Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How to answer TOEFL speaking question 5

Example of a dialogue:

Maggie: Hey Joe, you look so tired.

Joe: I am. I can't get any sleep.

Maggie: What's wrong?

Joe: My dorm roommate asked me for a favor. He said his dad was coming to town to visit him and the dad didn't want to spend money on a hotel.

Maggie: So you agreed to let the dad sleep with the two of you in your dorm room?

Joe: Yes, for one week. He sleeps on a blanket on the floor in our room; we have the two beds. And he snores. He snores like a wild animal! In fact, I think he snores louder than a wild animal. He wakes me up 6 or 7 times a night with his loud snoring. I can't take it any more.

Maggie: Well, just buy some earplugs. It's only for a week. And, you promised to help. Sometimes helping a person requires a little pain and sacrifice.

Joe: I bought some but I hate wearing them at night. They feel so weird in my ears. I have a little trouble going to sleep with that stuff in my ears and then it's hard to hear the alarm in the morning.

Maggie: Well, you look terrible. You have bags under your eyes. You need to tell your roomie to have his dad spend money on a hotel room or you'll just report him to the school and get his dad thrown out. 

Joe: I can't do that. I am stuck with him as a roommate. I don't want to sleep in the same room with a guy who hates me. That would be hell. I need to come back to my room for peace and quiet, not conflict. 

Maggie: Well, do something because you look bad.


The key to answering a question number 5 is that both choices to solve the problem usually suck, but one choice is often slightly better than the other. Or, sometimes one choice is impossible and the only choice left sucks, but it is the only option.

In this case one choice is impossible: he can't offend his roommate because he lives with the guy. Therefore he cannot get the dad kicked out of the room or ask the dad to leave.

A good format to answer this type of question is: 

State the problem very simply.

State the two suggestions or options very simply (with no reasons)

State which option you'd choose and why (use reasons from the dialogue if you can)

State why you would reject the other option

Possibly make one concluding sentence or sentences

For example:

In this dialogue a student can't get enough sleep. As a favor, he has allowed his roommate's father to sleep for a week in their dorm room and the dad snores very loudly. The snoring wakes the student up a lot.

First his friend recommends that he should wear earplugs.

When Joe is hesitant to do this because earplugs are uncomfortable, she recommends that he simply ask the student to ask his father to leave, or he can report the dad to the school.

If I were Joe I would just wear ear plugs. After all, it is just going to be for a week and he promised the roomie he would help him. (notice you can often get your reason/s from the dialogue itself) Sure the earplugs are uncomfortable but he can sleep with them. He will just have to place the alarm closer to his bed.

Furthermore, the other solution is just a bad idea. He made a promise and if he backs out now his roommate will be very angry. If he reports the roommate to the school, this will create a horrible situation. 

In the meantime, if he suffers through this week, his roomie will really be happy and grateful to him. He just needs to suffer through this.

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