The first independent speaking task asked you to describe a personal experience. The second one, on the other hand, will ask your opinion on an issue. Usually it will present two opposing opinions, and you will need to choose the one that you think is most justified and explain why.
As before, you’ll have 15 seconds to think and 45 seconds to speak. Generally speaking, the structure of your response should be similar to the structure of the first speaking task: briefly state your opinion, give two reasons why you think the way you do, then offer a conclusion of some kind. If you choose to, you can use the conclusion to acknowledge another side of the issue or an opposing opinion. That’s a good way to use up extra time if you get through your examples with 10 or 15 seconds left. If you do this, however, be sure that you will have time to return to your original opinion and make your preference clear (and give a brief explanation).
It can be very hard to give a complete answer in such a short time—especially because you have little time to prepare. But practicing with a timer many times, learning answer structures, and studying sample answers makes it easier eventually. If you want more guidance and practice material, Magoosh TOEFL can help.
Let’s look at an example question from the Official Guide, followed by an example of a good answer.
Some students study for classes individually. Others study in groups. Which method of studying do you think is better for students, and why?
“Personally, I prefer to study alone rather than in a group. When I’m with my friends, I have trouble concentrating, and I get less finished in more time than if I had studied alone.
Also, I like to be free to do what I want when I study–to move to a new place or get something to eat if I want to, to listen to music or not, and to move on to a new subject when I want to. If I’m with friends, we have to compromise so that everyone can get work done. I’m a visual learner, so talking about the material with classmates doesn’t help me as much as reading and writing about it by myself does.
Although a study group can help to hold you accountable for getting your work done and doing it well, for me the costs of studying in a group outweigh the benefits, so I usually study alone.”
This general format is a great one to use on the test: “I prefer/believe that…”, then some examples, then an “although statement,” followed by a concluding remark. Remember that any well-developed answer is correct, and any poorly-developed answer is wrong. You will not lose points for picking an opinion that the graders don’t agree with.
If you want more practice than you can find for this kind of speaking question, check out independent writing tasks. The prompts are remarkably similar, and in addition to the wealth of materials you’ll find on the Internet, the Official Guide has a long list of independent writing tasks beginning on page 216.