What is TOEFL?
Students who wish to study abroad in an English-speaking country are required to take a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). This test assesses one’s ability to speak and understand English by analyzing his/her English language skills in terms of reading, speaking, listening and writing. It evaluates how well one can combine these skills to perform well in academic tasks. TOEFL is accepted as proof of English proficiency across 9,000 colleges and it is conducted more than 50 times in a year by Educational Testing Service (ETS) – a US-based non-profit organization.
TOEFL test format:
TOEFL has two versions: TOEFL IBT (Internet-based Test) and TOEFL PBT (paper-based test). Both the versions of TOEFL test has four sections- Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing and takes about 4-hours to complete. Students can retake the TOEFL test as many times as they wish. It uses both human raters and automated scoring methods for evaluating a student’s performance.
- Reading Section– It consists of questions based on 4-6 passages, each approximately 700 words in length. The passages are based on academic topics, and it tests the student’s understanding of concepts such as cause-effect, compare-contrast and argumentation. 36 to 56 questions are asked in this section which must be answered within 60-80 minutes.
- Listening section– It consists of questions on six passages which are 3–5 minutes in length. It includes two student conversations and four academic lectures or discussions. Each conversation and lecture passage can be heard only once. Students are allowed to take notes while they listen, and they may refer to their notes when they answer these questions. The questions measure the ability of the student to understand ideas, important details, implications, organization of information, the speaker’s purpose as well as attitude. 34-51 questions are asked in this section which must be answered within 60-90 minutes.
- Speaking section– It consists of six tasks: two independent and four integrated, which must be completed within 20 minutes. In the two independent tasks, students answer opinion questions on familiar topics. They are evaluated on their ability to speak spontaneously and convey their ideas clearly and coherently. In the four integrated tasks, students are required to read a short passage and listen to an academic course discussion or a conversation about campus life and answer the questions based on what they read and heard. In the integrated tasks, students are evaluated on their ability to effectively convey information from the reading and listening material. Students can take notes as they read and listen and can also refer to them while preparing their responses. The responses are then digitally recorded, sent to ETS’s Online Scoring Network and evaluated by three to six raters.
- Writing section– It measures a student’s ability to write in an academic setting and consists of two tasks: one integrated and one independent which must be completed within 60 minutes. For the integrated task, students are required to read a passage on an academic topic and then listen to a speaker. The student has to write a summary of the important points and explain how they relate to the key points of the passage. For the independent task, the student has to write an essay that states his opinion or choice and then explain it. The students’ answers are sent to the ETS OSN and evaluated by at least three different raters.
Registration and fees: TOEFL Registration can be Online, by mail, by phone and in person; however, a majority of candidates apply for TOEFL online.
- Registration is available three to four months before the test date. It is advisable to register early to reserve a seat and prevent last minute rush.
- The test fee depends on the location where the student will be taking the test.
- Generally, the registration deadline is seven days prior to the test date (not including the day of the test).
- The last date for registration is three full days before the test date (not including the day of the test or the day of the request).
- Registration payment methods:
- Credit/debit cards (American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard or Visa)
- Electronic check (e-check)
- PayPal About the TOEFL Exam
- TOEFL voucher
What to bring on the test day?
Students must bring two things to the test centre:
- Registration Number: The registration number is given on the Registration Confirmation in the online account the day before the test.
- Valid, acceptable identification (ID) document(s): It is advisable to bring at least two forms of acceptable ID each time students report to a test centre.
The ID document must include:
- Original document; photocopies are not acceptable
- Student’s full name that matches the name they have used while registering
- A recent photograph of the student
- Student’s signature
If a student does not bring a valid and acceptable ID, or if the name on the ID does not match the name given during the registration, then the student will not be permitted to take the test, and the test fee will not be refunded.
Scores are based on the students’ performance in the test. They must answer at least one question each in the Reading and Listening sections, write at least one essay, and complete at least one Speaking task to receive an official score. The scores will be posted online approximately ten days after the test date.
- Students will receive a score ranging between 0 to 30 for all the four sections and a total score ranging between 0 to 120 for the entire test. These scores will be valid for two years after the test date. The scores will be available in 10 days, and students can view them online easily.
- A paper score report is also mailed if a student selects that option when he registers.
- Scores can be sent for free to maximum four institutions which students select prior to their test day.
- Students can take the test again to improve their scores. There is no limit to the number of times they can take the test, but they cannot take it more than once within a 12-day period.
Cancellation of Scores:
- If a student cancels his scores, the scores will not be reported to him or any of the institutions and his test fee will not be refunded. Cancelled scores are not added to the student’s permanent record. A student cannot cancel his scores for one section and have scores for other sections reported. However, there is no fee for cancelling the scores.
- Cancelled scores can be reinstated for a fee, if a student’s request is received at ETS within 60 days after his test date. Reinstated scores are reported online about three weeks after receipt of his request and payment. His scores will then be provided to him and the designated institutions.
TOEFL scholarships are also awarded to students from Mainland China, India, Japan, Korea or Taiwan for achieving academic excellence and demonstrating English-communication proficiency.