Pause Frequency (SpeechRater™ Dimension)

Pause Frequency (TOEFL® Speaking)

Learning Objectives

Pause frequency in TOEFL® Speaking refers to the number of pauses that you take while speaking during the speaking section of the TOEFL® test. The speaking section of the TOEFL® assesses your ability to speak English clearly and accurately, and Pause Frequency is one factor that is considered when evaluating your performance. A good Pause Frequency is one that is natural and appropriate for the content being spoken.

Pausing allows you to take a breath, gather their thoughts, and organize their ideas, which can help to improve the clarity and coherence of your speech. However, excessive pausing can disrupt the flow of the speech and make it difficult for the listener to understand. It’s important to strike a balance and use pauses judiciously to improve the overall quality of your speech.

What is Pause Frequency in TOEFL® Speaking?​

Pause Frequency (PF) in TOEFL® Speaking is a SpeechRater™ indicator of your fluency.

PF is a measure of how often you pause while speaking.

The more pauses in your response, the lower your SpeechRater score.

  • 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 Pause Frequency Score​

Your Pause Frequency score is calculated by dividing the number of silences in your speech by the total number of words you speak and your total response duration.

  • Higher Pause Frequency score = fewer pauses

Pause Frequency is scored on 100. Your score is indicated by the “You are here” line.

Pause Frequency (TOEFL® Speaking)
  • This response outscored 44% of the test takers in ETS’s database.
  • 56% of 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+ in TOEFL Speaking have an average PF score of 93.5.
  • PF is one of the strongest predictors of your overall TOEFL speaking score.
  • PF correlates well with Sustained Speech, Distribution of Pauses, Phrase Length, and Speaking Rat (when your Pause Frequency score 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 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 PF score drops by every instance.

Remember, Pause Frequency 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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