Technical Tips for the Speaking Section
A monthly peek at test content from Michael, a TOEFL® test expert.

Technical Tips for the Speaking Section

May 15, 2015

Hello again, test takers! It’s Michael from ETS, bringing you another exclusive look inside the TOEFL® test.

Great performers know how to use a microphone so that their performance and talent can shine through on stage. It’s much the same thing when you take the TOEFL test (well, maybe not quite as exciting). 

During the speaking section of the test, you will speak into a headset microphone and your answers will be recorded for evaluation by ETS raters. To ensure that your answers are captured clearly and completely, you want to make the best use of the recording equipment, like a singer recording a live performance. 

Here are a few technical tips to keep in mind on test day:

  1. Do not begin speaking until you are asked to do so. This will help to ensure that the beginning of your response is not cut off in the recording.
  2. Avoid placing the microphone directly against your mouth. This can create distortion that might make your words more difficult to understand.
  3. Adjust your microphone and volume carefully. You want your headset at a comfortable volume and the microphone positioned so you can speak directly into it.
  4. Avoid whispering. Speak in a normal tone of voice so that your responses are easier to understand by the raters.

Test center administrators check the headsets regularly to ensure they are in good working order for all test takers. In the unlikely event that there is an issue with your headset during the test, just let an administrator know, and they will help you.

You may not be recording for a large audience, but each of your speaking responses will be heard by a small audience that really matters: the 3 to 6 raters who are trained to score your responses. Make sure all your hard work shines through!  

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