The Structure of Each TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task

Sometimes, the TOEFL Integrated Speaking Tasks (Tasks 2-4) can feel like information overload. What information from the reading and listening is important? What do you need to make note of and include in your Integrated Speaking responses?

Organizing your Integrated Speaking response becomes easier when you realize that each Integrated Speaking prompt follows a very predictable pattern. Each individual task has a distinct pattern, always presenting the same information in the same ways. To help you master TOEFL Integrated Speaking, I’ve written a description of the structure and key facts you can expect in the different TOEFL Integrated Speaking Tasks. Read on to see what information you should expect, take notes on, and include in your own spoken summary.

The Most Important Information in TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 2

In Task 2, the reading passage will always describe a university change, proposed change, or policy. From there, the passage will always give exactly two reasons for the change, proposed change, or policy.

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Then, in the conversation audio track that follows, one student will always be the clearly opinionated student who speaks the most. The opinionated student is the only student you need to pay attention to. This student will give an opinion of agreement or disagreement with the policy, and will give two reasons for his or her opinion.

So in your own spoken summary, you’ll need to state the policy/change and the two reasons the passage gives in support of it. Then you’ll need to state the student’s opinion and the two reasons the student holds the opinion.

The Most Important Information in TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 3

In Task 3, the passage defines an academic concept. The passage usually gives two examples of the concept or two supporting details related to the concept. However, you don’t necessarily need to include a summary of the passage’s two examples when you give your response.

Instead, you need to focus on the examples of the passage concept that come from the lecture, not the passage itself. You can know this because the instructions for Task 3 tell you to explain the academic concept “using points from the lecture.” Fortunately, the audio track is as simple as the reading. Like the passage, the lecture will always have just two examples that illustrate the concept from the passage.

The Most Important Information in TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 4

Task 4 is possibly the simplest of the tasks, in terms of structure. Basically, Task 4 follows the same one-concept/two examples pattern as Task 3. But it does so with audio only — you don’t need to worry about both a passage and lecture. The lecturer names and defines an academic concept, and then gives either two examples of the concept or two supporting details about the concept. The main idea and its two supporting ideas are what you listen for and summarize.

Know these structures and you’ll always know exactly which details to listen for as well as exactly which ideas to include in your spoken response. Once you learn the basic pattern for each TOEFL Integrated Speaking prompt, these tasks are not as complicated as they first appear.

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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3 Responses to The Structure of Each TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task

  1. Hay October 20, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    Thank you for this extremely helpful post!

    I have kind of a silly question about the TOEFL speaking section. In the tasks where you read a passage and listen to something, are you supposed to read the passage out loud (will it be recorded) or not? I haven’t been able to find an answer to this question and am actually taking the test in a few days… Thanks so much in advance!

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 21, 2016 at 8:29 am #

      Hi Hay!

      Happy to help! No, you should not read the passage out loud. In fact, this could be seen as a form of communication during the exam, which is prohibited. Overall, you’re not graded on reading the passage itself but rather your responses to the questions asked based on the passage and recording.

      I hope this clarifies things for you 🙂 Good luck on your upcoming exam!

      • Hay October 21, 2016 at 9:50 am #

        Thank you for the quick response, this makes perfect sense!

        Your blogs have been extremely helpful when I’ve been studying for both the TOEFL & GRE. Thank you! Have a great weekend!

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