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TOEFL iBT Independent Speaking: Express your thoughts

Independent Task evaluates expressing ideas independently, showcasing creativity and communication skills

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TOEFL iBT Speaking-Independent Task

The Speaking section of TOEFL iBT plays a crucial role in evaluating a test-taker's ability to communicate effectively in English. It assesses your proficiency in academic speaking as well as university environments.

There are two tasks in the TOEFL iBT Speaking section - Integrated Task and Independent Task. The Independent Task of the TOEFL iBT Speaking section requires test-takers to express their thoughts on a given topic.

Overview of the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking

Unlike the Integrated Task, where one has to respond to a reading and a lecture, the Independent Task assesses the candidates’ ability to generate and convey ideas on their own. Examinees will hear several natural English speaker accents in this portion that are not from North America, such as British or Australian.

Candidates will have a 15-second preparation period followed by a 45-second window to provide their response. During this time, they will verbally answer the question into the microphone, and their response will be recorded.

The usual question for this task is of the "Explain your Opinion" type. In this type, two contrasting viewpoints are presented, requiring the test-taker to select a side and articulate their opinion with relevant explanations and examples.

Explore the following sample question along with the answer crafted for the Independent Task in the TOEFL iBT Speaking section.

Sample Question

You will now be asked to give your opinion about a familiar topic. After you hear the question, you will have 15 seconds to prepare your response and 45 seconds to speak.

Now play the audio to hear the question.

Some people who unexpectedly receive a large amount of money spend it on practical things, while others spend it for pleasure only. Which do you think is better and why? Preparation Time: 15 Seconds
Response Time: 45 Seconds

Sample Answer

Play the audio to listen to a high-level response to the above question.

Understanding Evaluation Rubrics for the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking

The answer for the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking is holistically assessed, meaning that the evaluators listen for a variety of characteristics in the test-takers’ response before assigning it an overall score.

The table below presents the evaluation rubrics for the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking based on which test-takers should prepare their strategies for practice.

Score Overall Description Delivery Language Use Topic Development
4 The response fulfills the demands of the task, with at most minor lapses in completeness. It is highly intelligible and exhibits sustained, coherent discourse. Generally well-paced flow (fluid expression). Speech is clear. It may include minor lapses, or minor difficulties with pronunciation or intonation patterns, which do not affect overall intelligibility The response demonstrates effective use of grammar and vocabulary. It exhibits a fairly high degree of automaticity with good control of basic and complex structures (as appropriate). Some minor (or systematic) errors are noticeable but do not obscure meaning. Response is sustained and sufficient to the task. It is generally well developed and coherent; relationships between ideas are clear (or there is a clear progression of ideas).
3 The response addresses the task appropriately but may fall short of being fully developed. It is generally intelligible and coherent, with some fluidity of expression, though it exhibits some noticeable lapses in the expression of ideas. Speech is generally clear, with some fluidity of expression, though minor difficulties with pronunciation, intonation, or pacing are noticeable and may require listener effort at times (though overall intelligibility is not significantly affected). The response demonstrates fairly automatic and effective use of grammar and vocabulary, and fairly coherent expression of relevant ideas. Response may exhibit some imprecise or inaccurate use of vocabulary or grammatical structures or be somewhat limited in the range of structures used. This may affect overall fluency, but it does not seriously interfere with the communication of the message. Response is mostly coherent and sustained and conveys relevant ideas/information. Overall development is somewhat limited, usually lacks elaboration or specificity. Relationships between ideas may at times not be immediately clear.
2 The response addresses the task, but development of the topic is limited. It contains intelligible speech, although problems with delivery and/ or overall coherence occur; meaning may be obscured in places. Speech is basically intelligible, though listener effort is needed because of unclear articulation, awkward intonation, or choppy rhythm/pace; meaning may be obscured in places. The response demonstrates limited range and control of grammar and vocabulary. These limitations often prevent full expression of ideas. For the most part, only basic sentence structures are used successfully and spoken with fluidity. Structures and vocabulary may express mainly simple (short) and/or general propositions, with simple or unclear connections made among them (serial listing, conjunction, juxtaposition). The response is connected to the task, though the number of ideas presented or the development of ideas is limited. Mostly basic ideas are expressed with limited elaboration (details and support). At times relevant substance may be vaguely expressed or repetitious. Connections of ideas may be unclear.
1 The response is very limited in content and/or coherence or is only minimally connected to the task, or speech is largely unintelligible. Consistent pronunciation, stress and intonation difficulties cause considerable listener effort; delivery is choppy, fragmented, or telegraphic; frequent pauses and hesitations. Range and control of grammar and vocabulary severely limit or prevent expression of ideas and connections among ideas. Some low-level responses may rely heavily on practiced or formulaic expressions. Limited relevant content is expressed. The response generally lacks substance beyond expression of very basic ideas. Speaker may be unable to sustain speech to complete the task and may rely heavily on repetition of the prompt.

Why Choose TOEFL iBT?

Choosing TOEFL iBT can be a strategic decision for several compelling reasons. Let’s explore the factors that make TOEFL iBT stand out!

Global Recognition

TOEFL iBT scores are widely accepted by universities, colleges, and institutions, making it a global benchmark.


Comprehensive Assessment

It evaluates proficiency in reading, listening, speaking, and writing, providing a well-rounded assessment.


Flexibility in Test Administration

The test allows one to choose from nearby testing locations or the convenience of home to take the exam.


Real-life Situations

TOEFL iBT tasks simulate real-life academic and professional situations to check the candidates’ ability to communicate in different situations.


Regular Updates

TOEFL iBT is regularly updated to align with evolving language standards to ensure its relevance and accuracy.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the score range for the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking?

The answer for the Independent Task for TOEFL iBT Speaking is scored on a scale from 0 to 4.

Will there be any additional material to read or listen to before answering the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking?

No, there won't be any extra reading or listening passages. The test-taker will be provided with a topic to discuss and express their opinion with proper explanation.

What are the factors based on which the TOEFL examiners assess the answer for the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking?

The TOEFL examiners assess the answer for the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking based on three factors-delivery, language use and topic development.

Can I get some extra time to answer the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking?

No, additional time is not provided to complete the answer in case it is too long. You have to frame your answer in a way that it is covered within the time limit.

What is the best way to practice for the Independent Task of TOEFL iBT Speaking so that I can complete my answer within the time limit?

Using a stopwatch or other timer while practicing is a smart idea if you want to complete your answer within the time limit.

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