How to structure speaking in TOEFL IBT test

14/10/2015 10:27

The speaking section moves fast. The 45 or 60 seconds that you usually have to give your answer will fly by, and you need to be sure you can fit all of your thoughts into that time. Generally, this means that simplicity is key. The speaking section isn’t a good time to improvise a complicated set of contrasting ideas and show your logical abilities. Instead, try structuring your response around a set formula that you can practice and be sure will fit the time frame you’re given.

One good way to structure your response is in three parts. First, give a general statement about the main topic. For example, in the opinion task (speaking question 2), that’s your personal choice. Similarly, in the lecture summary task (question 6), that’s the main subject of the lecture.

Begin with a phrase like “I think that…” or “In my opinion…”.  

Be as concrete as possible during the detail's part. For example, don’t say “some animals” when you mean to say “tigers.” Concrete things are almost always easier to understand than generalities or abstractions. In between your examples, try using expressions like “Also”, “In addition,” and “On that note…” to show the listener that what follows will be similar to what came before. In either case, there are very often reasons and examples. That is, in this middle part of your response you will explain and illustrate.

Finally, you will give a quick sentence to conclude. In that conclusion, you’ll briefly restate the same reasons or details you already gave, using different wording and with less specifics. This should not be more than a few seconds—just one sentence.