TOEFL iBT Speaking Subtest: The Efficacy of Preparation Time on Test-Takers’ Performance

Document Type : Original Research Article


Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


The present study investigates the efficacy of preparation time in four speaking tasks of TOEFL iBT. As the current pre-task planning time offered by ETS is very short, 15 to 30 seconds, we intended to explore how the test-takers’ speaking quality would change if the preparation time was added to the response time, giving the respondents a relatively longer online planning opportunity. To this aim, two groups of TOEFL iBT candidates were studied under pre-task and online planning conditions. Totally, 384 elicited speaking samples were first transcribed and then measured in terms of complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF). The results yielded by a series of One-way MANOVA revealed the online planning group significantly outperformed the pre-task planning group in terms of accuracy and fluency across all four speaking tasks. Although with less robustness, the online planners had significantly higher speech complexity represented by lexical diversity and left-embeddedness. The results obtained through this study may challenge the efficacy of the currently provided preparation time in TOEFL iBT speaking subsection.