What is the TOEFL exam?
TOEFL is a standardised English proficiency test conducted by the ETS. TOEFL stands for Test of English As A Foreign Language. TOEFL exam is widely popular among non-native English speakers who are looking for admission in English speaking universities. TOEFL exam is very popular among Non-English speakers for a tool to justify their English language proficiency levels. Many institutions around the globe use TOEFL as a tool to accept students and professions in the courses. TOEFL is one of the major standard English language proficiency exam, the other being the IELTS exam.
Almost 2.3 million people around the globe are taking the TOEFL exam every year.
Why should you take the TOEFL exam?
First, you need to set your objective. If you are a student and want to study in an English speaking country then you have to certify your English proficiency level.
And how do you certify your English proficiency level? It’s either with TOEFL or IELTS exam.
Also, TOEFL is more popular for US universities, so if you are willing to study in the US, the TOEFL is a good choice. Also, TOEFL helps you to get scholarships and student visa.
TOEFL exam is accepted by more than 10,000 universities worldwide including universities from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA and also across Europe as well.
Here are some of the benefits of taking the TOEFL exam –
- Scholarships – It helps you secure a scholarship. Often various scholarships ask for the proof of your English language proficiency and TOEFL helps you to prove your English language proficiency.
- Visa Process – If you are going to abroad studies, then you must need a Visa. Often visa officials need proof of your TOEFL results to understand your intent.
- Also, TOEFL allows you to send your TOEFL scores automatically to universities. With the changes to the TOEFL in August 2019, ETS allows you to have your “Best Score” and also to send them to your preferred university. You can only send 5 scores automatically.
Frequently asked question
The cost of the TOEFL depends on the country you are taking the exam. On average the price for TOEFL is $ 180. In the USA the average cost is $195.
90-100 is considered to be a good score. Although it depends on the university. Check your university requirements for the score. 100-110 are very good scores for most of the top universities.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, is a test which measures people’s English language skills to see if they are good enough to take a course at university or graduate school in English-speaking countries. It measures the reading, writing, listening and speaking criteria for an individual.
Approximately 10 days. TOEFL test reports are available online within 10 days after the exam. The time duration to get your score report for TOEFL is nearly 03 to 06 weeks [outside the United States]. Normally, score reports are mailed 13 days after your test date in general.
Go to www.ets.org/toefl/contact and select your location to find the phone number for your Regional Registration Center (RRC). Pay with credit/debit card: American Express, Discover, JCB, Mastercard or VISA; or with an electronic check (e-check) if you have a bank account in the United States or its territories.
1. Visit the TOEFL website.
2. Select the TOEFL test you wish to appear for (TOEFL iBT or TOEFL PBT)
3. Schedule your TOEFL exam date by choosing a day provided by ETS.
4. Background information (Name, Address, Gender, etc.) …
5. Payment (Debit cards, Credit cards, PayPal or e-check is accepted)
Approximately 3 hours. With the new changes from ETS, the TOEFL test is now almost 3 hours. Although the time can vary depending on the reading and listening section.
There is no direct answer to this question. The level of hardness depends on your level of English. If you have good command over English it will be relatively easy. Although scientific results show there is no clear understanding of the hardness of the exam.
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What skills are tested in TOEFL?
TOEFL is the test of 4 skills. TOEFL tests your Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking skills in an English context. TOEFL access one’s ability to speak and understand English. With your TOEFL score universities can understand your ability to succeed in their course curriculum.
We will discuss the various sections of TOEFL in details in the latter part of this article.
What are the types of TOEFL exam?
TOEFL exam is of 2 types, one is the internet-based (TOEFL IBT) and the other one is the paper-based (TOEFL PBT). TOEFL IBT is the most popular format, in this format the user can take the TOEFL test from a computer. TOEFL IBT test is conducted in a TOEFL test centre.
You can check your nearest TOEFL test centre from the ETS website. Also, remember that you have to select a date for the TOEFL exam.
TOEFL is a popular exam, so remember that the dates are booked in advance, so if you plan to take the TOEFL, you must plan it accordingly.
TOEFL PBT is the paper-based test and it’s conducted with pen and paper. TOEFL PBT is not that popular and there are very few test centres that conduct the TOEFL PBT exam, so you must check with the ETS website for the test centres near your place.
So you must have a question, which one is better TOEFL IBT or PBT?
So, here is no clear answer. IBT is much more popular and also the results come much faster than PBT. IBT is graded with TOEFL E-rater and the results are published much faster than the PBT, as PBT is manually graded (And with manual grading, there can be some biases in the results.)
Remember, TOEFL PBT is outdated and the TOEFL speaking test is not conducted in this format due to the lack of resources.
Here is the quick guide for the TOEFL IBT test
- Reading Section – 54-72 minutes. It will have four to five reading passages, containing 10 questions each.
- Listening Section – 41-57 minutes. It will have six listening passages, containing 6 questions each.
- Speaking Section – 17 minutes. There is a total of six spoken tasks.
- Writing Section – 50 minutes. There are 2 writing tasks (Integrated Writing and Independent Writing)
Here is the quick guide for the TOEFL PBT test
- Reading Section – 60 minutes. Three reading passages and each passage has 14 questions.
- Listening Section – 60 minutes. Two conversations and four lectures with 5-6 question for each part.
- Writing Section – 50 minutes. There are two tasks: integrated writing (300 words) and independent writing. Integrated writing involves taking notes, summarizing and organizing information from a reading and a short lecture.
- Speaking Section – There is no speaking section for the TOEFL PBT.
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Eligibility criteria for the TOEFL exam
The eligibility criteria for TOEFL is very straightforward and there are not a lot of restrictions. However, students who are going to take the TOEFL exam must know the following criteria.
- Age – There is no age limited set by the ETS. So that means students of any age can apply for the TOEFL exam.
- Educational Eligibility – Students must have a high school pass out or equivalent degree before they can appear for the TOEFL exam.
What is the TOEFL fee?
There is no fixed fee for the TOEFL exam. The TOEFL exam fee varies per country, but to give you a perspective the average price for the TOEFL is $180. There are some additional fees that the candidate has to be pay as per the situations, like late registration, rescheduling or if you want to review your score.
You can see the TOEFL fee and the breakdown in the ETS site.
Here is the list of TOEFL fees for 6 countries
TOEFL fee for cancellation or rescheduling
If you want to cancel or reschedule the TOEFL test, you can do so. But keep in mind that, you can only cancel or reschedule the exam 4 full days in advance before the actual test date. To cancel or reschedule you need to call the customer care of the TOEFL of your region or you can do it from your TOEFL dashboard as well. Remember, you can’t cancel or reschedule by email, SMS or visiting the test centre. ETS charges $ 60 for rescheduling the TOEFL exam.
TOEFL Special Handling Requests
If you need any special service that is provided by ETS, you can certainly avail the services with a price. Here is the chart that gives you detailed fees for TOEFL special handling requests.
What are the TOEFL payment policies?
Here are the payment policies that the candidates must follow
- Candidates must pay the entire fee.
- Candidates must have the correct numerical amount.
- Candidates must have the appropriate signature.
What is the mode of payments?
Here is a list of the mode of payments accepted by ETS
- All credit/debit cards
- Electronic check
- Paypal account
- Paper check
- Moder order
- Western Union Quick Pay
Note – Cash, demand drafts, outdated checks are not accepted. Currency other than the US Dollar, receipts of bank checks and UNESCO is also not accepted.
How do you register for the TOEFL exam?
ETS has made the TOEFL registration process fairly easy and straightforward. Candidates can register for the TOEFL exam via phone, online, mail or in person at the TOEFL registration centre.
You can use the ETS Website for TOEFL Registration details.
Important points for TOEFL Registration
- TOEFL Registration is carried out throughout the year.
- Candidates must choose a venue and date beforehand.
- Registrations are closed 7 days before the exam.
There are various test centres available for the TOEFL exam, candidates must choose the test centre or the venue for the exam.
CEFR Assessment Test
How do you register for TOEFL?
Follow these steps to register for the TOEFL exam
Step 1: Go to the official website of ETS, and create your profile there.
Step 2: Fill in the essential details like Name, Address, Email, etc.
“Here you have to be very careful and strictly keep in this in your mind that the details you are sharing are the same and matches with the identification proof you are going to carry at the exam day and at the test centre.”
Step 3: Pay, you can do the same with credit/debit card: American Express®, Discover®, JCB®, China Union Pay®, Diners Club®, Mastercard® or VISA®.
You can also use a PayPal® account, or an electronic check (e-check) if you have a bank account in the United States or its territories.
Step 4: Registration closes 7 days before your test date whereas you still have a chance, as of late registration closes four days before but with late fee of US$ 40.
If you want to register yourself now, you are a click away.
TOEFL registration via phone
You can register for the TOEFL exam via phone. Before calling the TOEFL regional call centre to be sure to go through the TOEFL registration form. Once you call them you will require to spell our your name correctly as it appears on your passport. The TOEFL representative will ask you for debit/credit card details give them the details as they ask you. Remember the application closes 7 days before your exam date.
You can find your regional call centre details here – TOEFL Regional Center
TOEFL Registration via Mail
Candidates can register for the TOEFL exam via the form. Candidates must download the TOEFL registration from the ETS website.
Steps to follow for the TOEFL registration via mail
- Download the form from ETS website
- Fill out the form
- Spell your name the same, that you will take for your proof of identification for the exam day. Use your passport for the proof of identification.
- Send the form with payment to the address on the form.
Remember – Forms must be received at least 4 weeks before your TOEFL exam date.
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How do you book a TOEFL test slot?
If you looking for abroad studies then taking the TOEFL exam, must be on your priority list. So if you want to take the TOEFL exam, you must choose a TOEFL date, remember there is always good demand for the TOEFL exam, so slots get filled up quite fast.
So whenever you plan your admission check the availability of the TOEFL exam dates as some universities have a fixed deadline for the TOEFL score. Also, you can check with your university as there are certain universities which accept admission on a rolling basis. So it’s very important to be aware of the dates by which the TOEFL Report card should be submitted.
To book the TOEFL slots just check the ETS website in advance. Remember, you need a valid passport for showing your identity proof.
TOEFL exam dates
As mentioned earlier, you need to plan your TOEFL exam dates. You should keep at least 1 month of buffer time before your University Admission Deadline. This will give you time to take the TOEFL exam with peace and also send your TOEFL report card on time.
When can you take a re-take of the TOEFL exam?
You must wait at least 12 days before appearing for the TOEFL exam again.
Please Note – ETS provides special provision for candidates with special disabilities or health-related needs.
Accommodations Provided by ETS
Once approved by ETS, the needful candidates may avail the following kinds of testing accommodations services as per their documented requirements:
New TOEFL test format starting form August 2019
TOEFL is becoming easier and it starts August 1st, 2019. Over the last few years, TOEFL has seen a decline in the total number of tests taken per year and it was concluded that TOEFL was TOO difficult.
ETS has made a very easy solution. Shorten the test and give test-takers more time to complete questions. The following is an excerpt taken directly from ETS TOEFL, which indicates exactly what they are changing starting August 1st, 2019.
“TOEFL iBT test time will be shortened by 30 minutes, to just 3 hours, with no changes to the overall test format or question types. In other words, it’s the same fair, reliable, preferred test, just with fewer questions in the Reading, Listening and Speaking sections. You can still finish the test in half a day with no need to return for a second day.”
And refer the below link to see the break down of the TOEFL changes before and after the August update
How to Prepare for the New TOEFL Format?
The most frequently asked question so far has been: “What do I need to do to practice for these changes coming August 1st?”. The simple answer is NOTHING! No seriously, you don’t have to do anything. Because no question types are being removed from reading and listening sections, you MUST continue practising all question types to prepare for whatever 10 question types you’ll be given during your test.
But what about the TOEFL speaking changes?
The great news is speaking task 1 is almost identical to speaking task 2 and speaking task 5 is the same as speaking task 3, except you don’t read a notice before listening to the conversation. Therefore, practising with speaking task 1 and speaking task 5 WILL help you prepare for speaking task 2 and speaking task 3. Because of this, you don’t need to do anything differently. Preparing with the longer version will help you more than preparing with the shorter version due to managing your fatigue and time. If you can do well on the longer version, you will be able to perform even better on the shorter version. These changes are great for everyone and will help you score higher, but what if you make a mistake significantly lowering your score in a single section? Well with the new score report improvements, this situation is no longer as devastating as it once was.
Is it a big change for the TOEFL Speaking section?
If you notice carefully there are not a lot of changes in the TOEFL speaking section but there are lots of scope for small and stupid errors. If you are underprepared for the TOEFL speaking section, you will be getting less score. But scoring is much easier in this format if you practice a lot with the new TOEFL part. The success for TOEFL is in your hand and the more you practice the better you score. You can also try to use some of the TOEFL books which will be helpful for the TOEFL preparation.
ETS has not only made changes in the TOEFL speaking section but also in the independent TOEFL writing section.
Changes in the TOEFL iBT scorecard
How does it work?
ETS will select the best scores from the previous 2 years each TOEFL section and combine them to create the best possible score.
For example, let’s say you took the TOEFL 4 times in the last 2 years.
Many universities have requested this, but please be aware, it is not guaranteed your program will accept it, so you’ll need to contact them and ask if they do.
How do you get the TOEFL scores?
Once you have finished your TOEFL exam, your scores are given in 10 days. Just login to your ETS TOEFL account and there you can see your TOEFL scores. Although it takes almost 13 days to get the printed version of the scores.
Note – The TOEFL scores are validated for the next 2 years.
How are TOEFL Scores calculated?
ETS uses humans and artificial intelligence is used for scoring your TOEFL scores. The combination of human and AI helps to give a complete and accurate picture of the candidate’s ability. While the automated scoring method has the advantage of being unbiased, it does not measure the effectiveness of the language and content. Human raters are required to attend to a wider variety of features, such as the quality of ideas and content as well as form. Also, you are expected to answer at least one question each in all sections. For reading and listening, you should answer at least one question. For writing and speaking, you must attempt one task each. For the online TOEFL iBT test as well the result is four-scaled along with a total score. The four-section scores of the TOEFL are divided as follow:
What is a Good TOEFL Score?
Along with the total score, your score report will also include performance feedback. This is an assessment of your overall test performance with a suggested description of the tasks you can do, within the score range obtained. This will give you an idea if you have fared well, what are your strengths and which sections do need to improve. ETS has further divided each section into High, Intermediate and Low levels score for Reading and Listening section.
- High: Simply put, High-level scores help you in getting into the best or top universities. Your chances of being accepted by them increase drastically if you score anywhere within this range. Ivy League schools usually target these scores for setting a cut-off.
- Intermediate: Intermediate level scores will help you get into good universities as these scores meet the requirements set by most of the top 100 universities.
- Low: Low-level scores speak for itself. Scoring within this range may not get you into good universities or the university you have short-listed. However, you can consider getting through conditional acceptance programs such as foundational courses or Pathway programs with these scores, if any university accepts scores within this range.
For the Speaking and Writing sections, ETS has given four levels of score range like Good, Fair, Limited and Weak.
- Good: A Good-level score will help you get into top and upper-mid ranked schools. The higher the score, the more the chances of getting into an Ivy-league university
- Fair: Scores within this range can get you into mid-ranked universities. Most of the good universities accept scores within this range for STEM programs as finding such scores quite impressive.
- Limited: Generally speaking, these scores can get you only conditional acceptance. You may have to go through different programs like the Pathway Programme to get acceptance into a particular course at that university.
- Weak: Full acceptance is very unlikely with such scores. Some low ranked universities may offer conditional programs, however, such cases are quite rare.
TOEFL Cut Off
There are no minimum passing marks required for the TOEFL exam as each university or educational institution decides its score range or minimum score required. There is no such thing as a cut-off for the TOEFL score as each university will set its score range according to their requirements. Top universities or Ivy-league schools generally set a high score range (79 and above), which may change each year. Thus, you need to keep a check on the changes brought in by the universities by keeping a check on their website for any such updates.
How to improve your TOEFL score?
The above points are just a number and you don’t have to be disheartened by the ETS scores. If you have the dedication and the time to practice then you can be sure of achieving your target score. Factors that affect your TOEFL score
Some of the key points you must follow –
- Recently the TOEFL exam structure has changed, so get used to the new format.
- Time management – this is one of the most crucial factors. You must be accustomed to the exam structure and the time. The better you manage the time, the higher the score is.
- Get used to the computer keyboard – If you are taking the TOEFL iBT then you have to type on the computer and most of the time people face difficulties with typing. So better start practising typing with a keyboard.
- Focus on your Writing and Speaking section – These 2 sections are the score deciding factor. If you want a better score then you must focus on writing and speaking. The better you score on these 2 sections, you will get an overall better score.
- Take a mock exam – Don’t think of scoring the perfect score in the 1st time. The best approach is to take several real-time mock exams to understand strengths and weaknesses and act on them.
How to Send TOEFL Scores to Schools
The process for sending your TOEFL report card before or after the exam is the same. You just have to select the schools you wish them to receive your TOEFL Report Card.
To select which schools or universities you would like to receive your scores, follow these six steps:
1. Log on to your TOEFL iBT account or create an account if you haven’t already.
2. On the home page, select “Order Score Reports.” (If you haven’t already registered for a test date, you’ll need to do that first by selecting “Register for a Test.”)
3. For Product Type, click “TOEFL Services” then click “Continue.”
4. Select the test date you want to send the scores of and click “Continue.”
5. Search for and select the schools you want to send your scores to.
6. Follow any additional prompts you receive (such as payment, which is discussed more below).
If you chose to send your TOEFL score report via email then you have to print and complete the TOEFL iBT Additional Score Report Request Form, and mail it with your payment information to:
P.O. Box 6153
Princeton, NJ 08541-6153 USA
You can also fax your TOEFL score report, for that complete the same score report request form linked above and fax it along with your registration number and credit/debit card information to 1-610-290-8972.
What is the cost of sending TOEFL scores?
When you register for the 1st time for TOEFL exam, ETS provides you with sending your TOEFL score report for FREE to 4 different schools or universities. The cost is already incurred in your TOEFL registration fee and this is the only time you can send your TOEFL scores for FREE.
If you want to change the list of universities or schools after you have selected them, you can do so until 10 PM of the day before the exam for FREE. ETS will not charge extra for making the changes, but keep in mind about the 10 PM before the exam date.
Test-Day TOEFL strategies:
Let’s look at the top TOEFL strategies to help you stay confident on test day.
Get Enough Sleep and Eat Breakfast: In truth, test-day strategies start the night before test day! To get a good TOEFL score, you must first and foremost take care of yourself. You should also eat a healthy, filling breakfast. Nerves can make lose your appetite, but in the end, you’ll feel worse if you don’t eat at all. Keep yourself hydrated during a break.
Read All of the Answer Choices: On multiple-choice Reading and Listening questions, take time to read all of the answer choices. Many times test takers only skim the answer choices or mistakenly choose the first answer choice that looks right. Both of these habits often result in an incorrect answer.
Use the Process of Elimination: If you don’t understand, don’t guess before trying to use the process of elimination.
Here’s how the process works: instead of looking for the correct answer choice, you’ll look for the wrong answer choices. The more incorrect choices you can eliminate, the higher chance you’ll have of selecting the correct answer.
Take Notes Often and Effectively: On test day you’ll get scratch paper, you can use for taking notes during the TOEFL. While you won’t need to take notes on Reading, you’ll want to take notes on Listening, Speaking, and Writing.