TOEFL Speaking 6

TOEFL speaking task 6

The TOEFL Speaking task 6 can be an especially challenging part of the TOEFL speaking section.  The lecture is often full of very advanced vocabulary words, and taking notes that help you with your speaking response can be very difficult.  We’ve taken three of our top tips from the English Simple TOEFL program’s speaking strategy lessons to help simplify the TOEFL Speaking 6 task and help you raise your score.


1)  Beware of the FALSE MAIN TOPIC:

The TOEFL speaking question 6 is structured like an independent essay.  It has a main topic with supporting examples and details.  The problem with this question from the beginning is that they often give a “false main topic”.

For example, the lecture might begin with “Today we are going to talk about evolutionary biology.”

You would assume that THIS is the main topic, and write it in your notes as such.

The problem is that right after they get to a more specific MAIN TOPIC, “specifically, we’re going to discuss camouflage in marine mammals.”

Then they would give two supporting examples or categories of camouflage.  It’s important to listen carefully, and develop the ability to identify what the actual main topic is.

2) Use “NUMBER CUES” to know when a supporting example is introduced:

Your basic strategy for answering speaking question 6 perfectly is to identify the main elements of the lecture (Main idea / Supporting Examples / Details) and write them down in order to repeat them back as your answer.

The challenge is knowing when these key elements are being introduced and not getting lost or confused and then missing them.  This is why I teach my students to use “NUMBER CUES”.

A “CUE” is a signal or sign that something is going to happen.  Number cues in the lecture for speaking question 6 give us a signal that a SUPPORTING EXAMPLE is about to be presented.

After the MAIN TOPIC is introduced, we often hear phrases like

Two examples of this are…

The first type/example/category is…

These are CUES that SUPPORTING EXAMPLES are about to be introduced.  We can use these cues to know when important information is coming and be sure to write that down.

BONUS:  You can use this technique in many different sections of the TOEFL speaking.  Any section or question that delivers information in this MAIN TOPIC / SUPPORTING EXAMPLE format uses these “Number Cues” before presenting key information.  This is true for speaking question 4, the Integrated essay lecture, and for the listening section’s lecture questions. 

3)  Know when to stop:

Some students are very good at getting a lot of details from the lecture, this can sometimes be a problem if they try to mention ALL OF THEM in his answer.

This is the thing.  You are only given 60 seconds to give your recorded answer.  This doesn’t allow you to mention every single detail, and if you try to do this you will most likely run out of time.

If you run out of time, your answer will be cut off, and you won’t receive a perfect score (even if you were speaking perfectly!).  Because of this, I recommend my students watch the clock and try to finish 5 seconds early.  Make this your goal, and you will never go over the time and be cut off.

The speaking section is always a challenge.  If you’re trying to get a score as high as 26, it can be especially difficult.  With the English Simple TOEFL program, we provide simple, powerful strategies to raise your score.

Link to the English Simple TOEFL study program.


About the Author

Adam is the founder and lead instructor for the English Simple TOEFL program. He's taught English and TOEFL for over ten years, and developed curriculum all over the world. TOEFL is his business, but helping people is his passion. His "office" is always open, so feel free to drop him an email with any questions, complaints, compliments, or funny jokes. He speaks French, Spanish, Japanese, and Russian. But you gotta write him in English - you're prepping for the TOEFL!