This task will be based on an academic topic, unlike the previous one. You will listen to a short (60 to 90 seconds long) excerpt from a lecture, and then you will have to answer a question about the material. Once again, no prior knowledge of the subject matter is necessary to answer the question adequately, and the topic may be from a wide range of fields.
The professor will usually begin by introducing the topic or a key term, and then will spend the majority of the lecture discussing different interpretations or perspectives on it, the functions of a process, or the causes and effects of a phenomenon. You will be then be asked to summarize the main ideas of the lecture. These questions can be tricky, as they basically require you to re-teach what you just learned. If you try to see the task from this perspective, you will have an easier time answering the question in the way that ETS wants; give as much detail as you can, and don’t assume that your listener has any knowledge of the topic.
You will have 20 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak. Again, twenty seconds is very little time, so you need to use it wisely. You can do yourself a favor by taking good notes during the lecture. Since these questions typically don’t require you to dramatically reorganize the material in the lecture, if you have good notes, you can dedicate your 20 seconds of preparation to marking the points you want to bring back up in your answer.
You can prepare for the sixth speaking task by outlining academic lectures and trying to summarize them. Many MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) offer worksheets to accompany the lectures; if you fill them out and try to summarize the main points of each video, you will get better at catching the essential information on the first listen and at reframing it in the context of another question. Check out iTunes U, coursera.com, and Khan Academy for lots of lecture videos you can practice with.