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TOEFL Speaking Section: A Guide for Test-Takers

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

toefl speaking test

The TOEFL Speaking section is one of the four skills tested in the universally acknowledged Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). It is accepted by thousands of universities and educational institutions as proof of English language proficiency.  It is also useful for immigration and work purposes. TOEFL scores are essential for candidates as a result.

Parts of TOEFL

Candidates will require 3 hours and 30 minutes to take the test. It has four parts in total. They include the following: 


Required Time in (minutes)

Total Questions/Tasks

Task to be Performed

Reading Section



Respond to the questions after reading the passage. 

Listening Section



Answer questions revolving around discussions/lectures. 

10 mins break 

Speaking Section



Talking about any topic familiar to the candidate and then discussing material that you have read or listened to. 

Writing Section


Type or write responses after listening to an audio clip and reading a passage. 


TOEFL Speaking Section in Detail

You should know more about TOEFL speaking questions and the TOEFL speaking test format before starting your preparation for this portion. 

Here is a brief guide to the TOEFL speaking section: 

  • There are four tasks in total. 
  • Question 1- Independent Speaking Task. You will have to respond with your own ideas, opinions, and other experiences. 
  • Questions 2-4- Integrated Speaking Tasks. You will have to combine skills of listening and speaking, reading and speaking or listening as you do in a regular classroom setting. 
  • You will have a preparation time of approximately 15-30 seconds prior to giving any response. This response will be 45-60 seconds at the most. You will be speaking into your microphone to respond. 
  • The responses are recorded before being dispatched to ETS (TOEFL conducting body) for scoring. 
  • You will get 17 minutes to finish this TOEFL section. 
  • The section has native accents from the United Kingdom, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. 

You will find several TOEFL speaking topics with answers online to help you practice.

Recommended Reads:

Documents Required for TOEFLHow to Prepare for TOEFLTOEFL Exam Preparation Tips

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Guide for TOEFL Speaking Section 

You will find numerous TOEFL speaking topics available online and TOEFL speaking practice questions. Here are some more tips to help you with your preparations: 

  1. There are many kinds of TOEFL independent speaking topics, such as 

Q. Which of the following tools is the best for looking for a job? 1) The internet 2) newspapers 3)connections. 

Q. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: It is never too late to get a degree in university

There could be a preference, agree/disagree, general, advantage/disadvantage, and explanation/description-based questions. 

  1. Get hold of as many independent speaking task TOEFL examples as you can. 
  2. You should also follow some basic TOEFL speaking tips for Questions 2 and 3. You will be given a small text for reading and then will have to listen to a recording of any discussion related to the text in question. You will have to respond based on your reading/listening. The reading passage is small and may cover university regulations, accommodation, transportation, etc. 
  3. Question 4 will have you responding to a passage that is taken from any educational lecture. This is a two-minute recording and will have a continual speech from one individual in most cases. It may deal with any topic from disciplines like psychology, humanities, sociology, etc. 
  4. Every section is marked from 0-4, and the total score will then be converted into a 0-30 scale. 17-24 is Good, and 10-16 is Fair. 25-30 is considered Excellent. 0-9 indicates Weak. 
  5. Keep taking notes as you go along. 
  6. Have a template ready with phrases for expressing your opinion, linking to another sentence/idea, highlighting differences/contrasts, and going to conclusions. 
  7. Always be clear and slow while speaking to help the examiner understand what you are saying. 
  8. Be creative with your answers and keep your grammar and vocabulary on tips. 
  9. Practice listening to native English accents from the USA, UK, New Zealand, and Australia. 

These are some tips that will help you crack this section.

Know More About TOEFL:

TOEFL Eligibility CriteriaTOEFL SyllabusTOEFL Exam Dates
TOEFL Exam PatternTOEFL Exam FeeHow to Register for TOEFL


Frequently Asked Questions

How to practice for TOEFL speaking section?

You should find examples of questions for all four tasks and practice answering within the time limit. 

The trick is to be yourself and showcase your vocabulary and command of the English language. 

You should get a practice buddy and practice within social settings and by initiating mock conversations in line with practice samples.

How is TOEFL speaking section scored?

The speaking section will grade aspirants on the basis of topic developmentlanguage use, and delivery. The tasks are thereafter scored on a 0-4 scale. The raw scores will be averaged thereafter. They will be converted into a final score which comes on the 0-30 scale. This is how the TOEFL speaking section is scored.

How many questions in TOEFL speaking?

You will have four tasks to complete in the TOEFL speaking section. You will get 17 minutes to complete the section. The first question is the Independent Speaking task, where you will have to express your opinions and ideas. Questions 2-4 are also known as Integrated Speaking tasks since you will have to combine listening and reading skills for coming up with your answers. You will get 15-30 seconds to prepare before every answer, and the answer should be a maximum of 45-60 seconds in terms of its length.

How to prepare for TOEFL speaking?

You should practice by listening to sample audio clips and reading sample passages. Always set the timer while practicing to 90 seconds (80 seconds for the fourth question). 

Spend 30 seconds in building up your response (this will be 20 seconds for the fourth question), and then spend 60 seconds in coming up with your response to every question. 

The more you keep practicing in this manner, the more you will become adept at answering within the allotted time limit. 

Always answer the entire question and structure your response as per the notes that you jot down in a sequence.

How is TOEFL speaking test conducted?

You will not be speaking to an actual individual in the Speaking test of the TOEFL. You will be hearing recorded audio and responding through the microphone given to you. Scorers will then evaluate your responses. Every question will get a 0-4 score. The speaking section is the only TOEFL component that humans fully grade.

How to take notes in TOEFL speaking?

You should keep using space on the rough paper for jotting down notes. 

You should keep writing succinctly in points and keep organized notes for use later on. 

Write only the crucial points or ideas here. 

You should avoid using entire sentences while taking notes. 

Take these notes in English and pay attention to the tone of voice of the speaker. 

Use symbols or abbreviations wherever required. 

Highlight new concepts or progressions when they come into the picture.

Is TOEFL speaking hard?

TOEFL speaking is one of the hardest sections of the test. However, some feel that the overall test may be slightly easier than the IELTS, although this is subjective. The speaking section will be tough since you will have limited time to prepare your answers and respond to questions. 

You will have to cut out distractions while speaking clearly in order to make the examiner understand what you are saying. You will have to demonstrate your English vocabulary and maintain grammatical and spelling correctness. Hence, it is hard to get a high score on this question, but it is certainly not impossible.

Important IELTS Exam Resources

IELTS Exam Overview

IELTS is required to be taken by international students and workers who wish to study or work in a country where English is the primary language of communication. Know the complete details.

IELTS Online Test

IELTS Exam Syllabus

With the right knowledge of the IELTS exam syllabus and pattern, cracking the popular English test won’t be difficult.

IELTS Syllabus

IELTS Exam Pattern

The IELTS exam pattern encompasses four major sections, i.e. listening, speaking, writing, and reading.

IELTS Exam Pattern

Important Resources For GRE/GMAT Exams

GRE Exam Registration

raduate Record Examination (GRE) is one of the biggest and most popular global tests held by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). It is a standardized examination for entry into courses like MBA, MS, and others at universities worldwide.

GRE Registration

GRE Exam Dates for 2023

Booking GRE exam dates 2023 is a simple procedure. You can register by paying US$213 (approx. INR 15,700) and providing your valid passport copy or relevant ID.

GRE Exam Dates

GRE Exam Fees

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GRE Exam Fee

Important Resources For PTE/SAT/ACT Exam

PTE Examination Eligibility Criteria

There are no specific PTE exam eligibility criteria set by Pearson VUE – the organizers of the test.

PTE Eligibility

PTE Academic Syllabus

PTE syllabus includes various sections such as Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening.

PTE Syllabus

PTE Exam Pattern

The PTE exam pattern is designed to test whether candidates can study at international institutions that have English as the main language for instructions.

PTE Exam Pattern

Important Resources For Duolingo & TOEFL Exam

Duolingo Exam Eligibility

The Duolingo English test does not require any academic transcripts or certificates for qualification. Anyone willing to assess his/her English language proficiency can take the test from any part of the world.

Duolingo English Test Eligibility

Duolingo Exam Pattern

The Duolingo English test pattern is planned and designed using Data Forensics and Artificial Intelligence technology to maintain the clarity of the test.

Duolingo English Test Pattern

Duolingo English Test Fees

The Duolingo exam fees are significantly lower than IELTS and TOEFL because of its unique testing pattern.

Duolingo Exam Fees

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