Video Title: Inside the TOEFL® Test - Speaking Questions 3 & 5

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[music playing]

On-screen: ETS® TOEFL® Speaking Questions 3 & 5: Campus Situations

Michael: Hi, I'm Michael from ETS, and welcome to Inside the TOEFL Test.

Michael: Today, we're going inside the Speaking section, specifically questions three and five, the Integrated Speaking questions about campus situations.

On-screen: Introduction

Michael: So, in the next few minutes, we're going to look at how the questions are structured and what they're asking, how to approach the questions, how your responses are scored. We'll look at a sample response that received a high score, and we'll give you some tips for improving your speaking skills.

On-screen: Question 3

Michael: So, here is generally what the questions will look like and how they're structured.  In question three, you will read a passage about a campus-related topic. Then, you will listen to a response to that topic. Then, you will have 30 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak your answer.

On-screen: Question 5

Michael: For question five, you listen to part of a conversation. Then, you'll have 20 seconds to prepare your response and sixty seconds to speak your answer.

Now, let's look more closely at what these campus-situation questions look like and what they will be asking you to do. For question three, where you have both reading and listening passages, you will be asked what the opinion is of a speaker in the listening passage, and you'll need to explain how that person's opinion relates to the issues presented in the reading passage.

On Screen: Good News for Movie Fans

The Student Association has just purchased a new sound system for the Old Lincoln Hall auditorium, the place where movies on campus are currently shown. By installing the new sound system, the Student Association hopes to attract more students to the movies and increase ticket sales. Before making the purchase of the new equipment, the Student Association conducted a survey on campus to see what kind of entertainment students liked best. Going to the movies ranked number one. "Students at Northfield College love going to the movies," said the president of the Student Association "so we decided to make what they already love even better. We're confident that the investment into the sound system will translate into increased ticket sales."

Michael: So, you're essentially summarizing and combining information from two sources. Here's an example of this type of question. This one is about the student government's decision to buy a new sound system.

Male Voice: What else is there to do on campus?

Female Voice: What do you mean?

Male Voice: I mean there isn't much to do on campus besides go to the movies. If there were other forms of recreation or other social activities, you know, I don't think most students would have said that going to the movies was their first choice.


The man expresses his opinion of the student association's recent purchase. State his opinion and explain the reasons he gives for holding that opinion.

Michael: For question five, where the listening passage is a conversation about a campus problem and one or more solutions, you'll need to describe the problem and then give your opinion about what the solution should be.

Here's the example of question five about tutors and study groups.

Female Voice: Another option, I guess, is to form a study group with other students. That won't cost you any money.

Male Voice: That's a thought. Although, once I was in a study group and it was a big waste of time. We usually ended up talking about other stuff like what we did over the weekend.

Female Voice: But, that was for a different class, right? I've actually had some pretty good experiences with study groups. Usually students in the same class have different strengths and weaknesses with the material. If they're serious about studying, they can really help each other out. Think about it.

On-screen: Briefly summarize the problem the speakers are discussing. Then state which solution you would recommend. Explain the reasons for your recommendation.

On-screen: Approach Tips

Michael: Now here are some tips how to approach these kinds of Speaking questions. Number one: Be careful not to speak too quickly because this might make it difficult for the rater to understand you. The questions are designed so that if you speak at a normal pace, you will have enough time to give a complete response. You'll get better at this if you time yourself when you practice.

On-screen: Question 3

Michael: Number two: In question three, where you have the reading passage then the conversation between two speakers, listen carefully to the speaker's reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with points made in the reading. Then, make sure you summarize the opinion of the speaker in your answer.

On-screen: Question 5

Michael: Number three: For question five, as you listen, focus on identifying and understanding what the problem and possible solutions are. Then, write down a few key words or ideas on your scratch paper. But remember, you need to do more than summarize in your response. You also need to give your opinion. So, don't spend too much time summarizing. Use most of your time explaining why it is the best solution.

On-screen: Scoring Criteria

Michael: Before the test, make sure you understand what the raters are looking for and how the questions are scored.  In the Speaking section, all six responses are scored on a scale from zero to four, and they're scored holistically, which means the raters listen for various features in your response and then give it an overall score.

On-screen: Delivery

Michael: Although there are some variations depending on the question, raters will be looking for three main things. First, delivery: Your speech needs to be clear and fluid with good pronunciation. The pace or speed of your speech should be natural, and you should have good-sounding intonation patterns.

On-screen: Language use

Michael: Second, language use: This is mainly how you use grammar and vocabulary to express your ideas.

On-screen: Topic development

Michael: Third, topic development: This is mainly how fully you answer the question, how clearly you express your ideas and how you can connect one idea to the next in a way that it is easy to follow.

On-screen: Sample response

Michael: Now, let's listen to an example of a Speaking response that received a score of three on a four-point scale. This one is responding to question five about tutors and study groups.

Audio Example [female voice]: The man has a problem that he takes a calculus test that he does not do well in the calculus. He's worried about the final. There are two possible solutions. The first one is that the tutoring program, and the second solution is to form a study group.  I think that the second solution is better than the first one for several reasons. The first reason is that study group does not need money, but still gets help. Also, students in the study group take the same class. So, they can explain to each other what the lecture said about. Finally, if students concentrate on the study group, they can improve their grades at final exam because they can talk about the class concepts.

Michael: Now, let's look at this response in terms of our three main criteria — delivery, language use and topic development.

On-screen: Sample Response

Michael: First, delivery: The speaker is generally easy to understand with good pronunciation and pacing. So, she gets a good score for delivery.

Audio Example [female voice]: He does not do well in the calculus. He's worried about the final.

On-screen: Language use

Michael: But, language use is another story. We can't give this response a four out of four mainly because of her imprecise use of language. One example is when she says this.

Audio Example [female voice]: Study group does not need money, but still gets help.

This could have been much more precise by saying, for example, "Students can get help from a study group without spending money."

On-screen: Topic Development

Michael: Topic development is actually quite good in this response.  She communicates the important information in a clear and coherent way by stating the man's problem and efficiently summarizing the two proposed solutions.

Audio Example [female voice]: I think that the second solution is better than the first one for several reasons.

Michael: And, she explains the reasons for her preference in terms of the advantages of study groups— basically, that they are both free and helpful.

On-screen: Sample Response

Michael: So, overall, this meets all the criteria for a score of three out of four. For more details about how the Integrated Speaking responses are scored, see the Speaking Scoring Guides on the TOEFL website.

On-screen: Skill-Building Tips

Michael: Now, here are some activities that can help you build your skills for the Integrated Speaking tasks, especially numbers three and five about campus situations.

On-screen: Skill-Building Tips

Michael: One, find an online newspaper from an English-speaking university. This would be a good source of practice topics for questions three and five. Look for topics like admissions, housing, student activities, registering for classes, school improvement plans, sports and more. Then, choose an article to discuss with your speaking partner or study group.

On-screen: Skill-Building Tips

Michael: Two, record yourself when you practice and listen to how you speak. When you listen to yourself, you'll be able to hear some of your mistakes as well as your tone and pacing.

On-screen: Skill-Building Tips

Michael: Three, find listening and reading material that are both about the same topic. The material can contain similar or different views. Then, prepare an outline of a one-minute response that includes your opinion, two points to support your opinion, and one detail or reason to support each point.

On-screen: Skill-Building Tips

Michael: Four, practice improving your fluency. Take that one-minute presentation and deliver it a few times, and each time try to improve it a little bit, smooth out your phrasing, use different wording for the same ideas, avoid unnecessary pauses, use transition words, those kinds of things.

On-screen: ETS TOEFL® Speaking Questions 3 & 5: Campus Situations.

Michael: There are lots of ways to improve your English skills. Whatever you do, keep practicing and good luck on your TOEFL test.


Total length of video: 9:38