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How To Improve TOEFL Integrated Speaking, Part 5

This is the second part of our look at revisions to a TOEFL Speaking Task 4. Today, we’ll look at the body of the speech, with commentary about the changes the student made. Check out Part 3 of this post series for the full transcript of the original speech, and the full revision. Then look at Part 4 for revisions to the opening of this Task 4 response, with commentary.

Paragraph 2 (sentence 1)

  • Original text:
    The speaker illustrates this point with an example.
  • Changed to:
    The speaker illustrates this concept with an interesting example.
  • Notes on changes:
    “Concept” is a little better than “point,” because a concept is a set of ideas, while a point is just one idea. In the passage and lecture, implicit memory is clearly a concept, not just a single, narrow idea. The student added the word “interesting” to give their speech a natural, conversational tone.

Paragraph 2 (sentence 2)

  • Original text:
    He said that in a test we install a billboard in a busy highway.
  • Changed to:
    There was a psychological test where a billboard was put on a busy highway.
  • Notes on changes:
    You usually want to keep your speech as simple as you can in Integrated Speaking; after all, you need to cover a lot of information in just 60 seconds. But this is a rare case where it’s better for the wording to be a little more complicated. The complex experiment the lecturer must be described carefully so the listener can understand what’s happening. To make this sentence clearer, the student added extra information, showing that the test is a psychological test.The student also made some strategic changes to grammar and word choice. “He said” is replaced with “there was,” to make it clearer that the experiment is a real event and not just a scenario from the lecturer’s imagination.

Paragraph 2 (sentence 3)

  • Original text:
    Our billboard shows a car picture and its name which was Panther.
  • Changed to:
    The billboard showed a picture of a brand name car called the Panther.
  • Notes on changes:
    Like the second sentence in paragraph 2, this third sentence needs more detail and needs revisions to its grammar. An important detail is added when Panther is revealed to be a brand name for a car, not just the name of an individual car. And “our billboard,” which sounds hypothetical, is changed to “the billboard,” which sounds more like a real advertising board from a real event.  Finally, “shows” is changed to past tense “showed.”

Paragraph 2 (sentence 4)

  • Original text:
    Then, we ask the driver who commute in that highway if you notice that.
  • Changed to:
    After they drove the highway, commuters were asked if they remembered the billboard ad.
  • Notes on changes:
    Again, past tense in the original sentence makes the sentence sound hypothetical, when it’s actually describing a real event. The use of “after” gives a stronger sense of “reality” and sequence. And more past tense verbs are added in to mark the experiment as a true past event.

Paragraph 2 (sentence 5)

  • Original text:
    Majority of them said no.
  • Changed to:
    Some commuters said they didn’t remember seeing that.
  • Notes on changes:
    Here, the sentence is revised for inaccurate information. In the original lecture, the professor indicated that some of the drivers didn’t remember seeing the sign, but the professor did not say that more than half of the drivers (the majority) couldn’t recall the billboard.

Paragraph 2 (sentence 6)

  • Original text:
    But then we ask them what is the name of an animal which start with the letter P, majority of drivers said panther.
  • Changed to:
    But when these commuters were asked to name an animal starting with the letter P, the majority of them said “panther.”
  • Notes on changes:
    Here, “majority” actually is correct, because a smaller group is being surveyed– the group of drivers who didn’t remember seeing the billboard. According to the professor, most of the drivers in this group did say “panther” when asked for the name of an animal that starts with a “P.”There is still one problem: In this sentence, the science experiment again sounds hypothetical instead of real. This is because of the use of “we” and the present task verb “ask.” The experiment sounds more like a real past event if you use the passive voice form “were asked.”

Paragraph 2 (sentence 7)

  • Original text:
    This example clearly shows the unconscious method of memorizing.
  • Changed to:
    This example clearly shows implicit memory at work.
  • Notes on changes:
    The original version is an acceptable conclusion. But the revision makes the conclusion stronger by restating the essay’s key term: “implicit memory.”

The takeaway

Integrated Speaking Tasks can be especially tricky if they include academic passages and lectures. These kinds of materials have a lot of information, often in subject areas that the test-taker isn’t familiar with. Keeping track of correct information, correct grammar, and correct word choice can be hard. Revising a previous Integrated Speaking Task response is a great way to practice these different skills.

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