Just like any other test where you feel overwhelmed no matter your preparation, so is TOEFL Speaking. In the TOEFL test, the shortest section is always TOEFL Speaking but it is one of the sections that many students really struggle to get right. Of course, if a student is not used to talking directly into a microphone while under the constraint of time, and in an environment full of other testers, the test becomes even more strenuous to crack.

However, the good news is that you can prepare before your scheduled test. Although you will not do the exact test, you will have some confidence during the real test. One key that will help you do well in TOEFL Speaking is understanding the format of the test and some strategies for using the allotted time well. So what does TOEFL Speaking involve? Let’s have a look at that.

An Overview of TOEFL Speaking

Well, contrary to the expectations of many testers who think that this test only involves speaking English, the test also involves:

  • Your reading skills
  • Your listening skills
  • A good understanding of the recordings made by a native English speaker
  • Using the right grammar
  • Time management skills
  • Pronouncing all the words correctly
  • Your ability to stay focused
  • Your ability to take short-hand notes

The TOEFL Speaking Section usually lasts for only 20 minutes within which you are expected to complete all the 6 tasks in this test.

Every question you respond to usually has a score of 0-4. Your score will then be added together and scaled between 0-30 so as to get your final score in TOEFL Speaking. This section contributes to 25% of your total score on the TOEFL test. 0-9 is Weak, 10-17 is Fair, 18-25 is Good, and 26-30 is Excellent.

TOEFL Speaking is usually made up of 3 diverse types of questions:

Independent Tasks

This usually tests the first two tasks, tasks 1 and 2. In these tasks, you will be asked some general questions which may revolve around your life and your opinions on maybe a certain topic. You have to put your thoughts together fast and respond within the given timeframe. You don’t have to tell the truth, just be creative.

Integrated Tasks

These types of questions will require you to integrate more than one skill in giving your response. It involves tasks 3 and 4. This is where they test your listening and reading skills.

You will be given a paragraph, then listen to a recording of some students giving their opinions on the topic in Task 3. You will then listen to a professor discussing a similar topic and then give your answer. It is advisable to include only the important information to save time.

Listening Integrated Tasks

This involves pure listening without any text. It involves tasks 5 and 6. You will listen to a recording from a student and from a lecturer. You are expected to give your answer within 60 seconds. Use 15 seconds to explain the problem, 30 seconds to give solutions, and 15 seconds to explain the solution that you chose.

Having known what the TOEFL Speaking test involves, which are some of the strategies and tips for scoring excellently in it? Here are some tips.

7 Tips to Scoring Well in TOEFL Speaking

Tip 1: Take your time to prepare

Some people have felt that they are already great at English speaking and decided not to prepare. However, most of them end up failing the test. Preparation is key to passing TOEFL Speaking and even the entire TOEFL test.

Remember you only have 20 minutes to answer clearly to the questions. It is advisable that you practice and prepare by speaking English more frequently for at least 2-3 hours daily.

Tip 2: Take some notes

In Tasks 3 to 6, you will definitely need to take some short notes to enable you to remember when it comes to the time of giving answers. This is one way you can develop answers that are effective. It helps you to get focused.

Tip 3: Stay Calm

In TOEFL Speaking, strive to always stay calm and relaxed. Panicking is one way of losing your concentration and your thinking ability goes down. Well, it is very normal to feel tense but you can always control it. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. And then learn how to speak steadily at your own pace while still keeping your time.

Tip 4: Using a template

Well, using templates that have a structure of how the answers to your questions should begin can be a great way of saving time. This will also solve your stress. However, ensure the template you are using matches the questions you are being asked.

Tip 5: Staying Focused

This cannot be overemphasized because it is one of the root tips that will help you score excellently. Remember you are not the only one in the room. Honestly, it can be very noisy and very easy to lose concentration. Never listen to what your colleague testers are saying. It is advisable you do some practice in a noisy room to get used to the environment.

Tip 6: Never Plagiarize

This is a common mistake many testers do in TOEFL Speaking. Plagiarism shows that you are not creative enough to come up with your own ideas. This is where you have to be very careful with the templates you are going to use. Besides, don’t copy-paste what is written in the paragraph. However, it is advisable you quote some of what you heard when giving your answer.

Tip 7: Always Sound Right

As mentioned earlier, you will just be listening to some recorded conversations which are from a native English speaker and you are required to respond into your microphone by speaking clearly and loudly. This will later be analyzed and given a score by TOEFL graders. One of the grading factors is your pronunciation. Whenever you are pronouncing your words, ensure you pay much attention to the words that are not part of your native language. Always ensure that you are sounding right.


Passing the TOEFL Speaking test is not quite hard if you can prepare properly and follow the aforementioned tips. Knowing the type of questions to expect and their proper approach is a great plus for you. If only you can put the right energy required into these 6 tasks, you can be sure that you will pass your TOEFL Speaking test.


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About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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