The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam, which is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), is used to assess the English-speaking skills of non-native learners of English, primarily in the college enrollment process. The test is administered via the internet and tests how strong an English speaker’s reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills are.
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TOEFL Exam Outline
The TOEFL exam contains 6 tasks and between 58 and 79 multiple-choice questions. You will be given a time limit of about 3 hours.
The exam is split into four sections:
1. Reading (30-40 questions)
The questions in the Reading section are designed to test your reading comprehension skills. You will be asked to read a 700-word passage and answer 10 questions related to that passage. There will be either 3 or 4 passages for you to read and answer questions about.
2. Listening (28-39 questions)
The questions in the Listening section assess your ability to understand spoken conversations in English, including your ability to identify the speaker’s attitude/tone. You will be given an audio clip of a lecture or a conversation, which you must listen to and correctly answer the related questions. The audio clips are each 3-5 minutes long.
There will be a 10-minute break following this section.
3. Speaking (4 tasks)
The Speaking section is comprised of one independent speaking task and three integrated speaking tasks. The independent speaking task requires you to respond to a prompt freely, using your own ideas and experiences. The integrated speaking tasks require you to use more than just your speaking skills to answer the prompts given; you will need to use some combination of listening, speaking, and reading skills.
4. Writing (2 tasks)
The Writing section contains one independent writing task and one integrated writing task. The independent writing task requires you to write an essay based on a given prompt, while the integrated writing task requires you to write a response to a given short passage and audio clip of a short lecture.
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TOEFL Exam Registration
You can register for the exam by visiting the ETS website and creating an account. There, you will have three test-taking options to choose from: internet-based testing at a testing center, paper-based testing at a testing center, or internet-based testing at home. Once you choose your testing method, you will be able to schedule your exam date and location. The examination fee, which varies depending on where you take the exam, must be paid at this time.
Regardless of your test-taking method of choice, you should be at your designated area at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled exam time to allow time for the check-in process. You will be asked to provide a valid, government-issued photo ID. If you fail to bring your ID or your ID is invalid, you will not be permitted to take the test. Your photo will then be taken and will appear on the screen during your exam.
Before you enter the testing room, you will be asked to leave all personal items, such as your cell phone, in a secure locker. You will also be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Once the proctor has determined you are ready, they will assign you a seat in the testing room and provide you with pencils and scratch paper for notes.
You will be asked to scan your testing area with your webcam so the proctor can ensure that there are no prohibited items in the room and that there are no other people in the room with you. You will also be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Once the proctor has determined you are ready, they will begin the exam for you.
How the TOEFL Exam is Scored
As soon as you complete the internet-based version of the exam, you will be given an unofficial score report for the Reading and Listening sections. Your official scores will be posted online 4-8 days after the exam.
Your score is based on a scaled scoring system. Each section of the exam is scored on a scale of 0-30, which means the exam as a whole is scored on a scale of 0-120. There is no set passing score, as each institution uses its own scoring requirements.
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How to Prepare for the TOEFL
How to Study Effectively
Your success on TOEFL test day depends not only on how many hours you put into preparing but also on whether you prepared the right way. It’s good to check along the way to see whether your studying is paying off. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking TOEFL practice tests to evaluate your progress. Practice tests are useful because they show exactly where you need to improve. Every time you take a free TOEFL exam practice test, pay special attention to these three groups of questions:
- The questions you got wrong
- The ones you had to guess on, even if you guessed right
- The ones you found difficult or slow to work through
This will show you exactly what your weak areas are and where you need to devote more study time. Ask yourself why each of these questions gave you trouble. Was it because you didn’t understand the material? Was it because you didn’t remember the vocabulary? Do you need more repetitions on this type of question to build speed and confidence? Dig into those questions and figure out how you can strengthen your weak areas as you go back to review the material.
Additionally, many TOEFL practice tests have a section explaining the answer choices. It can be tempting to read the explanation and think that you now have a good understanding of the concept. However, an explanation likely only covers part of the question’s broader context. Even if the explanation makes sense, go back and investigate every concept related to the question until you’re positive you have a thorough understanding.
Comprehend Each Topic
As you go along, keep in mind that the TOEFL practice test is just that: practice. Memorizing these questions and answers will not be very helpful on the actual test because it is unlikely to have any of the same exact questions. If you only know the right answers to the sample questions, you won’t be prepared for the real thing. Study the concepts until you understand them fully, and then you’ll be able to answer any question that shows up on the test.
Strategy for TOEFL Practice
When you’re ready to start taking practice tests, follow this strategy:
- Remove Limitations. Take the first test with no time constraints and with your notes and TOEFL study guide handy. Take your time and focus on applying the strategies you’ve learned.
- Time Yourself. Take the second practice test “open book” as well, but set a timer and practice pacing yourself to finish in time.
- Simulate Test Day. Take any other practice tests as if it were test day. Set a timer and put away your study materials. Sit at a table or desk in a quiet room, imagine yourself at the testing center, and answer questions as quickly and accurately as possible.
- Keep Practicing. Keep taking practice tests on a regular basis until you run out of practice tests or it’s time for the actual test. Your mind will be ready for the schedule and stress of test day, and you’ll be able to focus on recalling the material you’ve learned.
What is TOEFL?
TOEFL stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language” and is used to test the English skills of non-native English learners.
What is a good TOEFL score?
While there is no set passing score for the exam, achieving a score of at least 90 is considered a good TOEFL score.
How long is the TOEFL test?
The time limit for the exam is about 3 hours.
How many questions are on the TOEFL test?
There are between 58 and 79 multiple-choice questions on the exam, as well as 6 tasks.
How long is my TOEFL score valid?
Your TOEFL score will remain valid for 2 years.
How much is the TOEFL test?
The exam fee for the TOEFL varies depending on where you take it.