The difference between TOEFL Speaking 3.0 and 4.0

Do you know what the difference is between a TOEFL speaking 3.0 and 4.0? The example speaking scripts presented in this lesson will be based on the following speaking prompt: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Children should not be allowed to have cell phones until they are 18 years of age.

The difference between TOEFL Speaking 3.0 and 4.0.

Watch a video of this lesson:

A Difference Between TOEFL Speaking 3.0 and 4.0: Topic Development

Delivery and language use play a major part in your TOEFL speaking score. However, I will frame this blog post around topic development, which also largely affects your score:

  • Speakers who score 3.0 often do not elaborate on the details that they discuss. Instead, these TOEFLers give basic ideas with little or no specificity. The language they use is imprecise, generic, and unimpressive to SpeechRater and iBT human raters.
  • Speakers who score 4.0 give specific, precise details that illustrate the reasons they provide in their speaking responses. Therefore, high-scoring TOEFL speakers use language that is precise, specific, and attention-getting to Speechrater and iBT human raters.

TOEFL Speaking 3.0 Example

I agree that children should not have cell phones until 18 years of age. I have some reasons to support my point of view.

Children need to focus a lot on their studies, and cell phones will distract them from that purpose. So, I do not think a cell phone will be a good ideas for these youngsters. In addition, children will use the phones sometimes without their parents around. At that time, the children may see some harmful content that may give them some emotional problems such as addiction and depression.

Children cannot control well how they use electronic devices such as cell phone, so they will likely use their phones so much they will not have time for their studies or to socialize with their peers.

Therefore, I strongly agree that children should never be given cell phones until close to the end of their teenage years. 

What’s wrong with the speaking 3.0 example?

The 3.0 TOEFL Speaking Response does NOT elaborate on any of the details given.

  • The speaker says that cells phones distract children. However, the speaker doesn’t give a personal example or an example from someone he knows.
  • In addition, the speaker argues that children may view harmful content that can cause addiction and depression. Nonetheless, the speaker again fails to re-tell an experience to support that assertion.
  • Finally, the speaker, trying to use the remainder of the time, further explains that cell phones will not allow children adequate time to complete schoolwork or to hang out with friends. However, no examples are provided to support these additional claims.

TOEFL Speaking 4.0 Example

I agree that children should not have cell phones until 18 years of age.

First of all, cell phones will distract children from their school studies. For example, my brother bought a cell phone for his 12-year old boy, whom he thought would be responsible in using the phone for necessary purposes. However, the young man started using the phone to view YouTube videos and to post pictures at SnapChat and Instagram. Therefore, not having enough time for his 7th-grade classes, the distracted boy flunked out last semester.

Second of all, children may view harmful content on their phones. To illustrate, my brother’s boy went to a web page on his phone. Unfortunately, this web page gave the boy instructions on how to build a bomb using ordinary household ingredients, so the boy followed the instructions and built a chlorine bomb.  After he built the explosive, he detonated it in his backyard, injuring him and two of his close friends.

For these reasons, I strongly agree that cell phones should not be given to children. 

What’s right with the TOEFL Speaking 4.0 Example?

The TOEFL speaking 4.0 response provides telling detail for both examples provided:

  • In the first place, the speaker explains that cell phones will distract students from their studies and then spends 63 words explaining how his brother’s son was distracted so much with his cell phone that he failed all his classes.
  • In the second place, explaining that cell phones can expose children to harmful content, the speaker illustrates how his brother’s son learned how to build a bomb by going to a web page. Moreover, the speaker uses 61 words to elaborate on this detail.

Years ago when Candidate Bill Clinton was campaigning for president of the United States of America, his election manager was asked what the most important issue was for voters. The manager said, “It is the economy, stupid.”

Hence, if you ask me what was the single most important factor to help you score higher than 26+ on the speaking section of the TOEFL exam, I will say, “It is the elaboration, stupid.”

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