TOEFL Q6: Plant Biology


In this lesson, your tutor will help you go over question six from the TOEFL speaking test. Listen to a short lecture.
Note to tutor: read the text to the student. The text is not presented to the student in the actual test.  

Have you ever wondered why some trees shed their leaves during the winter? This occurs for many reasons, but the main reasons trees do this is to protect themselves. You know, most trees that lose their leaves are in cold climates. During the long cold winters, the air becomes very dry. This causes the leaves of trees also to become dry. To keep the leaves alive, the trees have to give them a lot of moisture. The problem with this is that trees could lose too much moisture and die. So instead of giving moisture to the leaves, the trees keep the moisture inside. They keep it in their trunks and branches. After a while, the leaves start to die. As the leaves die, they fall to the ground around the trees. When this happens, the leaves actually help the trees survive. How you may ask? Well, the leaves form the protective layer around the roots of the trees. This allows the roots to stay warm. So, by losing their leaves the trees are able to live through the winter.


Using points and examples from the talk, explain why trees shed their leaves.

Preparation time: 20 seconds l Response time: 60 seconds


Use the chart below to summarize the lecture.

Topic In this lecture, the professor explains why trees __. She claims that trees do this to protect themselves.
Detail 1 During the winter, the leaves need a lot of __. If the trees give moisture to the leaves, they might __. So they keep moisture inside their trunks and __.
Detail 2 The leaves die and fall __. This creates a __ that protects the roots of the trees.
Keywords cold climate, air becomes dry, moisture, protect the root

Sample Answer

Reading great sample answers is one way to improve. Go over the sample answer with your tutor. Ask questions if you have any.

Sample Answer

The lecture mainly discusses why trees shed leaves during winter. According to the speaker, trees do this to protect themselves. During the winter, trees use a lot of moisture to keep their leaves alive. If the trees lose too much moisture, they can die. So they keep their moisture inside their trunks and branches. This causes leaves to die. As they fall to the ground, they form a protective layer over the roots of the trees. Together, these factors allow the trees to survive through a long, cold winter.

Further Study

Got more time? Here is a list of common vocab words related to the text you studied today. Go over each one with your tutor.

Additional Expressions
shed (v) to fall off; to drop out
e.g. The dog is shedding its fur.
protect (v) to keep from being damaged or injured; to defend
e.g. He had no raincoat to protect himself from the rain.
moisture (n) wetness
e.g. These flowers grow best with moisture and shade.
trunk (n) the main part of a tree
e.g. The trunk of this tree has a radius of 1 foot. 
branch (n) part of a tree that grows out of the trunk
e.g. A large tree branch fell into our yard during the storm.
survive (n) to live
e.g. I don’t see how any creature can survive under those conditions.
layer (n) one thickness of something over another
e.g. Everything was covered by a thin layer of sand.
root (n) the part of a plant that is underground
e.g. Elm trees have shallow roots.
bark (n) the outer covering of a tree
e.g. He picked up a piece of birch bark.
foliage (n) the leaves of a plant or of many plants
e.g. She admired a tree with pretty foliage.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s