Boost Your TOEFL Speaking Score with “The Grid” – A Simple Guide for Success

TOEFL Speaking Score - The Grid

What’s Inside?

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Do you want to improve your TOEFL Speaking score?

You’re in the right place! Welcome to an in-depth exploration of “The Grid” method—a straightforward, yet powerful approach designed to refine your responses in the TOEFL Speaking section. This method is not just about answering questions; it’s about doing so with clarity, coherence, and confidence.

This guide will show you what the Grid is, how to use it, and how it can help you get a better TOEFL Speaking score.

Introduction to The Grid: A Strategic Framework for Success

Imagine a method that organizes your thoughts as efficiently as a tic-tac-toe board organizes its Xs and Os.

That’s “The Grid” for you—a segmented framework designed to allocate approximately 7-8 seconds to each part of your spoken response, ensuring a comprehensive and structured answer that directly addresses TOEFL Speaking prompts.

Crafting Your Victory with The Grid:

Laying the Groundwork:

The journey to a higher TOEFL Speaking score begins with preparation. Before you face the Speaking section, draw four Grids on your notepad, dedicating one for each question. This proactive step is your first move towards a well-structured and impactful response, made during moments of pre-test planning or breaks.

Deciphering Question 1 (Q1) with The Grid:

  • Setting up the Q1 Grid

    On a fresh page, create your Grid. Assign “V” for verbs in the top middle square to emphasize action in your speech, and “A” for adjectives in the top right square to add descriptive depth to your narrative.

  • Strategizing for Q1

    • Opening 15 Seconds: Initiate with confidence, presenting your understanding and the main argument.
    • Middle 15 Seconds: Expand on your first point, backing it with detailed explanations.
    • Closing 15 Seconds: Articulate your subsequent argument, ensuring it reinforces your initial claim.
  • Embarking on the Q1 Challenge

     As the Q1 prompt appears, you have 15 seconds for brainstorming. Fill in your Grid with strategic verbs and adjectives that outline your response plan.

  • Delivering Your Response

     Breathe deeply, and begin speaking at the signal. Keep pace, remembering to navigate through your Grid, transitioning every 15 seconds to cover all planned points.
  • Enhancing Your Preparation: Explore My Speaking Score

For those aiming to excel in TOEFL Speaking, My Speaking Score offers AI-driven evaluations using ETS’s SpeechRater™, providing actionable insights to improve your English fluency and performance.


“The Grid” is more than a preparation method; it’s a blueprint for excellence in the TOEFL Speaking section. By structuring your responses, you not only communicate effectively but also demonstrate the depth of your understanding and the clarity of your thoughts. Regular practice, coupled with the insights from My Speaking Score, will equip you with the tools to excel.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free 9-day TOEFL Speaking Bootcamp for more help and tips. The Bootcamp will teach you how to use the Grid and other methods, so you can get the TOEFL Speaking score you want. Plus, you’ll learn about SpeechRater, a helpful tool for practicing speaking skills.

Check out our blog to learn more about how to improve your score!

How can I practice The Grid method effectively at home, especially if I'm studying alone?

Practicing The Grid method at home is both achievable and beneficial, even if you’re studying solo. Start by familiarizing yourself with the structure of The Grid and then apply it to mock TOEFL Speaking questions. Record your responses to evaluate pacing, clarity, and adherence to your Grid plan. 

Additionally, consider using platforms like My Speaking Score for objective feedback on your performance, helping you identify areas for improvement.

After utilizing My Speaking Score, you’ll receive detailed feedback encompassing pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary, and grammatical precision. This comprehensive analysis is powered by advanced voice recognition and language processing technologies, ensuring accuracy and relevance. Here’s how to make the most of this feedback:

  • Pronunciation and Fluency: Look for patterns in the feedback where certain sounds or word combinations present challenges. Practice these areas with targeted exercises or by mimicking native speaker recordings.
  • Vocabulary and Grammar: The platform highlights the diversity of your vocabulary and the accuracy of your grammar. Expand your study to include new and varied expressions, and review grammatical rules that are flagged frequently.
  • Performance Analytics: Use the detailed analytics to monitor your progress over time. Identify trends in your speaking abilities, focusing on consistent improvement in weak areas.
  • Personalized Progress Tracking: Regularly review your progress through the platform’s tracking features. Set specific goals based on the feedback to focus your study sessions more effectively.

It’s crucial to remember that while My Speaking Score offers invaluable insights into your speaking skills, it is primarily an assessment tool. It should be used alongside comprehensive instruction or TOEFL coaching to address the specific areas of improvement identified by the platform. This targeted approach to enhancing your TOEFL Speaking skills ensures a balanced and effective preparation strategy.

Yes, timing is crucial when employing The Grid method. A strategy to manage your response time effectively is to practice with a stopwatch to ensure each segment of your Grid aligns with the intended 7-8 seconds of speaking. This practice helps you gauge how much detail and how many examples fit into each part of your response.

Over time, you’ll develop a natural sense for pacing, allowing you to fully articulate your points within the time limits without abruptly running out of content.