“Chances are” is a common phrase in spoken English. You may hear this phrase in the listening tasks found in TOEFL Listening, Speaking and Writing. You also are very likely to hear this “chances are” once you are studying and living in an English-speaking country.
“Chances are” expresses possibility. The phrase is a shorter way of saying, “It is likely that…” or “It is probably true that…” If the sky is cloudy, you could say “It is likely that it will rain,” or you could say “Chances are, it will rain.” The second sentence sounds more conversational and more natural. Similarly, the sentence “It is probably true that you will need a high TOEFL score to get into Harvard” can be changed to “Chances are, you will need a high TOEFL score to get into Harvard.
On the TOEFL, you will usually hear “chances are” in a recorded conversation, or in a lecture where a professor is taking a conversational tone. To help you understand how “chances are” works in a conversation, I’ve made a comic strip that shows this phrase in use. Read it carefully and post comments if you have any more questions about “chances are.” To truly master this phrase, I suggest writing a few conversations of your own that use “chances are.” Practice reading the conversations with friends. When you feel ready, start working “chances are” into the real English-language conversations you have.
[UPDATE]: If you want more TOEFL comics like these, check out our 50 page TOEFL Comics eBook!