What is TOEFL Test?

TOEFL is one of the most widely used English-language test, used by the more than 9000 universities in more than 130 countries to judge the English language proficiency of the applicants. The TOEFL test belongs to a private non-profit organization known as Educational Testing Service (ETS) or TOEFL ETS.
The TOEFL exam can be taken in two different formats, namely:

  1. Internet-based TOEFL Test
  2. Paper-based TOEFL Test

After its introduction in the year 2005, the TOEFL internet-based test, commonly known as iBT TOEFL found its place among the test-taker as the favourite form of English language proficiency test. The paper-based format is still used in certain areas. If you wish to take the TOEFL iBT, then you are required to register a seat in any affiliated centre. The TOEFL Test registration starts 3-4 months before the test dates, so the candidates need to plan to register early and book a seat for the test. You can take the iBT TOEFL test as many time as you wish, in order to improve your scores, but the only limitation to it is that you are allowed to take the test only once in every 12 days.
Let us begin by understanding

Internet-based TOEFL:

The TOEFL iBT consists of the following four sections:

  1. Reading
  2. Listening
  3. Speaking
  4. Writing

All of the above sections are meant to check the test-takers proficiency in English language. We are now going to evaluate each section and understand the importance they hold in establishing a candidate’s proficiency in English.

Sl.No Test Section No. of Questions Type of Questions Duration
1 Reading 3-5 Passages; 12-14 Questions in Each Academic Topics 60-80 Minutes
2 Listening 6-9 Passages; 5-6 Questions in Each Academic Lectures and Discussions  60-90 Minutes
3 Speaking 6 Tasks Academic Course Lecture 20 Minutes
4 Writing 2 tasks Academic Writing 50 Minutes
TOTAL Time Depends on Questions

The above table gives an overview of the all-important four sections of the iBT TOEFL test, along with the kind of questions the candidates must expect in each section and the maximum time allotted to complete each section.

  • iBT TOEFL Reading:

The iBT TOEFL reading section tends to test the candidate’s English reading abilities. This section of the TOEFL test consists of 4-6 passages, which are approximately 650—700 words in length. The students are not required to have any prior knowledge on the topic, as the passages are taken from undergraduate textbook level academic topics. In order to answer the questions in this section, the students are required to have knowledge about verbal functions, such as cause-effect, compare-contrast, and argumentation. Students answer questions related to the passage, which includes extraction of main ideas from the passage, inserting a sentence, vocabulary, verbal purpose and overall ideas. The new format of the TOEFL iBT often asks the candidates to fill the table or complete summaries, etc.

  • iBT TOEFL Listening:

In the iBT TOEFL listening section, the candidates are required to listen to six passages, each of 3-5 minutes of length, and then the questions related to the passage follows. Out of the six passages, two are in the form of conversation between two students, and the rest four are in the form of lectures or discussions. Each of the two conversation passages are followed by five questions related to the passage itself. The passages will be played just once, but the students are allowed to take note while listening to the passage. Similarly, each of the four lectures are followed by six questions related to the passage. The questions aimed at the students judge their skills, such as their ability to listen and interpret the main gist of the passage, connection between the ideas, how well the candidate organizes the information, etc.

  • iBT TOEFL Speaking:

The candidate should expect six tasks in the iBT TOEFL speaking section. As the name suggests, the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT tends to judge the candidate’s ability to interpret the questions related to the task, and present their opinion as answer. Out of the six tasks presented to the candidate, two of them will be independent of all other, and the rest four will be in integrated format. The integrated tasks will be present in two different formats:

  • In two integrated tasks, the candidates will be required to read a passage, or listen to a lecture or conversation, and then they are asked to answer a question based on the passage and audio.
  • In the rest two integrated tasks, the candidates are presented with audio of academic course lectures or conversation about campus life, and then they are asked questions related to the audio.

This section is all about how well do the candidates understand and speak in English. All the answers are recorded and sent to TOEFL ETS’s Online Scoring System, where experts evaluate the answers and rate them. The candidates are allowed to take notes while listening to the audios, and they are allowed some preparation time before speaking the answers.

  • iBT TOEFL Writing:

It is all about academic writing skills that matters in this section of the iBT TOEFL writing section. This sections comprise of two tasks, one of which is independent and the other one is integrated. The integrated task presents inform of the candidates: a passage on academic topic and an audio of a speaker discussing the same passage. The candidate is then required to write a gist of the listening passage and relates them to the gist of the reading passage. The other task requires the candidate to write an academic essay based on their own opinion, which should be unique. The answers are then sent to the TOEFL ETS OSN, where some experts evaluate and rate the answers.

Paper-based TOEFL Test

After the introduction of the TOEFL iBT, the paper-based TOEFL test started to fade away. But, there are still certain areas that have the option of paper-based TOEFL. You must check with your centre; in order to confirm, if they allow you to take the paper-based TOEFL or not. The scores secure in the paper-based TOEFL are valid for two years from the date of taking the test.

The paper-based TOEFL test also consists of four sections, namely:

  • Listening:

The listening section of the paper-based TOEFL tends to judge the candidate’s ability to listen to conversations and interpret the correct information out of it. In the Listening section of the paper-based TOEFL, the students are presented with 30 questions from short conversations, 8 questions from long conversations, and 12 questions from lectures.

  • Structuring and Writing:

In the structure and write sections, the candidates are presented with 40 exercises. 15 out of the 40 exercises deal with completing the sentences correctly, and the rest 25 exercises require the candidates to identify the errors. The candidates need to have control over sentence formation and grammar to excel in this section.

  • Comprehension Reading:

The comprehension reading section of the paper-based TOEFL test consists of over 50 questions, which are all about reading passages. They check the candidate’s English reading abilities.

  • Writing:

Better known as the Test of Written English (TWE), this section requires the candidate to write an essay on the given topic within 250-300 words.