TOEFL Syllabus



Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL is the gateway to the world’s elite universities. Universities from the US, the UK, Canada, Europe, Asia, etc., accept the TOEFL score for admission in different courses. The exam is also taken by those who want to work abroad. The TOEFL score is a significant addition when it comes to processing visas for the countries accepting the exam score. There are other exams too, but none has the reputation as that of the TOEFL score. Like other tests of this nature, the TOEFL exam syllabus also incorporates a different aspect of conversation in a language. The ETS or Educational Testing Services conduct the test. The same body is responsible for making the TOEFL syllabus.

Million of students worldwide take the exam, and the exam fee for Indian students is $185. An applicant can register for the exam at any time of the year since the exams are conducted every month.

Skills Tested in TOEFL

As per the TOEFL syllabus 2021, the test pivots around the Listening, Reading, and Writing section. There is no Speaking section in the TOEFL syllabus for paper-based tests. Students should have extensive practice on these skills to secure a decent score on the test.

Syllabus of TOEFL

A cursory glance at the TOEFL syllabus pdf tells you the core elements of the syllabus, viz. Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking test. The TOEFL Exam syllabus takes a holistic approach with a series of globally accepted standards to assess an applicant’s ability to adapt to the English-speaking countries’ social and academic life. The syllabus is crafted by trained professionals having years of experience.

The TOEFL Syllabus

  1. Reading Section: This section takes into account the reading ability of the test takers. The TOEFL syllabus gives a detailed outlook of this section wherein a 3-4 reading passage is given to test takers. Each reading passage has around 10-12 questions, and the total time allotted is about 54-72 minutes. The responses have to be marked based on the understanding of the paragraph’s content, and it needs a good amount of practice to score well in this section.
    Exam Structure -
    • 3-4 reading passage.
    • 54-72 min of the allotted time.
    • Around 40 questions.
  2. Writing Section: The section includes writing essays that need to be coherent, structured and understandable. The TOEFL test syllabus gives considerable weightage to the writing section. A test taker is expected to be clear in his perspective and should directly address the topic given to them. One shouldn’t adopt a poetic writing skill and always give relevant examples, case studies and stats to back their line of argument. The TOEFL syllabus 2021 pdf has elaborate details on what the test expects, and a test taker should strictly adhere to it.
    Exam Structure -
    • A blend of reading, writing and listening. 2 minutes for listening, 3 minutes for reading and 15 min for writing.
    • Two questions from an independent task.
    • The total time allotted is 50 min
  3. Listening Section: The section has a blend of questions from long as well as short conversations. The whole TOEFL syllabus pivots around conversation skills. So one has to pay attention to whatever being said in the audio. There will be one multiple choice question from the short conversation, and in the long conversation section, more questions will follow. The section is structured to test the student’s ability to understand and comprehend facts from a conversation.
    Exam Structure -
    • 3-4 minute long 3-4 conversations of around 500-800 words with 30 questions. 6 questions from each segment.
    • 3 minute long 2-4 conversations of about five questions in each segment. Total 12 questions.
    • Total number of questions- 40
    • The total time allotted is 40 to 60 minutes.
  4. Speaking Section: The section essentially tests a student’s ability to speak the English language fluently. The section helps examiners in evaluating a student’s proficiency without committing any major mistakes. A student should always practice a lot for this section. It is the most scoring segment in the TOEFL Exam syllabus, and students with a decent understanding of the language always have the edge over others.
    Exam Structure -
    • One independent task with a preparation time of 15 sec and response time is 45 seconds.
    • Three integrated tasks: a blend of Reading/Listening/Writing wherein the preparation time is 30 seconds and response time is 60 seconds.
    • Total number of questions- 4
    • The total time allotted is 17 minutes.

Students need to go through the TOEFL syllabus pdf and chalk out a strategy to get the most out of each section.

Exam Pattern of TOEFL

The Exam pattern can be ascertained from the TOEFL test syllabus, which gives a comprehensive outlook on the aspects on which a student is assessed. The TOEFL syllabus has elaborate details on the exam pattern, including the Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking section. To get a good score, one should thoroughly read the syllabus and refer to the standard resources for preparation. The scores for the test are declared on the official website after six days of completion of the test.

Students can opt for giving their choice of university, and they can give up to four options. The scorecard will be directly sent to those universities. The TOEFL Exam syllabus elaborates on the choice of test pattern viz. Online (test from home), iBT(internet-based test) and PBT (Paper Based Test). The PBT isn’t available in all the countries, and it is restricted to those regions wherein the internet connectivity is poor, and students don’t have any other choice. The exam pattern and TOEFL syllabus are the same, and the only difference is that in the PBT, there is no speaking section.

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Frequently Asked Questions


The TOEFL test syllabus has four sections which include Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. All the sections are structured in a way so that they, rightly and in an unbiased manner, test the proficiency of a student in the English language. One should always devote time to each section based on their areas of strength and weakness.
The only way to maximize the score is to do more and more practice of all the sections provided in the TOEFL syllabus. There are abundant resources available both online and offline to augment your preparation.
There is not a yes or no answer since there are free as well as paid resources. There are study materials that are free and accessible to all but not all. TOEFL Exam syllabus can’t be completed in totality with only free resources, so one should always take the middle road and pay for those services that can help improve your score.
As of now, there isn’t any change in the syllabus. The syllabus is the same, and the only addition is taking the test from home. ETS, the exam conducting body, has made this change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid the risk of infection to students and staff members.