Are you planning to study abroad and happen to be a non-native English speaker? Then you might have come across this exam called TOEFL.
TOEFL is a renowned English language test and is recognized by top universities worldwide. It helps prove your command over the English language skills required to pursue a higher education overseas.
So, if you are someone aspiring to appear for the TOEFL but unaware about its essentials, then you have landed on the right page! This article will work as a guide for you to learn about all things related to TOEFL and its important aspects.
Suggested: 114/120 In TOEFL with a 4 day preparation
What is TOEFL?
The Test of English as a Foreign Language, popularly known as TOEFL, is a standard test that measures your proficiency in the English language. It is conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Service) - the governing body for TOEFL. Students who are non-native English speakers aspiring to secure admission in programs offered by English-speaking universities mainly take this test.
Being one of the most popular English language assessment tests, TOEFL is widely accepted by international universities & colleges. More than 11,000 universities in over 150 countries accept the TOEFL test.
TOEFL accepting countries include –
An Overview of TOEFL Exam
Before proceeding with an in-depth understanding of the exam, let's take a look at the key aspects of TOEFL:
Full Form of TOEFL
Test of English as a Foreign Language
ETS (Educational Testing Service)
Internet-based Test and Paper-delivered Test
Number of Sections
TOEFL Exam Duration
3 hours (Internet-based test)
Approx. 2.5 hours (Paper-delivered test)
Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing
Overall Score Range
0 - 120
TOEFL Score Validity
TOEFL iBT Exam Fee
Suggested: TOEFL Scores & Results
Why take TOEFL?
TOEFL is a high-quality test that demonstrates that you possess the English language skills required to succeed in International Universities. More than 35 million people worldwide have appeared for the TOEFL test and trusted it. Throwing light on the aspirants’ capability to use and comprehend English, the test gives them an unbiased measure of their English-speaking ability to succeed in their college program abroad.
On the other hand, the admissions board also gets the confidence that the aspirant can handle the course load of an English-based program.
Thus, TOEFL becomes one of the inseparable constituents as you embark upon your dream of pursuing higher studies from an English-speaking university.
What are Eligibility Criteria for TOEFL?
As per the ETS, there is no eligibility criteria prescribed for the TOEFL. As well as there is no set age limit to appear for TOEFL.
However, generally students who have passed 12th grade or high school appear for the exam.
Specifically, TOEFL is generally taken by individuals who fall under any of the following categories:
- Students who aspire to study in a university or high school in an English-speaking country.
- Individuals who need to demonstrate their mastery of the English language for Immigration purposes.
What are the types of TOEFL Exam?
The types of TOEFL Tests currently available are explained as follows:
The TOEFL iBT exam is conducted online at the designated test center. It is structured into four skill sections, namely: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. Students get 3 hours to complete the test.
It is recommended that you should opt for TOEFL iBT if ETS offers that in your country. The reason being, many universities only accept TOEFL iBT scores and this test type also comes with less hassle.
TOEFL iBT Home Edition
The Home Edition of TOEFL iBT is preferred by students who wish to take their test at home rather than a test center. This is the same TOEFL iBT test, the difference is only that it is delivered to the test takers at the convenience of their home. Here, the monitoring of the test is done using live remote proctors and artificial intelligence technology by ProctorU. It is available worldwide, in all the countries where TOEFL iBT testing is normally available, except Mainland China and Iran.
The TOEFL Essentials Test
Newly launched TOEFL Essentials test measures the test takers’ English proficiency in a variety of environments, beyond just academics. It is designed by the assessment experts at ETS and evaluated by both certified trained humans and AI tools, ensuring validity and accuracy. The test is comparatively shorter than TOEFL iBT and is of 90 minutes, comprising 4 core English language skill sections - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
As a whole, TOEFL Essentials promises to give a global feel, as the tasks in the sections provide a variety of mild accents and test situations from around the world. The test registrations have been started from June 17, 2021 and the first tests are to be administered on August 21, 2021.
Apart from these aforementioned types, considering the mode of examination, earlier there were two types of TOEFL exams available:
- TOEFL Internet Based Test (iBT)
- TOEFL Paper Based Test (pBT)
But recently, as announced by ETS this year, w.e.f. 21 April 2021, TOEFL PBT has been discontinued. And now, only the TOEFL iBT is in effect all round the world.
How is TOEFL Structured & Timed?
TOEFL comprises skill sections that are carefully structured to gauge your command over the English language. Familiarize yourself with the TOEFL Exam Structure in the following section.
Overview of TOEFL Exam Structure
TOEFL iBT is divided into 4 sections viz. Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.
To solve the complete test, you get a total time of 3 hours 30 minutes. This is inclusive of a 10-minute break halfway through the exam and time for check-in.
The image below gives you a synopsis of the TOEFL Exam Structure. The sections in the exam appear in the same sequence as mentioned here.
What is the Syllabus for TOEFL?
As you are now aware of the structure that is followed in the TOEFL exam. Let’s gain a thorough understanding of the TOEFL Syllabus for each section.
TOEFL Reading Section
The Reading section tests your ability to understand and analyze academic passages written in English. You get three or four passages to read and answer the questions. Each reading passage is followed by 9 or 10 questions. The time duration for the section depends on the number of passages you get.
- If you get 3 passages, you will have 54 minutes to answer the questions.
- Whereas, if you get 4 passages, you will have 72 minutes to respond.
The reading passages are followed by a set of questions that assess your reading and interpreting skills. These Question types are as follows:
- Factual Information
- Negative Factual Information
- Rhetorical Purpose
- Reading Vocabulary
- Sentence Simplification
- Insert Text
- Prose Summary
TOEFL Listening Section
This section tests your abilities of how well you can understand lectures and conversations in English. Here, you will listen to 2-3 conversations and 3-4 lectures. Since you will hear these excerpts only one time, you must take notes of what you hear in order to answer the questions afterwards.
Generally, most questions are worth one point. But if a question is more than one point, then that will be mentioned with special directions indicating how many points you can receive. The total time you get to complete the section is 41 to 57 minutes.
The Question types that appear in the Listening Section are as follows:
- Gist-Content & Gist-Purpose
- Connecting Content
TOEFL Speaking Section
In the Speaking section, your spoken English abilities are tested on a variety of topics. Time duration for this section is 17 minutes. You get 4 tasks/questions that are based on real-life situations encountered in the academic, social or professional environment.
These tasks are broadly divided into two task types: Independent Speaking Task and Integrated Speaking Task.
- Independent Speaking task requires you to combine your listening and speaking skills to respond to the questions. You’ll have to speak based on your own opinions, ideas and experiences.
- Whereas, under the Integrated Speaking tasks you are required to combine and link your listening, reading and speaking skills in order to respond.
TOEFL Writing Section
The Writing section measures your ability to write effectively in English. You are tested on how well you can organize and present your ideas in the form of essays. It consists of two tasks: Integrated Writing Task and Independent Writing Task. You get 50 minutes to write both the essays.
- In the Integrated Writing task, you get a short passage to read and listen to a short lecture. You are required to summarize the main ideas of both the excerpts and explain how they are connected. Time duration for this task is 20 minutes.
- The Independent Writing task requires you to write an essay in response to a given topic based on your personal experience and beliefs. You are graded based on the structure of the essay and development of your ideas. Time duration for this task is 30 minutes.
TOEFL Results & Scores
TOEFL scores are widely accepted by universities worldwide. A good TOEFL score is one of the requisites for securing admission in your dream university. Thus, it becomes important for you to understand the score range and its proficiency level.
Level of Proficiency
Below Low-Intermediate (0-3)
Below Low-Intermediate (0-8)
Below Basic (0-9)
Below Basic (0-6)
Note: You are not penalized or marked negatively for answering any question incorrectly. That means you can make a guess while answering!
Each of the above-mentioned skill sections are scored on a scale of 0-30. Which adds up to a total scaled score of 0-120. Also, ETS ensures that your TOEFL result is precise and of highest quality. For this purpose, the TOEFL test is scored using a combination of automated AI Scoring and Certified Human Raters.
When do you receive your TOEFL Result?
Your TOEFL score report is sent to your email approximately 6 days after your test date. Your result then also gets available in your ETS account.
The validity of your TOEFL score report is two years from your actual test date. Universities abroad do not accept expired results, thus make sure you send only valid score reports to your target college or university.
How to Register for TOEFL?
If you are aspiring to take the TOEFL, you mandatorily have to register yourself on the official ETS website. Since it is conducted over 60 times a year worldwide, TOEFL exam registration can be done as per your convenience.
What are the Documents required to register for TOEFL?
The requirements for the TOEFL exam vary depending on your nationality and the location wherein you plan to take the test. If you are an Indian, appearing for TOEFL, then you’re required to have a valid passport as an ID proof. Other countries’ citizens can check their country-specific and General ID requirements here.
Registration Procedure for TOEFL
You can register for TOEFL through four different methods:
- via Phone
- via Mail
Out of these, the online registration method is the easiest and convenient of all the methods. Thus, let’s learn the step-by-step procedure for registering online.
TOEFL Online Registration Procedure
- Visit the official ETS website. Under the option TOEFL ‘For Test Takers’, go to ‘Taking the Test’ and click on 'Register Now'.
- Create a New Account by filling in all the required details. Login to your account and enter your preferred testing location and choose the 2-month period when you would like to take the test.
- At this stage, fill out your Identification Information and use an ID that is valid for your testing location.
- Now, on the ‘Free Score Recipients' page, choose upto 4 Institutions you would like to send your test scores to.
- Then, choose how you would like to receive your score report. Whether you want to receive it through in your e-mail or a paper copy of it via mail.
- You will now be directed to the Payments page. Here, select your preferred mode of payment and currency. And pay your TOEFL fee.
You are now successfully Registered for the TOEFL Exam!
What is the Fee for TOEFL Exam?
The Fee for the TOEFL Exam varies by testing location or across countries. As per the ETS, the essentials of TOEFL fee for Indian test takers is mentioned below.
TOEFL Internet-based test Fee
TOEFL Exam Late Fee
TOEFL Rescheduling Fee
TOEFL Cancellation Fee
What are the Test Dates for TOEFL?
ETS schedules the TOEFL exam over 60 times a year. It allows you to choose your preferred TOEFL date, as there are ample dates available every month. Moreover, you can also pick the timing of your exam from the available slot options - Morning, Afternoon or Evening.
It is recommended that you book the TOEFL test date at earliest, as they can get booked soon during the peak season. Also, it will give you enough time to prepare for the test as well as for score reporting.
Where are the Test Centers for TOEFL?
There are about 4,500 TOEFL test centers spread across 165 countries. For Indian test takers, it is possible to choose a location convenient to them as there are 59 TOEFL test centers available in India.
It is advisable that you pick a test center carefully while taking into consideration the travel and check-in time.
How to Prepare for TOEFL?
One must start their TOEFL preparation well in advance. The extent of your practice decides the level of your scores. Thus, study and practice thoroughly with an effective plan and right techniques.
Following are some preparation tips and strategies you might like to incorporate in your Study Plan.
- Familiarize yourself with the TOEFL exam structure and syllabus. Understand the pattern well and plan out your study schedule accordingly.
- Try building up your reading speed. Do this by timing yourself while reading passages. Also, quickly skim through the passages while you read and look out for the main idea of the passage.
- Practice becoming a good Note Taker. While you read and listen to any excerpt, take down quick notes and practice doing this regularly.
- Expand your vocabulary to write effective answers with good use of words.
- Master the TOEFL Writing section by learning to write effective essays in English. Also, time yourself while you write. As you will have to finish writing the essay in a limited given time.
- Take practice tests and solve TOEFL sample papers in order to get an idea of the whole exam.
It is important to know that you can’t pass or fail in the TOEFL. One has to decide his/her goal score based on the minimum required score set by their desired university. In order to achieve that score, we encourage you to plan ahead and begin your TOEFL preparations as early as possible.
Moreover, make your TOEFL preparation thorough and complete. Select the right prep study material for yourself and invest in a good preparation guide. It doesn't matter if you're preparing at home all by yourself, you can still ace the test. The TOEFL practice tests and free study resources will aid you during your preparation time and help gauge your progress. Consider preparing with Yocket's TOEFL Exam Guide in order to make your preparation worthwhile. You are now one step closer to cracking TOEFL and fulfilling your professional goals. We wish you the best with your overseas education journey!
Frequently Asked Questions by Students on TOEFL (FAQs)
Q1. Is the TOEFL test hard?
TOEFL is a tricky test for sure but if prepared dedicatedly with the right techniques, one can definitely score good in the exam. It is a lengthy test and requires speed to solve the skill sections involved. So, you need to build up your endurance and learn to pace yourself before the test day. This will help you efficiently get through the entire test.
Q2. Does ETS provide a free TOEFL test?
Yes, ETS does provide a free TOEFL test. It has one full-length TOEFL Practice test and practice sets for each individual section.
Q3. In which countries is the TOEFL accepted?
TOEFL is accepted in more than 150 countries including the United States, Australia, Canada and the U.K.
Q4. Can I cancel TOEFL?
Yes, you can cancel your TOEFL exam. In order to receive a refund, you must cancel your registration 4 days before the test date. You’ll then receive a refund of 50% of the original test fee you paid.
Q5. Does the TOEFL certificate expire?
Yes, the TOEFL score has a validity of 2 years. After this time period, your score report expires and does not get accepted by any international university.