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TOEFL Speaking Task 2- Independent

The first independent speaking task asked you to describe a personal experience. The second one, on the other hand, will ask your opinion on an issue. Usually it will present two opposing opinions, and you will need to choose the one that you think is most justified and explain why.

As before, you’ll have 15 seconds to think and 45 seconds to speak. Generally speaking, the structure of your response should be similar to the structure of the first speaking task: briefly state your opinion, give two reasons why you think the way you do, then offer a conclusion of some kind. If you choose to, you can use the conclusion to acknowledge another side of the issue or an opposing opinion. That’s a good way to use up extra time if you get through your examples with 10 or 15 seconds left. If you do this, however, be sure that you will have time to return to your original opinion and make your preference clear (and give a brief explanation).

It can be very hard to give a complete answer in such a short time—especially because you have little time to prepare. But practicing with a timer many times, learning answer structures, and studying sample answers makes it easier eventually. If you want more guidance and practice material, .

Let’s look at an example question, followed by an example of a good answer.

Question

Often, people prepare their food at home and bring it to work or school. Buying food on one’s lunch break is also a popular practice. Which lunch break practice is your favorite? Give supporting details and reasons.

Sample Response

“Personally, I prefer to bring my own food to my job or to school. If I buy food while I’m out of the house, I often buy something that is unhealthy. For example, I might buy candy bars from the vending machine, because I feel too busy to go to the cafeteria or a restaurant. But even cafeteria and restaurant food is sometimes not-so-healthy. I can only control how healthy my food is if I bring it myself.

Also, I like to have as much time as possible to relax and to eat when I have a break from school or my job. I don’t want to take extra time to find food and wait in line to buy it. That time’s better spent enjoying the food I brought from home, and chatting with colleagues.

Although buying food at work or school seems convenient, it has higher cost. And I don’t just mean money. Getting food at school or work also takes up precious break time too. And it can be bad for your health.. Bringing food from home really is better.”

Explanation

This general format is a great one to use on the test: “I prefer/believe that…”, then some examples, then an “although statement,” followed by a concluding remark. Remember that any well-developed answer is correct, and any poorly-developed answer is wrong. You will not lose points for picking an opinion that the graders don’t agree with.

If you want more practice than you can find for this kind of speaking question, check out other official TOEFL independent writing tasks. The prompts are remarkably similar, and in addition to the wealth of materials you’ll find on the Internet (including this Independent Writing topics post by Lucas), the Official Guide has a long list of independent writing topics as well. (Interestingly, the fourth edition of the TOEFL OG offers even more writing topics than the newer 5th edition Official Guide to the TOEFL!)

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