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How to tackle ‘Three-choice” questions in the TOEFL Independent Speaking Task 1

Today you'll learn how to tackle "Three-choice" questions in the TOEFL Independent Speaking Task 1. The "Three-choice" question is being used more and more frequently in the official TOEFL exam, so it's extremely important you are ready for it. A “Three-choice” question is simply a question asking you to choose one out of three options. Here is an example question:

Your degree requires that you should choose a history course. Which of the following courses would you prefer? (1) Art history (2) Twentieth-century world history (3) Science history

So, let's look at two different structures you can use when giving your response.

Speaking Response Structure #1

Give your opening statement. Your opening statement will state which option you chose. Next, give two reasons for choosing that option. Give details or examples for each reason. Finally, use the last couple seconds for a conclusion, but do not worry if you don't have time for a conclusion as the opening and reasoning behind the choice is much more important.  While a conclusion isn’t necessary, it’s a great way to help you get a max score.

Speaking Response Structure #2

This one is a little bit different from what we've seen before. You'll start your response the same as Structure 1, give an opening statement stating which option you chose, but instead of giving two reasons for choosing that option, you'll explain why you did not choose the other 2 options, giving one reason per option not chosen.

For example: “I would choose A. I didn't choose B because...In addition, I chose A because C…..” This structure's conclusion can be a bit different if you would like. Although you can use the common summary style, you can change it up and explain, with one strong reason, why you chose A.

Let’s look at a sample response.

If I had to choose between art history, twentieth-century world history, or science history, I would always choose art history. To begin, my favorite types of museums are art museums. I enjoy looking at the art and trying to interpret how people were feeling, or what they were going through at that time. Second, compared to traditional history courses, art history can give a different perspective on a certain time period. Rather than hear facts and figures, art history courses give you the opportunity to see how common people felt in that time. For example, people who lived through the war may paint scenes of how traditional towns were, rather than hear about the fighting and conflict like you would in a history. For these two reasons, I would prefer to take an art history class.

This response follows Structure 1, where the respondent focused on their choice, rather than why they didn’t choose the other options. If find that you are not familiar with some of the answer choices, DON'T PANIC, as the solution is simple. Simply don't talk about it. Just mention it in the opening statement, like the sample response does above, then forget about it and focus on the answer choice you are familiar with.

Let’s look at a different question and with a sample answer using Structure 2

Your degree requires you to take one course, which one would you choose?
(1) Energy and environment  (2) Health and nutrition (3) Solar system

I would choose health and nutrition classes for two main reasons. First, I deal with nutrition every single day. When I am trying to make healthy choices for my body, I am sometimes uncertain about what the best foods are the most nutritious. A health and nutrition class would surely ease that trouble and help me make choices that are good for my body. Second, I am not very interested in sciences, so I don’t think an energy and environment or solar system class would be very intriguing to me. I would rather take classes that excite me rather than the class I was totally disinterested. So, for these two reasons, I would choose to take a health and nutrition class, rather than energy and environment, or solar system course.

Did you notice that the response is actually a mix of Structure 1 and Structure 2? The respondent used Structure 1 for the first reason and Structure 2 for the second. This is completely fine as long as the reason and evidence make sense.

If you want to hear the sample responses by native speakers and see more TOEFL speaking questions, sign up to our TOEFL prep online course.