Model TOEFL Speaking Responses

The model speaking responses in this TOEFL blog post range from 4.0 all the way down to 1.5.

Model TOEFL Speaking Responses

Why are you qualified to grade these model TOEFL Speaking Responses?

First of all, I have been teaching TOEFL preparation courses at California State University, San Bernardino since 1994.  Second of all, I am the testing and placement specialist in the English Language Program at the same institution. Finally, to reach out to international students around the world, I started teaching TOEFL preparation online.  As a result, I have graded more than 25,000 speaking practice tests.  Having this experience helps me to accurately access speaking practice while interpreting the rubrics that ETS uses to score your TOEFL speaking tasks.

Why should I watch these videos?

Watching these videos has several advantages:

  • First, understand the difference between lower and higher speaking scores
  • Second, learn how to apply the rubrics to the scoring of a actual speaking practice test; then you will be able to apply these rubrics to your own speaking practice tests
  • Third, gets tips on how to improve your speaking based on the level you are at currently

These students obtained estimated scores of 4.0/4.0 or 30/30 pts.

About 8% to 10% of all test-takers score at the highest level.

  • Delivery: Very fluid expression with few or no unnecessary pauses or hesitations; clear speech with minor difficulties with pronunciation, intonation
  • Language use: Good control of natural sounding basic and advanced vocabulary and grammar; minor or systematic errors that do not prevent meaning
  • Topic Development: Sustained speech which clearly addresses the task; well-developed and coherent response that expresses easy to understand relationship of ideas

Score: 4.0/4.0


Score: 4.0/4.0

Score: 3.5-4.0

In these TOEFL model speaking responses, the students scored 3.0/4.0.

A majority of test-takers including you will most likely score in this area.

  • Delivery: Mostly clear speech with some fuild expression of ideas; minor difficulties with pronuniciation, tone, and pacing require listener effort; overall intellibibility is not significantly affected
  • Language use:  Fairly automatic and effective use of grammar and vocabulary; some imprecise, vague, or incorrect use of grammar and vocabulary; limited range of grammar and vocabulary may affect overall fluency but does not stand in the way of the communication of ideas
  • Topic Development: mostly organized and sustained response; limited development and elaboration of ideas; some diffculty understanding the relationship of ideas

Score: 3.0/4.0


Score: 3.0/4.0

Score: 3.0/4.0

These students scored 2.0-2.5 on their model TOEFL Speaking Responses.

Test-takers at this level are still developing their speaking and pronuncaition fluency.

  • Delivery:  Listener effort needed to understand speech because of problems with unclear pronunciation, unnatural and awkward intonation patterns, choppy rhythm/pace; often characterized by unnecessary, frequent hesitations and pauses that block meaning in some parts of the response
  • Language use: Limited range and control of grammar and vocabulary that prevents full expression of ideas; mostly basic sentence structures used with fluidity
  • Topic Development: Limited response to the demands of the task; limited development of ideas; expression of vague and repetitious content; connection of ideas unclear

Score: 2.5-3.0/4.0

Score: 2.0-2.5/4.0


Score: 2.0/4.0

This student scored 1.5/4.0 on this TOEFL speaking practice test.


Score: 1.5/4.0

  • Delivery: Consistent problems with pronunciation, sentence and word stress, and intonation difficulties causing a lot of listener effort; choppy, fragmented, or telegraphic speech often characterized by frequent pauses and hesitations
  • Language use: Severe limitations concerning the range and control of the grammar and vocabulary which prevent expression and connection of ideas; responses may somemtimes rely on memorized, templated, or formulaic expressions
  • Topic Development: Limited expression of content relevant to the task; expression of only basic ideas; inability to speak in a sustained way; reliance on heavy repetition of the speaking prompt


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