What is TOEFL Exam?

    Updated on: 11 Aug 2022

    The TOEFL full form is a Test of English as a Foreign Language. A person who is a non-native English speaker wishing to enrol in a foreign university has to take the TOEFL exam. The test is developed and conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and seeks to assess the candidate’s English language skills and determine whether he/she is capable of carrying out a program of which the medium of instruction is English. A high TOEFL score boosts the chances of a student to secure admission in his/her target university.

    The TOEFL score is accepted by more than 10000 universities from countries like Canada, the United States, Australia, and the U.K., and from Europe and Asia.
    The TOEFL exam dates vary from place to place. Around 50 dates are assigned every year. Various authorised test centres all over the country are assigned by the conducting body, and examinees can choose the centre as per their convenience of place and time. 

    Apart from for the purpose of admissions, TOEFL scores are also required for scholarships, Visa, certification, and immigration. 

    What is the TOEFL Medium? -  TOEFL IBT vs TOEFL PBT

    TOEFL IBT refers to Internet-Based Test. The internet-based TOEFL exam is widely opted for and is available at authorised centres with access to the internet. The purpose of the TOEFL IBT exam is to assess the test taker's reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. 
    On the other hand, TOEFL PBT is the Paper Delivered Test. It is offered in places that do not have access to the internet. It assesses the reading, listening, and writing skills of the candidate. It does not test speaking skills due to the lack of a technological system for registering responses.  

    This article will primarily focus on TOEFL IBT. 

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    What is the New TOEFL Exam Pattern?

    ETS introduced a few changes in the TOEFL exam pattern and scoring process, which have been in effect since August 2019. The TOEFL exam, which is conducted in English, is now a 3-hour long test. However, the candidates are advised to reach about half an hour earlier than the designated time for completing the check-in process. 

    The TOEFL Exam consists of four sections- Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. 

    1. Reading Section

    This section has a time limit of 54-72 minutes, and it consists of about 30-40 questions. The candidates can be asked to read 3-4 passages and then answer the questions that follow. A QWERTY keyboard is provided for answering the questions, and the candidates are advised to practice on the same medium for better results and time management on the day of the test. 

    2. Listening Section

    This section has a time limit of 41-57 minutes. It consists of 28-39 questions. The candidates will be asked to listen to classroom discussions, lectures, and conversations, and then answer questions based on these materials.

    A 10-minute break follows the Listening Section. 

    3. Speaking Section 

    This section lasts for about 17 minutes and consists of 4 tasks. The candidate can be asked to speak based on the reading and listening tasks and share their opinion on a familiar topic. The Listening and Speaking sections of the TOEFL exam can have other accents besides North American, like that from the UK, New Zealand or Australia. 

    4. Writing Section 

    This section lasts for about 50 minutes and has 2 tasks. The candidates will be asked to write essay responses on the basis of reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing.

    Find Out More - Quick Tips & Tricks for IELTS 

    What is the TOEFL Syllabus?

    • Reading - Candidates should practice reading to find information and learn basic comprehension skills. The passages will be excerpts from textbooks at the university level covering sciences, arts, social sciences, business which will be written in the academic style. 
    • Listening - This part of TOEFL exam aims at testing the ability to understand spoken English. It includes Listening for Basic Comprehension, Listening for Pragmatic Understanding, and Connecting and Synthesizing Information. 
    • Speaking - It aims at testing spoken skills within an academic setting as well as outside. There is one Independent Speaking Task and other Integrated Speaking Tasks. The questions will be related to campus-based situations, personal experiences, and academic content.
    • Writing - It tests the student’s ability to write in English in an academic setting. The candidate must know how to write grammatically correct English of an academic level. There will be two tasks - Integrated Writing and Independent Writing. The former will require you to summarize the written and listening passages on academic content. The latter requires you to write an essay stating your opinion on an issue.

    Overall, in order to be best prepared, candidates should listen to audiobooks, read books in English, join in-person and online English conversation groups, listen to the radio in English, listen to music in English, use official TOEFL practise tests online and watch movies in English with English subtitles. 

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    What is the TOEFL Scoring System?

    The total score of TOEFL exam is in the range of 0-120. Each section is in the range of 0-30 marks each. There is no pass or fail score. Every institution sets its own required score for admission. The TOEFL score remains valid for only 2 years after the exam date because language proficiency changes quickly with time. The reading and listening sections are marked by the computer, whereas both human raters and automated AI are used to check the speaking and writing sections so as to prevent any error and produce the best outcome. The candidates will receive their TOEFL Result which will consist of an overall score and also every section’s score individually. The proficiency of a candidate is measured for every section separately as well. There is a scoring range for each skill measured and four indicating levels. The levels are (on a scale of 0 to 30)- 

    1. Reading Section 
      • Advanced (ranging from 24 to 30)
      • High Intermediate (ranging from 18 to 23) 
      • Low-Intermediate (ranging from 4 to 17) 
      • Below Low-Intermediate (ranging from 0 to 3)
    2. Listening Section 
      • Advanced (ranging from 22 to 30)
      • High Intermediate (ranging from 17 to 21)
      • Low Intermediate (ranging from 9 to 16) 
      • Below Low Intermediate (ranging from 0 to 8)
    3. Speaking Section 
      • Advanced (ranging from 25 to 30)
      • High Intermediate (ranging from 20 to 24)
      • Low Intermediate (ranging from 16 to 19)
      • Basic (ranging from 10 to 15) 
      • Below Basic (ranging from 0 to 9) 
    4. Writing Section 
      •  Advanced (ranging from 24 to 30)
      •  High Intermediate (ranging from 17 to 23)
      •  Low intermediate (ranging from 13 to 16)
      •  Basic  (ranging from 7 to 12)
      •  Below Basic (ranging from 0 to 6) 

    Since each of the four sections is a different measure having its own scale, the marks should not be compared among different sections but only within the same sections. 

    As per the revisions introduced in 2019, examinees who have attempted the exam more than once in the span of the last two years will get MyBest scores, also known as, superstores. The superstores will constitute the best score attained by the test-taker from each section in the previous tests taken in the last two years.


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    Conclusion

    The TOEFL can prove to be a big booster for students wishing to study in foreign universities. An ideal TOEFL score can significantly improve your chances of selection in your target university. It also gives you an edge over other candidates not just in relation to admission but also in immigration and finding work. 

    Moreover, GyanDhan is there to guide you with TOEFL preparation. You could refer to our overall TOEFL preparation guide here and TOEFL sectional guides by referring to the following. If you need expert help in preparing for this course, get in touch with GyanDhan, we will understand your requirement and will connect you to the right TOEFL prep institute for free. 
     

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