The Toeic Test

What is the TOEIC Test?

(Test of English for International Communication)

The TOEIC is an "English language test designed specifically to measure the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment. There are different forms of the exam: The TOEIC Listening & Reading Test consist of two equally graded tests of comprehension assessment activities totaling a possible 990 score; the newer TOEIC Speaking & Writing Test comprise tests of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, fluency, overall coherence, and structure (organization of sentences) totaling a possible 400 score. "(see

The TOEIC Speaking test prep tips

The TOEIC speaking test lasts about 20 minutes and tests how well you speak in English: namely, your vocabulary, grammar, intonation, pronunciation, content, “naturalness,” cohesion, and word stress. The questions are usually based on real world corporate scenarios but you don’t have to have experience in business in order to do well. So long as your level of English is good, you can get through this section of the TOEIC without too much trouble.

As far as scoring of the test, you will receive a score from level 1 to level 8. Click this link which takes you away from this site to see the various levels and their interpretation. But don’t forget to return to this page by hitting the back arrow.  The highest score is between 190 and 200 points and these test takers are at a level 8. This is your ultimate objective:

Typically, test takers at Level 8 can create connected, sustained discourse appropriate to the typical workplace. When they express opinions or respond to complicated requests, their speech is highly intelligible. Their use of basic and complex grammar is good, and their use of vocabulary is accurate and precise. Test takers at Level 8 can also use spoken language to answer questions and give basic information. Their pronunciation, intonation and stress are at all times highly intelligible.

The key to success on this part of the TOEIC speaking test is to SPEAK CLEARLY and articulate your words well, to avoid slang and to sound as natural as possible – not as far as accent but as far as the content of what you actually say. Again, you don’t have to have specialized knowledge of workplace issues and scenarios. You just have to have a good level of general English.

Speaking clearly is really key because if you speak too fast or too quickly you almost bound to fail. Focus on pronouncing your words as clearly as possible but don’t overdo it so that you are speaking so slowly that it is ridiculous. You have to achieve a happy medium which is why you should practice speaking with a native speaker as much as possible and you should also practice speaking to and recording yourself when you are alone.

Avoid boring words like “nice” and “good” and “very” and “fine.” Try other synonyms such as “enjoyable” “fantastic” “extremely” and “never been better.”

Pay attention to your grammar especially your verb tenses and speak with an appropriate amount of energy rather than in a monotone.

Respond to the question asked. Try not to go off on your own tangents.

Remember that your accent is the least of your worries. It is not a question of your accent. It is a question of your intonation, tone, speed and rhythm.  Below are some additional bits of information about the TOEIC speaking test. There are about 11 questions on this section of the test

  1. You will have to complete a read aloud.  You can find a sample  practice read aloud for the TOEIC Exam using a general English book.  You are being tested on pronunciation, intonation  and stress during this portion of the exam. So, you need to practice reading aloud when you are by yourself – and any reading material is good practice material. I recommend this book, How to Win Lotto for these exercises because the chapters are short like the actual TOEIC questions so you can just read these chapters aloud as often as you can and this is good practice for your to pass the exam. Also, it is a fun topic that will keep you entertained. Of course, I am biased because I wrote the book so feel free to look at other sources as well. But I do think it is perfect for practicing your read alouds for TOEIC.
  2. You will be asked to describe a picture. (go here for sample answers)  Again, typically on the TOIEC you might find photos depicting a worksite, office, or other venue but the key is in your general English skills and your general vocabulary in English and how you articulate your observations based on the photograph.
  3. You will be asked to give short answers to a hypothetical scenario. You will have to answer 3 questions in all in this section. You will be given the question and then you will hear a beep. You will not receive any preparation time. You will have 15 seconds to respond to Questions 4 and 5. And you will have 30 seconds to respond to Question 6. Go to this page for an example of the types of TOEIC speaking test short  questions and answers for this section.
  4. You will have to identify key information from a passage, advert or other document
  5. You could be presented with a problematic and asked to provide a solution
  6. You will be given a scenario and asked to express your opinion




The TOEIC test has a reading comprehension component. It will require you to identify the main idea of photographs as well as short conversations. What is the Main Idea and how can you identify it?

the main idea of a photograph is the general idea or the overall idea that the photograph depicts. It is not about the details in the photograph – which are bound to be many. It is about the global picture. On the TOEIC test (if you are taking it in Paris and need to take a course see this link) you will find main idea questions in Part I under the Reading Comprehension section. You will also have main idea questions in sections II and III.



  1. For the picture section, where you will be asked about the main idea of the picture, think of the details as part of a pizza. (And think quickly because this test goes fast!) Imagine whatever the photograph is, that, at the end of the day, it is a pizza. It could have all sorts of toppings. It could be hot. It could be cold. It could have ham. It could have Pepperoni. It could have anchovies. It could look delicious. It could look nasty. But guess what? All of these are just details. DETAILS ARE NOT THE MAIN IDEA! Don’t worry about all these details. What is the picture really about at the end of the day? PIZZA!

So that is the answer. No, not “pizza” literally. But what is the picture all about at the end of the day.

2. Do process of elimination. You normally will have 4 choices and three will be wrong so cross them out one by one. Remember that the answer choices normally follow a certain pattern: one of the choices is just totally ridiculous. Cross it out immediately. A lot of times even when you don’t know the answer you can do process of elimination and get the right answer.

3. Figure out the trick answers. One of the answers will be too specific (details!).Cross it out immediately. One the answers will seem vaguely related to something but it is not making a lot of sense. This is a trick answer and it is wrong. Cross it out. Finally, one of the choices is likely to be clearly wrong.

4. Main idea is general not specific details. If it sounds too specific, it is the wrong answer!

5. The word “generally” is your best friend. Just put that word at the end of your sentence “what are they talking about generally” “what is this picture about generally?”

6. For the short conversations, remember that the main idea will usually answer to a WH word: What, Where, Who How, Why and When. Ask yourself, “what are they talking about GENERALLY?

7. Avoid making incorrect inferences or reading too much into the question.

8. Even though “how”, “how much” and “Who” are “WH” words, beware that they often refer to specific details and not main idea responses.

9. The most popular main idea WH word answer is “What.” If you are doing a main idea question and one of the choices begins with “what” and the other begins with “who” or “how much” the correct response is probably going to be the choice that begins with “what.”

10. Not all “wh” choices deals with main idea. The TOIEC Part III seeks SPECIFIC DETAILS and not MAIN IDEA. And the answer choices often begin with a WH word. So beware that WH words can seek both specific details as well as general, main idea details. “Who” “How Much” “How” and “Why” are more likely to be the answer choices that are correct in this section if you have to choose between these and “What.” But be careful as this is not an absolute certainty. It is true in about 85 percent of the time though.

11. Sometimes, you have to make assumptions about the main idea of a photograph.