Converse International School of Languages is proud to offer an intensive TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test preparation course. Are you planning on taking the test soon? The following are a few tips from a CISL San Diego instructor who specializes in the TOEFL course. Good luck to our students taking the exam!

Top TOEFL Speaking Test Tips

1. Know the test

There are so many things that you can do to prepare yourself for the TOEFL test. One of the most obvious (and most important) is knowing everything about the test format. Are you taking the Internet based TOEFL (iBT), or the less popular paper-based test (PBT)? What will the process be like for the test you will take? What score do you need to achieve? (And remember, scores for paper-based and internet-based tests are different.) How many sections are there, and what will you be expected to do in each section? Knowing all of the basics of the test and the test format will prepare you immensely: check out the TOEFL website for information on the test and all of its sections.

2. Know academic English 

TOEFL is a test designed to score your English abilities in an academic setting, so it comes as no surprise that you need to have a very good grasp of academic English in order to score well. How can you improve your academic English? There are many websites that offer lists of academic English words, but a less tedious way to improve your academic English is to choose what you read/watch carefully. Research papers, online journals, and textbooks provide great vocabulary practice, and the internet is full of free online lectures. (As a starting point, check out our list of academic vocabulary words.)

3. Use as much time as possible

In the TOEFL test, you only have a very short amount of time to speak. It is natural for you to take the first second or two to process the question and think of your answer: don’t stress about that! But once you begin speaking, use all of the time you have. If a few seconds remain after you have said everything you had planned, then use the last few seconds to summarize what you just said in a nice conclusion.

4. Only use what you know

Improper use of idioms or improper pronunciation will cause you to lose points, so make sure you know how to properly use any expressions that you want to say and that you know how to pronounce the words you want to use. If you are unsure about the meaning of an idiom or the pronunciation of a word, try to use a synonym that you are more comfortable with. (Check out some of our posts on idioms and phrasal verbs to improve your skills!)

5. Use linking words

Words like “however” and “therefore” and “in addition” are great additions to spoken language and are easily practiced before the test. Familiarize yourself with these linking words and you will be able to express your thoughts and opinions in a fluid and more formal manner, which will help increase your score.


Good luck to our CISL students who are taking the TOEFL exam in the future! For students who would like to learn more about CISL’s TOEFL courses in San Diego and San Francisco, visit our website.