How can I summarize Task 3 & 5 dialogues?

Jaime Miller TOEFL: Advice for Studying 0 Comments

Is TOEFL torturing you? Maybe you’re having trouble with summarizing the dialogues in TOEFL iBT’s speaking section for questions 3 and 5. There’s a magic sentence you can always use! I made a video about it for you!


 Hi, it’s Jaime –and I am one of the few female teachers on the internet who is talking about TOEFL iBT and improving your score.

Today I want to give you a very important phrase that you can use on the speaking section for response 3 and 5 – the responses you give after you listen to a dialogue between two people.

I give a lot of online lessons for the TOEFL iBT – especially for the speaking section. Lots of my students have similar issues with speaking prompts 3 and 5 because everyone needs to listen to a conversation between two people, and then summarize that conversation.

Unfortunately, lots of my students have difficulty quickly summarizing the conversation in just one sentence. Luckily, there’s a really simple phrase that you can use for both prompt responses, and this video will show you the easiest grammar to use.

Let’s think of an example conversation on TOEFL. Maybe a woman has to give a presentation in one of her classes. She hates public speaking and she’s really worried and stressed. She doesn’t know what to do.

What’s the woman’s problem? Can you make a question? Maybe something like…

How can I feel better about giving a presentation?

It’s really important to make this question because you need it for later. After the woman describes her problem, you know that the man is going to give her suggestions about this because he wants to help her and because it’s TOEFL. Of course, you need to take notes about what he says. After the dialogue, you have to explain the woman’s problem.

Hmmm… How do you do that? Well, you need to take the basic question that we made before, and you need to turn it into a sentence. This is the grammar formula that you need:

Two friends are discussing + w- question word + person + verb …

So you get “Two friends are discussing how the woman can feel better about giving a presentation.” It’s not that difficult on paper, but you have to get comfortable with quickly making these sentences. Ok, so let’s try some practice. Make summarizing sentences for these basic questions.

When should we finish our project? Where should I live? On campus or off campus?

Did you do it? You might want to pause the video because I’m going to tell you some potential answers:

When should we finish our project? Becomes Two students are discussing when they should finish their project.

Where should I live? On campus or off campus? Becomes Two students are discussing where the man should live – on or off campus. Ok, but remember, not every question starts with a w- word. We also have yes/no questions like: Should I tell my professor that I’m stressed out? How do you make a sentence from this yes/no question? With “if” You have to use if.

So the question, “Should I tell my prof… stressed out” becomes “Two friends are discussing if the man should tell his professor that he’s stressed out.” Ok, so try to make sentences with these. Say them! Or at least think them in your head! Should I go to math class and take a math test or should I finish an old assignment for biology? I feel sick but I’m so busy! Should I go to the doctor or wait a few more days? Ok, and the answers…

The first question becomes “Two friends are discussing if the man should go to math class and take a math test or finish his old assignment for biology.” And the second question becomes “Two friends are discussing if the woman should go to the doctor or wait a few more days.

There you go! Don’t forget to breathe! They’re really long sentences! I suggest that you use this phrase when you’re practicing for TOEFL iBT’s speaking prompts 3 and 5. If this grammar is new for you, and you don’t feel completely confident with it, then I suggest that you do some writing practice first. However, because you need these for the speaking section, after you write you should definitely speak with them. You need to be comfortable combining ideas in your head and saying them quickly.

If you liked this video, and if you would like to learn more from me, you should consider becoming one of my TOEFL students. If you thought this video was helpful, share it with your friends on Facebook

Thanks and see you later!