Get a better score with TOEFL Speaking Templates

In this guide, you will learn how to use TOEFL Speaking templates for the Speaking Independent Task 1 questions.

The TOEFL Speaking Task 1 Format

In case you are very new to the Speaking section of TOEFL iBT test, here is the format of question #1: 
(1) You will hear and see the question;
(2) You have 15 seconds note taking time, known as the preparation time
(3) You will have 45 seconds to response, speak and record your answer into microphone.

There are 4 questions asked in the Speaking section, I will be writing another article explain the structure of each question soon.

How to tackle the Speaking Task 1 Questions

There are many ways to tackle the first speaking question on the TOEFL test. Of course, you can quickly brainstorm and say whatever is on your mind, but as a result, your answer might not be structured, which can lead to an illogical flow. A lack of logical flow can harm your speaking score. Thus, one of the most effective, high-scoring methods is to follow a speaking template for your response.

A template will help you organize your ideas and make sure that your response is presented in one coherent flow. While it is important to show the TOEFL rater your extensive vocabulary and correct grammar usage, it is equally important to be able to present your ideas clearly and logically. Here is one of the templates that you can use during the speaking section:

“THE 2-REASONS FORMULA”

Here I am going to show you how to use “the 2-REASONS FORMULA” to construct your answer.

Your Stance/Perspective

  • “I agree with the idea that…”
  • “I believe that they should…”
  • “I think it is better to…”
  • “I think it is a great/terrible idea to…”

Transition (optional/when you have less to say)

  • “I feel this way for several reasons.”
  • “I believe this because of two reasons.”
  • “There are two reasons for my perspective”

First Reason

“First…” + “For example…” (a relevant example)

Second Reason

“Second…” + “To be more specific…” (and a few more details)

This template is great for when the prompts ask you to take a position on something or develop a perspective on a certain idea. You can use relevant examples in your response and they don’t necessarily have to be personal anecdotes; hypothetical situations work very well!

Example of the 2-Reasons Formula

I will pull out a random Speaking 1 question from our Free TOEFL Practice section, and use it as an example:

Q#54 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? All people should be required to stop working and retire by age 65.

My Notes:
Disagree. 2 reasons.
R1: Some jobs require older workers → for example, sports judges.
R2: Some people can’t afford to not work → family members depend on them.Sample Audio Answer to Speaking Q1 #54

My Answer:
I disagree with this statement for a few reasons. First, people may pursue a career that requires them to work beyond the age of 65. Some jobs actually prioritize senior workers. For example, being a sports judge requires years of training and experience in a sport to be able to make accurate judgments. Second, some people are not financially able to stop working by the age of 65. These people may have family members depending on them and their job as a source of living. It is simply inhumane to take away their rights to a career after a certain age.

Notice how examples were used, but they were not necessarily personal anecdotes or experiences. This is a good time to share with the rater some general knowledge you have about the world or your observations of other people.

Here is another speaking template you can use; in this one, you can relay all your personal stories and elaborate on your own perspectives.

“THE PERSONAL EXAMPLE”

Your Stance/Perspective

  • “I agree with the idea that…”
  • “I believe that they should…”
  • “I think it is better to…”
  • “I think it is a great/terrible idea to…”

Personal Example

  • “In my experience….”
  • “For example, I have encountered…”
  • “Personally, I have experienced…”

Connect to the Bigger Picture

  • “Therefore, I believe that…”
  • “Based on this, I will conclude that in general…”

—–

The structure of this template is slightly less rigid than the first one, but it still guides you in a good direction. When deciding how to connect to the bigger picture, this often times depends on the topic of your speech. See this example:

Q#53 Some students choose to enter the university immediately after finishing high school, others prefer to take time off before beginning the university class. Which option do you think is better?

My Notes:
– Immediately after high school.
– hard to remember academic things over the summer break: ex. math equations, notes, and etc. are easy to forget
– Too much time off = longer time to recover from vacation mindset.

My Answer:
I personally believe that students should enter university immediately after finishing high school. As a student myself, I find that it becomes difficult to return to an academic mindset after taking a long break. For example, even the two-month-long summer break is long enough to make me forget specific math equations or study hacks that I accumulate throughout the school year. Taking too much time off before beginning university classes will mean a longer time to recover from a “vacation” mindset, which can negatively impact one’s academic performance. 

This template uses a lot of personal references and stories, which can make the speech flow better, since, surely, you are familiar with your own experiences!

See you next time

Hopefully, these templates will guide you to form a better speech structure when answering speaking question #1. Please remember to make your answer logical and clear; avoid using repetitive words or jumping from topic to topic in no particular order. More importantly, try to relax, take a deep breath, and have fun with it!