The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) was developed at Stanford University’s Center for Applied Linguistics. It is a standardized English proficiency exam for students wanting to study at an English-speaking university.
Most TOEFL testing today is an Internet-based test (iBT).
The TOEFL iBT Tests
The TOEFL iBT exam takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete in its entirety. TOEFL tests are trademarked by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and must be completed at one of their licensed testing centres, which are located both in English speaking and non-English speaking countries. Many students opt to take a TOEFL preparation course in order to prepare for the exam.
TOEFL iBT is divided into four sections:
TOEFL iBT tests are scored on a range from 0 (minimum proficiency) to 120 (maximum proficiency).
Who is TOEFL iBT for?
TOEFL iBT is needed in order to study at an English-speaking university. Students should check with their desired universities to determine which test scores are preferred.
The Reading Test
The TOEFL iBT begins with the reading portion. The reading test ensures that students can read at a university level. The reading test can cover a range of topics, from biology, to sociology, to news and headlines.
What is the content of the TOEFL iBT Reading Test?
- 3-4 passages
- 36-56 questions
What types of questions are on the Reading Test?
- Noting facts and details
- Finding negative facts
- Noting vocabulary in contexts
- Indicating inferences and purposes
- Summarizing organising information
The Listening Test
The second part of the TOEFL iBT test is the listening portion. Test-takers hear 2-3 conversations that are played through their testing work station and are given questions to be answered thereafter. In total, the number of listening test questions range from 34 to 51.
What kind of questions are on the Listening Test?
Question types are often in multiple choice format, covering the listening's main idea, details, attitude and purpose, inference and prediction, function and organization.
The Speaking Test
The speaking portion of the TOEFL iBT test comes last and involves 2 independent tests and 4 integrated tasks (with 20 minutes on all).
The independent tests measure your ability to talk about a familiar topic. Test-takers are given 15 seconds to prepare and the answer is expected to be 45 seconds in length. As it is a computer based test, the answer is recorded.
Afterwards, the Integrated speaking tests measure the test-taker's ability to comprehend key information form one or more sources and speak in response. The sources can include the reading of an abstract, or responding to a conversation or lecture.
In total, there are 6 speaking test questions.
The task types are:
- Task type one: students read or listen to a lecture, then speak
- Task type two: students listen to a question, then speak.
The Writing Test
The TOEFL iBT writing task is the final portion that tests students' academic writing abilities. There are 2 writing tasks and students have 30 minutes to complete each task.
The Independent Writing Task
For the independent writing task, test-takers will be asked to use personal experience to write an opinion that you have on that particular topic.
The response to the questions is based on the test-taker's personal knowledge and expertise. There is no need for special knowledge as topics are appropriate for international students.
The Integrated Writing Task
The integrated task measures the test-taker's ability to understand key information from an academic passage or a lecture and write a response. Test-takers are given a combined reading-listening-writing task, whereby they read a short passage (3 minutes), listen to a lecture (2 minutes), and then write a response.