Unit 1: Independent Speaking


Unit Objectives

After completing this unit you will be able to:

  • understand the difference between the two parts of the independent speaking test
  • identify the characteristics of a good response
  • complete a short outline to help you organize your thoughts


What is Independent Speaking?

The independent speaking section of the iBT TOEFL consists of two tasks: personal preference and choice. In the first task you will be asked to express your preference or interest in a particular category. For example, the prompt may ask you to "Describe a class you have taken and explain why this class has had a great influence on your life." In the second task you will be prompted with a question asking you to choose from two different choices. This task may ask you something like, "Some students prefer to go to a small college or university, while others prefer to go to a large university. Explain which view you prefer, and why." It is important to remember that because these tasks are based on your own experience and opinions, there is no right or wrong answer.

For each of these two tasks you will be given 15 seconds to prepare. Your response should be 45 seconds.

Scoring Criteria

Independent Speaking Scoring Rubric

Download sample questions for scored responses with explanations

Independent Speaking Strategies

Success on the independent speaking section depends on your ability to quickly and clearly organize your thoughts. One way to do this is to create a simple outline. Your outline should include your preference or opinion, a short explanation of your opinion, and reasons and details to support your ideas. Let's look at our example question: "Describe a class you have taken and explain why it had a great influence on your life." How can we create a simple outline for this question?

Indpendent Speaking Outline
Opinion high school English class
Reason 1 great teacher
Detail fun class/ encouraged me to study
Reason 2 inspired me to study abroad
Detail want to study in American university

Now let's look at some sample Independent Speaking responses. After each question (there are 9 sample questions), pause the video and think about how you would answer each prompt. You may write a short outline to help you organize your thoughts. Make sure you clearly respond to the question and support your answer with reasons and details.

Independent Speaking Task 1

Independent Speaking Task 2


Introducing iBT TOEFL Speaking

Unit 2: Integrated Speaking

Unit 3: More TOEFL Resources