TOEFL is the most popular English proficiency exam accepted at North American universities. The full form of TOEFL is Test of English as Foreign Language. TOEFL tests the international students’ usage and understanding of North American English as it is spoken, written and heard in college and university settings. The TOEFL test is developed and administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) a private non-profit organization, which sets the questions, conducts the test, and sends each examinee the score report.
TOEFL is a trademark of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which designs and administers the tests. ETS issues official score reports, sent independently to institutions, for two years following the test.
Often, students are confused if they need to prepare only for TOEFL or other exams are also required for admission to the US and Canadian universities. How many exams you need to prepare completely depends on the type of course you are applying to. For all undergraduate courses in the US and some in Canada, you need to prepare for SAT. For MBA courses GMAT scores are a requirement; similarly, for MS courses GRE scores are relevant. Along with all these exams, you have to take either IELTS or TOEFL.
Often international students don’t know how to choose between IELTS or TOEFL, as universities abroad ask for either exam scores. Since TOEFL syllabus is designed to test your understanding of North-American English, it should be your first choice if you are applying to universities in US and Canada. For rest of the countries, especially the UK and Australia, IELTS is usually the more preferred language exam, but TOEFL is also accepted.
TOEFL test is conducted round the year and has more than 50 test dates per year. You can retake the test as many times as you wish, but to take a re-test you have to wait for a 12-day period after attempting the first test.
TOEFL iBT is greatly accepted English-language test worldwide and a considerable number of institutions mainly more than 8,500 institutions in over 130 countries accept TOEFL scores.
This test is appropriate as it tests the English skills in the manner as one may read a passage from a textbook and listen to a lecture and then speak or write in response, just like one would in a classroom.
TOEFL Registration Fees
The registration fees of the test can range from US$170 to US$250 and varies between countries. Detailed information about the test dates, location and registration fess can be found http://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/TOEFL/tclists/IBT_a.html
In the TOEFL iBT test a student will get four scaled section scores and a total score:
- Reading Section – 0–30
- Listening Section – 0–30
- Speaking Section – 0–30
- Writing Section – 0–30
- Total Score – 120
Scores will be posted online approximately 10 days after the test date and are valid till 2 years
Structure of the Test
|Reading||Read 3 or 4 passages from academic texts 36-56 Questions||60- 80 minutes|
|Listening||Listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations 34-51 Questions||60-90 minutes|
|Speaking||Speaking in more detail regarding a familiarized area of interest or based on reading & listening tasksEncompasses brief questions6 Tasks||20 minutes|
|Writing||Essay responses based on reading and listening tasks 2 Tasks||50 minutes|
Formats and content
Since its introduction in late 2005, the TOEFL Internet-based Test (iBT) format has progressively replaced the computer-based tests (CBT) and paper-based tests (PBT), although paper-based testing is still used in select areas. The TOEFL iBT test has been introduced in phases, with the United States, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy in 2005 and the rest of the world in 2006, with test centers added regularly. The CBT was discontinued in September 2006 and these scores are no longer valid
- Reading _ The Reading section consists of questions on 3-4 passages, each approximately 700 words in length. The passages are on academic topics; they are the kind of material that might be found in an undergraduate university textbook. Passages require understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast and argumentation. Students answer questions about main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas. New types of questions in the TOEFL iBT test require filling out tables or completing summaries. Prior knowledge of the subject under discussion is not necessary to come to the correct answer.
- Listening_ The Listening section consists of questions on 6-9 passages, each 3–5 minutes in length. These passages include two student conversations and four academic lectures or discussions. The conversations involve a student and either a professor or a campus service provider. The lectures are a self-contained portion of an academic lecture, which may involve student participation and does not assume specialized background knowledge in the subject area. Each conversation and lecture passage is heard only once. Test-takers may take notes while they listen and they may refer to their notes when they answer the questions. Each conversation is associated with five questions and each lecture with six. The questions are meant to measure the ability to understand main ideas, important details, implications, relationships between ideas, organization of information, speaker purpose and speaker attitude.
- Speaking_ The Speaking section consists of six tasks: two independent and four integrated. In the two independent tasks, test-takers answer opinion questions on familiar topics. They are evaluated on their ability to speak spontaneously and convey their ideas clearly and coherently. In two of the integrated tasks, test-takers read a short passage, listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and answer a question by combining appropriate information from the text and the talk. In the two remaining integrated tasks, test-takers listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and then respond to a question about what they heard. In the integrated tasks, test-takers are evaluated on their ability to appropriately synthesize and effectively convey information from the reading and listening material. Test-takers may take notes as they read and listen and may use their notes to help prepare their responses. Test-takers are given a short preparation time before they have to begin speaking. The responses are digitally recorded, sent to ETS’s Online Scoring Network (OSN), and evaluated by three to six raters.
- Writing_ The Writing section measures a test taker’s ability to write in an academic setting and consists of two tasks: one integrated and one independent. In the integrated task, test-takers read a passage on an academic topic and then listen to a speaker discuss it. The test-taker then writes a summary about the important points in the listening passage and explains how these relate to the key points of the reading passage. In the independent task, the test-taker must write an essay that states their opinion or choice, and then explain it, rather than simply listing personal preferences or choices. Responses are sent to the ETS OSN and evaluated by at least 3 different raters.
The TOEFL PDT is an official test for use where the internet test is unavailable, usually due to internet & computer issues.
It consists of the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections, with scores that are the same scale as the Internet Based Test. There is no total score.
Paper Based Test
The TOEFL® paper-based Test (PBT) was available in limited areas until 2017, when it was replaced by the Paper-delivered test. Scores are valid for two years after the test date, and test takers can have their scores sent to institutions or face time.
- Listening (30 – 40 minutes)
The Listening section consists of 3 parts. The first one contains 30 questions about short conversations. The second part has 8 questions about longer conversations. The last part asks 12 questions about lectures or talks.
- Structure and Written Expression(25 minutes)
The Structure and Written Expression section has 15 exercises of completing sentences correctly and 25 exercises of identifying errors.
- Reading Comprehension(55 minutes)
The Reading Comprehension sections has 50 questions about reading passages.
- Writing(30 minutes)
The TOEFL PBT administrations include a writing test called the Test of Written English (TWE). This is one essay question with 250–300 words in average.
TOEFL iBT Test
- The TOEFL iBT test is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points.
- Each of the four sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing) receives a scaled score from 0 to 30. The scaled scores from the four sections are added together to determine the total score.
- The reading and listening sections are tested first, followed by a ten-minute break. The speaking and writing sections are then completed following the break. A maximum amount of 250 minutes is allowed to complete the whole exam process.
- Each speaking question is initially given a score of 0 to 4, and each writing question is initially given a score of 0 to 5. These scores are converted to scaled scores of 0 to 30.
- The final PBT score ranges between 310 and 677 and is based on three sub scores: Listening (31–68), Structure (31–68), and Reading (31–67). Unlike the CBT, the score of the Writing component (referred to as the Test of Written English, TWE) is not part of the final score; instead, it is reported separately on a scale of 0–6.
- The score test takers receive on the Listening, Structure and Reading parts of the TOEFL test is not the percentage of correct answers. The score is converted to take into account the fact that some tests are more difficult than others. The converted scores correct these differences. Therefore, the converted score is a more accurate reflection of the ability than the raw score is.
The TOEFL PBT was discontinued at the end of May 2017. Official testing in areas without internet or computers now uses the TOEFL PDT.
Linking TOEFL iBT Score Ranges to IELTS Scores
|IELTS Score||TOEFL Score||TOEFL PBT Score||IELTS Description|
|9||118-120||≥ 645||Expert User|
|8.5||115-117||626 – 644||Very Good User|
|8||110-114||610 – 625|
|7.5||102-109||581 – 609||Good User|
|7||94-101||560 – 580|
|6.5||79-93||546 – 559||Competent User|
|6||60-78||530 – 545|
|5.5||42-59||516 – 529||Modest User|
|5||35-41||490 – 515|
|4.5||32-34||450 – 489||Limited User|
|0-4||0-31||400 – 449||Extremely Limited/Intermittent/Non User|