The Speaking section might be the most challenging of the 4 sections on the Toefl IBT, and the first two Speaking questions are the most daunting of all for many students who take the test.
One reason for this is the structure of the answer. You have to provide reasons and details that support your opinion, but they have to take the form of an academic argument. These questions appear to be casual or ‘conversational’, but they are not. Like everything else on the TOEFL IBT, these tasks test the students’ readiness for academic study in the U.S.. If you answer in a roundabout, discursive or disorganized manner, you will lose points, regardless of how fluent your English is. I’ve known high-level English speakers who’ve gotten low scores on the Speaking section of the TOEFL test for precisely this reason.
So without fail, make sure your examples and details support the opinion you’ve given. Don’t go off on tangents or change the subject in the TOEFL IBT Speaking section. If you do that, you will lose points. Coherence and development are two of the main categories you’re being graded on. Poorly developed or off-topic details result in lower scores:
Again — the Speaking section of the TOEFL test is an assessment of your academic skills, not just your speaking ability. Being able to speak English, even at a high level of proficiency, isn’t enough. Always connect the details and examples in your answer back to the main idea (or thesis).
And as always, once you’ve grasped the basic concept of the structure, practice with a timer as much as you can. And get some feedback from a qualified tutor or instructor.
Check back for more great tips on the TOEFL IBT. In the next TOEFL blog post, I’ll give you some suggestions on how to develop your Speaking task 1 and 2 responses effectively. And if you have any concerns or questions, feel free to contact OMNI through the website.