Part of your TOEFL iBT speaking practice should be to familiarize yourself with how human raters are trained to evaluate the four integrated speaking tasks that you will complete: reading, listening, speaking (casual); reading, listening, speaking (academic); listening, speaking (casual); and listening, speaking (academic). Generally, you will have 20-30 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak. Assuming that you would like to score high on this section of the TOEFL exam, let’s take a look at four important areas in which you will need to excel if you want to get the coveted score of 4 on the integrated speaking tasks.

First, your response should answer the question being asked, and you should not leave out any important information from the reading passage or lecture. Moreover, your pronunciation should be very clear, and your speech should be sustained and well-organized. For the most part, the iBT human raters will determine if your responses meets this description.

Second, the way you deliver your response can have a big impact on whether you get a score of 4. You should clearly pronounce vowel and consonants confidently and naturally. Be sure to avoid word stress shifts; stress nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs more than grammatical words such as determiners, helping verbs, and prepositions, hence displaying a natural sounding sentence rhythm; using natural sounding intonation, be sure to vary your intonation; make sure that you are grouping ideas together into thought groups and blend words within thought groups as naturally as you can; and avoid at all costs pausing after every word. Even though you may have minor difficulties in your pronunciation or tone, it should still be very easy for iBT human raters to understand you.

Third, another important factor in helping you to get your dream score on the speaking section of the exam is that you have good control of your language use. First of all, you should accurately use both basic and complex grammar that helps you to communicate in an organized and efficient manner. Put another way, your grammar usage should be automatic or natural sounding. Second of all, you should effectively choose words which are relevant to the ideas in your response, and the vocabulary you choose should be both basic and advanced. Even though you may have some systematic errors or imprecise use of vocabulary, these errors should not obscure meaning in any way. In addition, the errors that you have should not require listener effort.

Fourth, in addition to having a good delivery and good control of your language use, your integrated speaking responses should have good topic development. If you want to get the magic score of 26+, your response should present a clear progression of ideas and communicate information required by the speaking task. In other words, you should use appropriate details to answer the question, but you can still score high if you have minor errors or minor omissions. However, you can not omit important points from either a reading passage or a lecture because that will cause you to score lower.

In conclusion, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced TOEFL iBT speaking specialist who will accurately score your speaking tasks and make recommendations on how you can improve so you can reach that magic score of 26/30. Practice makes perfect, right?

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