The speaking section of the TOEFL iBT is the most fast-paced section of the whole exam. Depending on the task, you have only 15-30 seconds to prepare your response and then 45-60 seconds to deliver it. To receive a high TOEFL speaking score, you have to organize your responses effectively and finish them on time. However, when you’re looking from your notes to the screen and back again all the time, it improves neither your timing, nor confidence!
Our teacher Jane Birkenhead discovered some new tips from taking the TOEFL test herself. In this video, she explains an easy trick that allowed her to make sure that she said everything from her notes and kept to the timing.
Try this quick tip and see if it makes a difference to your timing and confidence in the TOEFL speaking tasks:
So, in the exam, the speaking section started and I listened to the task 1 prompt and read it carefully on the screen. Then I wrote some notes very quickly and started speaking straight after the beep.
I had my notes on the desk in front of me and I had to keep looking at the timer on the screen. But, because I was nervous, I was sort of in this hunched over position – very-very negative body language – and I had to keep looking from my notes to the screen and back again, to make sure that the timing was OK. I did the same for task 2. This sort of hunched over position and looking from my notes to the screen. Then task 3 started, and I had a bit more time to think. And I knew I had to do something to calm down. So, I read the text, listened to the conversation and made some notes. And then, in the 30 second preparation time, I prepared my response.
This time when I started speaking, I held my notes at the side of the screen — just like this. So I could see the timer on the screen, AND I could see my notes, and I just had to glance between the two to make sure that I said everything and kept to the timing.
I did this for the rest of the speaking tasks and I felt much better! I felt calmer and I know that I spoke more confidently because I was sitting upright and showing much more positive body language. And it worked well – I got 30 for the speaking section.
So, if you’re preparing for TOEFL iBT at the moment, why don’t you try this quick tip and see if it helps you to feel more confidence in your speaking tasks.