In the independent speaking portion of the TOEFL iBT test, you will give two short speeches on topics that are familiar to you. For the personal preference task, you will choose and support a preference from a particular category. For the personal choice task, you will make and support a choice between two contrasting options.

An effective speech begins with an introductory statement that tells the listener what the speech is about. The body of the speech is made up of explanations and details. A concluding statement completes the speech.

1. Listen carefully to the task and think about what you must do in your response.

Ask yourself these questions:

•   What is the topic of the task?

•   What am I being asked to do?

Then make a mental list of the answers to these questions. For example, look at the following task:

Name a skill you have learned and explain why it is important to you. Include details and examples to support your explanation.

For this task, you would make a mental list like the following:

The topic is about a skill I have learned. I need to:

•   Name the skill

•   Define the skill if the listener might not know what it is

•   Explain its importance

•   Include details and examples

2. Quickly decide on a topic.

It is easy to run out of preparation time while trying to decide what topic within the given category you will discuss. Quickly choose a topic and start thinking about the examples and details you can include for that particular topic. Remember, examiners are not interested in what the topic is but in how well you can express yourself.

3. Restate the task to include the topic that you ate going to speak about.

For the task in Strategy 1 above, you might choose to focus on the skill of touch-typing. Your restatement could be:
I have learned how to touch-type, and this has been very important during my studies.

4. Work through your mental list of requirements.

For the task in Strategy 1 above, your list might be:

•   Name the skill. You have already named the skill in your restatement of the task statement.

•   Define the skill. Ask yourself if you need to define your topic. Will the listener know about the topic you have chosen?

•   Explain the importance to you of the topic you have chosen.

•   Include details and examples from your own experience.

5. Know your goal.

When studying, record your speech and make a transcript, writing it exactly as you said it. Then make improvements to it: correct mistakes, eliminate long hesitations, and replace words or rephrase sentences to avoid repetition. Practice reading the corrected version aloud, and time yourself. Read it again while timing yourself, and stop reading at 45 seconds. How far did you get?

You will find that 45 seconds is only enough time for you to restate the task with your topic and to give one or two examples and one or two details. Eliminate unnecessary examples and details from your transcript and read it again with a timer. Once you have eliminated enough to be able to read your response aloud in about 35-40 seconds, and the topic does not suffer from a lack of examples or detail, you know your goal. The remaining 5-10 seconds are for the natural hesitations and corrections a speaker generally makes when talking.

6. Get ready for the next item.

It is easy to get anxious if you run out of time and have not finished what you intended to say, or if you finish what you want to say and there is still time left. Take a deep breath to help you relax and get ready for the next part of the test.