The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is an exam that colleges in the United States use to gauge non-native English speaking students' readiness to participate in an academic environment in the U.S. The test includes a speaking section that is about 20 minutes long. Test takers must complete a series of tasks in that time that test their abilities to talk about a variety of topics in English. The test is taken on a computer, so test takers must speak into a headset during this section, and their answers are sent to an online scoring centre for certified scorers to rate.
The first two of six speaking tasks are independent. They require test takers to answer questions using their personal knowledge and experience about a variety of topics familiar to them. Students can respond using their own opinions as well, as long as they relate to the topic at hand.
The personal preference section of the independent section of the speaking part of the test requires test takers to express their opinions on topics such as important people, places or activities they enjoy. Test takers have 15 seconds to prepare their answers and 45 minutes to deliver them.
The second question of the independent section requires test takers to defend a personal choice about two different behaviours or courses of action they can take. The time limit for preparing the answer is again 15 seconds, and test takers have 45 seconds to state their answers.
Integrated tasks require students to respond orally to topics both written and spoken. One task requires students to read a passage about a university campus topic and then to listen to a speaker's opinion about the passage. Test takers then have to summarise the speaker's thoughts; they have 30 seconds to prepare the answer and 60 seconds to deliver it. Another task requires test takers to read a passage about an academic term, idea or process and its definition.
Then test takers listen to a lecture excerpt that provides details about the term, idea or process. They then have 30 seconds to prepare their answers and 60 seconds to deliver them, providing important information from the lecture and the passage. Test takers then must listen to a conversation about a campus topic, summarise the problem and give an opinion about how to solve it with 20 seconds of preparation time and 60 seconds of answer delivery time. The last task requires test takers to listen to a lecture excerpt that defines a term or concept and provides examples to explain it. Test takers then summarise the lecture and demonstrate that they understand the relationship between the topic and the examples.
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