Speaking Rate: Finding the optimal speed for your speech

Modified on Mon, 20 Nov, 2023 at 10:56 AM

Speaking rate in TOEFL Speaking is how fast or slow you talk when you speak. 

Imagine you are driving a car. Speaking rate is like the speedometer in your car that shows how fast you are going.

If you speak too fast, it's like driving the car very fast. People may have a hard time keeping up with what you are saying, just like it's difficult to see things clearly when you're driving too fast.

On the other hand, if you speak too slow, it's like driving the car very slowly. People might get bored or lose interest because it takes a long time to get to your main point, just like it can be frustrating when a car is moving too slowly on the road.

So, when you speak in the TOEFL Speaking test, try to find a good balance in your speaking rate. Speak at a speed that is not too fast or too slow, just like driving the car at a comfortable and safe speed. This way, the person listening to you can understand you easily and stay interested in what you have to say.

Technical Explanation

DimensionModelConstructImpact on OverallDefinition
Speaking Rate DeliveryFluencyStrongSpeaking rate in number of words per second.

Responses with a higher Speaking Rate correlate strongly with high TOEFL Speaking scores. 

Overall Score

  • Good: 26-30
  • Fair: 18-25
  • Limited: 10-17
  • Weak: 0-9

What this chart tells us

For the Speaking Rate dimension, there is a clear relationship between how fast you speak and your overall TOEFL Speaking score. To earn a high overall TOEFL Speaking score, you probably need to speak faster than 75% of other test takers.

  • the Speaking Rate score for this response is 70 (it scored in the 70th percentile)
  • responses with a Sustained Speech score of 64 are consistent with an overall TOEFL Speaking score in the Fair range (i.e. with an Overall Score of 18-25)
  • 30% of all responses scored higher; 70% of responses scored lower
  • there are responses with a Speaking Rate score in the 70th percentile that received an overall TOEFL Speaking score in the Fair range and the Good range (i.e. the overlap between the blue and the green bars)
  • it's impossible to say based on this dimension score alone whether this response would score in the Good or the Fair range
  • it's probably true based on this dimension score that the overall TOEFL Speaking score for this response is not in the Weak range
  • the Impact of this dimension is 3/4, meaning there is a strong correlation between Speaking Rate your overall TOEFL Speaking score

Note: a random sample of 180 high-scoring responses (i.e. in the Good range, 26+) have an average speaking speed of 179.63 words per minute

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