How do I score 115 on the TOEFL?

“How do I score 115 on the TOEFL?” asked someone at Quora. Reaching this score, as you can learn here, puts you into the 99% percentile. In other words only 1% of all test-takers reach this incredibly high score. Nevertheless,  out of every 100 test-takers, one reaches this high score.  Therefore, how do elite students score so high?

How do I score 115 on the TOEFL.?
How do I score 115 on the TOEFL.?

Can “YOU” score 115 on the TOEFL Exam?

I do not want to rain on your parade, but it may not be cognitively possible for you to achieve such a high score.  If you can answer “yes” to most of the questions below, then you may have a chance of reaching this goal.

  1. Are you someone who is incredibly driven to excel whether it be academics, sports, hobbies, work, or some other activity?
  2. Can you concentrate on a single task for 2-4 hours a day?  Can you stick to a goal for several months at a time, even when that goal is difficult to achieve?
  3. Did either one of your parents complete a graduate degree in an English-speaking country?
  4. Do you have a natural gift for learning new languages?  For example, do you already speak three or more languages?
  5. During your elementary school, middle school, high school, and college studies, were/are you the number one academically performing student in each of your classes?
  6. Have you been using English at home or with your friends in a limited way for more than 10 years?
  7. In your high school or college studies, were you one of the top 1% of all students. Put another way, out of 1000 graduating students do you consider yourself one of the top ten academically  performing students?

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, your chances of scoring 115 decrease quickly. Nevertheless, following the TOEFL tips on this page will help you to get the highest possible score based on your English experience and aptitude.

What you should be doing while you prepare for the TOEFL

Get as much exposure to English as possible.

In addition to your TOEFL studies, you need to increase your exposure to English.   Here are some suggestions toward this aim:

About 45 minutes a day, read magazines, newspapers, and other short passages. Take notes and use your notes to orally summarize the most important points. Using your notes, deliver at least 3-5 60 second oral responses each week. Write 3-5 250 word summaries of those passages.

Engage in 1.5 hours of pleasure reading daily.  Stay away from social media, especially on your phone, and use that valuable time to read fiction and non-fiction books of your choosing.  Your goal is to read 200 plus pages of these types of books every week.

Find opportunities to speak English with native speakers. For example, one of my previous students, who lives in Brazil, plays video games online with gamers in the United States. Hence, he has improved his speaking incredibly. In fact, he scored 28 on the speaking section of the TOEFL and has a total TOEFL score of 110 right now.

If possible, join a Toast Masters group in your hometown. Attend meetings weekly so that you can give presentations in front of the group.

Spend about 45 minutes daily watching TV or listening to news, documentary, history, and science programs. Develop an effective note-taking system to capture the main ideas and most important support points. Then use your notes to orally summarize the passages. Furthermore, write 3-5 250 word summaries of the passages.

Watch 3-5 full movies a week. Pay attention to how the speakers talk to each other. Make sure you can catch the plot and how all the actions in the movie relate to that plot.

“How do I score 115 on the TOEFL?” Take a full-length TOEFL iBT practice test.

Full-Length TOEFL iBT Practice Tests

If you have a current official TOEFL iBT score, go on to the next section.

“How do I score 115 on the TOEFL?” involves taking a full-length TOEFL iBT four hour practice test to find your current level. Taking this practice is important for several reasons:

  • You will learn the structure and format of the TOEFL iBT exam.
  • Taking a practice test for four consecutive hours, which mirrors the duration of the official TOEFL exam, will help you to develop concentration and stamina. Developing this strength will help you to concentrate better during the actual TOEFL exam.
  • After taking a practice test, you will get an accurate overall score and subtotal reading, listening, speaking, and writing scores.  Knowing your level right now is crucial since you will choose an appropriate study plan based on these data.

“How do I score 115 on the TOEFL?” Discuss your results with a qualified TOEFL mentor.

A TOEFL mentor can help you reach 115+
A TOEFL mentor can help you reach 115+

Now you want to discuss your official score or practice score with a qualified TOEFL mentor.  Here are some general guidelines for what information you should share:

  • Let your TOEFL mentor see a copy of the score report so s/he can see how you did on all sections of the exam.
  • Tell your mentor that you need an overall score of 115. Also, let your mentor know if you need any specific subtotal requirements in the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections.
  • Share your test-taking experience with your TOEFL mentor:  Did you have trouble concentrating during any part of the exam?  Were you distracted in any way during the test? Do you feel that the overall score and subtotal scores accurately reflect your current academic English proficiency? Is there anything in particular that you had trouble with during the test? The more information you can provide, the better your TOEFL mentor will be able to get you on the right TOEFL plan to reach 115.

Choose the right TOEFL plan.

Choose the right TOEFL plan.
Choose the right TOEFL plan.

Figuring out the right TOEFL plan is largely based on your current TOEFL level.  Your TOEFL mentor will help you to choose your personalized learning path based on your current strengths and weaknesses. To score 115, you will need to score 29-30 points in the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections. Therefore, keep in mind the following tips as you think about how you want to prepare for the exam:

Choose the TOEFL Speaking Boot Camp course if your reading, listening, and writing subtotal scores are already 29-30 points.

The TOEFL Writing Boot Camp course is a good fit if you already have reading, listening, and speaking subtotal scores of 29-30 points.

In other situations, you will choose a 1-Month, 3-Month, 6-Month, and 12-Month TOEFL Course based on the following principle: If you are getting 3-5 hours of English exposure daily and if you diligently complete the lessons in your TOEFL plan, you can expect 2-3 points of improvement for each month you study; that is, if your TOEFL score is already over 100. To illustrate, suppose your current TOEFL score is 103 and you want to score 115; you can expect approximately 5 months of intense TOEFL practice and exposure before you will be able to reach your target score.

If your TOEFL score is below 100, you can expect 5-10 points of improvement per month as you prepare. Generally speaking, the closer you get to your target score of 115, the harder you will have to work for improvement. Remember that only 1% of all test-takers reach this score, so do NOT expect your TOEFL journey to be easy.  For example, if your current TOEFL score is 85 and you want to score 115, you should expect to spend approximately 12 months of intense study before reaching that high score.

Complete your lessons.

Stay the course.

After having chosen your course, you now need to begin going through the lessons.   I designed every one of my TOEFL courses to give you practice in 7 important areas: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening, reading, speaking, and writing.  As a result, do NOT pick and choose which lessons you want to practice. All the lessons are designed to improve your academic English, which helps you to improve your overall score.  To prevent psychological burnout, pace yourself in the following ways:

  1. Limit your study in your personalized TOEFL learning path to no more than 3-4 hours daily.
  2. If you still have more time to study that day, spend another 3-4 hours increasing your exposure to English following the tips I explained in the second section of this blog post (i.e, reading, listening, talking to native speakers, watching movies…)

As a result, each day you can spend 3-4 hours with your TOEFL study and another 3-4 hours increasing your exposure to English.  Follow your personalized TOEFL learning path for the recommended period of time.

Take one more full-length TOEFL iBT practice test.

Now that you have followed the learning path for the recommended time length, you should take another TOEFL iBT full-length four hour practice test. If your score is 115 or higher, then register to take the TOEFL iBT exam.   If your score is lower than 115, then you should discuss your results with your TOEFL mentor. You and he/she will have to tailor your study plan based on the overall score and subtotal scores.

Good luck!

Michael Buckhoff, http://onlinetoeflcourse.com

mbuckhoff@aol.com

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies

Table of Contents

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: An Overview

These TOEFL integrated speaking strategies will familiarize you with tasks 3-6.  First, task 3 is reading, listening, and speaking. The reading and listening passage focuses on a campus-related topic. You read a short 100 word passage. The reading passage focuses on a problem or issue related to a situation at a university. Then a narrator introduces the context or setting.  Once the conversation is complete, the narrator states the speaking task.  Finally, you have 30 seconds to plan your response and 60 seconds to deliver your speech.

Second, task 4 presents information on an academic topic. Then you hear an excerpt from a lecture that relates to the reading passage. Typically, the listening passage gives some examples to further illustrate the concept discussed in the reading passage. You have 30 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to deliver your response.

Third, task 5 includes an informal conversation with a campus-related issue. Many university students face these types of issues. Typically, the first student explains a problem that s/he is having. The second speaker presents two solutions. You are asked to summarize the problem. Then you have to explain which solution you think is better and why. You have 20 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak.

Fourth, in task 6, you listen to an academic topic. The topic is about a term or some type of concept.  Moreover, the professor uses some examples and details to illustrate the topic. Your task is to  summarize the most important points in the lecture. Furthermore, you need to show how the examples and details relate to the topic. Like integrated task 4, the language is very formal. You will have 20 seconds to prepare a response and 60 seconds to speak.

TOEFL integrated speaking strategies
TOEFL integrated speaking strategies

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: A Quick Glance at the Rubrics

TOEFL iBT integrated speaking rubrics
TOEFL iBT integrated speaking rubrics

As you can see, the TOEFL integrated speaking rubrics divide into four categories: general description, delivery, language use, and topic development.  Read over each category carefully. It is important to understand how you are graded.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: Scoring of the  Tasks

Independently and anonymously, highly trained iBT human raters score your integrated speaking tasks. In fact,  up to six different raters may be used to score your speaking tasks.  Using different raters minimizes possible bias and makes your score more accurate. Therefore, these human raters will assign each task a score from 0-4.  Then that raw score is mathematically converted into range of 0 – 30 points.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: iBT Human Raters’ Qualifications

TOEFL integrated speaking strategies such as understanding how you are scored will help you to prepare effectively. All speaking raters complete extensive training. After that, they have to pass a speaking certification test. Finally, they are qualified to score your speaking tasks.

Furthermore, ETS requires human raters to pass a daily calibration test. If they do not pass that calibration test, they are not allowed to score any speaking tasks on that day. What about a human rater who has not scored any speaking tasks in 4+ months?  He/she will need to re-certify before being allowed to score any official TOEFL iBT speaking tasks. In a nutshell, you should feel confident that your speaking scores are reliable and accurate. Therefore, if you are not happy with the score you receive, you can request a review. However, most likely you will get a similar score : (

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: General Description Category

TOEFL integrated speaking general description category
TOEFL integrated speaking general description category

A closer look at the general description category reveals that you should directly and completely answer the speaking task. In addition, you need to speak clearly. In fact, your speech should be easy for others to understand. Moreover, you should be speaking without too many unnecessary pauses or interruptions. Your sentences and overall response should be connected.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: Delivery Category

TOEFL integrated speaking delivery category
TOEFL integrated speaking delivery category

Looking at the delivery/pronunciation part of the rubric indicates that you should use clear speech. In addition, your speech needs to be fluid. Fluid means that you are grouping words together within thought groups of 4-5 stressed words. Then you are linking those 4-5 words together with no pauses. If you pause after 1-2 individual words and do not link them together, you are not fluid. Similarly, sustained speech refers to putting together a string or words without too many awkward pauses and hesitations.

In addition, during your integrated speaking responses, you may have some minor pronunciation problems with certain complex academic words. Furthermore, you may have some trouble with a few awkward pauses and hesitations. This is especially true since you are trying to remember the most important points from the reading and listening passage.

Nevertheless, despite your minor problems with pronunciation, the TOEFL iBT human raters should be able to understand what you are saying.  Be warned! Many students have many problems with delivery. However, they do not know that they have problems because they are unable to diagnose their own issues. As a result, hiring a qualified speaking mentor, as you can learn here, can increase your chances of finding and eliminating your pronunciation issues.  Furthermore, getting professional feedback on your pronunciation will decrease your chances of ending up in TOEFL Hell, a place you do NOT want to visit.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: Improving your Delivery

Improve your pronunciation. It is 1/3 of your TOEFL integrated speaking score.
Improve your pronunciation. It is 1/3 of your TOEFL integrated speaking score.

I wrote an article a while back at Quora.  This article includes specific exercises to help you improve every possible area of your pronunciation, as you can see here.

In addition, in my article TOEFL Delivery Tips, you can learn how word stress, sentence rhythm, and thought groups and blending are important. Improving your pronunciation in these three areas will improve your TOEFL speaking score.

Furthermore, I have a TOEFL Pronunciation Resources Web page, which has abundant resources for you to practice.

Lastly, from Catholic priests from Mexico to professors and doctors from China, I have been an accent reduction coach to 1000’s of clients over the last 30 years.  For a small payment of $45, you will hire me to be your accent reduction coach, as you can learn more about here.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: Language-Use Category

TOEFL integrated speaking language use category
TOEFL integrated speaking language use category

Observing this language-use rubric shows some important skills:

During the integrated speaking tasks, you are combining information from reading and listening passages.  This will definitely require you to use some fairly long, complex sentences.

Example sentence for integrated speaking task 4:  The author in the reading passage explains a concept called procedural memory, and the speaker in the lecture shares two personal experiences to further illustrate the academic concept.

Example sentence for integrated speaking task 5:  In the conversation, the woman has trouble registering for classes. A man offers her two solutions so she can register before the impending deadline: to go to the registrar’s office to seek advice or to talk to her advisor about the problem.

Are you comfortable using 15 to 30 word sentences when you speak. Do you how to combine sentences using coordinators, subordinators, and transition words? Do you know how to embed voice markers into your sentences as you explain information from reading and listening passages.  Remember if you have to rely on templates to complete the speaking section of the test, you are NOT ready.   All the example sentences that you will see here will have embedded voice markers into the sentences. Indeed, you need to learn how to use these voice markers when you speak.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: Improving your Grammar

Improve your grammar. It is 1/3 of your integrated speaking score.
Improve your grammar. It is 1/3 of your integrated speaking score.
Use Basic and Advanced Grammar

Important TOEFL integrated speaking strategies involve your being able to use simple, compound, complex,  and compound/complex sentences when you are speak.

Simple Sentence

Simple sentences consist of one subject and one verb. They are typically used when you want to state the main point of a reading or listening passage. Put another way, simple sentences work well when you want to emphasize an important idea without combining it with any other sentences.  Furthermore, depending on the content and the number of phrases you use, simple sentences can be short or long.

Example short simple sentence: The reading passage introduces an economic concept called inflation.

Example long simple sentence: The speaker, a professor with more than 25 years of experience in biology, chemistry, and fossil studies, explains three specific theories regarding the extinction of dinosaurs: sex, drug, and disaster theories.

Compound Sentence

Compound sentences consists of two independent clauses joined by a conjunction such as “and,” “but,” “or,” “so,” “yet,” and “for.”  Therefore, this type of sentence includes two subjects and two verbs.  The compound sentence is very useful. It helps you introduce the most important points in reading and listening passages.

Compound sentence the integrated speaking task 3 introduction:  The reading passage discusses a new policy about bicycle parking on a campus, and in the listening passage, two students react to the new policy. 

Compound sentence with the integrated speaking task 4 introduction: The author in the reading passage introduces an academic concept called photosynthesis, and the speaker in the lecture uses two details from her personal experience to further illustrate the idea.

Complex Sentence

Complex sentences involve using a dependent clause such as a noun, adjective, or adverb clause + an independent clause.  Below are some examples:

Complex sentence with adverb clause: Inflation, as the reading passage suggests, refers to the increase of goods and services over time.

Complex sentence with an adjective and adverb clause: Bats, which sometimes have difficulty finding their young when they return to the cave, feed other baby bats not related to them, informs the speaker in the lecture.

Complex sentence with noun clause: The speaker in the lecture asserts that most terrestrial animals have protective mechanisms to make it more difficult for predators to find and eat them.

Compound/Complex Sentence

As you can guess, this type of sentence uses compound and complex sentences together.

Example compound/complex sentence: The author in the reading passage who argues that businesses can be successful asserts that employees should read all documents in their entirety, that they should attend all meetings, and that they should skip the steps of the writing process, and the speaker in the lecture contradicts those three assertions.

Follow these TOEFL integrated speaking strategies to improve your use of both basic and advanced grammar:

Speak with Natural or Automatic Expression of Ideas

These TOEFL integrated speaking strategies will help you understand why your speech should be near-native speaker like or natural. Your speech should be natural and automatic.  In other words, the grammar and the vocabulary that you use should be similar to those of native speakers.  Below are some examples of unnatural speech:

Unnatural: *In the lecture, the speaker discusses how it can determine how much time tree have by looking at its circles once if the tree has been sliced.*

Natural: In the lecture, the speaker discusses how to determine the age of a tree once it has been cut by looking at its concentric rings.

At times you will have short pauses as you recall information from the reading and listening passages. However, you should minimize those pauses as much as you can.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies to Help You Speak More Naturally and Automatically
  • Do NOT focus too much on TOEFL Practice Online. Just completing practice tests over and over will not help you learn to speak more naturally and automatically.
  • Avoid using speaking templates from Noteful, Magoosh, TOEFL Resources, or any other web site. Integrated template-driven speaking responses are not natural. See sample introductions for integrated speaking tasks 3-6.  However, do not try to memorize any of these examples! You must learn to create your own templates.
  • Spend about 45 minutes daily reading and listening to academic passages. Furthermore, improve your note-taking skills by jotting down the most important reading and listening points. In addition, use your notes to write a 150 word summary of the passages. Finally, record yourself delivering a 60-second response.
  • Find opportunities to speak English with native speakers. The more you speak with native English speakers, the more natural and automatic your speech will become. Spend at least 10-12 hours a week talking with native English speakers.
  • Join a Toast Masters group near you, attend the meeting, and diligently deliver your assigned oral presentations.
  • Spend 2-3 hours each week listening to music at You Tube.  Write down the words to the songs, identify new vocabulary and grammar, and try to use what you learn in everyday conversation as you practice English.
  • Utilize these TOEFL Speaking Resources, as you can find here, so you begin get more exposure to speaking English.
Have Effective Word Choice

Choosing the right word is not easy, especially when you are trying to paraphrase ideas from conceptually-dense academic reading and listening passages for integrated speaking tasks 4 and 6.  Below is a list of academic words that are frequently confused. Make sure you do not misuse any of these words.

Frequently confused words 1-10

1. Adoptive:  (Adjective) The consequence of the adoption of someone else’s child. She is the adoptive mother of her husband’s two sons.

Adopt: (Verb) To legally take custody of another’s child and bring it up as one’s own. California allows same-sex couples to adopt children.

2. Adverse: (Adjective) harmful; unfavorable. Higher taxes have an adverse effect on our economy.

Averse:  (Adjective) Having a strong dislike; strongly opposing something.  The current president of the United States is averse to illegal immigration.

3. Affect: (Verb) Have an effect on something; make a difference to. The dry air began to affect my breathing.

Effect: (Noun) A change resulting from action or cause. The 8.5 earthquake had devastating effects on Juneau, Alaska.

4. Ambiguous: (Adjective)  Unclear or inexact; having a double meaning.  Avoiding ambiguous words in academic writing improves your communication with your audience.

Ambivalent:  (Adjective) Having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas toward someone or something.  Not sure whether to end it or to continue it, Susan has ambivalent feelings about her long-term relationship with Thomas.

5. Amoral: (Adjective) Lacking a moral sense; paying no attention to the rightness or wrongness of something.  Kentaro, never taught right from wrong from his parents, grew up to be an amoral man.

Immoral: (Adjective) Not conforming to accepted standards. Many claim that the Iraq was immoral and unwinnable.

6. Appraise: (Verb) Assess the value or quality of.  Experts appraised the painting at $359,000.

Apprise: (Verb) To tell someone; to inform. After the deadly fire, officials apprised the deceased victims families of what had happened.

7. Augur:  (Verb) Foresee or predict a good or bad outcome; to be a sign of a likely outcome.  Several nuclear proliferation summits between the United States and North Korea did not augur significant and long-lasting peace agreements.

Auger: (Noun) A tool used for boring holes in wood or in the ground. Construction workers used an auger to drill holes into the long redwood boards.

8. Censure: (Verb) Express severe dislike or disapproval of, especially doing so formally.  The politician who yelled, “You lie!” during President Obama’s State of the Union address was officially censured by congress in the House of Representatives.

Censor: (Verb) To examine a book, magazine, movie, and so on officially and to suppress unacceptable parts of it. To prevent contraband and other illicit items, prison officials censor all mail prison inmates.

9. Climactic: (Adjective) Exciting or thrilling and acting as a climax to a series of events.   The movie’s climactic scenes had all audience members on the edge of their seats.

Climatic: (Adjective) Relating to climate. Current climatic conditions suggest a gradual warming, thereby causing the polar ice to melt at an alarming rate.

10. Complement: (Noun) Something that completes or brings to perfection.  In classic rock and roll, the electric guitar is a perfect complement to the drums and the bass guitar.

Compliment: (Noun) A polite expression of praise or admiration. By asking me to participate in the graduation ceremony, my boss had paid me a great compliment.

Frequently confused words 11-20

11. Continuous: (Adjective) Happening without interruption.  The Sierra Nevada Mountains form a continuous chain from central to northern California for hundreds of miles.

Continual: (Adjective) Happening frequently with intervals in between. During the spring, Kansas City schools are disrupted by continual tornado practice drills and warnings.

12. Councilor: (Noun) Someone who is a member of a council. The city of Hesperia has twelve councilor members, all of whom make decisions affecting their residents.

Counselor: (Noun) Someone who gives guidance on personal or psychological problems. Most high schools have at least two counselors to give academic and vocational advice to their student bodies.

13. Credible: (Adjective) Believable or convincing.  Credible evidence suggests that the rapid melting of the glaciers in many parts of the world points to climatic changes due to greenhouse gases emitted by cars and factories.

Creditable: (Adjective) Deserving acknowledgment and praise.  The Dallas Cowboys gave a creditable defeat to the New Orleans Saints, one of the best teams in the National Football League.

14. Definite: (Adjective) Clearly stated or decided; not vague or doubtful. Before Kent lost his job, he had definite plans to travel to Europe for three months.

Definitive: (Adjective) A conclusion or agreement done or reached decisively and with authority. Unfortunately, after extensive testing, doctors reached a definitive diagnosis of stage four pancreatic cancer.

15. Defuse: (Verb)  To remove the fuse from an explosive device; to reduce the danger from the tension of a difficult situation. Peace activists are trying hard to diffuse the tense situation at the Gaza Strip between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Diffuse: (Verb) To spread over a wide area or among a large number of people.  The Apple iPhone has diffused rapidly among people all over the world.

16. Desert: (Noun) A waterless area. The Mojave Desert in California receives 2-4 inches of annual rainfall.

Dessert: (Noun) A sweet course eaten at the end of  a meal. One of my favorite desserts is strawberries with ice cream.

17. Discreet: (Adjective) Careful and circumspect in one’s speech or actions, especially to avoid causing offense or to gain an advantage. The supervisor made some discreet inquiries into why Larry was often late to work.

Discrete: (Adjective) Individually separate and distinct.  Speech is not produced as discrete units but as continuous sounds.

18. Draw: (Verb) A picture or diagram by making lines and marks. Kate draws pictures of animals when she gets bored at school.

Drawer: (Noun) A box shaped storage compartment without a lid, made to slide horizontally in and out of a chest or some other piece of furniture. Separating and folding your clothes and then putting them into drawers will make it easier to find what you want to wear later on.

19. Egoism:  (Noun) An ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality. One of the key points in his business ethics class is egoism.

Egotism: (Noun) The practice of talking and thinking about oneself excessively because of an undue sense of importance; acting like Donald Trump. Many people do not like friends who show egotism.

20. Envelop: (Verb) Wrap up, cover, or surround completely. When the cold front drifted in, the entire town was enveloped in fog.

Envelope: (Noun) A flat paper container with a sealable flap, used to enclose a letter or document.  Prior to the wedding, the soon-to-be-married couple purchased 250 envelopes so that they could mail thank-you notes to the guests at the reception that gave them wedding gifts.

Frequently confused words 21-30

21. Exceptionable: (Adjective) Open to objection; causing disapproval or offense. His stubbornness is the most exceptionable part of his personality.

Exceptional: (Adjective) Unusual; not typical. Unusually good; outstanding. Student writers with vocabularies of more than 30,000 words exhibit exceptional language-use abilities.

22. Fawn: (Noun) A young deer in its first year. The mother deer takes care of its fawn for at least one year.

Faun: (Noun) One of a class of lustful rural gods, represented as a man with a goat’s horns, ears, legs, and tail. Romans once worshipped fauns as a god who could bring them fertility.

23.  Flaunt: (Verb) Display something in a bragging way, especially in order to provoke envy or defiance. People who win lotteries are eager to flaunt their money.

Flout: (Verb) Openly disregard a rule, law, or convention. Many companies still flout basic tax laws so that they can have an financial advantage over their competitors.

24. Flounder: (Verb) Struggle or stagger helplessly or clumsily in water or mud; Struggle mentally; show or feel great confusion.  Even though Cade did well on the verbal portions of the state exam, he floundered on the mathematics section.

Founder: (Noun) A person who establishes an institution or settlement. Michael Buckhoff is the founder, owner, and materials writer for “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.”

25. Forego: (Verb) Precede in place or time.  John, eager to play soccer with his friends, discovered that all the activities had forgone his arrival.

Forgo: (Verb) Omit or decline to take something pleasant or valuable; to go without. Since Lana had eaten such a huge meal, she decided to forgo dessert.

26. Grisly: (Adjective) Causing horror or disgust. The defendant was convicted of the grisly crime of cutting his victim’s head off and then cooking and eating the skull.

Grizzly: (Noun) An animal or a large race of the brown bear native to North America. Grizzly bears lives in mountainous regions where there is cold weather and ample space to forage for food.

27. Hoard: (Noun) A stock or store of money or valued objects.  In olden days, pirates used to bury their hoard of gold in secret places.

Horde: (Noun) A derogatory name for a large group of people.  Lenny was surrounded by a horde of bothersome relatives.

28. Imply: (Verb) Strongly suggest the truth or existence of something that is not expressly stated. Through his body language and tone, the professor implied to his students that he was upset about something.

Infer: (Verb) Deduce or conclude information from evidence and reasoning rather than from direct statements.  Because of the professor’s demeanor, the students inferred that he was bothered by something.

29. Its: (Determiner or possessive adjective) The dog had walked for quite a while before realizing that one of its legs had been injured.

It’s: (Contraction) It’s been a tiring day of grading essays and attending boring meetings.

30. Loath: (Adjective) Reluctant; unwilling. John was loath to complete his writing project because he thought it was a waste of time.

Loathe: (Verb) To feel intense dislike or disgust for.  John loathed his English composition class.

Frequently confused words 31-40

31. Loose: (Adjective) Not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached.    Jane liked to wear her hair loose.

Lose: (Verb) To be deprived of or cease to have or retain. After being shot in the abdominal area, the victim died because he had lost so much blood.

32. Luxuriant: (Adjective) Rich and profuse in growth; lush.  I would have more luxuriant vegetation around my house, but California charges too much for my water usage.

Luxurious: (Adjective) Very comfortable, elegant, or enjoyable, especially in a way that involves great expense.  A religious temple in Redlands, California has luxurious marble floors in its entryway.

33. Marital: (Adjective) Relating to marriage or the relationship of a married couple.  Marital infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce.

Martial: (Adjective) Of or appropriate to war; warlike. Due to his martial bravery, the soldier was awarded the highest medal of honor.

34. Militate: (Verb) Of a fact or circumstance; be a powerful or conclusive factor in preventing something. Their differing conversation styles will militate against the couple ever reconciling.

Mitigate: (Verb) Make less severe, serious, or painful. To help mitigate misery in Hesperia, Michael decided to start a homeless shelter.

35. Naturism: (Noun) The worship of nature of natural objects. A convert to naturism, Jenna often went to nudist beaches along the California coast.

Naturist: (Noun) A person who worships nature or natural objects; a person who goes naked in designated areas; a nudist. Some naturists like to frequent nudist camps.

36. Officious: (Adjective) Assertive of authority in an annoyingly domineering way, especially with regard to petty or trivial matters. The officious security people questioned everyone who came into the Starbucks store.

Official: (Adjective) Relating to an authority of public body and its duties, actions, and responsibilities. The university’s official logos are copyrighted, so they cannot be used without explicit permission.

37. Ordinance: (Noun) A piece of legislation enacted by a municipal authority. Palm Springs has a city ordinance preventing billboards being larger than 2 x 3 meters.

Ordnance: (Noun) Mounted guns; artillery.  The gun was a new piece of ordnance the military had not owned before.

38. Palate: (Noun) The roof of the mouth, separating the cavities of the nose and the mouth in vertebrates. The “ch” and “sh” sounds are produced in the vocal tract when the tongue touches the palate as the air is forced out.

Palette: (Noun) A thin board or slab on which an artist lays and mixes colors. The artist had a palette of colors from which he could paint the portrait.

39. Pedal: (Noun) Each of a pair of foot-operated levers used for powering a bicycle or some other vehicle powered by the legs. Bicycles have two pedals that a rider uses to propel himself forward.

Peddle: (Verb) To sell goods.  On the streets of Los Angeles, I often see vendors peddling an assortment of merchandise.

40.  Perquisite: (Noun) A thing regarded as a special right or privilege enjoyed as a result of one’s position.  Being the CEO has many perquisites, one of which is company-sponsored airfare to anywhere in the world.

Prerequisite: (Noun) A thing that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist.  College Algebra is a prerequisite to taking Calculus.

Frequently confused words 41-50

41. Perspicuous: (Adjective) Clearly expressed and easily understood;  lucid. Successful companies give perspicuous explanations to potential customers about how their products work.

Perspicacious: (Adjective) Having a ready insight into and understanding of things. The perspicacious reporter concluded that there was evidence indeed that the political leader had taken illegal campaign funds from another country.

42. Principal: (Adjective) First in order of importance; main.  His principal income source comes from peddling refurbished iPhones.

Principle: (Noun) A  rule of belief governing one’s behavior. My father has three principal principles governing his life: honesty, integrity, and charity.

43. Proscribe: (Verb) Forbid, especially by law. Automatic machine guns are proscribed by US law.

Prescribe: (Verb) Advise and authorize the use of a medicine or treatment for someone, especially in writing. Since she was having anxiety, Dr. Thompson prescribed Valium to calm her nerves.

44. Regretful: (Adjective)  Feeling or showing sorrow or remorse, usually for having done something perceived as wrong. Lisa was regretful after yelling so much at her teenager.

Regrettable: (Adjective) Giving rise to sorrow or remorse; undesirable; unwelcome. It is regrettable that so many people die each year in the US due to gun violence.

45. Shear: (Verb) Cut the wool off of sheep of some other animal. After workers shear the wool off of the sheep, they bring the fabric to market.

Sheer: (Adjective) Nothing other than; absolute.  When he and his family went to Disneyland, they had nothing but sheer delight as they went on all the rides.

46. Stationary: (Adjective) Not moving or not intended to be moved.  When you encounter a rattlesnake, remain stationary and do not make any sudden movements.  Then you should slowly back away facing the snake.

Stationery: (Noun) Writing paper, especially with matching envelopes. When you get married, you need to purchase some stationery so that you can mail thank you notes to all your guests who gave you gifts at your wedding.

47. Titillate: (Verb) Stimulate or excite someone, especially in a sexual way. Titillating someone for a few minutes can enrich the sexual intercourse experience.

Titivate: (Verb) Make small enhancing alterations to something; make oneself look attractive.  Before she went to the prom with her boyfriend, she titivated her hair.

48. Tortuous: (Adjective) Full of twists and turns.  The road up to Lake Arrowhead is tortuous.

Torturous: (Adjective) Involving or causing severe pain or suffering. A medical condition known as kidney stones can causing torturous lower back abdominal pain.

49. Turbid: (Adjective) A cloudy liquid thick with suspended matter.  I do not like swimming in turbid rivers because I can not see what is below me in the water.

Turgid: (Adjective) After 33 days of light rain, the turgid river began overflowing its banks.

50. Unexceptionable: (Adjective) Not open to objection. Many Americans hold the unexceptionable belief that all men are created equal.

Unexceptional: (Adjective) Not out of the ordinary; usual. Never having won a single debate in his entire life, John truly possesses unexceptional speaking skills.

Frequently confused words 51-54

51. Unsociable: (Adjective) Not enjoying or making an effort to behave sociably in the company of others. John is so unsociable that he has only one friend in the entire world.

Unsocial: (Adjective) Causing annoyance and disapproval in others; antisocial.  The unsocial behaviors of young teenagers create tension in their families and friendships.

Antisocial: (Antisocial)  Contrary to the laws and customs of society; devoid of or antagonistic to sociable instincts or practices. His antisocial behavior caused him to end up in prison.

52. Venal: (Adjective) Showing or motivated by bribery; corrupt.  Hungry for power and money, many politicians become venal at some point in their careers.

Venial: Denoting a sin that is not regarded as depriving the soul of divine grace; pardonable; forgivable.  Even though what he did was wrong, he still committed a venial act.

53.  Wreath: (Noun) An arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems used for decorations or for laying on a grave. My wife and I always hang a Christmas wreath on the outside of our front door in December.

Wreathe: (Noun) To envelop, surround, or encircle. The professor’s desk was wreathed in holly and pine combs.

Minimize your Minor Systematic Errors

In most cases, you cannot self-correct these types of errors. These TOEFL integrated speaking strategies can help you minimize certain grammar errors that may lower your score. First, recognize certain kinds of systematic errors. Second, listen to your integrated speaking practice tests to see which of these errors you are having the most trouble with. Third, consult a TOEFL speaking mentor who can help you correct the errors that you are having. Grammatical word endings, determiners, auxiliary verbs, and prepositions can be specific problems with which you are most likely having.

Grammatical Word Endings

There are eight grammatical word endings that you should be using when you speak: comparative, superlative, possessive, third person present singular, plural, past, past participle, and progressive.

Ending Function Example
-er Comparative Susan is taller than Jane.
-est Superlative Susan is the tallest of all the women in her class.
-s Possessive Susan’s bicycle was repaired at the shop yesterday.
-s Third person present singular Susan bicycles to school daily.
-s Plural Susan purchased her books at the bookstore.
-ed Past Susan visited her grandmother two weeks ago.
-ed Past participle Susan has lived in Oak Hills for three years.
-ing Progressive Susan is completing an MA Degree in Sociology at California State University, San Bernardino.

As you do your speaking practice, make an effort to remember to use these grammatical word endings.

Determiners

Determiners are noun markers. Therefore, they occur before nouns. Look through the chart to familiarize yourself with six types of determiners that you will be using in your integrated speaking tasks.

Minimize your problems with determiners
Minimize your problems with determiners

Confusing “A” and “An”: Use “A” before a word that begins with a consonant sound; use “An” before a word that begins with a vowel sound.

  • I purchased a delicious meal yesterday.
  • The professor handed out an assignment during class.

Countable and countable nouns:  “The” can be used with countable and uncountable nouns.  Other pairs of determiners such as “fewer,” “less,” “many,” “much,”  “number,” and “amount”  are restricted to either countable or uncountable nouns.

  • “The” + countable noun: John completed the assignment without too much effort.
  • “The” + Uncountable noun: The sugar purchased from the supermarket had an expired expiration date.
  • “Fewer” + countable noun: So far I have had fewer assignments this semester than the last one.
  • “Less” + uncountable noun: My math class is assigning less homework this semester compared to the last one.
  • “Many” + countable noun:” Southern California saw many rain events this year.
  • “Much” +countable noun: Southern California experienced much more rain this season compared to the past several years.
  • “Number of” + countable noun: There were an incredible number of cars on Interstate 15 on Friday.
  • “Amount of” + uncountable noun: A large amount of traffic on Interstate 15 on Friday caused everyone to slow down to two miles per hour.

Using two determiners in a row: Do NOT use two determiners in a row.

  • Incorrect: I liked playing with my a basketball.
  • Correct:
  • I liked playing with my basketball.
Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary verbs, or helping verbs, occur before the main verb. These helping verbs can occur in many different verb tenses. Make sure you do not forget to use these helping verbs when you speak.  Look over the list to get familiar with different types of auxiliary verbs.

 

In addition, you should familiarize yourself with modal auxiliary verbs.  Modals are used before the base form of the verb “must go.”

Modal Auxiliary Verbs
Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Common problems with modal auxiliary verbs

1. Do NOT use an infinitive after modal verbs.

  • You must finish your homework today.
  • You must to finish your homework today.

2. Do NOT try to conjugate modals.  Use the base form of a verb after a modal.

  • She had to pay her tuition before she could register for classes.
  • She musted pay her tuition before she could register for classes.
  • The advisor was able to remove a registration hold after her financial guarantee cleared.
  • The advisor was to can remove a registration hold after her financial guarantee cleared.

3. Use “not” or “‘n’t” after the modal verb to make it negative. Do NOT use “don’t,” “doesn’t,” or “didn’t” before the modal.

  • Students can’t bring weapons of any kind to California State University, San Benardino.
  • Students don’t can bring weapons of any kind to California State University, San Benardino.

4. Adverbs such as “always” and “only” occur after modals.

  • Students should always finish their research papers by their required deadlines.
  • Students always should finish their research papers by their required deadlines.
  • Students must only study in the library until midnight, at which time the facility closes.
  • Students only must study in the library until midnight, at which time the facility closes.
Prepositions

Prepositions introduce noun phrases. These noun phrases may consist of determiners, adjective, adverbs, and nouns.  Look over the following list and sample sentences using some of the more common prepositions in the English language.

  • about:  The movie was about a man stranded on an island who eventually resolves to devise of different ways of getting rescued.
  • above: When asked whether or not the president had obstructed justice, the man replied, “That question is above my pay grade.”
  • across: The legendary quarterback could throw a baseball across the pond separating my house from his.
  • after:  After dinner, we decided to play a game together.
  • against: Some democratic politicians are against any enforcement on the border between the US and Mexico.
  • among: The students discussed among themselves about whether or not to postpone their final project in chemistry class.
  • around: When I was a kid, I used to run around my neighborhood for exercise. In fact, one time I ran twelve miles around my neighborhood in the pouring rain.
  • at: Work typically starts at 7:00am in my office in which I grade papers and check email.
  • before: Before Christmas, my wife and I like to get all our shopping done.
  • behind: My third grade teacher had a paddle behind her desk as a gentle reminder that any children who acted out would get hit on the backside 2-3 times.
  • below: Holding my breath, I can dive 2-5 meters below the ocean’s surface for 15-30 seconds at a time.
  • beside: Tom has his alarm clock beside the bed on an end table.
  • between: A peninsula is a narrow strip of land between two bodies of water.
  • by: By next fall, Hiroko will have completed her graduate studies.
  • down: My best friend Brookes Fogleman lived down the street from me, and we used to play together every day until he moved when we were second graders.
  • during: During the springtime, unstable weather brings fluctuating temperatures, wind, and intermitten rain.
  • except: Except for Kent, all the students will be attending the play.
  • for:  Sally went to the store for some bread.
  • from: My most prized gift is a custom-made Hickory chest from my father
  • in: My best childhood memories are in my  house with my parents on Pemberton Avenue in Tupelo, Mississippi.
  • inside:  Kids at Mesquite Trails Elementary school stay inside their classrooms during recess when they have inclement weather.
  • into: The police walked into the band while it was being robbed.
  • near: My house is located near the top of Cajon Pass.
  • of: Many cars are made of steel, plastic, and fiberglass.
  • off:  Because the student was off topic, the professor would not answer her question.
  • on: I always place my students’ completed work on my desk on my offices so that I know it needs to be graded.
  • out: After the verbal argument, he threw all her belongings out the door.
  • over:  Due to torrential rains, the water spilled over the levee into the reservoir.
  • through: To get the library, the student decided to take a short cut by walking through the park.
  • to: On the way to Las Vegas we stopped at the Old Man exhibit.
  • toward: During a solar eclipse, never point your eyes toward the Sun.
  • under: I can hold my breath under water for almost three minutes.
  • up:  The boat tiringly went up the river in search of treasure.
  • with:  My son is going to Disneyland with his friend Madyson.

Ten Common Errors with Prepositions

Prepositions are complex aspects of English grammar. Therefore, to help you master prepositions, your main goal is to increase your exposure to English.  The more you read and listen to English, the more exposure you will get to prepositions and every other aspect of English grammar.  Furthermore, make sure you are speaking as much as possible with native speakers.  Finally, as you practice your speaking, pay close attention to ten common errors that you may be having with prepositions.

1. Arrive at or in

  • We arrived to Carol’s house later on in the day.
  • We arrived at Carol’s house later on in the day.
  • We arrived in Los Angeles two weeks ago.

2. At night

  • Steven and Jane often go out in the night.
  • Steven and Jane often go out at night.

3. Look for or wait for

  • Mark was waiting me at the bus stop.
  • Mark was waiting for me at the bus stop.
  • Lana has been looking for a new job for the last three months.

4. For [period of time]

  • I’ve been living in Oak Hills since five years.
  • I’ve been living in Oak Hills for five years.

5. In [months and years]

  • It’s my anniversary on October. 
  • It’s my anniversary in October

6. Live/work/study in [cities and countries]

  • I live at Oak Hills.
  • I live in Oak Hills.

7. On [days and dates]

  • I will run a 5K in Saturday.
  • I will run a 5K on Saturday.

8. It depends on

  • Depending of what you want, we can choose among several restaurants.
  • Depending on what you want, we can choose among several restaurants.

9. Welcome to

  • The professor spent a few minutes welcoming the students in her class.
  • The professor spent a few minutes welcoming the students to her class.

10.  Married to

  • I have been married with my wife for 25 years.
  • I have been married to my wife for 25 years.

Improving your Vocabulary

Having both basic and advanced vocabulary is 1/3 of your overall score.
Having both basic and advanced vocabulary is 1/3 of your overall score.

Having a wide range of college-level vocabulary makes it easier to explain important points from reading and listening passages. Expanding your vocabulary and learning synonyms and antonyms will help you to perform better during the integrated speaking tasks.

Expanding your Vocabulary

Scoring higher than 26+ on the speaking section  requires that you know and can use at least 1,500 to 2,000 vocabulary words.  You can use TOEFL Practice Online all day long. However, if you do not improve your vocabulary, you will get stuck from 20-24 points on the speaking section. To break the 26+ speaking barrier, you will need to improve your vocabulary. There is no easy way to improve your vocabulary. It will take hard work over an extended period of time to make long-lasting improvements in this area.

  • Spend time reading for about 45 minutes every day. Read magazines, newspapers, and books.
  • In addition, spend 30 minutes daily listening to news, history, science, and documentary programs.
  • Finally, as you do your reading and listening practice, take copious notes.  Use your notes to write 250 word summaries of the passages. Also, use your notes to orally summarize the most important points in these passages.  As you write and give summaries of these passages, you will be actively using new words that you are encountering. As a result, this type of integrated speaking practice will help you to increase your vocabulary.

In addition, you should begin an arduous vocabulary study plan.  My TOEFL Vocabulary Resource Web Page will help you to master 1,700 college-level words. Follow these general tips to help you learn these important words:

  • Do not try to buy flash cards or use some online vocabulary program. Preparing your own flash cards will make it more likely that you will remember the words that you study.
  • As you prepare your vocabulary note-cards, put ONE word on ONE card. See the example below of how you should prepare each note card.
Example TOEFL Vocabulary Note Card Side 1
Example TOEFL Vocabulary Note Card Side 1
Example TOEFL Vocabulary Note Card Side 2
Example TOEFL Vocabulary Note Card Side 2

As you can see, on side one, I only put the vocabulary word.  On the other side, I put parts of speech, different word forms, synonyms, definition, and sample sentence. It took me about two minutes to prepare this note-card. Therefore, since your goal is to prepare 1,700 note-cards with a different word on each card, it will take you 56 hours to labor to prepare your note-cards. If you spend 10 hours a week, preparing your note-cards, you can do this in about a month. Are you willing to sacrifice 56 hours of your life?  Mastering and being able to use these college-level words will help you with the following:

  • A higher overall TOEFL score of 100+
  • Super high subtotal scores on the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections
  • Improved, long-lasting ability to speak and write in personal, professional, and academic situations

Still not convinced that all of this hard work is necessary?  Read my article about TOEFL Hell.  Students ending up in TOEFL Hell are either too lazy to improve their vocabulary or they are unconvinced that improving their vocabulary will skyrocket their TOEFL score.  I am telling you right now based on more than 25 years of TOEFL teaching experience that if you learn these 1,700 words, you will crush the TOEFL.  I have taught 1000’s and 1000’s of students who have used this list to beat the TOEFL. And you can too!

Unfortunately, I have an online student right now who is not interested in improving his vocabulary.

  • He only uses TOEFL practice online, and he sends me speaking practice almost every day. In addition, he refuses to improve his  grammar.
  • He has failed the TOEFL speaking section 33 times!
  • He sincerely believes that he will reach his goal by only doing speaking practice and by retaking the TOEFL over and over.
  • He is in TOEFL Hell. Do you want to be like him?

CLICK HERE to take advantage of my TOEFL Vocabulary Resources. The most important resource is my 261 page E-book that you can have for free.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: Topic Development Category

TOEFL integrated speaking topic development category
TOEFL integrated speaking topic development category

First of all, to score high in the topic development area, you need to have clear progression of ideas.  In other words, you should state the main points of the reading and listening passages; then you should explain the specific details.  Second of all, you need to provide the relevant information from the speaking task. Simply put, you must do whatever the speaking task is asking you to do. You cannot leave out important information.  In addition, you should not misrepresent any information.  Your response should be complete and accurate.

Being complete

Integrated speaking task 3: You will read a short letter, announcement, or article. After, a man or woman will agree or disagree with the passage.  He/she will give two reasons to explain his/her position.  For your response to be complete, you

  • Should explain what the letter, announcement, or article is about.
  • Need to explain the two reasons why the speaker opposes or supports the plan.

Integrated speaking task 4:  You will read a short passage about an academic concept.  Then, a professor will provide two examples to further illustrate the concept.  To be complete, you

  • Should briefly define the academic concept.
  • Need to explain the two examples the professor uses to illustrate the concept further.

Integrated speaking task 5: In the beginning of the conversation, a speaker will explain a problem. The other speaker will present two solutions to the problem. In addition, you will be asked which solution is better. To be complete, you

  • Need to briefly explain what the problem is.
  • Explain what the first solution is that the speaker explains to solve the problem.
  • Discuss the second solution the speaker explains to solve the problem.
  • Give two reasons to explain which solution you feel is better.

Integrated speaking task 6: The professor will introduce an academic concept. Then he/she will give two examples to illustrate the concept. To be complete, you 

  • Need to briefly explain the academic concept.
  • Should explain the two examples the professor uses to clarify the concept further.

Being accurate

In addition to being complete, you should also accurately explain the most important points from the reading and listening passages. To do this, you will need to paraphrase and summarize ideas.

Paraphrasing Tips

  • Begin your sentence at a different point from that of the original source.
  • Substitute synonyms for the key words in the sentence. Make sure that your synonyms are similar in meaning to the key words in the original sentence.
  • Rearrange the sentence structure of the original.
  • If the original sentence is long and complex, break it into separate sentences in your paraphrase.

Remember that an accurate paraphrase does not change the meaning of any ideas in the original sentence. Nor does it leave out essential information.

Paraphrase Example A

  • Original sentence: While no one can be completely sure, most researchers believe that dinosaurs became extinct, perhaps due to the sterilization of males, the overdose of poisonous flowering plants, or a cataclysmic event such as impact from a large asteroid.
  • Paraphrase: Sterile male dinosaurs, toxic flowering plants, or some type of disastrous impact, asserts the author in the reading passage, led to the extinction of the great beasts.  However, researchers cannot be 100% certain of exactly how or why the dinosaurs died out.

Paraphrase Example B

  • Original sentence: When a euphemism is used to mislead or deceive, it can become a form of doublespeak.
  • Paraphrase: Speakers can use euphemisms to lead others in the wrong way or to give them the wrong impression, asserts the author in the reading passage. In this case, euphemisms are considered doublespeak.

Paraphrase Example C

  • Original sentence: Among other things, socialism allows for more justice by transferring the rights and responsibilities from individuals and families to the State.
  • Paraphrase: Socialism takes away family and individual obligations and rights and moves them to the State, which, according to the speaker, allows for more equity.

Summary Tips

During these integrated speaking tasks, you will need to accurately summarize the main ideas and most important points. In addition, your summary should not include your opinion or analysis of the text. Since you only have 60 seconds to discuss the passage(s), your speaking response should present a condensed version of the text.  You should use your own words and your own grammar as you summarize.

For integrated speaking tasks 3-4, quickly read through the reading passage and jot down its most important points.

  • Then, as you listen to the passage, write about what the passage does.
  • For example, does the passage add to, give an example to further illustrate, or contradict the points in the reading passage? Make sure that you show how the information in the listening passage relates to the information in the reading passage.

For integrated speaking tasks 5 and 6, take notes as you listen.

  • Make sure you identify the thesis or purpose of the passage.
  • Then show how the support points in the passage relate to the thesis or purpose of the listening passage.

Being organized

To keep your ideas organized, you should create some unique templates that you can use to help you structure your ideas. I will provide some example templates. However, do not memorize these templates. Rather use them as a guide as you organize your own.

Template for TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 3

The reading passage contains an announcement/letter, article about_____, and the speaker in the passage agrees or disagrees with______.

First of all, the reading passage explains__________.  In addition,_________.

Second of all, the speaker in the passage agrees or disagrees with______. The speaker claims that_______. In addition, he/she believes that_________.

Therefore, these are the reasons why the speaker believes this is/isn’t a good idea.

Model Response Using the Template for TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 3

The reading passage contains an announcement about parking fees on campus, and the speaker in the passage disagrees with the new policy.

First of all, the passage explains that student parking fees will double next semester from the current price of $75 to $150.  In addition, university officials justify the tuition increase in that they hope students will be more motivated to carpool.

Second of all, the speaker in the passage disagrees with the dramatic increase in parking fees. The speaker explains that many students have part-time jobs while attending school, so they are unable to carpool with others since they go directly to work after attending their classes. In addition, he believes the parking fee increases will force students to have to work more hours, which will give them less time for studying.

Therefore, these are the reasons why the speaker believes that the parking fee increase isn’t a good idea.

Template for TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 4

The reading passage explains an academic concept called______, and the professor in the lecture gives two examples to further illustrate the idea.

______, according to the reading passage, is described as________. Furthermore,___________.

Moreover, the professor in the lecture clarifies the concept of_____ further by giving two specific examples.

Firstly, the professor explains that_______.

Secondly, _______, according to the professor,________.

To sum up, the professor shows through these two examples that___________.

Model Response Using the Template for TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 4

The reading passage explains an academic concept called non-verbal communication, and the professor in the lecture gives two examples to further illustrate the idea.

Non-verbal communication, according to the reading passage, is described as any type of communication without words. Furthermore, smiling, frowning, nodding, shaking hands, and waving hands are also considered forms of non-verbal communication.

Moreover, the professor in the lecture clarifies the concept of non-verbal communication further by giving two specific examples.

Firstly, the professor explains that non-verbal communication can happen without intent. For example, a person who furrows his eyebrows can inadvertently send a message to someone else that he/she may he upset.

Secondly, non-verbal communication, according to the professor, cannot occur unless it is sending an implicit message to someone else. Therefore, if no one else is there to interpret those motions, then no non-verbal communication has taken place.

Optional: To sum up, the professor shows through these two examples that non-verbal communication can happen by accident and that there must be at least two people  in order for this unspoken communication to occur.

Template for TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 5

In the passage, a man/woman has a problem about______, so then a man/woman give two solutions to solve the problem.

The man/woman’s problem is______________.

The other speaker offers two solutions to mitigate the problem.

The speaker suggests that the man/woman_________. Doing this solution, according to the speaker, will help to___________.

In addition, the speaker recommends that the man/woman______.  This remedy, according to the speaker, will help the man/woman to_________.

From  point of view, I recommend that the man/woman_________. First of all,___________.  Second of all,____________.

Model Response Using the Template for TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 5

In the passage, a man has a problem registering for classes next semester, so a woman gives two solutions.

The man is unable to register for his upcoming classes because of a registration hold. The man has no idea why a hold was placed.

The woman offers two solutions to mitigate the problem.

The speaker suggests that the man go to the registration office. Doing this solution, according to the speaker, will find out why a hold  is preventing the man from registering for his upcoming classes.

In addition, the speaker recommends that the man talk to his academic advisor.  This remedy, according to the speaker, might help the man figure out what problem is causing a hold to be placed.

I recommend that the man talk to his advisor. First of all, his advisor will able to go online to see exactly what is causing the hold.  Second of all, once the problem is discovered, the man’s advisor will be able to tell the man what to do to remove the hold.

Therefore, talking to his advisor will help remedy the man’s difficult situation.

Template for TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 6

In the lecture, the professor introduces and academic concept called_____, and then presents two examples to explain the idea further.

The concept called____, describes the professor,____________.

The professor uses two examples to further illustrate the concept.

In the first example,____________________.

In the second example,_____________________.

To sum up,________________________.

Model Response Using the Template for TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 6

In the lecture, the professor introduces an academic concept called creativity and then presents two examples to explain the idea further.

The concept called creativity, describes the professor, is the use of the imagination to create original ideas.

The professor uses two examples to further illustrate the concept.

In the first example, the professor explains how his daughter came up with the idea of having a tea party with her stuffed animals. His daughter’s actions are considered creative since the idea his daughter came up with was not a normal, everyday activity.

In the second example, the professor explains how his son invented a game called tag when the family members were trying to think of some type of outside activity. Because the kid’s idea was appropriate to what family members were thinking, it is also considered as a form of creativity.

To sum up, according to the professor, ideas must be both original and appropriate for them to be considered creative.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies: Task 3–Reading, Listening, Speaking, Campus-Related

TOEFL integrated task 3 campus-related
TOEFL integrated task 3 campus-related

Task 3 Mock Test: Reading, Listening, Speaking–Campus-Related

Read the following announcement: (45 seconds)

The university has decided to make its tuition costs the same for everyone who attends: in-state, out-of-state, and international students. In the past, out-of-state and international students have had to pay more expensive tuition costs. With this new change, all students no matter where they come from will pay the same tuition fees. Administration officials believe that this new change will create a more equitable environment for students at our university.

Listen to the lecture. On a piece of paper, take notes on the main points of the listening passage:

View listening script: The man reacts to a new notice about tuition fees

The man expresses an opinion about the new announcement. State his opinion and the reasons he has for holding that opinion.

Preparation Time: 30 seconds

Response Time: 60 seconds

Task 3 Model Response

View listening script: Example TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 3 Response

Task 3 Test-Taking Strategies

Several important TOEFL integrated speaking strategies will help you score as high as possible on this task:

  • Use a neutral tone. Do  NOT give your opinion on this task.
  • Use 4-7 transition words during your response to make it easy for the iBT human raters to understand your organization.
  • Use 6-7 voice markers during your response.
  • Use simple present tense verbs as you summarize the information.
  • Using some scratch paper, take notes on the most important points from the reading and listening passages.
  • Make sure you create a unique template that you can use to help you organize your response. Do not use the templates on this page.  Do NOT use templates from other web sites such as Bestmytest, TOEFL Resources, PrepSholar, Magoosh, or any other web site.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies–Task 4: Reading, Listening, Speaking, Academic

TOEFL integrated speaking task 4 academic
TOEFL integrated speaking task 4 academic

Task 4 Mock Test

Read the passage carefully and take notes: (45 seconds)

Scope Creep

In project management, a term called scope creep can occur, at any given time after workers begin working on a fairly complicated project. Scope creep, also known as requirement creep or kitchen syndrome, refers to changes which can be manifested as continuous growth in a project’s scope. Usually, scope creep will occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. Typically, with scope creep, a client hires a project manager to complete a creative project. However, the client may not fully understand what he wants. As the projects unfolds, the client starts to get a better idea of what he wants. Then he asks the project manager for additional feature for the project, therefore taking the project beyond its original scope.

Listen to passage. Take notes on the main points of the listening passage.

View listening script: TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 4 listening script for scope creep

How does the information in the lecture add to the information in the reading passage?  

Preparation Time: 30 seconds

Response Time: 60 seconds

Task 4 Model Response

View listening script: TOEFL Integrated Speaking Task 4 Model Response for Scope Creep

Task 4 Test-Taking Strategies

Similar to TOEFL integrated speaking task 3, these TOEFL integrated speaking strategies will help you to score high:

  • Use a neutral tone. Do NOT give your opinion on this task.
  • Use 4-7 transition words during your response to make it easy for the iBT human raters to understand your organization.
  • Use 6-7 voice markers during your response.
  • Use simple present tense verbs as you summarize the information.
  • Using some scratch paper, take notes on the most important points from the reading and listening passages.
  • Make sure you create a unique template that you can use to help you organize your response. Do not use the templates on this page.  Do NOT use templates from other web sites such as Bestmytest, TOEFL Resources, PrepSholar, Magoosh, or any other web site.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies–Task 5: Listening, Speaking, Campus-Related

TOEFL integrated task 5 campus-related
TOEFL integrated task 5 campus-related

Task 5 Mock Test

Listen to the lecture. On a piece of paper, take notes on the main points of the listening passage:

Man:  I took the TOEFL iBT exam about three weeks ago, but I still have not received my score. I think there might be some problem with my results. Hmmmmmm…I am not sure what to do.

Woman: Have you tried going online to TOEFL.org?

Man:  No, I have not done that yet.

Woman: To take the TOEFL, you had to create an account at TOEFL.org, right?. Therefore, you can log on to your account and see if your TOEFL results have already been posted there.

Man:  Thanks!  I will definitely do that. However, I have been to that web site before, and I get kind of lost since there are many links to so many different pages.

Woman: I know what you mean.  Educational Testing Service makes it difficult to navigate its web site.  Another idea is that you call Educational Testing Service directly by phone.  ETS has a toll free number that you can call.

Man:  Will I be on hold for long?

Woman:  It depends on what time of day you call.  If you call earlier in the morning around 8:00 am Eastern Standard Time, you can probably talk to a live person within a few short minutes. However, as the day progresses, you could be on hold for as long as 45 minutes, so you had better call earlier to avoid frustration.

Man: Ok. Thanks for the tip.

Woman: And one more thing.  Make sure you tell the ETS worker when you took the test.  He/she will also want to know your first and last name.  You may need to provide a bit more information, so your TOEFL exam can be tracked down. Then, you will be either learn what your TOEFL score is, or you will learn why your score is delayed.

Man:  Great. I think I now know exactly what I am going to do.

Briefly summarize what the man’s problem is. Then summarize the two solutions that the woman suggests. Finally, in your opinion, which solution is better?

Preparation Time: 20 seconds

Response Time: 60 seconds

Task 5 Model Response

View listening script: TOEFL Listening Script for Speaking Integrated Task 5

Task 5 Test-Taking Strategies

  • Use a neutral tone as you explain the problem and the two solutions. Then use  an argumentative tone as you explain which solution you think is better.
  • Use 4-7 transition words during your response to make it easy for the iBT human raters to understand your organization.
  • Use 6-7 voice markers during your response.
  • Use simple present tense verbs as you summarize the information.
  • Using some scratch paper, take notes on the most important points from the listening passages: the problem, the two solutions, and your opinion.
  • Make sure you create a unique template that you can use to help you organize your response. Do not use the templates on this page.  Do NOT use templates from other web sites such as Bestmytest, TOEFL Resources, PrepSholar, Magoosh, or any other web site.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies–Task 6: Listening, Speaking, Academic

TOEFL integrated speaking task 6 academic
TOEFL integrated speaking task 6 academic

Task 6 Mock Test

Listen to the following lecture. Take notes on the most important points of the response.

The professor discusses about the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.  Using examples from the lecture, explain at least two facts about this snake.

Preparation Time: 20 seconds

Response Time: 60 seconds

View listening script: TOEFL Example Lecture for Integrated Speaking Task 6

Task 6 Model Response

In the lecture, the professor talks about the Western Diamond Rattlesnake.

The snake, according to the professor, has two fangs and a deadly venom system. If it is provoked, the snake will strike its victim and inject venom which can a lot of tissue damage around the area of the bite. The professor also explains that the snake hunts and eats small mammals such as mice at night by surprising the victim along a path. In addition, according to the professor, the snake may even go into other animals’ burrows to prey on them.

In addition, during springtime, which is the mating season, the male diamondback mates with a female in order to produce offspring.  If the male is challenged by another male snake, the professor explains that the two male snakes will entangle themselves as one snake tries to over power the other. Once the male mates with the female diamondback, she gives birth to her young live.  According to the professor, the female then leaves her babies, which already have venom that they can use to hunt and kill their prey.

View listening script: TOEFL Example Response for Integrated Speaking Task 6

Task 6 Test-Taking Strategies

  • Use a neutral tone as you explain the most important points from the lecture.
  • Use 4-7 transition words during your response to make it easy for the iBT human raters to understand your organization.
  • Use 6-7 voice markers during your response.
  • Use simple present tense verbs as you summarize the information.
  • Using some scratch paper, take notes on the most important points from the listening passages: the problem, the two solutions, and your opinion.
  • Make sure you create a unique template that you can use to help you organize your response. Do not use the templates on this page.  Do NOT use templates from other web sites such as Bestmytest, TOEFL Resources, PrepSholar, Magoosh, or any other web site.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies–Additional Resources

I complied some links so that you can get additional practice with TOEFL integrated speaking strategies to help you beat the TOEFL speaking section once and for all:

High speaking score: Learn what you need to do to score high.

How do I answer this integrated speaking task in 60 seconds? Knowing what to include or omit from a lecture can be tricky. This lesson focuses on what you should include from a lecture.

Integrated speaking practice: Learn how and why you need to paraphrase ideas.

Integrated speaking task 4 tips and tricks: Learn how to organize your response for this reading, listening, speaking–academic task.

Score higher by following this integrated tips: This 18 minute video explains how to summarize and paraphrase ideas from reading and listening passages.

Simple present or simple past: This post explains which verb tense is most appropriate for integrated speaking tasks.

Speaking mentor: Learn how a speaking mentor can help you reach your magical score of 26+.

Speaking and writing transitions:  Learn how to use various types of connecting words to make your speaking tasks more organized.

A student stuck at 24 submits an integrated speaking practice test: What is the difference between 24 or 26 with speaking. The student who submits an integrated speaking practice test scores 24.

Student gets integrated speaking feedback after completing a practice test.

Test-Taking Strategies:  Learn the integrated speaking test-taking strategies that you need to score high. You will also get test-taking strategies for the reading, listening, and writing sections.

Tips to score 26: Four things will help you improve your speaking score. Do you know what they are?

TOEFL Grammar Resources: At this web page, you will get access to many lessons designed to improve your basic and advanced grammar.

TOEFL Listening Resources: Here you will learn how to improve your listening comprehension abilities.

TOEFL Pronunciation Resources: The web page portal leads to you accent reduction and pronunciation practice so that you can learn to speak more clearly.

TOEFL Reading Resources:  This web page will lead you to links to help you improve your reading performance.

Reporting Verbs: Learn how to use reporting verbs during the integrated speaking and writing tasks.

TOEFL Speaking Resources: Powerful skill-based lessons will help you to improve your speaking fluency.

TOEFL Vocabulary Resources: Free, unlimited access to a 261 page e-book along with guidance on how to master the words so that you can send your TOEFL score to the moon.

Vocabulary for integrated speaking tasks: Get a list of reporting verbs that you can use to summarize and paraphrase ideas.

TOEFL Integrated Speaking Strategies–Practice, Practice, and More Practice

Practice your speaking with me, and I will help you score 26+.

If  you read this entire web page, you just read 11,404 words about TOEFL integrated speaking strategies. In other words, you just read 45 pages for text in this TOEFL speaking lesson. Why did I write so many words for one lesson? Because I know how challenging the speaking section is. Only 12% of all test-takers ever score higher than 26. Did you know that?  Nevertheless, if you learn what I am teaching on this web page, you will have the TOEFL integrated speaking strategies that you need to score high. However, there is one thing missing that you need to do: practice!

  • If you practice your TOEFL speaking with me, I will allow you to send me ONE integrated or ONE independent speaking practice test daily.
  • Then I will provide you audio feedback. I will explain what your score is, why I gave you that score, and which lessons you should study based on your weak points.
  • I have helped many students score higher than 26, and I can certainly help you too.

Learn More

Online TOEFL Course

Michael Buckhoff, founder, owner, and materials writer for STEALTH

mbuckhoff@aol.com

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies

These TOEFL independent speaking strategies will change your life by changing your TOEFL speaking score. Did you know that almost 90% of all test-takers, as you can learn here, never score 26 on the speaking section of the TOEFL? To help you avoid everlasting TOEFL Speaking Hell, I am going to help you reach this target score. Go through this lesson and practice everything that you are learning. I also highly suggest that you subscribe to my TOEFL Speaking and Writing Service as you practice what you are learning.  With the right feedback, as you can learn here, you will solve your speaking issues.

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies
TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies

I do not care how many times you have taken the TOEFL exam, each time falling short of speaking 26. Learn about Manan’s story.   There is glory, indeed, in becoming one of the top 10% who reach this target subtotal score of 26. Never give up on your TOEFL 26 speaking dream score!

Table of Contents

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies = Analyze the Rubrics

One important TOEFL independent speaking strategy involves understanding how you are graded.  Focus on what you need to do to score perfectly, that is to score 5.0/5.0. Below is the official TOEFL  iBT rubric for the independent speaking task. To get a detailed analysis of the delivery part of the rubric, read this post.

TOEFL Independent Speaking Rubrics
TOEFL Independent Speaking Rubrics

Keep in mind that less than 5% of all test-takers score perfectly. To get detailed statistics about how students score on the TOEFL exam, read this article about TOEFL percentages.  According to the rubric, iBT human raters focus on four areas when scoring your speaking tasks: general description, delivery, language use, and topic development.

“General Description” TOEFL Speaking Category

Let’s take a closer look at what you need to do generally for these personal experience speaking tasks:

TOEFL General Description Requirements to Score 4.0 Speaking Tasks 1-2
TOEFL General Description Requirements to Score 4.0 Speaking Tasks 1-2

In other words, you will need to completely answer all parts of the speaking task. However, you might leave out some minor details that are important to the task.  Furthermore, you need to speak very clearly. You should also make sure that there is a clear connection of ideas. Finally, your speech needs to be fluent without too many pauses and hesitations. Even a few pauses longer than one second during your response will affect your score negatively.

“Delivery” TOEFL Speaking Category

Now we need to examine what you need to do during TOEFL speaking tasks 1-2 as it relates to delivery. That way you can create TOEFL independent speaking strategies you need to score high.

TOEFL Delivery Requirements to Score 4.0 Speaking Tasks 1-2
TOEFL Delivery Requirements to Score 4.0 Speaking Tasks 1-2

According to this part of the rubric, your TOEFL independent speaking strategies are the following:

  • Speak quickly without too many pauses and hesitations.  Moreover, you should be linking words together within certain parts of your sentences.
  • You need to have clear speech.  This includes pronouncing vowel and consonant sounds correctly.
  • Any minor pronunciation or intonation problems that you have do not affect your intelligibility in any way.  For example, if you mispronouncing one or two key words in your response, you will not score 4.0/4.0.

Take advantage of these free TOEFL pronunciation resources to begin working on your accent reduction right now.  It can take you several months of practice before you will speak very clearly on the TOEFL iBT speaking section. Do NOT, therefore, procrastinate, your pronunciation practice.

“Language-use” TOEFL Speaking Category

In addition to understanding delivery requirements, other TOEFL independent speaking strategies require you to understand language use.  What language use competencies do you need to show in order to get the perfect score of 4.0/4.0?

TOEFL Language-Use Requirements to Score 4.0 on Speaking Tasks 1-2
TOEFL Language-Use Requirements to Score 4.0 on Speaking Tasks 1-2

Based on these topic development guidelines, you should consider these following TOEFL independent speaking strategies to help you score higher:

  • Avoid simple, generic, and imprecise vocabulary. The vocabulary you use should effectively help you to communicate your ideas. The words you use should sound natural and should fit the purpose of what you are trying to say. If you are limited with your vocabulary and cannot fully express your ideas, you will not score 4.0/4.0. If you feel that you have any vocabulary limitations, take advantage of these free TOEFL Vocabulary Resources.
  • Avoid using only simple grammar when you speak.  In some cases, you can use a short, simple sentence, as you can learn about here, during the speaking task. However, you should use not avoid longer and more complex sentences. For instance, as is needed, you should use sentences with noun, adjective, and adverb clauses. To help you improve your grammar control, these free TOEFL Grammar Resources will help you improve.
  • You can have some minor or patterned errors (i.e., “book” instead of “books” or “catched” instead of “caught”).  As long as these errors do not block your meaning.

“Topic Development” TOEFL Speaking Category

Finally, let’s look at the topic development aspect of the rubric? Are there any TOEFL independent speaking strategies that we can learn from this?

TOEFL Topic Development Requirements to Score 4.0 on Tasks 1-2
TOEFL Topic Development Requirements to Score 4.0 on Tasks 1-2

Yes, based on this part of the rubric, several TOEFL independent speaking strategies will help you score higher in this area:

  • Your response should answer the entire speaking prompt requirements. Do not leave any part of the speaking prompt unattended!
  • After your brief introduction, you should include 1-2 specific examples to illustrate your ideas.
  • Your response should be well-organized, and it should be easy for others to see that organization. That means you are using a number of cohesive techniques to connect ideas together. To learn more about how to organize your ideas effectively, CLICK HERE.
  • Begin your response with some reasons or general statements about the speaking prompt. Furthermore, as you move through your response, you should be using more specific details to illustrate the generalizations you mentioned in the introduction. This is what is called “progression of thought.”

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies: Decode the Task

You need to "unlock" the TOEFL speaking task.
You need to “unlock” the TOEFL speaking task.

Now you know how you will be graded.  In addition, you need to make sure you can recognize some common question types that you will see on the TOEFL exam for speaking tasks 1-2. Before the test, you should practice writing out, speaking, and recording your voice at least ten times for each question type. Get a list of 100 speaking topics right now for free.

TOEFL Speaking Task 1 Question Types: Personal experience, Stating opinions, Three choices,  and Giving Advice

Personal Experience Question Type 

TOEFL personal experience speaking question type
TOEFL personal experience speaking question type

This type of question will ask you about your personal experiences. You should draw on your own or other’s people experience as you answer. If you have no personal experiences, you should make up a response that fits the speaking task. Be creative.

Example: Many people look forward to summer. What is your favorite thing that you like to do during the summer? Explain why you like to do it so much.

To score high on this task, do the following:

  • Name the activity you like to do.
  • Give two specific reasons why you like this activity. 
  • Present a specific example to illustrate each reason.

Model Response

My most enjoyable summer activity is going to the beach.

First of all, going to the beach allows me time to spend with my wife and son. For instance, last July, we went to Newport Beach. We spent six hours building a sandcastle, after which we swam in the ocean. Finally, we will walked along the beach and collected seashells.

Second of all, going to the beach is also entertaining because, when it gets dark, we build a fire in a designated firepit and have a barbeque. While we are eating, we have a fun time singing songs and telling campfire stories. Sometimes, we even watch a movie.

My family and I have fond memories when we go to the beach.

Stating Opinion Question Type

Give opinion TOEFL question type
Give opinion TOEFL question type

You will be given a question. Then you are asked to state reasons for your opinion. Draw on your or someone else’s experience to answer the question. Again, if you have no experience to answer the question, be creative and imagine an answer.

Example: Is exercising more important than having a healthy diet? Why or why not? Give some reasons and examples to support your position.

In this answer, use the following TOEFL independent speaking strategies:

  • Answer yes or no. Do not try to talk about the benefits of both. You do not have enough time in 45 seconds to do that.
  • Give two reasons why you answer yes to no to the question.
  • Use one example to support each reason.

Model Response

Indeed, exercise strengthens the muscles and fosters sane mental health, so I believe it is more important than eating healthily.

Exercise strengthens the muscles. For instance, I lift weights twice a week. On Tuesdays, I work out my lower body, and on Thursdays, I work out my upper body. As a result of these weekly activities, I have strengthened my arms, legs, and core areas of my body. In addition, my back muscles are also stronger than they used to be.

Furthermore, exercise balances my mind, thus giving me good mental health.  To illustrate,  when I am doing some hard workouts like running, my brain releases chemicals into my body. These chemicals give me a feeling of euphoria, helping me to combat any negative feelings that may come my way.

To sum up, even though having a healthy diet is important, exercise has more benefits.

Three Choices Question Type

Three choices TOEFL question type
Three choices TOEFL question type

You are asked to choose among three choices. Therefore, you will have to draw on your own personal experience. Or, you can rely on someone else’s personal experience.  Make up some examples if you draw a blank.

Example: Which natural disaster causes more damage to a city? A tornado, an earthquake, or a massive flood.

These tips will help you perform optimally:

  • Make your choice immediately.  It doesn’t matter which one you choose.
  • State two reasons for your choice.
  • Give one example for each reason.

Model Response

Among these three choices, floods affect a larger area and cause more deaths. Therefore, this natural disaster causes more damage.

In the first place, floods affect a large area.  To illustrate, due to record snowfall and abundant spring rainfall, the Mississippi River is flooding its banks. This river is more than 2,000 miles long, and the flooding is occurring from the northern most part of the River all the way to its southern most tip. Hence, the flooding is affecting cities for more than 2,000 miles.

In the second place, huge floods cause many deaths. For example, on Christmas Day a few years ago, a large Tsunami hit the Thailand coast and many other parts of Southeast Asia.  Over 200,000 people were killed.  Most of these deaths were not caused by the earthquake. Rather, the deaths were caused by the flooding which resulted from the earthquake.

Consequently, floods cause a lot more damage to a city.

Giving Advice Question Type 

Give advice TOEFL question type
Give advice TOEFL question type

This question typically asks you to give some advice to someone else.  There are two possible ways to give this advice. You can frame it as a present possible condition: “If my friend is preparing for an exam, I will tell him…”  Or, you can frame it as a present impossible condition: “If my friend were preparing for an exam, I would tell him…” Use your own experience or the experience of someone you know as you explain your advice. Make up your examples if you cannot think of anything.

Example: Someone you know is preparing for an important biology exam. This exam requires a lot of memorization. What advice would you tell your friend so that he/she is well-prepared?

Follow these important TOEFL independent speaking strategies to get the highest possible mark:

  • Keep your verb tenses straight throughout this response.  If you frame your advice as a present possible condition, then you will use future and present tense verbs.  On the other hand, framing your advice as a present impossible condition requires that you use the subjunctive mood + past tense verbs.
  • The “Advice” type speaking task is a grade killer question because many speakers cannot control their verb tenses. Practice this type of speaking task until you are 100% certain that the grammar is correct throughout your response.
  • Pick two pieces of advice that you believe are important.
  • Then give one reason and one example to explain why each piece of advice is important.

Model Response

If someone I know is preparing for a biology exam, I will tell him to create a flashcard system of memorization and to attend group study sessions.

I will first advise that my friend create note-cards so that he can learn the definitions and important course concepts. I will tell him to write the key concept on one side of the notecard and then to write the definition on the other side.  My friend should review these note-cards several times before the exam until he knows what the definitions are without having to look at the cards.

I will second advise that my friend attend the sessions taught by the teaching assistant. At the sessions, my friend will get clarification about difficult course concepts. In addition, the teaching assistant will help my friend narrow his focus so it will be easier to prepare for the upcoming test.

These two tips will definitely help my friend succeed on his biology test.

TOEFL Speaking Task 2 Question Types: 

Similar to TOEFL speaking task 1, task 2 will ask you about your personal experience. Based on the topics that are appearing on the TOEFL right now, there are several types of questions that you might see: agree/disagree, preference, if/imaginary, description/explanation, and advantage and disadvantage.

Agree/Disagree Question Type 

Agree or disagree TOEFL question type
Agree or disagree TOEFL question type

You will see a statement. Then you are asked whether you agree or disagree with the statement. You will need to use your own experience or that of others. Furthermore, you must imagine or create some ideas if you cannot think of any real-life examples.

Example: Studying in a group is better than studying alone. Do you agree or disagree with this statement.

Following these TOEFL independent speaking strategies with this type of task:

  • Do NOT try to agree and disagree with the statement. You will not have enough time to defend both sides.
  • Immediately choose whether or you agree or disagree.  Keep in mind it does not matter which position you take. You can score high either way.
  • State two reasons why you agree or disagree.
  • Give one example to illustrate each reason.

Model Response

Studying alone helps me concentrate better, and I can prepare much faster. Therefore, I disagree that group study is better.

If I study alone, I can concentrate much better. For instance, last year I was preparing for an organic chemistry test. Without anyone else in my dorm, I went through the required chapters and created my study guide.  Then I began studying for the exam.  Because no one else was there to distract me, I was able to focus better on my studies.

Moreover, studying alone is simply much faster.  It took me about 3 hours to prepare my organic chemistry study guide. If I had been working with a group to prepare this study guide, it would have taken me at least 9 hours.

As a result, I almost always study alone when I am getting ready for upcoming exams, projects, and writing assignments.

Preference Question Type 

Preference TOEFL question type
Preference TOEFL question type

Similar to the “three questions type” that you saw in TOEFL task 1, this time you are choosing between two ideas. In other words, you are explaining which idea you prefer more and why.  Use real-life personal experience to support your argument.  Or, make up the reasons if you have no real-life examples from which to draw.

Example: Some people prefer to buy used cars, while others like to purchase new ones. Which type of car do you prefer and why?

These TOEFL independent speaking strategies will help you make the best use of your time so that you get the highest possible score.

  • Right away make your choice. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. In fact, just make sure you can think of some reasons for your choice.
  • Do not try to talk about the pros and cons of both positions. Your allotted time of 45 seconds do not give enough time to do that. You MUST limit your focus!
  • State two reasons for your choice.
  • Give one example for each reason.

Model Response

I prefer to buy used cars because the price of the car and insurance is much cheaper.

First, used cars are a lot cheaper than new cars.  In fact, last year I bought a 2012 Honda Civic with 55,000 miles for $9,000 US. Had I bought that car brand new, I would have paid $23,000. So, I was able to save $14,000. And my Honda Civic is in pristine condition.

Second, used cars, since their overall value is lower than new cars, cost less to insure.  For example, insuring my 2012 Honda Civic that I bought costs about $156 monthly. One of my friends who bought a new Honda Civic pays about $225 monthly for auto insurance. My friend and I are the same age and have no accidents or tickets on our records.

Thus, I always buy used cars since I can save a lot of money.

If/Imaginary Question Type

Imaginary TOEFL speaking question type
Imaginary TOEFL speaking question type

The “If/Imaginary question” is similar to the advice question type for TOEFL. You might be asked to talk about a present impossible condition. Or, you could be asked to explain a past impossible condition. If there is any question type that might appear on the TOEFL that could wreck your score, it is this one. You MUST practice this type of question many times. Make sure that you are controlling your verb tenses. Since this is an imaginary question, be creative. Most likely whatever the topic is in the prompt, you have NOT had any experience from which you can draw.  Therefore, you must imagine how you might react to the situation in the speaking prompt.

Present Impossible Imaginary Situation

Example: Imagine that you won a sum of 10 million dollars in the lottery.  In addition, you were required to donate 1/2 of those winnings to either a local hospital or a school. Which one would you donate the money to and why?

Follow these TOEFL independent speaking strategies to perform well if you see this type of question on the exam:

  • Quickly make your choice about which facility you would donate the money to. Remember it does not matter which one you talk about.  However, do not try to discuss the advantages of both. You do not have enough time to discuss both in 45 seconds.
  • Use the “If I had…, I would…” type structure as you answer the question. In addition, remember to use past tense verbs throughout your response.
  • Give two reasons for your choice.
  • Finally, use one example for each reason.

Model Response

My local school needs to give the teachers a raise, and the school needs to update its computer facilities. Therefore, if I won 10 million dollars, I would gladly donate half of the money to my local school.

More than 49 teachers at our local school are some of the lowest paid educators in the district. Some of the money I would donate could be used to give them a 20% raise, which would help the teachers have a fairer wage. 

In addition, the rest of the donated money could be used to replace the archaic computer facilities and technology at the school. In fact, there would probably be enough money so that students could get an iPad that they could use to help them learn what was being taught in their classes.

To sum up, if I donated 5 million dollars, my local school would be able to pay the teachers more and to improve the computer facilities.

Past Impossible Imaginary Situation

Example: If you had to make one change about your past, what would that change be? Explain how making that change would have affected your life.

This is a very tough question to answer. Pray to God that you never see this type of question on the TOEFL exam. However, if you do, follow these specific TOEFL independent speaking strategies:

  • Immediately think about something that you wish you had done differently.  
  • Give two reasons to show how this change would have affected you.
  • Give an example to illustrate each reason that you explain.
  • Use the “If I had changed this…., it would have…” structure since you are talking about about a past impossible condition. Consequently, you should be using past perfect tense verbs throughout this response.

Model Response

There is no way to change the past unfortunately. However, I wish that I would have never met my  ex-girlfriend, Cyndi Ellis.

If I had not met Cyndi, I would have better relationships with my family members right now. When I was dating Cyndi, she did not want me to spend time with my family. Instead, she preferred that I be with here almost every minute of the day, even on holidays and weekends. This ostracized me from my family members for more than two years.

In addition, if I had not met my ex-girlfriend, I would have a lot more money.  When I was dating her, she always wanted to do expensive things like watching plays in Los Angeles. She also liked me to take her to concerts. In fact, I spent more than $600 when she and I went to a Justin Beber concert in Anaheim.

Eventually, after two years, our explosive relationship ended. If I had never met her, my life would be much better right now. I hope that we never again cross paths, and I sure that she is wrecking someone else’s life right now. Good riddance! 

Description/Explanation Question Type

Describe and explain TOEFL question type
Describe and explain TOEFL question type

You might be asked to describe something or someone. Then you will need to explain telling details.  Or, you could be asked to choose something or someone. Then you will have to explain reasons for your choice.

Description/Explanation Task

Example: Describe a person you know. Then explain why he/she is important to you.

A lot of students who complete this type of question in my online TOEFL course skip the description part and move right into the explanation part. Do NOT do that. You need to answer both parts of this question type. Or, you will wreck your TOEFL speaking score.  Follow these TOEFL independent speaking strategies with this task:

  • In about 2-3 sentences, describe the person or thing using precise and telling vocabulary.
  • Then move to the explanation part and give one reason. Give one example for that reason.  You do not have enough time to provide more than one reason since you have already spent 15+ seconds in the description part of the task.

Model Response

My mom is the most important person I know. 

At 5’3″ inches tall, this grey-haired, slender woman has a lively personality. Typically, she wears casual clothes and has black horn-rimed prescription glasses framing her piercing brown eyes. My mom is caring and takes time to listen when family members and friends talk to her. She makes them feel like they are the most important people in the world.

On a personal level, she is important to me because she has always supported me with my schooling. Currently, I am almost finished with my pharmacy studies. During these five years, my mom has helped me pay for the expensive tuition. In addition, she calls me at least three times a week to see how I am doing. When I have difficulty, she offers me advice.

Therefore, I feel very lucky to have my mother in my life.

Explanation Task
Explain TOEFL speaking question type
Explain TOEFL speaking question type

Example: What is a hobby that you like to do when you have free time? Explain why you enjoy this hobby so much.

  • You are not being asked to describe anything. Thus, choose a hobby that you like quickly.
  • Give two reasons why you enjoy this hobby. 
  • Give one example to illustrate each reason.

Model Response

My favorite hobby is running since I like seeing nature and since I can burn calories.

Running is a good hobby because I can see nature. For instance, yesterday during my 8 km run, I watched the eastern horizon as the sun gradually rose. Orange, red, and yellow columns of sunlight streaked into the sky. Finally, the sun was in all its glory.  It was breathtaking to see every bit of this sunrise.

Furthermore, running burns calories quickly, which helps me have a healthy weight. To illustrate, two weeks ago, I ran 21 km with two other runners. During this two hour run, I burned more than 2,000 calories. Other forms of exercise such as walking and biking burn far fewer calories than running.

To sum up, running gets me outside with nature, and it helps me to maintain a healthy weight.  So, it is my favorite hobby. 

Advantage and Disadvantage Question Type

TOEFL advantage and disadvantage speaking question type
TOEFL advantage and disadvantage speaking question type 

Watch out for this type of question!  If you do NOT limit your focus, you will never finish. As a result, you will score lower. As the prompts states, you should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of something.

Example: Some people are making most of their friends online without ever meeting these individuals in person. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of social interaction?

Follow these TOEFL independent speaking strategies so that you have the focus that you need to fully address the task:

  • State one advantage of the idea. Then give an example to further support your assertion.
  • State one disadvantage of the idea. In addition, give one example to illustrate your point.

Everyone likes making friends. However, is it a good idea to makes friends online?

An advantage of making friends online is that it is safe. For instance, since I am not meeting face to face, I first see this person online. During this online interaction, as I get to know this person, I can decide whether or not I want to meet the person face to face.

A disadvantage of meeting friends online is that some people are not truthful.  To illustrate, I made friends with a girl at Facebook. She told me that she was 25 years old.  Since I was the same age, I started becoming friends. Eventually, we met in person, and I found out that she was actually 37 years old. She had lied about her age to make herself more attractive to others.

In conclusion, anyone should consider these pros and cons when becoming friends with people online.

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies: Find your Natural Speaking Rhythm

Improve your pronunciation, and you will improve your TOEFL speaking score.
Improve your pronunciation, and you will improve your TOEFL speaking score.

1/3 of your speaking score focuses on how naturally and how clearly you speak. You should have the appropriate sentence rhythm, use a varied, natural sounding intonation, and have good pacing without too many pauses or hesitations.  Practice your pronunciation in exactly these three areas right now: CLICK HERE

To further help you  develop a natural, high-scoring speaking style, I have a TOEFL pronunciation resources web page to help you in the following areas:

  • Accent reduction
  • Advanced pronunciation practice
  • Consonant sounds practice
  • Vowel sounds practice
  • Pronunciation tips and tricks

Begin your free practice: CLICK HERE

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies: Use Appropriate Vocabulary

Improve your vocabulary and your TOEFL scores goes higher.
Improve your vocabulary and your TOEFL scores goes higher.

1/3 of your speaking score is based on language use. Part of language use involves using appropriate vocabulary. Keep in mind these tips.

Avoid Word Choice Errors.

  • Example: I have fewer homework assignments this quarter. Or, I have less homework this quarter.
  • Example: Among the three choices, I prefer to attend a smaller school. Or, the decision to postpone the exam was decided between the students and the professor.

Your TOEFL independent speaking strategies are to minimize any word choice errors.

Use Precise Vocabulary.

The more precise your vocabulary, the more telling your detail is. As a result, you will score higher. Avoid these generic vocabulary words:

1. Very: Avoid this word. There is no difference between “My mother is very caring.” and “My mother is caring.” “Very” is typically used as an overstatement, so it is not needed.

2. Of course:  Do not use this word since it implies that your listeners are not smart. Or, “Of course” may suggest you are not explaining your ideas sufficiently. Therefore, instead of saying “Of course, living in a dorm is a lot less expensive than living in an apartment.”, you could say, “Clearly, living in a dorm is a lot less expensive than living in an apartment.”  

3. Thing or stuff: Use either of these words in your speaking tasks, and the TOEFL iBT human raters’ heads will explode. Using  “thing” or “stuff” suggests that you do NOT know how to describe an object or some other phenomena.

  • I liked the thing my friend did. 
  • My friend’s helping me complete my homework showed her generous nature.

4. Always: “Always” typically overgeneralizes ideas in arguments. Therefore, do not use this negative adverb. 

  • My roommate always throws his clothes on the floor.
  • My roommate usually throws his clothes on the floor.

5.  Never: Similar to “always,” “never” creates an overgeneralization.  What person, place, or thing “never” does a certain action? 

  • My roommate never lost her temper because she was a good person.
  • Instilled in her that being angry was an unacceptable form of human expression, my roommate rarely lost her temper.

6. So: Similar to “very,” “so” is also an overstatement.

  • Our dorm was so hot. 
  • The stifling heat in our dorm made it difficult to breathe.

7. A lot: “A lot” does not specify exactly how much something or someone is. Use more exact numbers if possible.

  • I had a lot of ice cream.
  • I had two dinner-sized bowls of ice cream.

8. Good: Similar to “thing” or “stuff”, “good” does not appropriately describe a subject.

  • Therefore, I am glad that I had a good roommate.
  • Therefore, I am glad that I had a commendable roommate.

9. Nice: “Nice” is also unclear in meaning. Hence, choose a word that is more precise.

  • For these reasons, I have usually found my mother to be nice.
  • For these reasons, I have usually found my mother to be cordial.

10. Really:  Like “very,” “so,” and other types of intensifying adverbs, “really” adds almost no meaning to your ideas. Thus, “really” is not a precise word.

  • I told my friend that it was really important to talk to the professor if he had questions about his final term project.
  • I told my friend that it was distinctly important to talk to the professor if he had questions about his final term project

11. Anything: “Anything” can well be “anything,” so this word is not specific. Use more specific words instead.

  • I would do almost anything in order to live with a compatible roommate.
  • Interviewing several people before making my choice, requiring references, and making sure the chosen candidate gives me a $2,000 deposit will ensure that I can select the most qualified person to live with me.

12.  Find out:  Use a more advanced word than this.

  • I found out that I could apply to an international student scholarship which would finance most of my graduate studies.
  • I discovered that I could apply to an international student scholarship which would finance most of my graduate studies.

13.  Variety, various:  Instead of these two words, be more concrete in your description. For example, if you have a variety of hobbies, state specific hobbies you are interested in.

  • In my free time, I do a variety of hobbies.
  • Reading, writing in my journal, running, and hiking are activities that I like to do when I have free time.

Expand your Range of Vocabulary

If you have taken the TOEFL multiple times and have not reached 26, you may have some problems with using inaccurate, basic, imprecise, or generic vocabulary.  If you do not improve your vocabulary, you will get stuck.  As a result, you will keep getting similar TOEFL speaking scores. Then you enter into a cycle of TOEFL Hell.  To escape this vicious, frustrating, and seemingly endless cycle, you must improve your vocabulary.

I know how important vocabulary is to your TOEFL score, so I have a free TOEFL Vocabulary Resources web page. This web page contains TOEFL independent speaking strategies including the following:

  • A 261 page e-Book containing strategies for learning 1,700 college-level words
  • Strategies for learning vocabulary without using dictionaries
  • Vocabulary guessing strategies
  • Video practice with 100+ idiomatic expressions to help you improve your speaking

Follow the link to my TOEFL Vocabulary Resources web page: CLICK HERE

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies: Minimize Grammatical Errors

How well do you control your grammar when you speak?
How well do you control your grammar when you speak?

In addition to using basic and advanced vocabulary, you should also aim to use both basic and advanced grammar.  Your grammar usage is also part of your language-use score according to the TOEFL iBT speaking rubrics. During your TOEFL  independent speaking tasks, you should minimize grammatical errors.  Here are some common errors that many of my online TOEFL course students sometimes make as they are sending me speaking practice.

Ten Common Grammatical Errors during Independent Speaking Tasks

1. Incorrect Verb Tense

*I have finished my undergraduate studies in 2018.*

The simple past “finished” works better than the present perfect “have finished” since the speaker is talking about an action that has a clear beginning and end in the past.

2. Wrong Preposition

*I lived on Los Angeles for a few years before I started my pharmacy studies.*

The preposition “in” works better since the speaker is explaining a location but not the exact address, in which case the speaker would have used “at.”

3. Gerund, Infinitive, or Base Verb Problem

*I must to have a compatible roommate.

“Must,” a modal auxiliary verb, should be followed by the base form of the verb “have.”

*I enjoyed to see that movie last week.*

“Enjoyed” is a verb of emotion. In addition, the speaker is talking about a completed action. As a result, the gerund “seeing” works better than the infinitive.

4. Omitting Articles “A,” “An,” and “The”

*To help me finish research paper, I purchased writing handbook at bookstore.*

In this case, an article is needed before the singular count nouns “research paper,” “handbook,” and “bookstore.”  

Revised: To help me finish the research paper, I purchased a writing handbook at the bookstore.

5. Adjectives or Adverbs Misuse

*My roommate usually did not clean the kitchen good.*

Adverbs come after regular verbs, so the adjective “good” should be replaced with the adverb “well.”

6. Subject-Verb Agreement

*People doesn’t need support from the government.”

“People,” a plural noun, requires a plural verb. As a result, “doesn’t” should be changed to “don’t.”

7. Wrong Word Order

*Is finished the test?*

With yes/no questions, the correct word order is auxiliary verb + subject + main verb. As a result, the sentence should be changed to “Is the test finished?”

8. Incorrect Plural Nouns

*The childrens looked forward to Christmas vacation every year.*

“Child,” the singular form, changes to the plural form “children.”  Thus, “childrens” is incorrectly formed.

9. Problems Forming Comparatives 

*The exam in my physics class is more easier than the test I took last semester.*

“Easy,” like many two syllable adjectives, takes the inflectional -er ending in its comparative form.  However, “easier” is already comparative so there is no need to mark it twice by preceding the adjective with “more.”

10. Errors of Omission

*I studying chemistry at a university right now.*

Since “studying” is the main verb, it should be preceded by “am.”  In other words, you should not omit prepositions, articles, and nouns.

Eliminating Grammar Errors

Practice makes perfect, so you should speak English a lot, especially with native speakers. As you talk with native speakers, you will unconsciously begin self-correcting your speaking errors so that your speech more closely matches native speaker English.

In addition, consider using my TOEFL Speaking Service, as you can learn about here, in which you can begin sending me speaking practice tests every day. I will correct your grammatical errors and even suggest specific lessons to help you improve.

Finally, visit my free TOEFL Grammar Resources web page:

  • More than 25 basic and advanced grammar lessons
  • Diagnostic grammar pre-test to pinpoint errors in 22 specific areas
  • Extensive practice with sentence variety so you use both basic and advanced sentence structures

CLICK HERE

Using Advanced Grammar

Vary your sentence length in your TOEFL speaking tasks.
Vary your sentence length in your TOEFL speaking tasks.

In addition to eliminating errors when you speak, you want to make sure you are using a combination of basic and advanced grammar. In order to do this, follow these TOEFL independent speaking strategies.

Use both long and short simple, compound, complex, and compound/complex sentences.

Most importantly, avoid using a series of short simple (subject + verb) sentences during the TOEFL independent speaking tasks.  Instead, you should use a combination of shorter and longer sentences. If you follow this strategy, you will most likely be using simple, compound, complex, and compound/complex sentences. The key is that the sentences you use should sound natural should vary.

Example Speaking Response with too many short, simple sentences

What was your favorite course in high school?  Why did you enjoy it so much?

Mr. Thompson made American history real. He used an effective question/answer teaching style.  As a result, this was my favorite high school class.

First of all, my teacher made the history figures seem real. One day, Thompson came to class dressed as former President Abraham Lincoln. During the class, he read quotes from Lincoln and from his friends. It really helped me understand about Lincoln. It helped me understand the importance of this former president.

Second of all, Thompson usually asked questions to get our feedback. He wanted to find out our knowledge about history. For example, in one class, he asked us about the Civil War. We shared our thoughts.  After, he spent the rest of the class expanding on our ideas and answering further questions.

This history class was my most enjoyable high school class.

Lacking sentence variety, this response only uses simple sentences. As a result, it will score lower in the language-use category.  Practice your speaking responses many times so you do NOT speaking like this.

Example Speaking Response with both long and short simple, compound, complex, and compound/complex sentences

Mr. Thompson made American history real, and he used an effective question/answer teaching style, which is why it was my favorite high school class.

First of all, my teacher made the history figures he talked about real. One day, Thompson came to class dressed as former President Abraham Lincoln. During the class, he read quotes from Lincoln and from his friends. It really helped me understand who Lincoln was and why he was an important history figure.

Second of all, Thompson usually asked questions to get our feedback on what we already knew about the history he was teaching. For example, in one class, he asked us what we already knew about the Civil War. After we shared our thoughts, he spent the rest of the class expanding on our ideas and answering further questions that we had.

This history class was my most enjoyable high school class.

The above example response uses simple, complex, and compound/complex sentences.  Therefore, the response shows that the speaker knows simple and advanced grammar. In addition, this response will score higher than a response which uses only short, simple sentences.

Use Different Types of Subjects.

Using different types of subjects during your TOEFL independent speaking tasks will show the iBT human raters that you have control and range in your grammar use.  Here are different types of subjects that you can use.

  • Nouns: The students completed the research project in a timely manner.
  • Pronouns: They were surprised that the professor was lenient in how he scored their projects.
  • GerundsTutoring was one factor that helped the students to polish their essays before turning them in.
  • Gerund phrases: Getting high scores on these research projects made the students proud of what they had done.
  • Infinitives: To finish was the goal of all these students.
  • Infinitive phrases: To finish the course and to begin other assignments are two additional goals of this class.
  • Adjectives: The poor need assistance from the government in order to pay their bills and provide food for their hungry children.
  • Noun clauses: That most of the students finished the writing project satisfactorily made the professor proud.

As you do speaking practice, you will develop a speaking style that should draw from a variety of subjects that I just showed you.  Your main goal is not only to use nouns as subjects.

Vary your word order.

In addition to using a variety of subjects, you should also vary your word order. Varying your word order will add variety to your speaking and will show iBT human raters that you can use advanced grammar. Learning several different word order tricks will help you improve in this area. Notice how the subjects do not occur first in each of these sentences.

Comparisons:  Bill decided to attend the library research workshop, and so did Susan.

Negative/Almost negative adverbs:

  • Rarely did the professor ever come to class late (The professor usually came to class on time. Or, the professor usually  did not come to class late.)
  • Never did the professor come to class late. (The professor always came on time. Or, the professor did not come to class late ever.)

Placing almost negative and negative adverbs creates a stronger emphasis. Therefore, use these types of emphatic sentences sparingly.

Omitting “if” in conditional clauses:

  • Had I time, I would go to the game tonight.  (I cannot go to the game tonight because I am busy.)
  • Had I had time, I would have gone to the game tonight. (I could not go to the game because I was busy.)

Prepositional phrases of location: Next to the desk was a book worn from many years of use.

Use this type of sentence when “where” is more important than “what.”

Questions: Where are you going?

Quotations: “I am going to the movies,” said Tom.

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies: Keep Organized

Keep your TOEFL speaking tasks organized.
Keep your TOEFL speaking tasks organized.

Having an organized response relates to the topic development category of the TOEFL independent speaking rubrics.  The more organized you are, the easier it will be for others to understand your ideas. Repeating and rephrasing key words, using transition words, using determiners and pronouns, and having grammatically parallel sentences will organize your speaking responses spectacularly. And that means you will improve your speaking score!

Repeating and rephrasing key words

In the first part, use some key words to frame your response. Then repeat or rephrase those key words as you move through your response. This technique will unify the introduction, body, and conclusion of your response. Observe in the example response how the speaker repeats key words from the speaking prompt and from the introduction.

Is the smartphone a useful educational tool? Give reasons and examples to support your opinion.

My smartphone has a TOEFL vocabulary and a Sirius app, so I definitely learn a lot from this handy device.

First of all, I downloaded a TOEFL vocabulary app onto my phone that is helping me learn more than 5,000 college-level words. Using my phone, I complete matching, sentence completion, audio, grammar, and listening exercises daily to learn the words.  As a result, my vocabulary has improved a lot for the last month since I started practicing.

Second of all, my smartphone has a Sirius app in which I can ask questions.  Then Sirius gives me the answer so that I can learn. For example, yesterday, I had a question about American history. Therefore, I asked Sirius, “What is the Civil War that occurred in the United States?” Sirius then explained to me the causes and effects of this bloody war.

For these reasons, my smartphone is an important gadget to improve my learning

Using transition words

Example TOEFL transition words
Example TOEFL transition words

Did you notice that I used ten transition words in the above model response:  “first of all,” “second of all,” “for these reasons,” “so,” “as a result,” “then,” “for example,” “therefore,” “then,” and “so that?” 

Using transition words help you to connect ideas together. Consequently, your ideas are easier to understand. Hence, generally speaking, make it a point in your speaking practice to use 8-15 transition words in each speaking practice test that you complete. Here are some additional resources to improve you use of transition words:

Using Determiners and Pronouns

Determiners (i.e., a, an, the, many, several) and pronouns (i.e. he, she, they) can be used to link old and new information together. Do not, however, use a pronoun during your independent speaking tasks if it does not refer to anything or anyone else beforehand.

Last week, in my Geology class I talked to a student. The student told me that he had found a meteorite.

The determiner in the noun phrase “the student” is used in the second sentence to connect back to the determiner in the noun phrase “a student” in the first sentence.

In addition, the pronoun “he” in the second sentence refers back to “student” in the first sentence.

Example of determiners
Example of determiners
Example of pronouns
Example of pronouns

Make sure you are comfortable using determiners and pronouns as you do your speaking practice.

Having Grammatically Parallel Sentences

Using several grammatically similar phrases within a sentence can unify the ideas. Moreover, using several grammatically similar sentences within your speaking response can also unify ideas.  In either case, you are making it easier for TOEFL iBT human raters to understand you.

Grammatically similar phrases within a sentence:  Shopping at malls, reading books in my free time, exercising at the gym, and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail are hobbies  of mine.

“Shopping…,” “reading books…,” exercising…,” and “hiking” are all gerund phrases. Using consecutive gerunds not only balances the grammar but also unifies all the ideas as examples of hobbies.

Grammatically similar sentences within a speaking response:  I get to give presents to others, and I spend a lot of time with my family, so Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year.

First of all, Christmas is a great time to give and receive gifts. For instance, last year I found out that my aging father needed a knee brace, but he could not afford to buy the medical item. Therefore, I bought the knee brace and gave it to him on Christmas Day.  I was so happy how much he liked his brace.

Lastly, Christmas is that time of the year in which I spend the most time with my family. When else can I see my brothers and sisters? When else can my parents, my siblings, and our extended family spend time together? When else do we have a dinner together?  Christmas is the only time of the year when we can be together.

Therefore, Christmas is without a doubt the best holiday of the year.

In the third paragraph, several interrogative sentences focus on why Christmas is such an important time for family. Since the three sentences are similar in grammar, listeners/readers will assume that the ideas are similar.

TOEFL Independent Speaking Strategies: Practice + Feedback = High Speaking Score

I will be your TOEFL speaking mentor. I will not stop until you score 26!
I will be your TOEFL speaking mentor. I will not stop until you score 26!

After going through this lesson, it is time to practice what you are learning, right? I am waiting right now to help you improve your TOEFL speaking score. You are trying to become one of the 10% of all test-takers to score 26 on the speaking section.  Most likely, you will NOT be able to reach this score without getting some professional TOEFL speaking mentoring. For as little as $45 monthly, you can begin sending me speaking practice tests recordings right to my e-mail. In fact, you can send me a speaking practice test every 24 hours while you are subscribed to my course.

After each practice test, I will e-mail you back 3-8 minutes of corrective feedback to help you monitor your progress.  If your speaking score is 22-23 points, I will be able to help correct your pronunciation, language use, and topic development problems so you can score 26+ in as few as 3 months. 

I almost forgot to mention that the first week of using my course is free.  Found out more about my speaking and writing service here:  CLICK HERE

TOEFL Independent Writing Strategies

These TOEFL independent writing strategies will give you the tools you need to score higher than 24 points. Be patient as you study this lesson. Every single word you read will help you to improve your independent writing score. In addition, it may take you a few days to learn everything that I teach here. However, if you master these TOEFL independent writing strategies, you will have a great chance of reaching 30/30 points. Learn more about how to score 30 here. Several important strategies will help you succeed where so many others have failed:

  • Decoding the writing task
  • Taking 2-3 minutes to make an informal outline
  • Writing a 100 word introduction with a sharply focused three-point thesis
  • Writing each 100 word body paragraph with clearly marked arguable topic sentences by restating a key point from the thesis
  • Using 1-2 details in each paragraph with clear and precise word choice
  • Making sure to use a combination of simple and basic grammar, including using short and long sentences
  • Using a variety of cohesive techniques to connect ideas within paragraphs and to create a sense of overall coherence
  • Having a conclusion that restates the most important points 
TOEFL Independent Writing Strategies
TOEFL Independent Writing Strategies

Table of Contents

TOEFL Independent Writing Strategies: Decode the writing task.

Decoding a TOEFL independent writing prompt
Decoding a TOEFL independent writing prompt

The most important TOEFL independent writing strategies involve your ability to break the writing task into parts so that you can understand how to organize your essay.  You MUST understand what you are being asked to do before you do it.

To illustrate, I just had one of my STEALTH students send me a response to the following writing prompt:

It is generally agreed that society benefits from the work of its members. Compare the contributions of artists to society with the contributions of scientists to society. Which type of contribution do you think is valued more by society? Give specific reasons to support your answer.

Student's inadequate response to TOEFL task 2
Student’s inadequate response to TOEFL task 2

Notice in the above response how the student focuses on why scientists are more valued in society. He should have compared the contributions of artists to scientists in paragraphs 2-3. Finally, the last paragraph is where he should have framed his argument.

On the other hand, notice how the below essay is more closely framed around the writing prompt by 1) explaining the contributions of artists, 2) mentioning the contributions of scientists, and 3) arguing that both contribute positively to society.

Organized response that clearly addresses TOEFL task 2
Organized response that clearly addresses TOEFL task 2

In all likelihood, you will see three different kinds of writing prompts: agree or disagree, explain both sides, or make an argument from multiple sides. To see 100 writing prompts in these categories, go here. To  apply effective TOEFL independent writing strategies, you need to understand how to organize each type of writing task.  Be warned! Do not copy or memorize the templates that I post here. You need to create you own.

“Agree or disagree” TOEFL writing prompt

TOEFL agree or disagree writing prompt
TOEFL agree or disagree writing prompt

One popular type of writing prompt  asks you to agree or disagree with a statement. This question will look like this:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “Nuclear power is a useful source of energy for the future.” Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Below is how you should organize your response…

  • Introduction: Agree or disagree with statement. State three reasons why you agree or disagree.
  • Body paragraph 1: Reason 1; Use 1-2 details
  • Body paragraph 2: Reason 2; Use 1-2 details
  • Body paragraph 3: Reason 3; Use 1-2 details
  • Conclusion: Restate important points

Model Response for “Agree or Disagree” TOEFL Writing Prompt

TOEFL independent model response
TOEFL independent model response

Countries are always looking for renewable sources of energy.  Presently, most societies heavily depend on fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. However, these types of fuels are limited, so eventually these resources will be depleted. In addition, fossil fuels, after they are consumed, release harmful pollution into the atmosphere. In fact, overwhelming evidence suggests that these energy sources are a principal cause of global warming. As a result, countries are searching for cleaner burning, more sustainable forms of energy. Some believe, in fact, that nuclear power will be a better choice of energy in our future. Nevertheless, I strongly disagree with any uses for nuclear power as a future energy source. This form of energy is vulnerable to natural disasters, human error accidents can happen in the nuclear reactors, and some countries can weaponize the uranium used for the energy to build harmful nuclear bombs. Therefore, this form of energy is harmful to our civilization.

First of all, the nuclear reactors used to create nuclear power are vulnerable to natural disasters. For instance, a few years ago, Japan had a large earthquake near one of its nuclear facilities. Consequently, part of the nuclear reactor sustained cracks from the violent shaking. To complicate matters more, a gigantic tsunami hit the facility causing even more damage. As a result, the nuclear power plant suffered an explosive meltdown.  Many radioactive elements were released into the air, the water, and the soil. In the aftermath of the disaster, a lot of land surrounding the facility is now contaminated with radioactivity. In addition, the ocean was also contaminated with radioactivity causing tremendous harm to the environment.  The effects of this disaster were felt as far as California when radioactive water was detected near the beaches along the coastline.

Second of all, nuclear power plants can have human-error accidents which have catastrophic effects. For instance, in 1986, a power plant in the former Soviet Union suffered a nuclear meltdown followed by a huge explosion. Many people working within and near the facility died.  In addition, those who were exposed to the radiation in nearby communities developed cancer years later. In the city of Chernobyl, where the accident occurred, radiation continues to contaminate the water and soil thirty years after the incident. Most likely, no one will be allowed to live there for at least another 100 years.

Lastly, operators of nuclear power plants can secretly weaponize their facilities by making nuclear bombs.  Uranium and plutonium, both of which are naturally occurring radioactive elements found in the Earth’s crust, are needed in order to produce nuclear energy. However, the radioactive elements can also be used to build atomic bombs. The last thing our world needs right now is more nuclear bombs.  Between Russia and the United States alone, more than 2,000 bombs exist. Currently, Iran claims to be using its uranium for peaceful purposes by producing nuclear power to generate electricity for its residents. However, many believe that Iran is actually weaponizing its uranium to build weapons of mass destruction.

In conclusion,  there are simply too many disadvantages of nuclear power. Natural disasters and human errors can compromise these energy-producing facilities. Countries can disguise their bombing making facilities as peaceful nuclear energy buildings so no one will know what they are up to.  As a result, I strongly disagree that nuclear power is a viable future energy source.

 “Explain both sides” TOEFL writing prompt

TOEFL "explain both sides" writing prompt
TOEFL “explain both sides” writing prompt

Another common type of TOEFL writing independent task asks you to explain the advantages and disadvantages of something. It looks like this:

You are a boss working at a large company, and you need to hire a new worker. What are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring an older (40 years old+) or a younger worker (25 years+)? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Follow these TOEFL Independent Writing Strategies as you organize this response:

  • Introduction: State that working with older and younger workers have advantages and disadvantages
  • Body paragraph: State 1 advantage + detail and 1 disadvantage + detail of working with older workers
  • Body paragraph: State 1 advantage + detail and 1 disadvantage + detail of working with younger workers
  • Conclusion: Restate key points of essay

Model Response for “Explain both sides” TOEFL Writing Prompt

TOEFL "explain both sides" model essay
TOEFL “explain both sides” model essay

For any economy to thrive, jobs must be available for people.  As a result, business executives form companies in order to manufacture goods to sell some type of service.  People currently employed sometimes look for other job opportunities in order to advance their positions and salary. In other cases, students complete their undergraduate and graduate studies, after which they eagerly enter the job market.  If I am a boss at a large company, of course, I will need to make many important decisions about hiring. Hiring and retaining employees is the single most valuable asset to any corporation. There are advantages and disadvantages if I choose to hire older or younger workers.

In the first place, hiring older workers may benefit my company because these employees have 10-20 years of experience.  Moreover, I will not need to spend money training them. For instance,  if I hire an older worker as a sales associate, he/she will have already had a decade or more of sales experience. Most likely,  this worker will begin to generate sales for our company immediately without a lot of necessary training.  However, because many older workers have a lot of experience, I will have to pay them more than their younger counterparts. To illustrate, an older worker who already has 10-20 years of a sales experience is going to ask for a higher salary than a younger worker who is coming out of college with little or no sales experience.

In the second place, younger workers may prove a boon to my company because they are clever with new technology. Many younger workers are familiar with social media platforms and are up-to-date with the latest computer and Internet technology. Therefore, for example, if I hire a younger computer programmer, I will most likely find that this worker can easily adapt to any new technology that s/he needs to learn. Conversely, younger workers are sometimes less loyal.  They take a job with the intentions of using that job as a stepping stone for a higher paying job in the near future. For instance, my nephew, who is a 27 year old accountant, has already changed jobs three times in as many years, each time accepting a higher-paying job with more responsibility.

In the final analysis, based on experience, pay, technological saviness, and loyalty, older and younger workers have advantages and disadvantages, which is why many companies end up hiring both types.

“Make an argument from multiple sides” TOEFL writing prompt

TOEFL "make argument from multiple sides" writing prompt
TOEFL “make argument from multiple sides” writing prompt

The last common type of TOEFL independent writing prompt asks you make an argument and present several reasons why you believe the way you do. This prompt is less focused and more opened ended than the other two. However, it does NOT mean your response should be unfocused. You will need to make a choice and then explain the reasons for your choice.

The “Explain both sides” writing prompt looks this:

If you could choose any place to visit in the world, which location would you want to visit. Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

The TOEFL Independent Writing Strategies are similar to what you already learned with the “Agree of disagree” type of writing prompt.

  • Introduction: Make a choice. State three reasons for your choice.
  • Body paragraph 1: Reason 1; Use 1-2 details
  • Body paragraph 2: Reason 2; Use 1-2 details
  • Body paragraph 3: Reason 3; Use 1-2 details
  • Conclusion: Restate important points

Model Response for “Make an argument from multiple sides”

The world is full of many exciting destinations for tourists. Paris has its amazing Eiffel Tower, which brilliantly lights up the night sky. Cairo has the monumental ancient prymids, whose history go back 1000’s of years. New York City, or the Big Apple as it is so affectionately called, offers Times Square, a place that many like to visit to kick off the  New Year. Undoubtedly, many exciting places exist worldwide that I would love to visit. If I had to pick one place to visit, I would visit San Diego, California. My friend Tomas who visited said that  San Diego allures tourists through Old Town, pristine La Jolla Beach, and a year-round temperate climate.

First, San Diego is a great place to visit because of a tourist attraction called Old Town San Diego, where the first Spanish settlement on the US West Coast is located. During Tomas’ visits at the old mission, he was richly educated on Old Town’s colorful past. In addition, part of the reason Tomas enjoyed his visit was the Mexican heritage atmosphere. For example, next to the mission, he ate at an authentic Mexican restaurant where the cooks made the tortillas by hand. The food was absolutely delicious, according to Tomas. I definitely to eat the food and to see the old mission.

Second, in addition to Old Town, San Diego is famous for its pristine La Jolla Beach.  One of the days Tomas was in San Diego he spent seven hours at the beach. His son and he went snorkeling in the clear blue water with towering sandstone cliffs all around. While they were in the water, they saw lobsters, blue snails, and several starfish. In addition, when they were not swimming, they built a giant sandcastle on the beach. Furthermore, they took an hour nap on the soft sand under the warmth of a bright sun. They still have fond memories of the time they spent at La Jolla. When I go to San Diego, I will also spend some time at the beach.

Finally, I definitely want to visit San Diego because of its temperate climate. During the middle of the summer, the temperature rarely goes above 80 F.  In addition, the nighttime temperature cools to 65F.  To further make it easy on those who visit, the humidity level hovers between 15%-30%. Therefore, with a cool breeze that regularly blows in from the ocean, the air feels pleasant. In addition, during the winter, San Diego rarely has night time temperatures close to freezing. In fact, during the day the temperature rises to an average 65F, with night time temperatures dropping down to 45F. Although San Diego has a rainy season from November to April, rainfall amounts typically total less than 15 inches.  As a result, San Diego sees almost 320 sunny days during the year. Therefore, no matter when I choose to visit San Diego, I will most be greeted with sunny skies and comfortable temperatures

To sum up, based on what my friend Tomas has told me about San Diego and based on what I read about the climate, this beautiful California beach city is one destination that I have added to my bucket list.

TOEFL independent writing strategies: Engage briefly in pre-writing activities.

TOEFL prewriting strategies
TOEFL prewriting strategies

In addition to identifying the writing prompt, you should jot down some key points that you would like to write about. To get some general tips to master the TOEFL iBT, go here

Example writing prompt: Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Give some examples and reasons to support your point of view. “Building a university in your hometown would have a positive effect.”

Therefore, as you read the above writing prompt, you could write down a brief outline:

Agree with idea….

  • University = better higher education access for locals
  • University =  more thriving economy + more jobs
  • University =  safer community

You should not use more than 2-3 minutes to write down these key points.  The key points you write down during you pre-writing will become topics for each of your body paragraphs. For example, based on the notes see you here, the writer focuses around easier access to higher education for locals, a more vibrant economy, and a safer community. This is why the writer believes that building a university in his hometown is a good idea.

TOEFL independent writing strategies: Write a specific three-point thesis.

TOEFL independent writing task thesis statement strategies
TOEFL independent writing task thesis statement strategies

You just learned some important pre-writing TOEFL independent writing strategies. Your next step is to integrate these key ideas into a thesis.

General guidelines for framing your TOEFL independent writing thesis:

  • State whether you agree or disagree.
  • Include specific reasons to support your argument.
  • Restate the writing prompt but do NOT copy word for word. Instead use synonyms of the key words from the writing prompt.

Example thesis statement: I agree that the construction of an educational institution would benefit my city. Having a university would make it easier for local residents to attend college, it would uplift our economy, and it would create a safer community.

Avoid these overused, generic, and grade-killing thesis statements:

  • I have several reasons to support my point of view.
  • There are several reasons to support my ideas.
  • I will support  this argument in the following paragraphs.
  • In this essay, I will explain my point of view by using some personal examples.
  • I will explain my opinion to support this point of view.
  • I feel this way for two main reasons which I will explore in the following essay.

Do not write a thesis that in any way resembles the examples that you just read. For other tips on writing focused thesis statements, read this post I wrote.

Example thesis statements for the agree/disagree TOEFL independent writing task.

Do NOT memorize any of the thesis statements I provide here. Rather, use them as guidelines as you practice framing your unique thesis statements.

  •  I agree that the construction of an educational institution would benefit my city. Having a university would make it easier for local residents to attend college, it would uplift our economy, and it would create a safer community.
  • Building a university in my city has several important advantages: easier access to college, more thriving economy, and safer community. Therefore,  I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.
  • If city officials allow a university to be built in my hometown, more local residents will attend college, the economy will strengthen, and the city will have less crime. As a result, I agree with this statement.
  • Having a university built in my city is something I can live with. Easier access for locals to attend college, a stronger economy, and a safer community will be direct benefits of this project.
  • Building a university in my hometown will make it much easier for locals to attend college. In addition, the economy will benefit because of the new jobs. Finally, crime rates will decrease. Hence, I agree with this statement.

All five thesis statements that you see here explain exactly the same idea. However,  I use different grammatical sentences in each case. Notice how in the last example I used three separate sentences to express the key point of the thesis.

As you can see, there are many different ways to construct thesis statements. Make sure your thesis is grammatically correct. Your thesis should also forecast the specific points of your body paragraphs.

TOEFL independent writing strategies: Write 100 word introductory paragraph.

TOEFL independent task example introduction
TOEFL independent task example introduction

One way to introduce the topic is to include some general statements about the topic.  Then include a hook such as a question to engage readers’ interest. Then you can explain why some people do not want a university in their hometown.  After that, you can explain why others believe it is a good idea. Then you can include your thesis:

Example introduction: Residents of any town want a city of which they can be proud. In many cases, these city dwellers will welcome the construction of any new facilities so long as these structures positively affect most members of their communities. What if a new university is proposed in my community?  Some may object to the new facility because of increased traffic issues, whereas others are more than happy to have this new facility in their town. If city officials allow a university to be built in my hometown, more local residents will attend college, the economy will strengthen, and the city will have less crime. As a result, I agree with this statement.

TOEFL independent writing strategies: Make sure that you write arguable topic sentences in each body paragraph

TOEFL independent tips for body paragraphs
TOEFL independent tips for body paragraphs

Example thesis statement: Building a university in my city has several important advantages: easier access to college, more thriving economy, and safer community. Therefore,  I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

Example topic sentences:

  • I support the idea of a university in my town because local residents will find it easier to attend school.
  • Moreover, having a university in my town will have boosting effect on our local businesses.
  • Finally, building a university in my hometown will lower our crime levels.

Notice how each topic sentence restates one of the key points from the thesis.  Did you notice that I did not use exactly the same words? You want to show the TOEFL iBT human raters that you have a wide range of vocabulary. Use this resource page to help you expand your vocabulary. As a result, do not be too repetitive. Use synonyms instead. Learn one simple trick right now for improving your topic sentences.

TOEFL independent writing strategies: Use 1-2 specific details containing precise and clear words in each body paragraph

TOEFL independent task paragraph tips
TOEFL independent task paragraph tips

If you include too many details in a 100 word paragraph, you will not have depth and progression of ideas.  A writer who tries to say everything says nothing. Have you ever heard that quote before?

Paragraph with one detail:

Moreover, having a university in my town will have boosting effect on our local businesses.  To illustrate, my friend who lives in Tupelo, Mississippi just had a university built in his hometown.  After its completion,  the university boasts a student enrollment of 15,000 students. In addition, more than 2,500 faculty and staff are employed at the new institution.  As a result, a combined total of almost 20,000 new consumers buy food and other items in the town whenever a need arises. My friend told me that sales at his “Mr. Taco” Mexican restaurant have tripled since the university was built. In fact, my friend had to double his workforce and even expand the capacity of his restaurant due to all the additional business. Based on my friend’s example, I have to believe that similar things would happen if a university were built in my hometown.

Did you notice after “to illustrate” that I spent about 105 words on one example. And guess what? Not a single part of that example was true. I made it up just so I could show you this paragraph. That is exactly what you want to do when you cannot think of any real life experiences.

1) Make them up.

2) Be as specific as possible.

3) Learn to be creative.

TOEFL independent writing strategies: Use advanced and simple grammar, especially showing syntactic variety

TOEFL sentence variety examples
TOEFL sentence variety examples

Obviously, you want to minimize the number of grammar errors you make during the exam. However, even if you have no errors anywhere in your essay, you could score lower if you only use basic grammar.  Put another way, if you only use short, simple sentences, you will score lower. Several important TOEFL independent writing strategies will help you to improve your grammar competence for the writing section:

  • Use longer sentences played against shorter sentences every now and then.
  • Use a variety of simple, compound, complex, and compound/complex sentences.
  • Use subject-verb inversion sentences everyone in a while.
  • Use fronted past and present participles; use appositives in front of the subject.
  • Use different kinds of subjects such as nouns, pronouns, noun clauses, gerunds, gerund phrases, infinitives, infinitive phrases, and adjectives.

Use both long and short sentences.

You should use a combination of long (20+ words), medium (15+ words) and short sentences (10+ words). Generally, use more longer sentences since readers can move through those quickly. Use a short sentence every one in while when you want to slow down readers to emphasize an important point.

Example paragraph with mostly longer sentences: I support the idea of a university in my town because local residents will find it easier to attend school. Many of the residents in my town are poor. Therefore, they do not have enough money to study abroad in some area far from where they live. For example, my friend Tomas wants to attend college to become an electrical engineer, but he cannot afford to travel long distances to attend college. Tomas told me that he wants a university in his hometown. He has enough money to pay for tuition and books if he attends college, but he does not have enough money to travel to another college where he will have to pay for his room and board.

Avoid overusing any one of the four sentence types.

In addition to using mostly longer sentences, you should not overuse any one of the four sentence types. The four sentence types are:

  • Simple (Subject + verb): John went to the store to buy some bread.
  • Compound (Subject + verb, conjunction + subject + verb): John went to the store to buy some bread, but he ended up purchasing milk, cheese, and cereal instead.
  • Complex (Subject + verb + subordinating conjunction + subject + verb): John went to the store to buy some bread because he wanted to make some peanut butter and jelly (PB & J) sandwiches.
  • Compound/complex (Subject + verb, conjunction, subordinating conjunction + subject + verb, subject + verb): John went to the store to buy some bread, but, when he arrived, he ended  up purchasing milk, cheese, and cereal instead.

There is no easy way to learn this. As you practice, you will develop a writing style that works for you. As you practice, try not to use use too many simple sentences. Using only simple sentences during the independent writing task will surely cause you to score lower.

Example of paragraph with only simple sentences: Finally, building a university in my hometown will lower our crime levels. My town has a population of about 230,000 residents. It would have more revenue after the construction of a new university. There is a limited budget for security.  Therefore, my town does not conduct enough police patrols at nights and on the weekends. These city officials are in charge of spending the taxes on services.  We could use some of that new revenue from the new university to hire more police officers for our community. These new officers could become  a larger presence in the especially troublesome neighborhoods.  Therefore, crime could be significantly reduced in our city .  

Lacking syntactic variety, the above paragraph will score lower since it relies only on the simple sentence.

Example of paragraph with sentence variety (simple, complex, and compound complex): Finally, building a university in my hometown will lower our crime levels. My town, which has a population of about 230,000 residents, would have more revenue after the construction of a new university. Currently, my town does not conduct enough police patrols at nights and on the weekends because there is a limited budget for security.  City officials who are in charge of spending the taxes on services could use some of that new revenue from the new university to hire more police officers for our community, and these new officers could become  a larger presence in the especially troublesome neighborhoodsTherefore, crime could be significantly reduced in our city .  

Unlike the paragraph with only simple sentences, the above paragraph uses simple, compound, and compound/complex sentences. As a result, the paragraph displays syntactic variety, so it will score higher.

Change the word order 1-2 times in TOEFL Task 1 or 2

In addition to using a variety of the four sentence types , you can change the word order by sometimes choosing not to place the subject first in the sentence. The following TOEFL independent writing strategies will show you different ways of changing the word order in sentences that you write. Note that the subjects and verbs in all these examples do not occur in the beginning of these sentences:

  • Almost negative adverbs:  Hardly ever has the US economy suffered worse than during the Great Depression in the 1920’s. (Most other periods of the US economy have been better than that of the Great Depression. A few have been worse.)
  • Negative adverbs: Never have I eaten more delicious meat than today at your house. (This is the most delicious meat I have ever eaten.)
  • Appositives: A man of integrity and honor, Abraham Lincoln proved to be one of America’s greatest presidents.
  • Comparison:  Alex agrees that taxes should be lowered for business, so does Mary. (Both Alex and Mary believe that businesses should be taxed less.)
  • Fronted present participle: Having more money to invest on hiring new workers, businesses could be more productive.
  • Fronted past participles: Located next to city hall, our town library has more than 3 million printed online texts in its facility.
  • Omitting “if” in a conditional clause: Were businesses to lower taxes, they would have more money to hire new workers. (If businesses were to lower taxes…)
  • Prepositional phrases of location: Next to the San Bernardino lies the CSUSB campus.
  • Question:  Do you know how many people live in the world?

As a general rule, you should place the subject in the beginning of your sentences. However, consider changing the word order in 1-2 sentences within each of your independent or integrated writing tasks. Do not overuse the grammar that you see here!

Use different types of subjects.

In addition to changing the word order of your subjects and verbs, you should also use a variety of subjects in the sentences that you write:

  1. Adjective:  The poor need assistance from the government.
  2. Noun: The clover smells sweet.
  3. Pronoun: It is a new bookcase.
  4. Noun clause: What they found surprised me.
  5. Gerund: Swimming is good exercise.
  6. Gerund phrase: Working ten years in the mine was enough.
  7. Infinitive: To sleep in is a luxury.
  8. infinitive phrase: To be able to read is very important.

The important point is to NOT overuse any one of these types of subjects. If you feel that you need to improve your knowledge of English grammar, use this resource web page to help you improve.

Use cohesive techniques to create paragraph and essay unity

TOEFL cohesion examples
TOEFL cohesion examples

Making sure that you have clear connections of ideas within each paragraph will also help you to score high.  Paragraph unity and cohesion will help you accomplish this.

Paragraph Unity

Other TOEFL independent writing strategies require to make sure that ALL sentences below the topic sentence illustrate that idea:

  • Each sentence must give more details relating to the topic.
  • The ideas in your sentences must have the same focus as what you stated in the topic sentence.

Without paragraph unity you have chaotic writing.  Each sentence goes in whatever direction it likes.

This is what TOEFL chaotic writing looks like!
This is what TOEFL chaotic writing looks like!

Example paragraph without unity: My friend Jacob attends a university in Oxford, Mississippi. His educational facility has about 12,000 students. I think the United States has about 3,000 universities nationwide.  Some schools have older style buildings.  Jacob told me that he liked studying in Oxford because of the quiet atmosphere.  Universities have traffic from the students, and they drive all over town.  I went to Cal State, San Benardino, which is located next to the beautiful San Bernardino mountains in Southern California. Other universities have new style structures and are pleasing to the eye. As result, many universities benefit the towns in which they are located.

Example with paragraph unity:  Having a university in my hometown will increase employment opportunities for local citizens. A university with an enrollment of 15,000 will require at least 2000-3000 professors and staff to teach the student body and to conduct daily operations.  Staff such as groundskeepers and janitors, for example, will come from the local population. In addition, the student body, faculty, and staff will need places to live, eat, and shop.  These needs will force my town to build new apartment complexes, restaurants, and shopping centers. As a result, my town will  need construction workers, architects, managers, servers, and sales associates.  All of these needs will create 100’s and maybe even 1000’s of new jobs, which will positively affect the economy, all resulting from having this new university built.

Cohesion

Cohesion helps to have sentence-to-sentence level connectedness.  Thus, in addition to paragraph unity, you want to keep all sentences and paragraphs connected. You can do this by using several different types of cohesive devices.

TOEFL cohesion tips
TOEFL cohesion tips

Cohesive devices: Using transition words

Transition words, many of which you can see here, help the reader understand the relationship of ideas within a text.  Generally speaking, you should use approximately 4-5 transition words within each of your body paragraphs.

See an example essay with numerous transition words. Read more.

Cohesive devices: “Before” references

A good roommate will be respectful to me when we spend time together after school.  Having this positive demeanor will help us to get along much better.

In this sentence, “this positive demeanor” refers back to “respectful.” As a result, referring back to something previously mentioned can tie the sentences together more closely.

Cohesive devices: “After” references

When he shows respect, I will certainly treat my roommate with kindness in return.

In this case, “he” refers to “roommate” which is mentioned later in the sentence. Consequently, using a pronoun to tie to something later in that sentence creates cohesion.

Cohesive devices: “Outside the text” references

The President indeed has the power to create executive orders or decrees without having to consent with Congress.

The writer expects the audience to understand that “The President” refers to the President of the United States.  In addition, the audience is expected to know that “Congress” refers to the legislative body of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States.

Cohesive devices: Tense agreement

Creating uniformity with verb tenses also helps to tie your sentences together.

A favorite place I visited as a child was my grandmother’s house.  Outside her cottage in the backyard, she used to have this swing in the middle of her grassy lawn that was surrounded by 10 tall Sycamore trees. One time, I remember being on the wooden swing when my father was pushing me.  After about 10 pushes and when I was high in the air, I jumped from the swing and flew midair about 3 meters until I ended head first in the pool. Since it was a hot day,  I refreshed myself in the cold water.

Since the writer discusses a personal experience that happened in the past, readers expect to see past tense verbs which help the writer to tell this story.  In addition, because the writer accurately and consistently uses past tense verbs, the paragraph ties together well.

Cohesive devices: Point of view consistency

Being consistent with point of view also coheres sentences together within a paragraph.

One important quality of a good roommate is cleanliness.  Last year, when I attended California State University, San Bernardino I was lucky enough to have a roommate who always picked up after himself. For instance, after he took a shower every morning, he always put his toiletries under the sink when he was done. In addition, he made a  point of cleaning the bathroom shower with sanitizing cleanser. He swept and mopped the floor with another cleaning agent. He even took time to clean the mirror and the sink.  He kept our bathroom immaculate for six months.  Similarly, not only did he always put his dirty dishes into the dishwasher, but he also deep cleaned the kitchen. Due to his cleanliness and neatness, my roommate and I got along great.

The writer is consistent in the third person point of view, which you can learn more about here, (roommate, himself, he, his) and in the first person point of view (I). Had the writer first used the second person point of view (you), it would have eroded the consistency that you read in the paragraph.

Cohesive devices: Substitution

Substitution means replacing words or leaving words out for conciseness purposes.

At that point, my roommate was completing his research paper.  However, he wanted to go out to a dance club with this friends.  But before he did that,  he needed to finish.

“Did that” replaces having to say “went to the dance club.”  In addition, the writer uses “finish” instead of saying “finish his research paper.”  Substituting or leaving out words is also helpful in connecting parts of a sentence(s).

Cohesive devices: Parallelism

Parallelism refers to using several grammatically similar phrases within a sentence. In addition, parallelism involves several grammatically similar sentences within a paragraph. In either case, since the grammar is similar, readers will infer that the ideas are also similar within these phrases or sentences. Therefore, using parallel structures can effectively connect ideas together.

Example paragraph with parallelism: Having a roommate who is quiet will make a much more compatible living space. These questions will illustrate why a quiet roommate is beneficial: Will I need to worry that my roommate will be watching the TV loudly all night long?  Will I need to worry that my roommate will he loud and obnoxious late at night? Will I need to worry that my roommate will be talking loudly on his cell phone when I am trying to study?  Finally, will I need to worry that my roommate will be loudly moving around the apartment late at night when I am trying to sleep? If my roommate is quiet, I will not need to worry about having any of these types of problems. As a result, having a quiet roommate is an important quality.

In this paragraph, the writer uses several similar sounding interrogative sentences to emphasize why a quiet roommate is important.

Cohesive devices: Repeating/rephrasing key words

Somewhat similar to using “before” or “after” references to other words, repeating key words helps to unify ideas. Some effective TOEFL independent writing strategies involve repeating/rephrasing key terms from the writing prompt. These repeated or rephrased key terms can be placed into the thesis and topic sentences of your body paragraphs.

Example writing prompt:  The automobile was invented more than 100 years ago. Shortly thereafter, the airplane was invented. Compare these two modes of transportation. Then explain which one has contributed more to the development of our civilization. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Thesis which repeats key words from writing prompt:  Though invented more than a century ago, automobiles and airplanes have innovatively changed local and more distant transportation patterns.

Topic sentence which repeats/rephrases key points from the thesis: First of all, the automobile is a significant advancement to our society in that it has changed how we move around within cities and from cities to other cities.

Topic sentence which repeats/rephrases key points from the thesis: Second of all, the airplane has developed our civilization by helping us travel far distances in a short period of time.

Topic sentence which repeats/rephrases key points from the writing prompt:  Personally, choosing between the two, I think the automobile has had a much greater impact on the development or our civilization.

As you can see in the example thesis and topic sentences, “automobile,” “invented,” “100 years ago,” “airplane,” “transportation,” “development,” and “civilization” are either repeated or rephrased.  The effect is that the introduction and body paragraphs are unified around the purposes of the writing prompt.

Finish the essay with a conclusion that sums up the most important points in the essay

TOEFL independent conclusion tips
TOEFL independent conclusion tips

Have you ever talked to someone on the phone when you were in a hurry?  You know that you need to hang up, but you have to prepare the listener before you drop the call.  In other words, you will need to pre-close the phone conversation before you  end the call, right? Similar to a phone call, you need to “close” or conclude your essay.

  • Include a transition word, more of which you can see here, to signal that the essay is coming to an end.
  • Restate the most important points in the thesis and body paragraphs. However, do not use the same words.
  • Do NOT bring up any new ideas.

Example conclusion:  In conclusion, people undoubtedly want to live in harmony with their roommates while they are in college. Even though there are many important qualities that are important when choosing a roommate, being respectful, clean, and quiet are attributes that I look for.

See a conclusion within the context of a fully-developed TOEFL independent essay model response:  CLICK HERE

TOEFL Independent Writing Strategies: Practice makes perfect, right?

I will provide you TOEFL writing feedback to help you improve.
I will provide you TOEFL writing feedback to help you improve.

If you have read most of this lesson, you know that I am serious about helping you to improve your writing score. In addition, you probably know that you will need to complete many practice TOEFL 1-2 tasks before you will make the improvements you need to score 24.

You cannot learn how to write just by reading this TOEFL lesson or by watching You Tube videos. You MUST practice writing a lot. As you do your writing practice, I want to score your essays so that you can monitor your progress.

For only $45 monthly, you can send me your writing practice tests. In fact, as one of my online students  you can send me ONE independent or integrated writing practice test every 24 hours while you are subscribed to my course. These practice tests can come from anywhere on the Internet or from my Online TOEFL Course. By the way, the first week of using my services is free!

Your modest payment will also give you access to all 700 TOEFL lessons in my Online TOEFL Course.  To join my course and to start sending me daily writing practice tests, go here:  CLICK HERE

Respectfully,

Michael Buckhoff
Michael Buckhoff

Michael Buckhoff

mbuckhoff@aol.com

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies

The TOEFL integrated writing strategies on this web page will help you understand the skills that you will need. In addition, you will learn some important tools that you can use during the test so that you can score high when TOEFL test day comes.

Use this TOEFL integrated writing lesson to score higher.
Use this TOEFL integrated writing lesson to score higher.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Use transition words

Remember that ETS’s eRater scoring engine will be evaluating your writing task. Therefore, good TOEFL integrated writing strategies are to use transition words. These important words will show how your ideas are connected.

Transition Words of Contrast

TOEFL integrated writing strategies

Transition words of contrast should be positioned after you discuss one of the main points from the reading passage.  When you begin the lecture, use a transition word of contrast to show that the lecture differs from the information in the reading passage.

Example:  Bears are naturally aggressive toward humans, asserts the author in the reading passage, because these wild animals often find food around people’s homes. Therefore, bears have lost their fear of people and are more likely to attack. By contrast, the speaker in the lecture casts doubt on this claim. In fact, the speaker believes that much evidence suggests that bears which often live in close proximity to humans and which are often fed by humans rarely attack humans. As a result, bears are not naturally aggressive toward people, argues the speaker in the listening passage.

Notice how I use “by contrast” right after I finish discussing the information in the reading passage. In addition, I also use “because,” “therefore,” “in fact, and “as a result” in this short paragraph.  Out of the 77 words in this passage, 5 are transition words. Consequently, about 15% of words in this paragraph are transition words.  I recommend that you stay between 15%-20% ratio with your use of transition words.

Transition Words of Addition

TOEFL integrated writing strategies
TOEFL transition words of addition

Effective TOEFL integrated writing strategies encourage you to use additional transition words if you want to add to something that you have previously mentioned.

Example: The writer in the reading passage explains that businesses should encourage employees to read all documents in their entirety. In addition, the author claims having workers read all documents will help them perform their job tasks more efficiently.

“In addition” is used to add the ideas in the previous sentence.

Transition Words to Show Emphasis

TOEFL transition words to show emphasis
TOEFL transition words to show emphasis

You can use these transition words to emphasize ideas.

Example: The author in the reading passage claims that camouflage can effectively help animals sneak up on their prey.  Surprisingly, when the lion gets within 30 meters of its prey, the author explains that the prey has no idea how close the lion actually is.

Example: The lecture casts doubt on the claim that lowering taxes will create more economic activity. Indeed, the speaker believes that lowering taxes will slow the economic activity.

“Surprisingly” and “indeed” are used to emphasize ideas.

Transition Words to Show Sequence

TOEFL transition words to show sequence
TOEFL transition words to show sequence

Some of these sequence transition words can be grouped together.  In other words, certain transition words that you use in the first line of one paragraph will lead to specific transition words in the first line of other paragraphs which are parallel to those words.

  • First of all, second of all, third of all….
  • First, second, third…
  • In the first place, in the second place, in the third place…
  • The first step, the second step, the third step…

Transition Words to Introduce Examples

Transition Words to Introduce Examples
Transition Words to Introduce Examples

Additional TOEFL integrated writing strategies can help you when using TOEFL example transition words.   Look over the outline below to see how you should be organizing your notes before you begin the TOEFL integrated writing task:TOEFL integrated writing outline

As you can see from the outline, you will be introducing a total of six examples. The example transition words on the above chart will help you to do that.

Example: The speaker claims that lowering taxes will stifle economic activity. For instance, a large corporation, according to the speaker, got a huge tax break. However, its owner choose not invest those savings in its workforce or the community. Instead, the owner sent the money overseas to a Swiss bank account to protect the money from any additional capital gains tax.

The writer uses the TOEFL transition word “for example” to introduce the example of the corporation.

Transition Words to Show Cause/Effect

TOEFL cause effect transition words
TOEFL cause effect transition words

You may also need to show cause-effect relationship.

Example:  The author asserts that bloggers do not have the same training as journalists.  Consequently, these online writers should not be seen as credible writers.

Consequently” is used to link the cause “bloggers are not well trained” with the effect “they are not credible.”

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Summarize and paraphrase ideas

TOEFL summary tips
TOEFL summary tips

Your goal as you learn these TOEFL integrated writing strategies is to use a neutral tone. In addition, you should frame your writing from the point of view of the author in the reading passage. You should do the same thing with the listening passage. To accomplish this, follow these tips:

Choose the most appropriate point of view.
Choose the most appropriate point of view.

To illustrate, let’s compare four points of view. Which one works better for the integrated writing tasks?

  • 1st person singular point of view: I believe that bears are no more likely to attack humans even if they live within populated centers.
  • 2nd person singular point of view: Even if bears live near you, they are no more likely to attack.
  • 3rd person singular point of view: Bears are no more likely to attack even if they live in populated centers.
  • 3rd person point of view with voice marker + reporting verb: The author explains that bears are no more likely to attack even if they live in populated centers.

The 1st person point of view “I believe”  focuses on the writer’s experience. However, that creates a personal experience tone which is inappropriate in the TOEFL integrated writing task. Therefore, this sentence has a argumentative tone.  In contrast, the sentence should have a neutral tone.

The 2nd person point of view “near you” writes directly to the audience.  But the purpose of this type of writing is to focus on the information in the reading and the listening passage. Moreover, using “you” makes the writing less formal, but the sentence needs to be more, not less, formal.

The 3rd person point of view indeed focuses on the information about bears.  Still, because there is no mention of the author in the reading passage, iBT human raters have to assume that the writer is stating his opinion. Hence, the sentence reads more as an argument instead of a neutral summary.

The 3rd person point of view with the voice marker plus the reporting verb focuses on the information and acknowledges the author.  Thus, this sentence sounds more like a paraphrase or summary of someone else’s ideas. The tone is both formal and objective, which exactly matches the purpose of the integrated writing task.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Use a chunking compare/contrast organization

Having strong integrated writing strategies involve understanding compare and contrast method of organization. Since the lecture will differ from the points in the reading, you will need to use a logical, easy-to-understand compare and contrast structure.

  • A very easy way to do that is by chunking ideas from the reading passage.
  • In addition, you can chunk ideas together from a listening passage.
  • The first 1/2 of a paragraph can, for example, group together an important point from the reading passage.
  • Then in the second 1/2 of a paragraph, for instance, you can group ideas from the listening passage that oppose that point.

Observe in the following paragraph how I place the important points from a reading and listening passage:

Global warming, according to the author, is mostly caused by human activities.  To illustrate, the author presents multiple examples of glaciers all over the world that are melting at a faster rate than seen in previous decades. In contrast, the speaker argues that global warming is mainly due to natural factors.  To support this claim, the speaker points to other periods of time 1000’s of years ago when there were also  warming trends.

The way I wrote this makes it easy to see how the human activity and natural factor are opposing points from the reading and listening passage. Notice how I spend roughly the same number of words to  explain the reading and listening passage. This balance prevents any possible bias I might have about the topic. For example, I believe global warming is mostly due to human activities. However, there is no way for you to know my personal beliefs from reading this paragraph, right?

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Create unique templates to frame your writing task

You have learned several important TOEFL integrated writing strategies so far in this lesson.

  • You learned about the importance of transition words. Specifically, you learned that 15%-20% of each paragraph should consist of transition words.
  • In addition, you learned that you should frame your essay from the author’s and the speaker’s point of view. That means you should use the third person point of view.
  • You also learned that you should use present tense reporting verbs to explain reading and listening passages.
  • Finally, you also learned how a chunking compare/contrast organization logically, easily, and accurately shows how the information in the listening passage is related to the information in the reading passage.

Your next step is to create  a unique template that you can use based on what you are learning on this web page. However, I will NOT give you a template. You must create your own way of organization. You will remember better if you create your own. In addition, it will sound more natural. Here are some general guidelines to help you to organize the different parts of your TOEFL integrated writing task:

Introduction: Your introduction needs to be about 25 words. Use a compound sentence, as you can see in this lesson, connecting the main point of the reading and the listening passage.

Body paragraph 1: Begin this 100 word paragraph with a transition word of sequence. After the reading passage, use a transition word of contrast.  As you discuss the reading and listening points, use other transition words as necessary.

Body paragraph 2: Repeat the same step in paragraph 1. This time place reading point 2 with listening point 2.

Body paragraph 3:  Follow the same step in paragraph 1.  Combine reading point 3 with listening point 3.

Conclusion: Use a transition word such as “to sum up.”  Write a short sentence explaining how the listening passage disagrees with the information in the reading passage. However, use different vocabulary and grammar that you used in the introduction.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Take a mock Integrated writing practice test

Now that you have learned some TOEFL integrated writing strategies, you should take a mock practice test.   Watch the video, take notes, and then write a 250-350 word response. You can compare your notes + essay to the model response on this web page.  Good luck!

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Compare your sample notes note to these.

Below are notes based on the most important points from the reading passage and the listening page. During the TOEFL exam, you should ask for 5-6 sheets of paper so that you can take notes. As you can guess, taking accurate and complete notes are important TOEFL integrated writing strategies.

TOEFL integrated writing example notes
TOEFL integrated writing example notes

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Compare your practice test to this model response

To help you see the integrated parts of this response, pay attention to the follow parts, each with its own color:

  • Reading passage
  • Listening passage
  • Voice markers/reporting verbs
  • Transition words/connectors

The reading passage discusses three theories regarding the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the lecture casts doubts on each theory.

First of all, the author in the reading passage explains that a warming trend caused dinosaurs’ testes to malfunction. As a result, the male dinosaurs became sterile. Hence, the dinosaurs died out, according to the author, because they could no longer reproduce. On the other hand, the speaker in the lecture says there are too many unanswered questions about this theory. Most importantly, because testes do not fossilize, no fossil records can provide evidence to prove or disprove this theory.

Second of allpoisonous flowering plants began to grow  during the dinosaurs’ reign, asserts the authorThe author explains that dinosaurs could not taste the bitterness of these deadly flowers. Consequently, the dinosaurs died of overdoses. Conversely the speaker argues that these poisonous plants flourished long before and during the time of the dinosaurs’ time. As a result, the speaker questions why it took so long for the dinosaurs’ to die out.  In addition, similar to the testes theory, the speakers argues that  the fossil record cannot tell scientists what dinosaurs ate and whether or not they died of overdoses. Like testes, livers do not fossilize.

Finally, a large asteroid hit the Earth, according to the author, who believes that the impact caused a lot of dust to rise into the atmosphere. This dust, reports the author, blocked sunlight, which caused the dinosaurs to freeze to deathHowever, in the lecture, the speaker explains that the impact may have happened 1000’s of years before the dinosaurs became extinct. In addition, the fossil record suggests that dozens and dozens  of species of plants lived during the impact  and after the impact of the asteroid. As a result, the speaker contends that the effects of the impact may not have been as serious as once thought.

In conclusion, the listening passage is skeptical of the accuracy of each theory discussed by the author.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Final Tips on scoring high

Improving your writing so that you can reach 24+ may take some time.  I offer two great ways for you to practice your writing. 1) You can subscribe to STEALTH, “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.” After you join, you can start sending me independent and integrated writing practice every day. I will evaluate, score, and provide basic feedback on your writing practice tests so that you can monitor your progress. Find out more.

In addition, I have a more expensive option.  Like the less expensive option, you will get access to STEALTH. You will also be able to send me writing practice tests every day for evaluation. However, with this option, I will error correct two of your essay so you can exactly see your mistakes. Watch part of the following video to see how my error-correction service works:

If you are interested in this more expensive option, you can join my TOEFL Writing Boot Camp Course.  Read the course outline. You will also have the option to join the course.

Getting my feedback might be good TOEFL integrated writing strategies, especially if you have failed the writing section more than one time.  Many students make the same mistakes repeatedly. However, they do not know what they are doing wrong. I can quickly show you what your mistakes are so you can avoid them during the writing section of the TOEFL iBT. Some students who do not get professional help end up in TOEFL Hell. Do NOT go there!

TOEFL Integrated Writing Strategies: Helpful links

Additional lessons will help you to improve your TOEFL integrated writing strategies:

I hope that you found this lesson useful! Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

You WILL be able to reach your target TOEFL writing score.
You WILL be able to reach your target TOEFL writing score.

Michael Buckhoff, mbuckhoff@aol.com

http://onlinetoeflcourse.com

 

 

 

 

TOEFL Reading Resources

These TOEFL reading resources focus on three areas:

  • Improvement suggestions to help you improve your concentration and comprehension of complex reading passages
  • Practice tests to help you monitor your comprehension and reading speed
  • Reading question types and their test-taking strategies

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TOEFL Reading Resources: Improvement suggestions

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TOEFL Reading Resources: Practice tests

TOEFL speed reading practice tests
TOEFL speed reading practice tests
  • Understanding Organizational Patterns. Take a practice test to see if you can recognize the methods of development such as compare/contrast, classification, definition, description, and narration.
  • TOEFL Speed Reading Test. Through six practice tests from 100-400 words per minute, find out exactly what your reading speed is and whether or not you are ready to take the TOEFL iBT.

TOEFL Reading Resources: Question types and test-taking strategies

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  • Answering Pronoun Referent Questions. You will be asked what “that,” “it, “they,” and pronoun referents refer to. This lesson will teach you several important steps in answering this type of question.
  • Answering Vocabulary Questions. Answering vocabulary questions can be tricky. Clarify exactly what to do when you see this common question on the reading section of the exam.
  • Getting the Main Idea of TOEFL Passages + Integrated Speaking and Writing Templates. This lesson helps you to get the main ideas of reading and listening passages. Then the lesson will show you how to take those main points so that you can answer reading, speaking, and writing questions accurately and confidently.
  • Inferring Rhetorical Purpose. Get the specific strategies for the rhetorical question that causes many students’ heads to explode during the TOEFL reading section.
  • Inserting a sentence. Find out what you need to do when you insert a sentence into a reading passage.
  • It Is Not About Reading! These five important steps will help you spend less time reading and more time answering questions when  you see a reading question on the TOEFL exam.
  • TOEFL iBT 800 Word Reading Passage. Learn How to Read It.
  • Recognizing Paraphrases.  Watch a video that explains how to answer the paraphrase type of reading question.
  • TOEFL Reading Paraphrase Question. This TOEFL lesson will give you more practice  answering the paraphrase question. In addition, you will get to answer 10 practice questions.
  • TOEFL Reading Strategies. Specific reading strategies in this lesson will show you how to answer ALL questions in the reading section of the TOEFL exam. Moreover, you will learn nine reading question types and the strategies for answering them.
  • Test-Taking Strategies. Get additional strategies to help you answer the reading questions confidently and accurately.

I hope that you have found these TOEFL reading resources helpful.  Improving reading is a slow process requiring consistent practice over time. Be patient.

Follow the tips in these TOEFL reading lessons, and you will improve.
Follow the tips in these TOEFL reading lessons, and you will improve.

Good luck on your TOEFL journey!

Michael Buckhoff, mbuckhoff@aol.com

http://onlinetoeflcourse.com

 

 

TOEFL Listening Resources

Welcome to my TOEFL Listening Resources page of general and specific test-taking strategies.

Welcome to my TOEFL listening resources web page!
Welcome to my TOEFL listening resources web page!

Links to general listening strategies offer several benefits:

  • Ideas on how to improve your listening comprehension abilities
  • Instruction on specific linking and other transition words to help you understand a complex listening passage
  • Importance on understanding natural speech patterns

Other links to listening question types and test-taking strategies will help you in certain ways:

  • Practice with negative expressions
  • Tips and tricks with the eight listening question types and strategies for answering them
  • Helpful suggestions on test-taking strategies for the listening, speaking, and writing sections, all of which involve listening passages
  • Practice with academic lectures plus test questions to monitor your progress

TOEFL Listening Resources: General strategies

TOEFL Listening Resources
TOEFL Listening Resources

TOEFL Listening Resources: Question types and test-taking strategies

TOEFL listening test-taking strategies
TOEFL listening test-taking strategies

Good luck!

Your TOEFL listening comprehension will improve.
Your TOEFL listening comprehension will improve.

Michael Buckhoff, mbuckhoff@aol.com

htttp://onlinetoeflcourse.com

TOEFL Pronunciation Resources

These TOEFL pronunciation resources reflect the knowledge and experience of more than 30 years of my teaching. For instance, I have taught accent reduction courses to many kinds of students. I teach accent reduction to Chinese business professionals who want to speak more naturally.

In addition, I teach accent reduction courses to Catholic priests at the San Bernardino Diocese in California. Lastly, I teach accent reduction to my international students online. I also help my international students at California State University, San Bernardino. Therefore, these TOEFL pronunciation resources on this web page are designed to help you speak more clearly. As a result,  you can increase your chances of scoring higher than 26 points on the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT.

TOEFL pronunciation resources
TOEFL pronunciation resources

TOEFL Pronunciation Resources: $$$ Accent reduction services

1-1 TOEFL accent reduction assistance
1-1 TOEFL accent reduction assistance

TOEFL Pronunciation Resources: Advanced pronunciation practice

Advanced TOEFL pronunciation practice
Advanced TOEFL pronunciation practice

TOEFL Pronunciation Resources: Examples of Clear or unclear speech

Examples of unclear TOEFL pronunciation
Examples of unclear TOEFL pronunciation

TOEFL Pronunciation Resources: Practice with consonant sounds

Consonant sounds of English
Consonant sounds of English

TOEFL Pronunciation Resources: Practice with vowel sounds

Vowel sounds of English
Vowel sounds of English

TOEFL Pronunciation Resources: General tips and tricks

TOEFL pronunciation tips and tricks
TOEFL pronunciation tips and tricks
  • TOEFL Speaking Rubrics Analysis: How will your pronunciation be graded during the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT?  Are there any differences in the grading of your pronunciation according to the independent and integrated speaking rubrics? Get these answers and more.
  • What Pronunciation Goals Should You Set Before Taking the TOEFL iBT? How clearly do you need to speak in order to score high on the speaking section? This article will give you some guidelines about the goals that you should set regarding pronunciation. That way you can score 26+ on the speaking section.

I hope that you have found my TOEFL pronunciation resources web page useful.

Good luck!

If you believe, you will achieve your goal.
If you believe, you will achieve your goal.

Michael Buckhoff, mbuckhoff@aol.com

http://onlinetoeflcourse.com

TOEFL Grammar Resources

The TOEFL grammar resources I posted here reflect more than 10 years of TOEFL article writing on the Internet. These TOEFL grammar resources will help you avoid the most common writing and speaking errors. Many students make these errors during the TOEFL exam. I have graded more than 15,000 speaking practice tests at Stealth, The 7-Step Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT. In addition, I have graded close to 100,000 pages of college writing and TOEFL writing practice tests.  I see very similar writing and speaking errors recur, even from the same students.

As you do the grammar study on this web page, you can also get, as you will see here, 100 speaking and 100 writing topics that you can practice.  To get speaking and writing feedback, please consider choosing me. For only $45 a month, you can start sending me speaking and writing practice. During this time, I will provide you corrections of any grammar and other problems that you might be having.  You can join my course any time you like: CLICK HERE

TOEFL grammar resources
TOEFL grammar resources

TOEFL Grammar Resources: Adjective, reduced adjective clauses; noun clauses

Adjective clause practice exercises
Adjective clause practice exercises
  • TOEFL iBT Grammar Video: Who versus Whom: Differentiate between subject and object relative pronouns “who” and “whom”
  • TOEFL iBT Grammar: How to Use Whose, Practice Exercises: This TOEFL grammar resource explains how to use the possessive relative clause pronoun in both speaking and writing.
  • TOEFL iBT Grammar: Participial Phrases: This seven minute video will show you example sentences of participial phrases. You will learn how these reduced adjective clauses are formed. Moreover, you will understand why you should use them during the TOEFL speaking and writing tasks.
  • TOEFL iBT Grammar: Appositives: Reducing adjective clauses into appositives is another important way to impress TOEFL iBT human raters. TOEFL human raters will grade your speaking and writing tasks. Learn how to form these advanced grammar structures.
  • Reduced Adjective Clauses: Understand how and why you should reduce adjective clauses during the TOEFL speaking and writing tasks.
  • Adjective Clauses and the TOEFL iBT Exam: Knowing how to form adjective clauses is important to your speaking and writing improvement. In this lesson, you will learn why. Moreover, you will learn how to form these advanced grammar structures.
  • TOEFL iBT Grammar: Adjective Clauses: You will see connectors such as “which,” “who,” “whom,” “that,” “whose.” Furthermore, you will learn how they are used in example sentences.
  • Using Noun Clauses in TOEFL Integrated Writing: Noun clauses can help you to summarize reading and listening passages during the integrated writing task. This lesson will show you how to correctly form these advanced grammar structures. As a result,  you will score higher on the writing section.

TOEFL Grammar Resources: Error correction service; Online TOEFL Course

TOEFL speaking and writing error correction service
TOEFL speaking and writing error correction service

TOEFL Grammar Resources: General tips for speaking and writing

General TOEFL grammar tips for speaking and writing
General TOEFL grammar tips for speaking and writing

TOEFL Grammar Resources: Parallelism

Parallelism in TOEFL speaking and writing
Parallelism in TOEFL speaking and writing

TOEFL Grammar Resources: Practice Tests and Quizzes

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TOEFL Grammar Resources: Prepositional phrases

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TOEFL Grammar Resources: Punctuation

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TOEFL Grammar Resources: Syntactic variety

Sentence variety for TOEFL speaking and writing
Sentence variety for TOEFL speaking and writing

TOEFL Grammar Resources: Verb tenses

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TOEFL iBT Grammar: Verbs Followed by Infinitives: This lesson gives examples of dozens of verbs which are commonly followed by infinitives.

Subjects, Verbs, and TOEFL iBT Grammar: This lesson explains 7 different types of subjects you can use. In addition, this lesson will explain the thirteen verb tenses in English. You will see example sentences to help you understand what is being taught.

TOEFL iBT Grammar: Sentences with One Subject and One Verb: Learn how to accurately form sentences with one subject and one verb.

Four Language-Use Tips for TOEFL iBT Speaking Section: Many independent speaking tasks require a specific type of verb tense. In this lesson, you will learn what verb tenses to use with most TOEFL independent speaking example test questions.

TOEFL iBT Grammar: Verbs + Pronouns + Infinitives: Get used to the verbs + pronouns + infinitives combinations to improve your speaking and writing.

TOEFL Grammar Lesson: You will learn about present and past impossible conditions and specifically what types of very tenses you should use.

I have that you enjoyed my TOEFL grammar resources web page. Tell others about the TOEFL grammar resources that I posted here.

Michael Buckhoff, founder, owner, and materials writer for the Better TOEFL Scores, STEALTH, and Online TOEFL Course.

TOEFL Vocabulary Resources

These TOEFL vocabulary resources will help you to improve your TOEFL score on all sections! Improving your vocabulary means being able to recognize college-level words in reading and listening passages. In addition, expanding your vocabulary will help you use a wider range of words during the speaking and writing portions of the exam.   Take advantage of the TOEFL vocabulary resources on this web page. Tell other people about what I have posted here.  Together, we can conquer the TOEFL exam.

TOEFL Vocabulary Resources
TOEFL Vocabulary Resources

TOEFL Vocabulary Resources: E-book and strategies for learning all 1,700 words

TOEFL Vocabulary Resources: Strategies for guessing the meaning of unknown words

TOEFL Vocabulary Resources: Vocabulary and the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections

TOEFL Vocabulary Resources: Practice with idioms (Useful for your speaking practice!)

I hope that you have found these TOEFL vocabulary resources helpful.

May the next TOEFL iBT test you take be your last!

TOEFL Vocabulary Resources
TOEFL Vocabulary Resources

Michael Buckhoff, mbuckhoff@aol.com

http://onlinetoeflcourse.com