Frequently Asked Questions about TOEFL Speaking
The focus of the TOEFL iBT is on communicative competence and tests your ability to use English to communicate effectively in an academic setting. Speaking is a key communication skill, along with listening, reading, and writing, and has an important place in the TOEFL iBT assessment.
Speaking tasks that combine reading and/or listening passages with speaking are called integrated tasks. They are included in the TOEFL iBT in recognition of the fact that to succeed academically in English-speaking colleges and universities, students need to be able to combine all their English-language skills—in reading, listening, and speaking, as well as writing—inside and outside the classroom.
The reading and listening passages that are associated with the integrated tasks vary in length but are all quite brief. Reading passages range from approximately 75 to 100 words, and the listening passages are generally between 60 and 90 seconds long. In addition to being short, the listening and reading passages are not intended to be difficult. They are designed to provide you with clear and accessible information to use in answering the speaking questions.
Yes. You may take notes at any time during the Speaking section—while reading the written passages, listening to the spoken dialogues or lectures, and preparing your responses. While you listen to the dialogues or lectures and take notes, you should not try to write down word for word everything you hear. If you try to do this, you will probably miss hearing important information. Similarly, while preparing your spoken response, do not try to write out an answer that you will then try to speak. You will not have enough time to write out a full response, and raters will be rating you on your ability to speak, not on your ability to read aloud from a text that you have written. Instead, you should use your preparation to review whatever notes you have taken and to organize your ideas.
Each of the six tasks on the TOEFL iBT is rated by human scorers who will assign ratings ranging from 0 to 4 for each response. The scorers will evaluate your responses for the ability they display in topic development, delivery, and language use, and assign an overall score for each response, based on these three factors.
The scores on your individual speaking tasks are added up, with each individual task score carrying the same weight. The sum of these individual scores is converted into a scaled score of 0 to 30, and that is the Speaking score that will be reported to the institutions you request.
Raters will not focus on the number of errors you make. They will score the response based on the overall performance. A response that contains minor or occasional errors may still be scored at the highest level.
You may find that for some tasks, you are not able to include in your answer all the information you would like to. The time allotted for each speaking response is considered sufficient for you to give a complete answer, and you should try to give as thorough an answer as possible. However, the raters who evaluate your responses recognize that it may not always be possible for you to anticipate precisely how much of what you want to say will fit into the amount of time provided. Keep in mind that how clearly and coherently you convey information is as important as how much information you convey. Therefore, you should avoid speaking at an unnaturally rapid pace if you see that time is going to run out before you say everything you have planned to say. You may find it useful to time yourself when practicing the speaking tasks. This will help you get an idea of how much can be said in the allotted time.
If you finish your answer before time runs out, you may want to consider what additional information you could add that make your answer more complete. If you find yourself with extra time, it may not be a good idea for you to merely repeat what you have already said. Rather, ask yourself what else you could say to clarify, elaborate on, or otherwise develop your response more fully. Timing yourself when practicing the speaking tasks should help you get accustomed to the time allowances.
No. Each of your spoken responses is recorded, and it is not possible to go back and re-record what you have said. For each question, you will be given some time to prepare your answer, and this should help you plan ahead of time what you want to say. You should also remember that your speaking responses are not expected to be perfect. If in the course of giving your spoken response, you realize that you should have said something differently, you should feel free to correct your mistake if you wish, just as you would if you had made a mistake while speaking in your native language and wanted to correct it. Otherwise you may want to simply ignore an error and continue with your response, making sure that the remainder of what you say is as intelligible, coherent, and accurate as possible.
All TOEFL iBT test takers will have speech that is accented to some degree or another, and your score will not be affected by your accent, unless your accent interferes with the intelligibility of your response. Minor and/or occasional pronunciation mistakes are also expected, even among the most proficient test takers, and, here again, as long as pronunciation mistakes do not interfere with the intelligibility of your response, they will not count against your score..