Kate Hardin

The Topics You’ll Speak About on the TOEFL

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.


Defending an opinion

Task 1 is an opinion question, and it 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.

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Conversation focused

Task 2 asks about a conversation related to a university campus. You’ll read a passage that describes the situation, then a conversation that you’ll be asked to comment on, and then the question itself. The task will ask you to contrast university a short university-related announcement or piece of news (the passage) with a student’s opinion on that news (the audio).


Academic integrated

Tasks 3 and 4 are based on academic 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.



  • Kate Hardin

    Kate has 6 years of experience in teaching foreign language. She graduated from Sewanee in 2012, where she studied and taught German, and recently returned from a year spent teaching English in a northern Russian university. Follow Kate on Google+!

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