iBT Speaking Question 5: Preparation
This question is a favorite among TOEFL test takers because the listening tends to be the easiest. Don’t be tricked, though, into thinking that you should relax. The task is still challenging, though this one should be one of your top scores. Remember, you have a lot to say. You must give the problem, the solutions (2), your opinion and your reasons for that opinion. That’s five items that you need to mention in order to score above a three. During preparation time, brainstorm about reasons to support your opinion. My advice is to always pick the second solution as your opinion because you can combine the two in your response in order to save time: "The second solution, which is the best in my opinion, is ..." Also, this eliminates any preparation time spent on picking a solution. Spend the twenty seconds coming up with reasons to support your opinion and you should have plenty to say and hopefully something original to distinguish your response from the others.
iBT Speaking Question 4: Split The Reading
Split the reading into two pieces of information. Get the main idea which will probably be in the first sentence. Then scan the rest of the paragraph for another detail that stands out. Usually, this detail is in the last sentence. With two pieces of information, you’ve got two chances to speak about the reading during your response. In addition to that, there might be a connection between your detail from the reading and one in the lecture. Since you’ve only got forty-five seconds to take notes on the reading, setting a goal of two pieces of information will help you relax and focus on two things rather than scattering your attention all over the passage. Don’t even try to get it all if you’re slower at this task. Just split the reading into two pieces. Then, during the preparation time, thirty seconds, you can figure out where to fit that extra reading detail with lecture points. If there isn’t a fit then go ahead and just summarize the reading quickly before describing the points from the lecture.
POSTED BY TOEFL TIGER AT 6:06 AM LINKS TO THIS POST
LABELS: IBT SPEAKING QUESTION: 4
Speaking Responses: Formal or Informal?
A TOEFL TIGER VISITOR WROTE:
Dear Toefl tiger,
Hi my name is Samarth and I have just recently started reading your blog and find it very helpful in my preparation for the toefl. What I wanted to know was : on the speaking section is it okay if our responses are filled with some colloquial terms such as " uh mean.you know" and " you wouldn’t want to.." Or should we stick to a slightly more academic way of speaking?
Secondly, should we restate our position a couple of times during the 45 seconds to remind the listener, or not risk doing that at all?
Thank you for your help. Sorry for the inconvenience.
TOEFL TIGER RESPONSE:
I’m pleased that we’re helping you on your TOEFL quest! This is an important question. Speaking responses need to be given in what ETS calls a "natural speaking voice". While this might seem to mean that you can say "uh" whenever you want, I advise you to take a different approach. If you get to comfortable, I think the response will suffer in many categories. Firstly, it will seem too informal, this is a test after all. Secondly, it might encourage you to make more mistakes because you’re not on guard (formal). Thirdly, it’s an easy way to waste time and graders know this. Most importantly, it will not result in the most specific response possible. My opinion is that if you want a top score then you need to separate yourself from the crowd. One way to do this is to perfect your speech. You don’t have to speak without error. That’s impossible. However, it should be clear that you’re speaking as well as you can. Any beginner can use these phrases, but not anyone can elevate their speech. Remember, when you’re giving a response, you’re proving yourself to the grader.
If this is challenging, record your response and then write down every single word and sound that you said. Then edit that response and try to say it again within the time limit. This will help reduce any bad habits.
Now, the second question wants to know if we should restate in question one and two. When the time limit is forty-five seconds, this time is too short to bother with restating unless if you ran out of things to say. Ideally, state the topic within five seconds and spend the remaining forty on reasons and examples. Thanks for the insightful questions and feedback!
POSTED BY TOEFL TIGER AT 5:07 AM LINKS TO THIS POST
iBT Reading Question: Summary Charts
The summary chart should be a no-brainer, but a surprising number of students needlessly lose points on it.
The concept is simple; you are given a general statement and asked to choose the three choices that best support the statement. The general statement may or may not be the thesis of the essay; it will always be a broader statement than any of the choices.
Fall back on your knowledge of essay structure from the writing section. Remember how paragraphs have topic sentences that are illustrated with details or examples. In most cases, you are simply looking for a paraphrase of a topic sentence. It must directly support the general statement; if it doesn’t, throw it out. Wrong choices will either be minor details, factually incorrect information, or facts not present in the essay.
Know the difference between a major support sentence and a minor detail! The details will often be describing one of the support sentences.
For example; our general statement is The automobile industry in the United States developed rapidly in the first half of the twentieth century.
Consider these two choices:
a) The assembly line, first implemented at Ford’s Dearborn factory, increased its production capacities sevenfold, churning out automobiles at a rate of hundreds per day.
b) Leading the way in popularizing the mass-produced automobile was the Model T., the first vehicle affordable to the working and middle classes.
The general statement is about the overall growth of the industry. Both choices seem to refer to growth (increased its production in choice a, and mass-produced in choice b). But look at those words carefully. Which one really describes growth? "increased its production", not "mass-produced" which describes the automobile. For that reason alone, a clearly supports the general statement, and b does not.
On a deeper level, we can compare the meaning of the sentences. Choice b is an example of a mass produced automobile, which we can infer was made possible by the increased production capacities referenced in choice a. Therefore, b is really a detail of a; a is support of the general statement. A main idea.
Think of your essay outlines; that will do the trick!