The TOEFL speaking section tests your ability to express yourself in a few general situations: talking about personal experience, giving an opinion, summarizing, and contrasting two sources of information are the most important skills.
Personal experience and opinion
Personal experience questions are short and will ask you to reflect on some broad topic: a person you know, a place you’ve been, or an experience that many people have had. These questions are always very general, as they have to be equally relevant to all test-takers. To prepare for these kinds of questions, be able to talk about likes, dislikes, personal characteristics, and descriptive vocabulary.
Defending an opinion
Like personal experience questions, the opinion question is designed to be very general and accessible to everyone. Often, it will require you to compare or choose the better of two options, so brush up on your comparison-related vocabulary. Like an experience question, it’s very important that you use specific examples and personal experience to support your position.
There are two speaking questions that ask about conversations you’ll hear. One of the two questions, the 3rd speaking task, will also include a short reading. In both cases, the topics will be related to practical, everyday issues that students might have. One will ask you to contrast university news with a student’s opinion on the news. The other will ask you to summarize a student’s problem and state what you think the best solution would be. In either case, you will have to use a lot of reported speech (for example, “The man complained that…”).
The two academic integrated questions are based on lectures. One of the two also includes a text. In these questions, the topics are similar to what you read about in the reading section and heard in the listening section. The topics will be things that you probably know little or nothing about, but that you can understand with no background knowledge. In both tasks, you will have to summarize what you heard. The task that includes a reading is slightly more complicated—you have to explain how the lecture relates to the text—but not much. Summary and, again, reported speech are the major skills.