The shortest, yet hardest, part of the TOEFL is the Speaking section. But by using a TOEFL Speaking template, you can give yourself the skills and confidence you’ll need to attain the Speaking score you want on test day. So how exactly does a TOEFL Speaking template work?
In this article, we present to you six high-quality TOEFL iBT Speaking templates, with expert tips on how to customize and use them. Before we give you those, though, let’s go over the different types of Speaking tasks as well as the benefits of using a TOEFL Speaking template on the exam.
What Kinds of Speaking Tasks Are on the TOEFL?
The Speaking section is a mere 20 minutes long, making it the shortest section on the TOEFL. For this section, you must complete a total of six tasks, which deal with the following content areas:
- Familiar topics (tasks 1 and 2)
- Campus situations (tasks 3 and 5)
- Academic course content (tasks 4 and 6)
With each task you’ll read a prompt and get 15-30 seconds to prepare your response. You’ll then have 45-60 seconds to record your response via microphone. (On the TOEFL, you will not be conversing with a real person but rather speaking directly into a microphone connected to your computer.) Once recorded, your Speaking responses are then sent to professional scorers for review.
The six Speaking tasks can be divided into two major categories: Independent tasks and Integrated tasks. Below, we discuss the basic differences between these two types of tasks.
The Independent Speaking tasks are the first two questions on the Speaking section, and both questions revolve exclusively around familiar topics. For each task, you’ll have 15 seconds to prepare your response (during which time you may take notes, if desired) and 45 seconds to speak into the microphone.
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Question 1 will require you to discuss a personal experience or desire by selecting one out of several options. For example, you might be asked to choose a place you’d like to visit and explain why. Question 2 will ask you to indicate your preference of two options and discuss why you think one choice is better than the other.
The two Independent tasks are scored on a scale of 0-4. According to the official rubric, a 4 response is intelligible, clear, and mostly grammatical. A 3 response is generally intelligible, with minor lapses in pacing, pronunciation, and/or grammar. A 1 response is minimally coherent and only expresses extremely basic ideas.
For both questions 1 and 2, you may make up your responses. On the TOEFL, you’re not being judged on whether you tell the truth but on how well you can answer questions in English. So don’t worry about trying to recall a relevant personal experience — if you can’t think of any, just make one up!
Here is an official sample Independent Speaking task using the format of question 1:
Talk about a pleasant and memorable event that happened while you were in school. Explain why this event brings back fond memories.
Preparation Time: 15 seconds
Response Time: 45 seconds
This TOEFL video created by ETS (the makers of the TOEFL) features a sample high-scoring Speaking response for the Independent tasks. To hear the sample response, go to 4:10.
After you complete your two Independent Speaking tasks, you’ll be given four Integrated Speaking tasks. For these tasks, instead of discussing familiar topics, you’ll be speaking about reading passages and audio clips consisting of conversations and lectures.
The first two of these tasks — questions 3 and 4 — will require you to read a passage, listen to a conversation or lecture, and then record your response. More specifically, question 3 will require you to summarize a speaker’s opinion on a campus-related issue, whereas question 4 will require you to explain a particular term or concept described in a lecture. You’ll have 45-50 seconds to read the passage, 30 seconds to prepare your response, and 60 seconds to speak. Audio clips are usually around 60 seconds long.
As for the final two tasks, questions 5 and 6 are slightly simpler in that they only require you to listen to an audio clip and then say your response. There are no reading passages on questions 5 and 6. Question 5 will require you to listen to a conversation about an issue concerning campus life and then choose the solution you think is best, whereas question 6 will require you to summarize or explain certain facets of a lecture. For both questions, you’ll have 20 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak. Audio clips generally range from 60 to 120 seconds in length.
Like the Independent Speaking tasks, the Integrated Speaking tasks are scored on a scale of 0-4. The official rubric describes a 4 response as being extremely coherent and conveying a smooth and fluent progression of ideas. A 3 response is generally clear but may contain occasional lapses in vocabulary, grammar, and/or flow. A 1 response is extremely limited and fails to provide clear and accurate content.
Here is an official sample Integrated Speaking task in the format of question 4:
Read a passage from a psychology textbook and the lecture that follows it. Then answer the question.
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In psychology, the feeling of complete and energized focus in an activity is called flow. People who enter a state of flow lose their sense of time and have a feeling of great satisfaction. They become completely involved in an activity for its own sake rather than for what may result from the activity, such as money or prestige. Contrary to expectation, flow usually happens not during relaxing moments of leisure and entertainment, but when we are actively involved in a difficult enterprise, in a task that stretches our mental or physical abilities.
(Male professor) I think this will help you get a picture of what your textbook is describing. I had a friend who taught in the physics department, Professor Jones, he retired last year. . . . Anyway, I remember . . . this was a few years ago . . . I remember passing by a classroom early one morning just as he was leaving, and he looked terrible: his clothes were all rumpled, and he looked like he hadn’t slept all night. And I asked if he was OK. I was surprised when he said that he never felt better, that he was totally happy. He had spent the entire night in the classroom working on a mathematics puzzle. He didn’t stop to eat dinner; he didn’t stop to sleep . . . or even rest. He was that involved in solving the puzzle. And it didn’t even have anything to do with his teaching or research; he had just come across this puzzle accidentally, I think in a mathematics journal, and it just really interested him, so he worked furiously all night and covered the blackboards in the classroom with equations and numbers and never realized that time was passing by.
Question: Explain flow and how the example used by the professor illustrates the concept.
Preparation Time: 30 seconds
Response Time: 60 seconds
Below are two official TOEFL videos featuring sample high-scoring Speaking responses.
Questions 3 & 5 (Campus Situations)
To hear the sample response, go to 5:15.
Questions 4 & 6 (Academic Course Content)
To hear the sample response, go to 5:50.
Independent vs. Integrated Speaking Tasks
To wrap up what we’ve learned so far about the TOEFL Speaking section, here is an overview of the Independent and Integrated Speaking tasks:
|Independent Speaking||Integrated Speaking|
|Reading + Listening||Listening|
|Order||Questions 1 & 2||Questions 3 & 4||Questions 5 & 6|
|Time||15 seconds to prepare
45 seconds to speak
|45-50 seconds to read
30 seconds to prepare
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60 seconds to speak
|20 seconds to prepare
60 seconds to speak
|Topic||Familiar Topics||Question 3: Campus Situations
Question 4: Academic Course Content
|Question 5: Campus Situations
Question 6: Academic Course Content
|Instructions||For question 1, you must discuss a personal experience or desire and choose an option from many options.
For question 2, you must choose one of two options and explain why.
|For question 3, you must explain a speaker’s opinion on a campus topic.
For question 4, you must explain a concept from a passage and lecture.
|For question 5, you must support one of the speakers’ solutions to a campus issue.
For question 6, you must summarize or explain part of a lecture.
What Is a TOEFL Speaking Template?
Before we dive into our templates, what exactly is a TOEFL Speaking template?
I find that it’s easiest to think of templates as skeletons. While a skeleton acts as the framework for a body, a TOEFL Speaking template acts as the framework for your response. In other words, a template is like a guide, offering you ideas on how to organize your thoughts and how to express yourself in a logical, easy-to-follow manner.
More specifically, TOEFL iBT Speaking templates provide you with a repertoire of organizational patterns and transitional words and phrases you can use to develop fluid, effective, and ultimately high-scoring Speaking responses. What TOEFL iBT Speaking templates don’t do is tell you exactly what to say on the TOEFL, as there is no way to predict what prompts you’ll receive on test day.
What Are the Benefits of a TOEFL Speaking Template?
Here are the four major benefits of using a TOEFL Speaking template.
#1: Keeps Your Response Focused
A TOEFL Speaking template structures your thoughts in a clear, focused manner. Although your responses on the Speaking section do not need to be nearly as structured as those on the Writing section, you should be able to follow a logical progression of ideas and clearly answer the questions you’re given.
Essentially, TOEFL iBT Speaking templates offer you different ways you can effectively lay out your ideas. For example, when discussing your opinion on an issue, a template will likely tell you to summarize the issue first before explaining what your point of view is and why you feel this way. Focus and logical flow are two huge components of the Speaking rubric, so the better you can do on these, the higher your score will be.
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#2: Smooths Your Speech
Speaking templates also offer a ton of useful transitions, phrases, and sentence openers you can incorporate into your own responses in order to more smoothly connect your ideas. Using templates’ transitions will not only allow your thoughts to flow better but will also help you sound more natural to a native ear.
On a related note, memorizing basic phrases lets you perfect your pronunciation ahead of time so you’ll be easy to understand on test day.
#3: Saves You Time
Knowing how you plan to structure your responses can save you valuable time during the preparation periods for the Speaking tasks. As you prepare, you’ll already have a rough idea as to how you’re going to structure your response and where you intend to insert key transitions; therefore, you’ll have more time to decide on the main points of your response and choose the details you want to use.
#4: Boosts Your Confidence
Finally, using a TOEFL Speaking template can raise your confidence. If you know exactly what to expect on the Speaking section and have a general idea as to how you can structure your responses, you’re guaranteed to feel more prepared on test day. And confidence is key to getting a high TOEFL score — especially on Speaking!
6 TOEFL iBT Speaking Templates for You to Use
At last, we get to the templates! Below are six TOEFL Speaking templates (one template for each Speaking task), with tips on how to customize your responses.
Task 1: Choose From Multiple Options (Familiar Topics)
For task 1, you’ll speak about a personal experience or desire and have multiple options from which to choose. In total, you’ll have one minute for the task: 15 seconds to prepare your response and 45 seconds to speak.
Task 1 Template
1. Start by introducing your chosen subject (i.e., what you’ve decided to talk about). You may do this by slightly rephrasing the prompt.
- In my opinion, _____ is the _____ because …
- Personally, I enjoy/like _____ for two/three reasons.
- I enjoy/like _____ because …
- My best/favorite _____ is …
- To me, …
- I would like to _____ because …
2. (Optional) Introduce the number of reasons you have for selecting your subject.
- I feel this way for two/three reasons.
- This is because of two/three reasons.
- I have two/three reasons.
3. Now, explain your first reason for choosing your subject. Be detailed with your reasons here; ideally, you’ll devote two or three sentences to each reason you give. Make sure to use specific examples.
- First, … For example, …
- First off, … For instance, …
- For one, … That is, …
- My first reason is that … What I mean is that …
4. Next, explain your second reason. Once again, try to come up with a brief example or two to illustrate why you have chosen this particular subject to discuss.
- Secondly, … This is because …
- Next, … As a result, I …
- In addition, I believe/feel/think that …
- Another reason is that … Basically, …
5. (Optional) If you have time, introduce a third reason here. Follow the same structures as above for your first and second reasons but try to use different transitions.
- And finally, …
- And lastly, …
- My third/final reason is that …
- Third, …
6. (Optional) You may conclude your response with a general summary of what you’ve discussed.
- And this is why my best/favorite _____ is …
- This is why I believe/feel/think that …
- And these are the reasons I’d like to …
How to Customize Your Task 1 Template
1. Vary your details. Throughout your response, you’ll want to offer a variety of key details and examples without repeating yourself. Never just introduce a point and then move on to the next one without first explaining why that particular point is relevant to your subject.
2. When in doubt, use “I” statements. If you’re unsure what to say next, start your sentence with an “I” statement, such as “I feel,” “I think,” “I believe,” “I like,” etc. Remember, this task revolves around your experiences and opinions, so it’s OK (and actually quite natural) to use “I” throughout your response.
3. Stick to two points if you can’t think of three. If you can only come up with two reasons, that’s fine! Just try to spend a little more time elaborating on the two reasons you’ve chosen.
Task 2: Choose From Two Options (Familiar Topics)
For your second Independent Speaking task, you’ll discuss a personal preference between two options. In your response, you must explain why you’ve chosen this option using two or three reasons. Like task 1, you’ll have 15 seconds to prepare your response and 45 seconds to speak.
Task 2 Template
1. Begin by introducing the topic and your opinion on it. Don’t spend too much time trying to summarize the prompt — just quickly state what the topic is and which option you believe is better.
- Personally, I believe _____ is better than _____ for two/three reasons.
- In my opinion, _____ seems to be better than _____ because …
- I (would) prefer _____ over _____ because …
- To me, _____ is a better option than … And I feel this way for two/three reasons.
2. Next, explain your first reason for choosing this option. Make sure to explain each of your points using relevant details and examples. For each point, two or three sentences should suffice.
- First off, … For example, …
- For one, … For instance, …
- One reason is that … What I mean by this is that …
3. Next, introduce your second reason by following the same general structure used above for your first reason. Use appropriate transitions like the ones below to further strengthen your response.
- Secondly, …
- My second reason is that …
- Another reason is that …
4. (Optional) Introduce and explain your third reason here using a format similar to what you used for your first and second reasons.
- Third, …
- And finally, …
- My last point is that …
5. (Optional) End your response with a brief closing statement.
- This is why I believe/think that …
- And this is why I prefer …
- Because of these reasons, I feel that _____ is a better choice/option than …
How to Customize Your Task 2 Template
1. Make comparative statements. For this task, it’s important you use vocabulary that emphasizes why the option you’ve selected is the better choice. Some examples include “easier,” “better,” “stronger,” “more convenient,” “cheaper,” etc.
2. Point out a problem with the other option. To strengthen your argument, consider using one of your points to discuss a potential flaw with the other option. Doing this indicates you’ve considered the other option but don’t believe it is nearly as strong as the one you’ve selected.
3. Like task 1, use “I” statements. Because you must describe your own opinion for this task, starting some of your sentences with “I” statements, such as “I feel,” “I believe,” or “I think,” will help you sound more natural in your response.
Task 3: Explain an Opinion on a Campus Issue (Campus Situations)
Question 3 is the first of four Integrated Speaking tasks. In this task, you’ll start by reading a passage (usually in the form of a campus announcement, flyer, or article) discussing a campus change or issue. You’ll then listen to a conversation between two speakers about their opinions on the campus situation.
Your task is to explain one speaker’s opinion on the campus issue using points he or she makes in the audio clip. (Note that you are not giving your own opinion here!) You’ll have 45-50 seconds to read the passage, 30 seconds to prepare your response, and 60 seconds to speak. Audio clips vary in length but are usually around 60 seconds long.
Task 3 Template
1. First, explain the campus situation. This should be a brief summary of what’s written in the passage and what the two students are talking about.
- According to the passage/announcement/flyer, the university plans to …
- The school intends to …
- The passage/announcement/flyer explains that the university is considering …
2. Next, state whether the student agrees or disagrees with the school’s proposal or change.
- The student agrees/disagrees with the school’s changes/decision/proposal for two/three reasons.
- The student supports/opposes these changes.
- However, the student does not support this plan.
3. Now, explain one of the student’s main points for supporting or opposing these changes. Make sure to elaborate on what this point is and why the student feels this way, using evidence from the conversation.
- First, the student believes/feels/thinks that …
- The first point the student makes is that …
- One reason is that …
- One reason he/she supports/opposes this proposal is that …
- According to the student, …
4. Move on to explain the second point made by the student. Use a structure similar to the one you used for point one and make sure to explain why the student feels this way.
- Secondly, the student believes/feels/thinks that …
- The second point the student makes is that …
- A second reason is that …
- Another reason is that …
- The student also remarks/says that …
- Additionally, the student believes/feels/thinks that …
5. (Optional) Take this time to explain a third point the student makes, if there is one. Use the same format you used for points one and two, taking care to vary your transitions.
- And finally, the student believes/feels/thinks that …
- The third point the student makes is that …
- The final/last reason is that …
How to Customize Your Task 3 Template
1. Use “he/she” instead of “the student.” Once you’ve established that you’re talking about a student, it’s OK to replace “the student” with “he” or “she” (whichever is applicable) throughout your response. Using pronouns will make your response tighter and less redundant sounding.
2. Do not give your own examples or reasons. Unlike the Independent tasks, you are not supposed to give your own opinion or examples here. So only talk about what the speaker and passage have told you!
Task 4: Explain a Lecture Topic (Academic Course Content)
Task 4 is similar to task 3 in that you must read a passage and listen to an audio clip. But in this case, you’ll listen to a lecture and then speak about a particular concept or term described in the lecture. The reading passage will usually be an excerpt from a university textbook, and the audio clip will be of a professor giving a lecture.
You’ll have 45-50 seconds to read the passage, 30 seconds to prepare your response, and 60 seconds to respond. The audio clip length varies but is usually around 60 seconds long. Now, let’s take a look at our TOEFL Speaking question 4 template.
Task 4 Template
1. Introduce the main topic of the passage and lecture as well as the specific term or concept you’re going to discuss.
- The passage discusses _____ and how it …
- The main focus of the passage is …
- Both the passage and the lecture discuss …
- According to the lecture, _____ is …
- The passage introduces the concept of …
2. Next, use one point from the passage and/or lecture to describe what this concept means. Try to be as detailed as possible, using examples from the lecture.
- In the lecture, the professor defines _____ as …
- The professor elaborates on this concept/term, explaining that …
- The professor first mentions that …
- First off, the professor talks about …
3. Here, introduce a different point the professor and/or passage makes in regard to the concept. Again, be sure to use specific examples taken from the lecture.
- Next, the professor discusses …
- The professor also explains that …
- Additionally, the professor says that …
- Another example the professor gives is that …
4. (Optional) Conclude your response with a short recap of the concept you discussed.
- This is what _____ means.
- And this is the meaning of …
- So this is how the professor describes …
How to Customize Your Task 4 Template
1. Define the term or concept right away. To score highly on this task, it’s best to define the given concept within the first couple of sentences, well before you discuss how the professor explains this concept in the lecture.
2. Use ample examples from the lecture. Your prompt will most likely require you to discuss how the lecture illustrates a particular academic concept; therefore, make sure most, if not all, of your examples come directly from the lecture — not the reading passage.
Task 5: Explain a Campus Life Problem (Campus Situations)
And now we get to the final two tasks! For question 5, you’ll listen to an audio clip of a conversation between two students who will discuss a campus problem and offer possible solutions to it. There is no reading passage for this question.
Your response must summarize the solutions given and then indicate which solution you think is best and why. (In other words, you’ll be giving your opinion on how to handle the issue.) Audio clip lengths vary but generally last 60-120 seconds. You’ll have 20 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak.
Task 5 Template
1. First, summarize the overall problem (i.e., what the two students are talking about). Don’t spend a lot of time on this — one short introductory sentence should suffice.
- According to the students, …
- The students are discussing _____ and how it …
- The conversation between the two students is about …
2. Next, briefly summarize the possible solutions given by the students. Do not spend more than one or two sentences introducing these solutions.
- One solution is to _____ , and another solution is to …
- The students offer two solutions: one is to _____ , and the other is to …
- One proposal the students have is to _____ , and the other is to …
3. Now we get to the main part of your response. Here, explain which solution you believe is best and give two or three reasons as to why you feel this way.
- I believe/feel/think that the first/second solution is better for several reasons.
- In my opinion, the first/second solution is better because …
- I would choose the first/second solution because …
4. If you haven’t done so already, introduce your reasons for supporting this particular solution. Try to give specific details and examples for each reason you present.
- For one, it would be easier to …
- First, it makes more sense to …
- Second, this solution allows you to …
- Third, you can …
5. (Optional) Tie together your reasons with a general concluding statement.
- And these are the reasons I feel _____ is ultimately the better/best solution.
- This is why I believe _____ would be a good solution.
How to Customize Your Task 5 Template
1. Focus on explaining your opinion. Your main task here is to choose a solution and explain why you support it, so don’t waste too much time reiterating the students’ proposals.
2. Offer two or three reasons as to why you support this particular solution. In your response, you’ll need to come up with solid reasons to support your choice for a solution. So with each point you offer, make sure you explain clearly what its benefits are and why it’s ultimately the better choice.
Task 6: Explain a Lecture (Academic Course Content)
Question 6 is your final Integrated task as well as your final Speaking task overall. For this task, you must listen to an audio clip of a lecture and then summarize a certain point made in the lecture.
The listening clip will be around 60-120 seconds long. You’ll then have 20 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak.
Task 6 Template
1. To start, rephrase the question you’re being asked. Your prompt should ask you to summarize a particular concept or idea discussed in the lecture.
- In the lecture, the professor talks about … He/she then gives two/three examples to illustrate this concept.
- The professor discusses _____ in the lecture, giving two/three examples.
- Throughout the lecture, the professor talks about _____ and how it …
2. Then, summarize the main points of the lecture and how they illustrate this concept. The number of points you discuss will depend on the lecture and prompt you get. As you speak, try to be as detailed as you can. Explain why the professor gives certain examples and discuss how these examples relate to the main topic.
- First, the professor focuses on … This means that …
- First, the professor talks about … So essentially, what the professor is saying is that …
- The first example the professor gives is … In other words, …
- Second/third/finally, the professor goes on to say that …
- The next point the professor makes is that …
- The professor also explains that …
- Another example the professor gives is …
How to Customize Your Task 6 Template
1. Answer your prompt exactly. Question 6 can vary significantly in what it asks you to explain in your response, so check that you’re answering your prompt exactly and aren’t overlooking any main ideas or mentioning any irrelevant points. For example, if your prompt asks you to summarize a particular segment of the lecture, focus on that part only — don’t attempt to summarize the entire lecture!
2. Use examples and points from the lecture. Unlike on task 5, on task 6 you are not supposed to discuss your own opinion or your own reasons; instead, everything you talk about will come directly from the lecture. So for example, if your prompt asks you to discuss two different definitions of tools, you must discuss those definitions using examples given by the professor. In this case, two points is enough because that’s all the professor gives you!
3 Tips for Using TOEFL iBT Speaking Templates
Here are three expert tips to help you get the most out of our TOEFL iBT Speaking templates.
#1: Stick With Simple, Easy-to-Remember Words
Ever forgotten an English word or struggled to pronounce one? When using our templates, don’t feel pressured to inject difficult, complex words into your responses. The truth is that in everyday conversation, most people don’t speak with the same level of vocabulary they use in writing. Therefore, it’s perfectly OK (and even more natural) to opt for simpler words and grammatical patterns as you speak.
#2: Keep It Natural — Don’t Memorize Entire Responses!
Because you can’t predict what prompts you’ll get on the exam, there’s no use trying to memorize TOEFL iBT Speaking templates in their entirety! So always keep your responses as natural as possible.
For example, we highly encourage you to change our sample sentence openers and to insert short pauses wherever feels most natural; you won’t lose any points for occasionally saying “uh” or “um” (unless your pauses are extremely long). Furthermore, it’s perfectly acceptable to start sentences with conjunctions, such as “and,” “so,” and “but.”
In the end, you want your responses to sound fluent and natural — not stilted and rehearsed!
#3: Don’t Add a Conclusion If You Don’t Need To
Most of the Speaking tasks don’t require conclusions, mainly because they tend to feel redundant in English conversation. You also likely won’t have enough time to come up with a conclusion anyway; Speaking tasks only allocate 45-60 seconds for your responses, which is just barely enough time to introduce a topic and elaborate on a couple of key points.
In short, don’t add a conclusion if you’re not sure what to say or don’t have time for one. On all Speaking tasks, focus on saying the most important information first. Then, if you happen to have an extra 5-10 seconds at the end of the task, feel free to conclude your response with a brief closing remark.
Additional Resources for TOEFL iBT Speaking Templates
In addition to our six templates above, these two online resources maintain an impressive array of high-quality TOEFL iBT Speaking templates you can access for free.
- Magoosh: An excellent TOEFL resource, this PDF includes an array of useful transitional words, sample questions, and sample responses for the Speaking section.
- TOEFL Resources: This website offers step-by-step TOEFL Speaking templates as well as a quality assortment of videos with tips for each Speaking task.
How Can a TOEFL Speaking Template Help You?
TOEFL iBT Speaking templates offer several advantages to test takers. Not only can they make your speech sound more natural, but they can also organize your response in a more logical manner and give you more time to prepare your responses.
All of our TOEFL iBT Speaking templates above can be customized to suit any prompt. We also provide you with three general tips so that you can use our templates effectively. These tips are to:
- Stick with clear and simple vocabulary
- Avoid memorizing entire templates and instead focus on channeling a natural-sounding rhythm
- Stop worrying about conclusions — they’re almost always unnecessary!
Ultimately, no matter what questions you receive on test day, with our Speaking templates, you’re certain to feel more confident than ever — and hopefully get the TOEFL Speaking score you want!
Want more TOEFL Speaking tips? Our guide on how to ace the TOEFL Speaking section offers numerous tips and strategies for improving your English-speaking ability.
Looking for more TOEFL templates? Our TOEFL Writing templates will show you how to structure your essays as well as how you can get a great Writing score!