01. Introduction
02. Grammar/Activities:
03. Reading Section
04 Listening Section:
05. Speaking Section:
06. Writing Section:
07 Final TOEFL tests

Speaking practice test 2.03

(Question type: Task 3)

You will now read a short passage and then listen to a talk on the same academic topic. You will then be asked a question about them. After you hear the question, you will have 30 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak.

Now read a passage from an art history textbook. You will have 45 seconds to read the passage. Begin reading now.

The Decline of Greco-Roman Ideals in Art

Before the nineteenth century, European critics generally believed that works of art that were based on Greco-Roman ideals of beauty represented the pinnacle of achievement. Artwork based on those ideals strived, in part, to represent the physical world at its aesthetic best. In the twentieth century, however, philosophical views concerning art significantly changed. Notable critics began to judge work not by whether it subscribed to those Greco-Roman standards, but instead by its power to evoke powerful ideas and emotions, even through jarring, at times unattractive abstraction. Although some artistic works continued to draw from Greco-Roman ideals, the ways in which they were judged shifted notably.

Using the points and examples in the lecture, explain how artistic standards changed in the twentieth century.

Preparation time: 30 seconds

Response time: 60 seconds

Text Explanation

This question is tricky because the lecture is structured a bit differently from the common “example 1, example 2” format that speaking task 4 often uses.

There’s an important lesson to learn, here: although sometimes you can predict exactly how the the lecture will relate to the reading, it can also surprise you a bit. Listen carefully to the structure of the lecture, regardless of what you expect. In this case, the professor first gives an example of why the change happened, and then an example of the continued connection between old ideals and modern work.

Sample notes


  • Greco-Roman ⇒ modern
  • G.R.: beauty, physical
  • New: abstract, emotions


  • Critics, camera:
    • no school needed
    • don’t need years
  • G.R. ideals
    • painting from Rom. coffin
    • Picasso
    • not dead!

Sample response #2

The professor explains the change of ideas about art…uh…the shift from Greco-Roman styles to abstract styles. Before modern times, many people…painters had followed aesthetic rules about how art should represent the world, but, as the professor says, the invention of the camera made a big difference. That’s because people didn’t need to train for years and years to be able to create a realistic picture. Cameras did that instead. She also mentions that even if there have been some changes, the Greco-Roman tradition still influences work today. ‘cause… well, it’s not totally dead. To illustrate that, she gives the example of a painting that used, uhh, images from a Roman coffin, and Picasso...