Guide for the TOEFL® Test Speaking Question 3

You are doing great so far!

You have already read about TOEFL Speaking questions one and two.

Time to talk about TOEFL Speaking question three.

TOEFL Speaking question three consists of both a reading passage and a recorded lecture about the same topic. You will take notes on both and then give a paraphrased summary drawing on information from both sources. You will have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak.

You might be thinking, how can I prepare and deliver a response in just 60 seconds?

In this article, we will take you through each step so that you will feel comfortable and confident no matter what topic you get for TOEFL Speaking question three.

Let’s take a quick look at the structure of TOEFL Speaking question three.

1st – You have 45 seconds to read a short paragraph (about 100 words)
2nd – The reading disappears and you will listen to a lecture about the same topic. The lecture will be between 60-90 seconds.
3rd – The question will appear. You have 30 seconds to prepare your response.
4th – Time to speak. You will have 60 seconds to speak.

Here’s an example from TST Prep’s Test #13:

Speaking Task 3

Directions: You will now read a short passage and then listen to a lecture on the same topic. You will then be asked a question about the passages. After you hear the question, you will have 30 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak.

You have 45 seconds to read the passage below. You may begin reading now.

Compassionate Consumerism

Compassionate consumerism is a relatively new trend in the American retail market. In this type of consumerism, when individuals make a purchase a portion of the money they pay is allocated to a charitable cause. Nowadays, individuals often look for ways to contribute to the betterment of humanity, but they don’t always have the financial resources to do so. Compassionate consumerism appears to be a good middle ground. While critics feel that it’s only a marketing ploy aimed at appealing to people in their 20s and 30s, others applaud the effort. They argue that it is desirable for companies to sacrifice profits in order to help those in need.

Now listen to a lecture about this topic in a business class

Now answer the question.

Using the examples from the lecture, explain what compassionate consumerism is and how it works.

Preparation Time: 30 seconds
Response Time: 60 seconds

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Tip #1: Take notes like a pro

First, you will be given a reading topic of about 80 to 120 words. Your goal is to skim and write down several key pieces of information.

  • T stands for topic. This is usually the title.
  • D stands for definition. This is usually stated in the first or second sentence.
  • AN stands for additional notes. 45 seconds is not a lot of time, but if you can, write down any additional information you think is important.

Let’s look at an example:

Speaking Task 3

Directions: You will now read a short passage and then listen to a lecture on the same topic. You will then be asked a question about the passages.After you hear the question, you will have 30 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak. You have 45 seconds to read the passage below. You may begin reading now.

Mimicry

According to evolutionary biology, there are various features that living organisms have developed in order to adapt to their environment and to survive in it. While most people are familiar with characteristics like camouflage, mimicry is another common defense mechanism. Mimicry is when one species copies or mimics the look of another animal that is better adapted to the environment. Living things that use mimicry might copy the size, shape, color, smell, or behavior of another to either attract a mate, find food, or avoid predators. In some cases, they may even adopt several of these traits simultaneously.

In our notes, T stands for the topic which is always the title so that’s easy.

T (topic): Mimicry

D (definition): one species looks like another that is better adapted

AN (additional notes): – copy size, shape, smell, color
– attract a mate, find food, avoid predators

Pro tip: When you write your notes, stick to a few paraphrased words. This is because you will not have time to write down everything

You will then listen and take notes from the lecture using the following format.

Example 1:
Details:

Example 2:
Details:

Here is an example from the lecturer on Mimicry

Example 1: harmless animal look like a more dangerous one
Details: king snake, chgs color to look like a poison snake

Example 2: behavior of others
Details: Drongo birds copy the call of other birds
               – scare away other birds to get food

So, in the end, your notes may look like this:

Reading Listening
T mimicry EX1: harmless animal look like a more dangerous one
D one species looks like another that is better adapted SD1: King snake try to look like red poison snake
AN copy size, shape, smell, color EX2: Animals copy behaviors of other animals
AN attract a mate, find food, avoid predators SD2: Drongo bird copies sound of dangerous bird to steal food

Pro tip: Although the above example contains some full words and phrases, simply writing one or two words to help you remember is also fine.

Tip #2: How to Sound Casual

The TOEFL Speaking exam is testing if you feel comfortable and confident while speaking English, so you should sound as natural as possible.

One approach that is quite popular is to imagine you are a parent explaining this topic to your children.

Listen to this example and notice the casual tone.

Speaking Task 3: Sample Answer

The reading passage goes into detail about mimicry, which is when one animal will try to copy some aspect of another animal in order to survive. At first, the lecturer talks about the king snake. Now, this snake isn’t poisonous, but it knows how to change its skin to red so it looks like a coral snake, which is poisonous. The professor also mentions the drongo bird, which has learned to mimic the sound of other birds. So, after these other birds have killed some prey, the drongo bird will start copying their alarm sound; signaling that there are predators nearby. The birds soon fly away, and the drongo bird enjoys a free meal. As you can see, both the king snake and drongo bird use mimicry to help them survive and thrive.

See how natural and casual he sounds? This is how you want to deliver your answers on test day.

Tip #3: Plan your response

If you have taken good notes, then planning what to say will be straight forward.

Let’s take a look again at the sample answer to the question on Mimicry

The reading passage goes into detail about mimicry, which is when one animal will try to copy some aspect of another animal in order to survive. At first, the lecturer talks about the king snake. Now, this snake isn’t poisonous, but it knows how to change its skin to red so it looks like a coral snake, which is poisonous. The professor also mentions the drongo bird, which has learned to mimic the sound of other birds. So, after these other birds have killed some prey, the drongo bird will start copying their alarm sound; signaling that there are predators nearby. The birds soon fly away, and the drongo bird enjoys a free meal. As you can see, both the king snake and drongo bird use mimicry to help them survive and thrive.

Notice how this follows the order of your notes?

Reading Listening
T mimicry EX1: harmless animal look like a more dangerous one
D one species looks like another that is better adapted SD1: King snake try to look like red poison snake
AN copy size, shape, smell, color EX2: Animals copy behaviors of other animals
AN attract a mate, find food, avoid predators SD2: Drongo bird copies sound of dangerous bird to steal food

Pro Tip: This particular response decided not to use the supporting details from the reading, but if you are a fast speaker, it would be advisable to do so.

Tip #4: Follow a template

There are a few key phrases you should memorize and use for every practice question, so by the time you get to the real question three, you won’t be confused as to how to start. Below are common phrases that work almost every time:

  1. The introduction phrase: “ Both the reading and the lecture discuss…….X
  2. The definition phrase: “ X essentially means that………….”
  3. Transitioning from the reading to the lecturer: “The professor clearly illustrates this by providing the example(s) of…….”
  4. Common transition phrases for developing points, such as: “also, in addition, moreover, as a result, consequently,” and many more. Pick a few of your favorites and practice using them in every question you answer.
  5. Conclusion phrase: “this is how the professor explains X.”

Basic Template: Question 3

Template Content Time
According to the reading (topic) is (topic definition)
  • Introduce the reading topic
  • Define the topic
0-10 Seconds
In the lecture, the professor delves deeper into this subject by providing on example of/two examples of (topic).

To start the lecturer explains that (first example of topic)
  • Transition to the lecture
  • State first example
  • Expand on first example
11-32 Seconds
He/She goes on to say (second example of topic)
  • State second example
  • Expand on second example
33 - 54 seconds
So, after listening I now have a better understanding of what (topic) is.
  • Provide conclusion to topic
55 - 60 seconds

This will make you more confident when it comes time to start speaking because you already know the first few words you are going to say!

Conclusion

100 TOEFL Independent Speaking and Writing topics Cover - Tablet
100 TOEFL Independent Speaking and Writing topics Cover - Desktop

Phew, you made it to the end!

So, let’s recap:

  1. Take notes like a pro – Write down short notes on the reading passage and just enough notes on the lecture to help you when it is time to speak.
  2. Be casual – Imagine you are a teacher, trying to explain this to a child.
  3. Plan in advance what you are going to say – Review your notes before you speak so you know exactly what to say.
  4. Make your life easier: follow a template – Create your own template and practice until you can do it in your sleep.

And if you want to take your TOEFL studies one step further, you can download our free PDF that includes over 100 Speaking and Writing Topics for the TOEFL Test

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Ready to take a closer look at TOEFL Speaking Question 4?

 

Did you find this guide helpful? Do you have any questions that don’t have an answer here? Let us know in the comments section below.

8 Comments

  1. Zlatan

    Hi, Josh. Just took TOEFL iBT from my home. First of all, thank you for providing all the materials and toefl emergency course. The 6 complete tests were especially helpful.
    The thing is, now that I finished the exam, I start to worry about if my speaking was properly recorded and my voice was loud enough for raters to hear. You have heard any case where your students got low score because of the volume of their voice, especially in Home Edition? In the sort of tech test at the beginning of the exam, it indicated that my voice was a little small (I passed that test though).

    By the way, I used Mac and its internal microphone. When I’d been preparing for the exam using voice memo of my Mac, I could replay and listen to myself afterwards without no problem.

    Sorry, this may be super abstract question.

    Thank You.

    Reply
    • Josh

      Hi there Zlatan and thank you for sharing your experience. You will have to speak with ETS about this type of issue. For now, I would say to try not to worry about it and wait to see what score you receive. If the graders can not hear your speaking responses then they will let you know there was a problem with the audio. I don’t know what the next steps would be from that point on, but I imagine you would have to site for the test again. try not to worry about that now. It’s done. Congrats! There’s no reason to worry about something that isn’t a problem yet.

      Reply
  2. Rahima Norova

    Very clear and accurate template. I have difficulty in Speaking too. Helpful material. Thanks a lot.

    Reply
    • Josh

      Thanks for commenting Rahima 🙂 – Happy to hear it helped.

      Reply
  3. Raghav

    This material is so much helpful!! If possible, kindly post about speaking Question 4 before the 29th of August as I have my TOEFL exam on that day. I really appreciate your content. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Josh

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! We are currently working on it now. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if we will have it ready by August 29th. Just in case we don’t you can check out this video on YouTube about TOEFL Speaking question 4. I hope that helps! – https://youtu.be/o52J6ff4wrw

      Reply
      • Raghav

        Alright…Thank You!

        Reply
      • Raghav

        Hi Josh. Today my scores came and I scored an astonishing 29/30 in the speaking section. Thank you so much for your material.

        Reply

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