5 Reasons for Low Score in TOEFL iBT Speaking Section

The TOEFL iBT Exam includes the following section:

  1. Listening
  2. Reading
  3. Speaking
  4. Writing

Generally, the hardest part to score high points is usually in the TOEFL speaking section.

Most students who score less points tend to perform poorly in the speaking section.

TOEFL iBT Speaking Section

  1. Students are not aware of how to respond to the questions
  2. They never practiced speaking to a microphone
  3. Not comfortable speaking in front of the computer
  4. Not confident with their English fluency
  5. Plain nervousness due to all the above reasons

Speaking is not the same as the other sections. In the 3 other sections, you have to use your brain to answer the questions, but for speaking you have to use brain and your mouth simultaneously.

If you have any of the above reasons, you’re very likely to score in the TOEFL iBT speaking section somewhat poorly.

Do you agree to the 5 reasons mentioned above or do you have additional reasons to add? Leave some comments below.

Related: TOEFL Test Prep


  1. Mr Prof on September 13, 2017 at 10:43 AM

    Want to ask if I need to sound like a native speaker of English language (e.g. like an American) to score between 29 and 30 in the speaking section

  2. vipul on January 13, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    Hi, I took the test today itself but i’m afraid my speaking and writing section scores would be exceptionally low. I can conclude that lack of practice is the only reason for it. I didn’t practice at all due to my over confidence i guess. But a serious advice to one and all, Please record your answers while practicing and take your writing exercises very seriously.
    I’ll comment again if I score good. 🙁

  3. fady eid on April 9, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    The TOEFL iBT is by far the easiest test I have ever taken! I didn't even consider practicing, and I managed scored a 114 (30 on the reading and 28 on all other sections). Granted, not all students in my high school in Lebanon got as high, but almost everyone who did take the test got an overall score of 90-100. The best practice is to go and just wing it on the fly… That's what I did.

  4. Green on July 13, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    Hi buddies, thanks you all advices posted here. Any tips for scoring well in reading and writing sections.

  5. Bruce Stirling on July 4, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    The number one reason why test-takers score low on all six speaking tasks is a lack of topic development.

    author of Speaking and Writing Strategies for the TOEFL iBT

  6. yatin on February 11, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    is there any key or any sample speech by which our speaking is beig evaluated by comparing with the standard??

    • HSB on February 12, 2010 at 12:40 AM

      Nope, they evaluate your answers.

  7. Qaiser Habib on February 7, 2010 at 5:41 AM

    I scored 30/30 on the Speaking section, I believe the best method of practice is to record your responses to Barron's/Kaplan's/ETS's questions and then listen to them. Then listen to their sample response and try to figure out the differences. This way, you will try to elevate your response's quality to that of the Sample. You shall see significant differences within a week!

    P.S. my practice time for the whole TOEFL was not more than 5 days, total score is 114.

    • JUMANA on March 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM

      Great , Congratulations…I hope to get above 90 in Toefl iBT,

      I will try this strategy ..I got 20/30 for first time in speaking section and now I hope to get 30/30.

      please can you give me a your strategies in other sections?

      specially reading section ?

    • Wellington on March 25, 2011 at 9:56 AM

      Qaiser: Probably your native language is English. Non-native speakers , like me, require hard preparation to speaking section

  8. Kirthana on February 3, 2010 at 12:37 AM

    I think the biggest problem is thinking about the Speaking section. The response time is more than what you would use in a conversation with another person.
    You must remember that:
    a) you are not talking to a computer – a human is grading your test,
    b) that most of the questions are those you can answer on any given day and,
    c) they are testing your conversational skills- not your IQ.
    So use the 15 seconds to take a deep breath and compose your first sentence. As long as you think of it as a response in a conversation with a human being, the rest will come easily.

  9. Shilpa on February 1, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    i scored low in speaking section because INever practiced speaking to the microphone and i never practiced toefl speaking section.

    Also the time for response 20 secs. is very less to prepare your answer

    and thirdly, i am not talkative and cannot take decisions quickly and therefore i am unresponsive ie. i don't respond quickly to people.

  10. kaze lato on February 1, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    I have almost every weak point above 🙁 . I find it easy to speak in front of someone else, but when I have to speak to the computer, I lose by word all the time. speaking of time, I always feel short of preparing time. that's horrible

    • HSB on February 1, 2010 at 4:57 AM

      Exactly true, You have to practice a lot to feel comfortable.

  11. Surbhi on January 31, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    Even a fluent speaker might not be able to assimilate all the points in the passage and the speech in the measly 20 seconds or so given to prepare yourself to surmise both.
    Hence, it is imperative that you must be able to jot down the points and form your sentences while the question is being relayed.
    The test is not difficult if you keep your cool and concentrate – notice the details in the passage and the lectures and jot down points comprehensively.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New Comments Policy
Please use the Happy Schools Forums to post your Questions. Use the Comments Section to add value or contriute to the Article, not for Q&A. Questions posted in the Comments section will be Deleted.