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Speaking Notes
For TOEFL iBT
Useful tips: (suitable for all questions)
☛Make it NATURAL, pauses, such as “well”, “um”, and “you know”, are advisable, but
don’t do it too much.
☛CORRECT your mistakes as soon as you find out, for example, “... I really like standing
in, I mean, ON the mountain,” (I know it’s a bad example. What I’m trying to clarify is that it
is OK to make mistakes, but you gotta correct it once you made it.) so the examiner would
not count down your score.
☛There is NO NEED to use freaking words, like “exonerate”, which means absolve, and
“flamboyant”, which means showy. But those words are good to use in your essay.
☛“The FIRST way, the LAST way, the NEVER FAILING way to develop self-confidence
in speaking is--TO SPEAK.” --Dale Carnegie

Independent speaking (Question 1 & 2)

In this section, you are asked to present your own opinion and provide examples to
support your ideas.

Useful tips:
☛Your answer should be as SPECIFIC as possible. You need to stick to a point UNTIL
you finish it, have done with it, and need never return to it again.
☛The key to score high is to make each point WELL-DEVELOPED, and that DOES NOT
mean you need to make as much points as you can, two would be great.
☛Truth and REASONABLE LIES are totally acceptable.
☛DO NOT say “I have three (or whatever) reasons to support my idea”, or something like
that after you state your opinion. There is no guarantee that you are able to finish your
answer within 45 seconds. Instead, you can say “I have a couple of reasons to say.”

Question 1
Your answer can go like this:
“Personally, I would have to say that, um, my favorite ... is .... And there are a couple of
reasons to name. The most important thing is that, you know, .... What’s more, .... So that’s
why ....”

Question 2
Your answer can go like this:
“Well, in my opinion, I would definitely agree with the point that, um, .... The first reason
that I wanna say is that .... More importantly, .... So, uh, that’s why I choose ... for the two
reasons listed above.”

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Old Exam: Question 1

1. Person
1. Describe the characteristics of a good teacher (2006-3-3) (2007-11-3)
2. Describe a famous person that you most admire (2006-3-17) (2006-10-22) (2007-3-24) (2008-6-22)
3. Characteristics of friends (2006-5-12) (2006-6-24) (2007-1-27) (2007-10-20)
4. The person who has greatest influence on you (2006-5-26) (2007-9-22)
5. The characteristics of a good parent (2006-8-2)
6. Qualities of a good leader (2006-10-21) (2008-1-13)
7. Quality of a good team member (2007-3-15)
8. Describe a person with whom you like to talk with, why (2007-6-24)
9. Describe what your life will be like in five years / changes in five years of your life (2007-7-28)
10. Describe a person you will ask for advice when you meet any difficulty (2007-9-29)
11. Which one is the quality that is most essential to friendship: faithfulness, honesty or humor
(2007-10-21)

2. Place
1. Your favorite place in the city you are now living (2006-1-6) (2006-7-15) (2007-12-1)
2. Where do you usually go with your friends (2006-1-14)
3. What park or public area do you like (2006-1-21) (2006-11-17)
4. Do you prefer to go to restaurant, café or stay at home with your friends (2006-2-11)
5. Describe one of your favorite rooms, either of your house or other places (2007-1-13) (2008-4-27)
6. What kinds of features are important to you when you go to a restaurant or café. Why? (2007-1-14)
7. Describe a place you have never been to but like to go someday (2007-1-19) (2007-8-11) (2008-2-2)
8. If your foreign friends are going to visit your country, where do you suggest them to go? (2007-2-24)
(2007-12-15)
9. Where do you want to live, forests, desert, or plain? (2007-4-21)
10. Where do you like to go when it is sunny? (2007-8-17)
11. What is the most important element you take into account when you are choosing a house
(2007-9-12)
12. Students choose foreign country for further education because of academic programs and so on.
What do you think is the most import aspect besides academic program, location, cost, or size?
(2007-10-28)
13. Describe your favorite place when you were a kid. (2008-3-8)

3. Object
1. Describe one important book (2005-11-8) (2005-11-19) (2006-3-25) (2006-12-8)
2. Which one do you prefer, magazine, fiction or poetry (2006-2-3) (2006-10-28) (2006-12-10)
(2007-1-6)
3. The most efficient transportation in your country (2006-4-8) (2006-12-15)
4. One of the most important inventions in the past 100 years (2006-4-28) (2007-3-10)
5. A job or career you’d like to pursue (2006-7-29) (2006-11-18) (2007-10-6) (2008-3-2)
6. Which kinds of film do you like best: comedy, drama… (2006-9-9) (2006-11-3) (2007-2-3)
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7. Describe an object which is very important to you. (2006-10-29) (2008-2-24)


8. Describe a painting you have seen before. Why do you like it or dislike it? (2007-2-10) (2007-12-10)
9. Your most important gift, why is it so significant for you (2007-3-4)
10. Describe a letter or poem or essay you wrote that is important to you (2007-3-23) (2008-5-17)
11. How do you like traveling, by bike, automobile or train? (2007-5-18)
12. Among computer, television, and telephone, which do you think is the most important to your life
(2007-6-9)
13. What is your favorite subject and how do you become fond of it (2007-7-7) (2008-1-12)
14. What is the subject you would like to learn more about and why? (2007-7-21)
15. If you are going to give your friend a gift, what would you choose and why (2007-12-8)
16. Describe a work of art such as a song or painting that gives you long lasting impression (2008-3-15)
17. Describe a job or career you admire but you won’t choose it yourself (2008-5-10)

4. Activity
1. What do you do in your spare time to relax yourself (2005-12-3) (2006-9-15) (2006-11-19)
(2007-7-14) (2008-5-31)
2. A popular group sport, game or activity in your country (2006-6-9) (2006-6-10) (2007-6-30)
3. An important skill for you (2006-11-5) (2008-1-19)
4. What should students do in a holiday (2006-11-19)
5. A new skill you’d like to learn (2007-5-19)
6. If a foreigner came to your home, what would your family and you prepare? (2007-10-27)

5. Event
1. The most important decision that you made in your life (2005-12-2) (2007-10-17)
2. An impressive celebration /a ceremony or public event you attended (2005-12-16) (2006-2-12)
(2006-6-16) (2006-12-3) (2008-2-16)
3. A social or politics celebration event in your culture (2005-12-17) (2006-2-25)
4. What is your goal? State why it is so important and its influence on you (2006-8-15) (2006-10-14)
(2006-10-15) (2007-12-15)
5. Describe a challenging experience and how to solve this challenge (2006-8-26) (2007-3-3)
6. An enjoyable event in your childhood (2006-9-23) (2006-12-1)
7. What do you miss most when you are away from home? (2006-10-8)
8. Describe a special opportunity given to you (2006-10-18) (2007-11-11)
9. Describe a happy time in your life (2006-12-16) (2007-6-16) (2008-1-5)
10. Describe a time when you needed help from others, how he or she helped you and what was the
result (2007-4-29) (2007-9-15)
11. Describe a day you enjoy most (2007-8-4)
12. Describe a special event in your country (2007-8-25)
13. Describe the most impressive surprise your friend gives you because of his or her action (2007-10-5)
14. Describe a memorable event you had with your family members or friends (2007-11-24)
15. Describe an accomplishment that requires you to work hard and why it is so important to you
(2007-12-12)
16. Describe your first day in the school, and explain whether you like the school or not (2008-1-18)
17. Describe a disappointed moment you have ever experienced (2008-3-30)
18. Describe a recent experience that is important to you (2008-5-4)
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Old Exam: Question 2

1. Money
1. Do you prefer to save money or spend it off (2006-7-15) (2007-12-8)
2. If you have a large sum of money, what will you do with it, to spend on practical thing or
entertainment (2006-11-18) (2008-3-2)
3. Whether students should pay for their courses or not (2007-7-14)
4. Are power and money the criteria to evaluate success (2007-7-28)
5. Do you agree with the statement: colleges should invest all the money on academic education rather
than entertainment such as films? (2008-6-22)

2. Courses
1. Do you think high school should teach music and arts as other basic science subjects? (2005-12-2)
(2007-10-17)
2. Is musical education necessary (2006-4-8)
3. Do you prefer online course or traditional course (2006-10-8) (2007-2-24) (2007-12-15)
4. Do you like to study in a large class or small class (2006-10-15) (2008-1-12)
5. Some universities offer PE courses while others do not. What do you think? (2006-11-3)
6. Which will you choose: a subject which will lead to better jobs or which you are interested in
(2007-3-3)
7. Should students focus time on academic subjects or it is not enough to learn academic subjects
(2007-3-24)
8. Do you agree with the statement: it is more important to learn math and science than arts and
literature? (2008-3-8)

3. Education
1. Should University be opened to everyone or a limited number of students / Is it necessary for
everyone to receive higher education (2006-3-17) (2006-10-22)
2. Is it more likely to succeed in career if someone has attended college? (2006-4-28)
3. Which one do you think is better to do research, internet or academic books (2006-6-9) (2007-6-30)
4. Do you like indoor or outdoor teaching (2006-9-15)
5. Do you agree or disagree: Students should wear uniform in school (2007-2-3)
6. Someone thinks it’s important to study in a university, and some do not. What do you think?
(2007-3-10)
7. Is it important for students to attend class regularly or study by oneself? (2007-4-11)
8. Do you agree or disagree: The most important lessons is learned outside the classroom (2007-6-9)
(2008-5-31)
9. Do you agree or disagree: students should participate in class discussion (2007-6-24)
10. Would you prefer to search for information by reading books or by using computers with access to
the internet? (2007-10-27)
11. If you have any questions or problems, do you prefer to ask instructor or internet and books for help?
(2007-12-1)
12. Which one do you think is better for college students, studying part-time or full-time? (2007-12-15)

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4. Entertainment & Vacation


1. Long vacation or short vacation, which do you prefer (2006-7-29) (2007-10-6)
2. Some people prefer go to the destination directly when they are on a trip while others prefer to spend
time in some other places along the trip. Which do you prefer and why? (2007-1-13) (2008-4-27)
3. Some people prefer fantasy literature, such as fiction, while some prefer nonfiction such as
biography, which do you like? (2007-4-21)
4. Do you agree or not that student should have a one-year holiday before going to university
(2007-5-19)
5. Do you prefer to go to college directly after high school or take a time off (2007-8-11)
6. What do you think students should do in a vacation, continue studying, take a rest or go to work?
(2007-8-17)
7. Do you like to travel to a place you have ever been to or a new place? (2007-11-24)
8. Some people like to finish reading a book without discontinuity, while some like to divide it into
several times. Which way do you prefer and why? (2008-3-15)
9. How do you like to spend your weekend, to study or to relax and socialize with friends? (2008-5-10)

5. Cooperation & Independence


1. Do you prefer to live with roommates or you prefer to live by yourself (2006-2-3) (2006-10-28)
(2007-1-6)
2. Choose profession that need you study independently or profession require you to work as a group
(2007-3-23) (2008-5-17)
3. Do you prefer to make friends with a large number of people or would you rather spend most of your
time with a small group of friends? (2007-8-25)
4. Do you like to go to movies or concerts alone or with a group of friends? (2007-9-12)

6. Lifestyle & Habits


1. Would you like to become a leader or a follower (2006-5-26) (2007-9-22)
2. Do you prefer indoor activities or outdoor activities (2006-6-24) (2007-10-5) (2007-10-20)
3. Do you agree or disagree that we can judge a person by the appearance at the first glance?
(2006-7-15) (2008-2-24)
4. Do you agree that people should always tell the truth (2006-10-21) (2008-1-13)
5. Some people like going to bed early and getting up early, while some others prefer staying up late
and rising late, which one do you prefer (2006-11-19)
6. Which kind of life would you choose: a relaxed and unhurried life or a busy life? (2006-12-16)
(2008-1-5)
7. Do you agree that childhood is the happiest (or precious) time in life (2007-1-19) (2008-2-2)
8. Getting advice from family and friends/learning through personal experience, which do you prefer
(2007-1-26)
9. Do you think life is much better if your grandparents are still alive / Do you agree or disagree with the
following statement: today's life is easier or more difficult than our grandparents'? (2007-3-4)
10. Young adult are influenced by the family members. Do you agree or disagree? (2007-9-15)
(2008-5-4)
11. Do you like to make friends with people who have different interest with you? (2007-11-3)
12. Some people prefer to plan spare time while others do not, which do you prefer? (2008-1-19)
13. Some people prefer to eat the same food while others would like to try new food. Which do you
prefer? (2008-3-30)
14. Some people think that the family is the most important influence on young adults. Other people
think that friends are the most important influence on young adults. Which view do you agree with?
(2008-5-4)

7. Place
1. Do you prefer to eat at home or outside in a restaurant (2006-1-14) (2006-2-11)
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2. Which one do you prefer, studying in a large city or small town? (2006-1-21) (2006-11-17)
3. The first year university students should live in the dorm with students of only first-year or with
students of all the other grades (2007-6-16)
4. Will you spend your holiday in a city or in the countryside? (2007-7-7)
5. Do you like to live in the countryside or big city? (2007-12-12)

8. City Plan
1. Which one do you think the government should finance: museums and theaters or arts? (2005-12-17)
(2007-9-29)
2. Which one do you think is better in city planning, maintaining old building or replacing old building
with new buildings (2007-1-14)

9. Media & Communication


1. Do you think TV is positive or negative to a modern society? (2005-11-19)
2. Do you agree that cell phone should be prohibited in some areas? (2005-12-3) (2007-7-21)
3. Which can you learn more from, media (TV, internet) or people (family members, friends, teachers)?
(2005-12-16) (2006-6-16)
4. Whether parents should lead their children to watch TV or the children should choose what they
want to watch by themselves. (2006-3-25)
5. Do you communicate with your family and friends by E-mail and letter or by telephone (2006-12-3)
(2008-2-16)
6. Some people read newspapers or magazines every day, and others prefer watching news on TV or
listening to radio (2007-3-17) (2007-10-21)
7. Do you think it is good for students to use cell phones in school? (2007-11-11)

10. Job
1. Do you like to work in the office or at home? (2006-3-3)
2. Someone focuses on one job throughout his life, while others like to change from one job to the other.
Which one do you think is better, why? (2007-2-10) (2007-12-10)
3. When you choose a career, what factor is more important, money or your personal satisfaction
(2007-4-29)
4. Do you agree that it is better to have some working experience in university before you have a job
(2007-5-18)
5. Some prefers to study in daytime and work at night, while others choose the opposite. Which do you
like? (2007-8-4)

11. Technology
1. Does modern technology make life easier or more difficult? (2007-10-28)

Practice: Question 1

A. Describe a person
1. Describe a family member/close friend/schoolmate/workmate/neighbor/an adventurous person
2. Describe your favorite teacher and explain how this teacher influenced you.
3. Describe a famous businessperson/a sport person/sports team you admire and explain why you admire
him/her.
4. Describe your favorite singer/actor/band group/character in a film and explain why you like
him/her/them.
5. Describe a celebrity / a famous person in history you want to see most and explain why you want to see
this celebrity and what would you talk about.
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B. Describe a place
1. Describe an important place / scenic spot / shop / restaurant / museum / park / garden / an ideal house /
company / city / country in your life. Explain why it is important to you.
2. Describe your room and explain how you spend time there.
3. Describe your school and campus and explain what impression it gives you.
4. Describe the highest/emblematic/historic building in your town.
5. Describe a kind of traditional building in your country
6. What landmark in your country do you recommend other people to visit? Explain why you think people
should go there.

C. Describe an object
1. Describe an important machine/ means of transport/ a work of art and explain why you think it is
important in your life.
2. Describe the best/worst invention in the 20th century and explain how it affects your life.
3. Describe an important invention before computer / a normal commodity in your family and explain its
advantages and disadvantages.
4. Describe an important gift/letter/photograph and explain why it is special to you.
5. Describe something expensive you want to buy and explain why you want to buy it.
6. Describe something that you fear. Explain why you are afraid of it.
7. Describe an important toy when you were a child. Explain why it is important to you.
8. What type of animal would you like to have as a pet?

D. Describe your favorites


1. How do you like to spend your leisure time? Choose one leisure activity and explain why you like it.
2. Describe your favorite clothing / jewelry / advertisement / medium / TV program / type of holiday / movie
/ sports / leisure activity /music /song / weather / dish / animal / traditional Chinese art or craft /
newspaper / magazine / book / an interesting news story / website, and explain why you like it.

E. Describe events/your experiences


1. Describe an exciting period/a positive change/an important success/decision in your life/ and explain
why it is…
2. Describe your most unforgettable childhood story/a happy event in your childhood and explain why it
is…
3. Describe the best party /holiday /trip/a long distance travel/ wedding/a special meal/ the worst weather/
and explain why it is…
4. Describe your experience of learning English / a family event / a sport event / an accident and explain
the importance of it.
5. Describe an important festival in your country/a popular game that children play in your town.
6. Describe a project you have done and explain what you got from doing this project.
7. What event made you very happy in your life? Explain what happened to you and why you felt so happy.
8. Describe an occasion you were surprised.

Practice: Question 2

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1. Some people eat their meals of the day around the noon. Others have main meal in the evening. What
time of day do you think is better. Include details and examples in your explanation.
2. Some people like going to large parties where there are many people they don’t know. Others prefer
small parties with a few close friends. Which type of parties do you prefer and why? Include details and
examples in your explanation.
3. Some high schools require students to wear uniforms. Others allow students to wear clothing of their
own choice. Which situation do you think is better and why? Include details and examples in your
explanation.
4. Some people take one long vacation each year. Others take several short vacations. Which do you
prefer and why? Include details and examples in your explanation.
5. Some people like going to concerts to hear music played live. Others prefer listening to recorded music.
Which music experience do you think is better, and why? Include details and examples in your
explanation.
6. Some people get up early in the morning and go to bed early at night. Others get up late in the morning
and stay up late at night. Which do you think is better and why? Include details and examples in your
explanation.
7. Some plan every detail of their vacation in advance. Others prefer to leave most details flexible. Which
do you think is better and why? Include details and examples in your explanation.
8. Some people like to eat most of their meals with other people. Others prefer eating alone. Which do you
think is better and why? Include details and examples in your explanation.
9. Some students like to take classes early in the morning. Others prefer having classes later in the day.
Which do you think is better and why? Include details and examples in your explanation.
10. Some people relax by staying at home. Others relax by going out. Which do you think is better and why?
Include details and examples in your explanation.
11. Some students prepare for tests by studying alone. Other prepare for tests by studying with other
students or a tutor. Which study method do you think is better and why?

Integrated speaking (Question 3, 4, 5 & 6)


In this part, you are asked to paraphrase the man/woman’s attitude first, and then list the
reasons s/he gives. You are NOT asked to present your opinion towards this problem.

Question 3
Your answer could go like this:
“The school has implemented a new policy that ... due to .... And the man/woman holds a
positive/negative view towards the announcement. The first reason s/he gives is that....
And the second one is based on the fact that ....”

Useful tips:
☛In the reading part, DO NOT waste your time on taking notes, it is unnecessary. Just
figure out what the announcement is mainly talking about, you do not need to say anything
about it after all.
☛When listening, just write down THREE major points--attitude, reason 1 & reason 2. You
can use “+” and “-” to represent positive attitude and negative attitude.
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☛Make sure that you get ALL the reasons that the man/woman gives. Anything missed
will lower your score.
☛DO NOT spend too much time explaining why the school has pull out the policy, simple
words would be fine.
☛DO NOT spend too much time retelling the first reason, you should finish talking about it
in 20 seconds.

Question 4
Your answer can go like this:
“In the lecture, the professor mainly talked about the theory that .... To reinforce the theory,
the professor gave two reasons in his speech. The first one is that …. The other one is that
…. And that’s the two reasons the speaker presented to explain his idea.(The conclusion
is optional)”

Useful tips:
☛Find the KEY words as soon as possible and then write them down. This is to make sure
that you will know what the professor is going to talk about.
☛Pay attention to the JARGONS in order to get familiar with the words that you don’t
know before.
☛Do not panic if you don’t know anything about the subject, because your opinion is NOT
included.

Question 5
In question 5, you are asked to paraphrase the man/woman’s problem and then retell the
solutions that the woman/man comes up with. And for this time, you should make a choice
between the two.

Your answer can go like this:


“In this conversation, the man/woman is having a hard time dealing with the problem that
…. And the woman/man offers him/ her two possible solutions. One is …. The other is ….
And if it were my choice, I would choose the former/latter one, because ... .”

Useful tips:
☛The OPTIMAL time allotment is: 10 seconds for the problem, 17 seconds for each
solution, and 10 seconds for your choice and why, and about 6 seconds pausing
throughout your answer.
☛DO REMEMBER that you HAVE TO state your opinion in your answer. BUT do not
spend too much time on that.
☛Make your answer as SIMPLE as it can be, you really don’t have enough time to cover
everything mentioned in the conversation.
☛DO say “the man/woman offers her/him TWO (or THREE) solutions.” This is to ensure
that you get all the solutions even if you can’t finish you answer in time, so the examiner
will still give you a good score.

Question 6
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In question 6, the speaker usually gives two examples to explain a theory or a


phenomenon. So your main job is to find what the theory or the phenomenon is, and jot
down the examples that the professor presents in the lecture.
“In the lecture, the professor provides two examples to illustrate the phenomenon/theory
that …. The first one is that …. Another example is that …. And that’s the two examples
the speaker presented to explain the theory/phenomenon.(Still, the conclusion is
optional)”. (You can make adjustments on this style according to different lectures)

Useful tips:
☛The OPTIMAL time allotment is: 15 seconds for the theory/phenomenon, 20 seconds for
each example, and about 5 seconds pausing throughout you answer.
☛Question 6, to a certain extent, is quite similar to question 4. However, Q6 is even
HARDER because you don’t have the chance to read anything about the lecture. So, stay
ALERT while you are listening.
☛Take as many details as you can, it HASN’T to be written in English, VIETNAMESE is
fine! Choose whatever the EASIEST way for you.
☛You should catch the TRANSITIONAL WORDS, such as “what’s more” and “moreover”,
which indicate that the professor is going to talk about another point.

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