students. They just let the words drool out of their mouths. You have to put power and emphasis behind each and every word that you say. Don't drop syllables and rush. Be calm, cool, and focused. I know, I know; easier said than done, but it must be done.


Fluent Mastery of Each TOEFL Speaking Question back to top


Here's the good stuff. As I mentioned earlier, speaking smoothly is an incredibly important, and often overlooked, skill. As you watch these videos, notice how each word flows from the other without many unnatural interruptions. Copy this in your answers as you study. If it's a bit challenging, don't worry; our programs have videos, exercises, and recordings that are meant to help you with this.


Now, there are 6 questions on the TOEFL and each of these instructional videos teaches you everything you need to know to answer a question and earn a 4 with some extra points written below to help you further. Enjoy! 


TOEFL Speaking 26: Question 1 and 2 



Here are two fast key points worth repeating to ensure that you're going to earn a 4 on these questions. First, in general, you should provide enough content to show that you're fluent, so record one of your answers and do a word count; it should be over 100 words. Second, you can be asked about anything. Sometimes, you'll have to adjust or modify the format to fit the question well. Your success on this question depends on how you stayed on topic and demonstrated your fluency with an intelligent development of your idea.


TOEFL Speaking 26: Question 3 



Here are the two key points. Be exact. Don't paraphrase. You are asked to report what you heard, not paraphrase it. Also, remember that you're not just repeating your notes but using them to explain exactly why the student did or did not agree with the announcement.


TOEFL Speaking 26: Question 4 



The two key points? Don't say everything. You won't demonstrate fluency to the graders, you won't finish on time, and you won't earn a 4. Furthermore, explain how the lecture illustrates the definition. One way to make sure that you do this is to underline the part of your notes (this should only be a few key words) that is most important in connecting the lecture to the definition. For example, if the definition is "light makes people happy" and your notes from the lecture are: "boy went outside; boy saw sun; boy felt light on face; boy felt happy." You should underline: "felt light on face" and "felt happy." 


TOEFL Speaking 26: Question 5 



Two points: say everything about the problem. For some reason many students summarize this and don't express the problem completely; don't be one of these students; you need the complete answer to get a 4 on this question. Also, don't stress the "even though" statements too much. I often hear students try to say so much in the "even though" statements that they don't have time for the more important "as" statements. So, if you don't finish this question on time, drop the "even though" statements.


TOEFL Speaking 26: Question 6 



Two what? Points. Here they are. Just as in question 4, don't say everything. Use your timer to guide you and make sure that you don't go over time. Finally, keep it simple. There is so much to explain in this question that you don't need to focus on what's not 100% clear to you. Instead, skip the stuff that's unclear to you because if you try to say it you'll be inaccurate and that will cost you. Stick to what you know, say it, and move on. 


Click here for more help from us on the TOEFL speaking section.


TOEFL Speaking Practice back to top



To make sure that you get the most out of this page, below is a full TOEFL speaking practice test.


You can record your answers below for feedback. If you'd like your answers professionally rated and reviewed, make sure to record your first tries on, submit these answers for free feedback, then please send us your voxopop link via email and make sure to title the email: speaking feedback from free class. Let us know a little about yourself too: what is your goal score, when is your next test (if you have one scheduled), what was your previous score (if you've taken it before), and anything else you'd like us to know and we'll send you a detailed study plan for exactly how to improve. Good luck!


To learn how to record on voxopop, first click on this link: click here to learn how to record your answers for review.


For timing yourself: Stopwatch

For recording yourself: Voxopop


Example Question 1


Question: If your friend were having difficulty deciding his or her major, what advice would you give him or her and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.


Preparation time: 15 seconds

Response time: 45 seconds


Example Question 2


Question: Some students prefer to study at home; others prefer to study in the library. Which do you think is best and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.



Preparation time: 15 seconds

Response time: 45 seconds


Example Question 3


Reading time: 45 seconds


Evening Computer Classes May Be Added


The computer department is considering offering evening classes in the fall. The proposal to add the classes is a response to student complaints that daytime computer classes have become increasingly overcrowded and there are no longer enough computers available. The department has decided that despite some added expenses, the most cost-effective way of addressing this problem is by adding computer classes in the evening. It is hoped that this change will decrease the number of students enrolled in day classes and thus guarantee individual access to computers for all students in computer classes.





Question: The man expresses his opinion of the university’s plan to add evening computer classes in the fall. State his opinion and explain the reasons he gives for holding that opinion.


Preparation time: 30 seconds

Response time: 60 seconds



Example Question 4


Reading time: 45 seconds


Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication


When we speak with other people face-to –face, the nonverbal signals we give-our facial expressions, hand gestures, body movements, and tone voice-often communicate as much as, or more than the words we utter. When our nonverbal signals, which we often produce unconsciously, agree with our verbal message, the verbal message in enhanced and supported, made more convincing. But when they conflict with the verbal message, we may be communicating an entirely different and more accurate message than what we intend.





Question: Explain verbal and non-verbal communication by using the examples provided by the professor.



Preparation time: 30 seconds

Response time: 60 seconds


Example Question 5


Class Trouble



Question: Describe the man’s problem and the two suggestions the woman makes about how he could deal with it. What do you think the man should do and why?


Preparation time: 20 seconds

Response time: 60 seconds


Example Question 6





Question: Using the points and examples given by the professor, explain two types of visual elements that artists use to express meaning or emotion.


Preparation time: 20 seconds

Response time: 60 seconds


More TOEFL Speaking Help back to top


If you believe that this post was useful, then there is not doubt that if you wish to continue to climb and improve or would like more guided help then we should continue reviewing and studying together (whether or not you're looking for the "magic 26" and especially if you are). Please click on our little TOEFL-test-taking-machine robot below to find the best program for you and to learn about our guaranteed 26 speaking score programs as well.



Remember To Master This Chapter Before Moving On back to top


Memorize the strategy, vocabulary, and speaking question content in this page. It will help you tremendously. It's the only way to improve your TOEFL score in a big way. After doing so, let's move to the next chapter.




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