TOEFL overview

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It measures the ability of non-native speakers of English to students utilise their skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing and is one of the most widely respected and recognised English-language tests in the world.

Most people who take the TOEFL are planning to study at a university or college where English is the medium of instruction. However, the test is also used by immigration departments to issue residential and work visas, medical and licensing agencies for professional certification purposes, apart from individuals who simply want to assess their understanding of, and proficiency in, the English language.

For students planning to study overseas, TOEFL helps prove that they have the English skills that will actually be needed in an academic classroom. The test is composed of 100% academic tasks and questions. Therefore, many universities and colleges worldwide consider it to be one of the most appropriate tests of English while deciding on admissions.

Preparation is key to getting a good TOEFL score. Investing time and effort in preparing for the exam is a critical element in the test taking strategy.

 

TOEFL is administered online from where it gets its name – TOEFL iBT (Internet Based Test). The test is of four and a half hours duration and consists of a variety of reading, listening, speaking and writing tasks.

During the test, students will be expected to demonstrate their ability to combine all four skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing tasks. For instance, students may be asked to:

  • Read, listen and then write in response to a question
  • Read, listen and then speak in response to a question
  • Listen and then speak in response to a question

Structure of the TOEFL iBT

Section Time Limit Questions Tasks
Reading 60 – 80 minutes 36 – 56 questions Read 3 or 4 passages from academic texts and answer questions.
Listening 60 – 90 minutes 34 – 51 questions Listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, then answer questions.
Break 10 minutes
Speaking 20 minutes 6 tasks Express an opinion on a familiar topic; speak based on reading and listening tasks.
Writing 50 minutes 2 tasks Write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing.

TOEFL iBT Score Scales

Each of the four TOEFL sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing) are scored out of 30. The composite (or overall) TOEFL score will range from 0 to 120 and is calculated by combining the TOEFL scores on each of the four sections.

Skill Score Range Level
Reading 0 – 30 High (22-30) Intermediate (15-21) Low (0-14)
Listening 0 – 30 High (22 – 30) Intermediate (15 – 21) Low (0 – 14)
Speaking 0 – 30 Good (26 – 30) Fair (18 – 25) Limited (10 – 17) Weak (0 – 9)
Writing 0 – 30 Good (24 – 30) Fair (17 – 23) Limited (1 – 16)

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