Distribution Of Pauses (SpeechRater™ Dimension)

Building TOEFL® Speaking Trust

Distribution of Pauses is a SpeechRater™ indicator of your TOEFL® Speaking fluency. It is one of 12 dimensions measured on My Speaking Score.

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Generally speaking, distribution of pauses (DP) in speech refers to the pattern and frequency of pauses that occur while you are speaking. Pauses can occur for a variety of reasons, such as to take a breath, to collect your thoughts, to emphasize a point, or to signal the end of a sentence or thought. The distribution of these pauses can vary

depending your speaking style, the language you are speaking, the context in which you are speaking, and other factors. In general, pauses are an important aspect of spoken language and can affect the flow and rhythm of your speech. Pauses can also provide important cues for listeners to help them understand you.

What is Distribution of Pauses in TOEFL® Speaking?​

Distribution of Pauses in a TOEFL® Speaking context is a SpeechRater™ indicator of your TOEFL® Speaking fluency. 

DP is a measure of on how often you pause when you speak, including filled (e.g., um, well) and unfilled (silence) pauses.

In TOEFL® Speaking, you should speak without interruption and with as few pauses as possible.

  • Any pause between two words that lasts more than 0.145 seconds is a “silence”.
  • If the pause takes around 0.5 seconds, it is a “long silence”.

Your Distribution of Pauses Score​

Your DP score is calculated based on the number of interruption points per clause where a repetition or repair is initiated.

DP is scored out of 100.  Your score is indicated by the “You are here” line.

  • This response outscored 59% of the test takers in ETS’s database.
  • 41% of the responses scored higher in this one dimension.
  • This response is consistent with other TOEFL Speaking responses in the 18-25 range.

Tip: Learn more about how to read My Speaking Score charts, including the Impact score and what the coloured bars mean, in our knowledge base.

Why You Should Care

  • Those who score 26+ on TOEFL Speaking have an average Distribution of Pauses score of 93.50.
  • DP is one of the stronger predictors of your overall TOEFL speaking score.
  • DP correlates well with some other indicators, such as pause frequency, sustained speech, speaking rate, and phrase length (when your DP is high, your score on these other indicators is likely to be high).

Increase Your Score

Reduce the number of times you pause when you deliver a TOEFL Speaking response.

  • Stronger speakers pause less frequently.
  • Avoid pausing between words or ideas.
  • In My Speaking Score, examine your waveform – fewer gaps typically mean fewer pauses.
Each gap you see (indicated by the red arrow) shows silence. If this is a silence between two sentences or clauses, it is usually not a problem. But if it is between two adjacent words in the same sentence, it is an unnatural silence, and your DP score drops by every instance.

Remember, Distribution of Pauses is an important measure of your fluency, and it has a high impact on your overall SpeechRater score.

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

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John Healy

John Healy

Accelerating TOEFL® Speaking Success | Founder of My Speaking Score | AI-Powered Test-Prep Innovator
Talks about #ai, #saas, #testprep, #toeflspeaking, and #toeflpreparation

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