Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL Examination is one of the most common standardized tests that evaluate the English language’s ability of non-native speakers seeking admissions in English-speaking universities. More than 2.3 million students aiming to take admissions in some of the most prominent universities take the exam conducted at more than 4,500 test centers in 165 countries.
One can think of the TOEFL as basic qualification criteria for applying to top universities in the US or Europe. So, for students planning to take admissions there, knowing what TOEFL is, what TOEFL’s format, cutoff, and more is a must. Here you go:
What is TOEFL Examination?
TOEFL is one of the two most popular English language exams, with the other being IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The exam measures students’ readiness for studying at a college or a university that teaches primarily in the English language.
More than 11,000 universities and other institutions in over 150 countries accept the TOEFL scores for giving admissions in undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctorate programs.
TOEFL basically tests non-native English speakers’ reading, writing, listening, and interpreting skills. New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) conducts the exam that is also taken by people who wish to work in an English-speaking country.
What is the importance of TOEFL?
As discussed above, TOEFL scores are crucial for getting admission into foreign English-speaking universities. The scores determine if a student can easily fit in with English-speaking peers and professors, as well as how well one can adapt to the curriculum based on the English language.
Simply put, a TOEFL score is a clear reflection of how well he or she can understand and write the English language. Moreover, giving the TOEFL exam also improves the chances of getting a student visa – one of the most crucial documents required for studying and staying in a foreign country.
However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot get admission to a foreign university without TOEFL. Several universities also accept IELTS scores, while many didn’t need any students to take an English testing exam whatsoever.
What is the TOEFL 2021 Format?
TOEFL exam majorly consists of four different sections that test different English language abilities of students. These four sections are: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Here’s the breakup of all the TOEFL sections:
|TOEFL Sections||Total number of Questions|
|Break: 10 minutes|
|Speaking||4 tasks||17 minutes|
|Writing||2 tasks||50 minutes|
What are TOEFL Examination Sections?
1. TOEFL Reading Section
The ‘Reading’ section in the TOEFL exam consists of three or four passages from academic texts. About 30 to 40 questions are asked in the section from the passages. Students get a total of 54 to 72 minutes to provide their responses.
2. TOEFL Listening Section
In the TOEFL Listening Section, students have to answer 28 to 38 questions within a duration of 41 to 57 minutes. The questions are basically based on the audio played during the exam. The audio can be lectures, conversations, or classroom discussions.
3. TOEFL Speaking Section
TOEFL ‘Speaking’ Section consists of four questions that are required to be answered within 17 minutes. Exam takers need to express their views on a topic that they are familiar with. As the name suggests, the section tests the speaking abilities of candidates.
4. TOEFL Writing Section
The ‘Writing’ section in the TOEFL exam consists of two tasks to be completed within a duration of 50 minutes. Students need to write essay-type responses to the questions asked in the reading and listening tasks. Of course, since it’s is a writing test, candidates can add their opinion to make their answers look better.
What are the Types of TOEFL Examination?
Currently, there are two major types of TOEFL: TOEFL- PBT and TOEFL- iBT. Besides these two, there are several other TOEFL exams, such as TOEFL Junior and TOEFL IPT.
TOEFL Paper-Based Test (TOEFL PBT)
TOEFL PBT is one of the most common forms of TOEFL. As the name suggests, TOEFL Paper-Based Test is conducted in an offline mode. The exam is conducted for a total duration of 2 hours and 25 minutes.
The TOEFL PBT has only three sections: Reading, Listening, and Writing, and misses the fourth Speaking section, which is seen in other formats. The exam is conducted in places where there is no internet.
TOEFL Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT)
TOEFL Internet-Based Test or TOEFL iBT consists of four major sections – reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The test is of four-hour duration and is one of the most preferred TOEFL exams. TOEFL iBT replaced the TOEFL computer-based test in 2006.
TOEFL Institutional Testing Program (TOEFL IPT)
TOEFL Institutional Testing Program or the TOEFL IPT is the exam taken by students whose first language isn’t English. The test is conducted to measure the English language proficiency of aspirants planning to get admission into top universities in the US and other western countries.
TOEFL Junior Tests
TOEFL Junior Tests are taken by middle school students who are aged more than 11 years. The test evaluates the English language proficiency of such students. The exam is conducted in both pen and paper and computer-based formats.
TOEFL Examination Fees
|Registration||Varies globally ($190 in India)|
|Reinstatement of cancelled scores||US$20|
|Additional score reports (per institution or agency)||US$20 each|
|Speaking or Writing Section score review||US$80|
|Speaking and Writing Section score review||US$160|
TOEFL Preparation Tips
Candidates preparing for TOEFL should have a clear idea of how to begin their preparations for the English proficiency testing exam. They should first start by preparing a study schedule only to follow it religiously to get a score in TOEFL.
Here are some preparation tips that can help you score 100+ in TOEFL:
Preparing a Time Table
If you’re planning to write TOEFL, you should start by preparing a timetable …because first things first. Making a schedule will help you in preparing for each TOEFL exam at your own pace. You can, of course, change the schedule at later stages of preparation. However, it’s recommended that you stick to the timetable to get better results in the exam.
1. Improving vocabulary
Having a vast vocabulary is a must for TOEFL 2021 exam. Students can improve their vocabulary by picking up a newspaper every day in the morning. They can learn new words and phrases by reading novels, magazines, or newspapers.
While coming across unheard words, students should check their meanings and proper usage so that they can use them while attempting the TOEFL exam. This will help them in improving their vocab and, of course, in improving their score.
2. Improving Listening Skills
In the TOEFL exam, the Listening section tests candidates’ ability to understand the English language and attentiveness. For Listening section preparation, candidates can make use of the audio scripts, which are basically the word-for-word transcripts of the audio you listen to. You can also try to hear more audio files related to the exam and take notes from them to improve your listening skills.
3. Improving Sentence Formation
One of the most important aspects of the English Language is sentence formation. The ability is practically tested in almost all sections of TOEFL. For improving your sentence formation ability, you should read as much as you can. You can also learn new phrases and keep note of proper grammar usage to write error-free sentences.
4. Taking TOEFL Mock Tests
Candidates preparing for any exam should practice as many mock tests as they can before the exam to improve their scores. In TOEFL, too, attempting mock tests helps candidates in understanding the exam pattern beforehand. Candidates can also understand their strengths and weaknesses by attempting mock papers.
5. TOEFL Scoring
Candidates get a score between 0 to 30 in each section of TOEFL, meaning that candidates get a maximum score of 120 and a minimum of 0 in the exam. Candidates receive marks according to their proficiency in the section. Here’s the breakup of section-wise scoring in TOEFL;
Below Low-Intermediate (0–3)
Below Low-Intermediate (0–8)
Below Basic (0–9)
Below Basic (0–6)
6. TOEFL Examination Results
Candidates can receive TOEFL scores within six days. They can download a PDF copy of their report card within eight days after the exam date online. The scores are valid for two years from the date of the exam.
What is a good TOEFL score?
TOEFL scores can range between 0 to 120. However, a good TOEFL score will come in the range of about 90 to 120 depending on the college or university you’re applying to. For instance, Bowling Green State University requires a TOEFL score of 71, while the University of Oxford asks for a TOEFL score of 110 for admission.
TOEFL Examination: Frequently Asked Questions section
1. Can I take the TOEFL from home?
Answer: Yes, candidates can appear from the TOEFL exam from home. The TOEFL iBT ® Home Edition testing can be taken at any time of the day on four days a week. You can register for the exam as early as just 24 hours before the exam. Besides Iran, candidates can appear for the TOEFL iBT Home Edition from any country in the world. However, they will need to meet the basic equipment and environment requirements.
2. What is the validity of the TOEFL scores?
Answer: As mentioned above, scores in the TOEFL exam are valid for two years from the exam date so that candidates don’t miss any chance of getting admission to their preferred college.
3. Can I postpone the TOEFL exam?
Answer: Yes, candidates can cancel or postpone the TOEFL exam. However, for rescheduling, they will have to pay a small fee of US$60. If candidates need to reschedule just the TOEFL iBT® Paper Edition Speaking section appointment, they will have to pay a fee worth US$30.
4. How many times is the TOEFL exam given each year?
Answer: Candidates can take the TOEFL exam as many times as they want. However, candidates need to pay the exam fee for writing the exam each. So, you need to be double sure of achieving a good TOEFL score before giving the next attempt.
5. What are the documents required for the TOEFL registration process?
Answer: Applicants from most countries can use their passports as valid identity documents for TOEFL registration. Indians, however, can also use their Aadhaar cards as valid ID proof.
6. When to register for the TOEFL?
Answer: Candidates should register early for TOEFL as there are only a limited number of seats on each day. With the rising number of aspirants taking the exam, it’s suggested to register for TOEFL as early as you can. Candidates should register early for TOEFL as there are only a limited number of seats on each day. However, an optimum for TOEFL registration could be three to four months before the exam.