The TOEFL is a test for non-native English speakers to evaluate their ability to read, write, speak, and listen to English. The TOEFL test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. And it evaluates how well you combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.
There are two formats for the TOEFL test. The format you take depends on the location of your test center. Most test takers take the TOEFL online test. Test centers that do not have Internet access offer the Paper-based Test (PBT). In India, it is the TOEFL online that is conducted in various test centers across the country. Each year, nearly a million individuals of all ages take the TOEFL test to demonstrate their English-language proficiency. More than 25 million people from all over the world have taken the TOEFL test since it was first offered.
More than 8,000 colleges, agencies and other institutions in over 130 countries accept TOEFL scores. Other organizations rely on TOEFL scores as well:
Immigration departments use them to issue residential and work visas
Medical and licensing agencies use them for professional certification purposes
Individuals use them to measure their progress in learning English
The TOEFL test is given in English and administered via the internet. There are four sections (listening, reading, speaking and writing) which take a total of about four and a half hours to complete and each section is taken online. Of these, Speaking and Writing are Integrated Tasks since they involve listening and reading tasks before answering questions. The total score is 120.
|Reading (as per changes from Nov-1, 2011)||60 to 80 minutes||36-56||Read 3 or 4 passages from academic texts and answer questions.||0- 30|
|Listening||60 to 90 minutes||34-51||Listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, and then answer questions.||0 – 30|
|Break 10 minutes|
|Speaking||20 minutes||6 tasks||Express an opinion on a familiar topic; speak based on reading and listening tasks.||0 – 30|
|Writing||50 minutes||2 tasks||Write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing.||0 – 30|
The Reading section includes three or four reading passages. There are 12 to 14 questions per passage. You have from 60 to 80 minutes to answer all the questions in the section.
TOEFL Reading passages are excerpts from university-level textbooks that would be used in introductions to a discipline or topic. The passages will cover a variety of different subjects. Don't worry if you're unfamiliar with the topic of a passage. All the information you need to answer the questions will be in the passage.
The Listening section includes test questions about academic lectures and long conversations in which the speech sounds very natural. You can take notes on any listening material throughout the entire test. The test is composed of :
Four to six lectures, each three to five minutes long, six questions per lecture, 60 to 90 minutes.
Two to three conversations, each three minutes long, five questions per conversation, 60 to 90 minutes.
Your recorded responses are sent to the ETS Scoring Network, where three to six certified human raters score them holistically on a scale of 0 to 4. The average score on the six tasks is converted to a scaled score of 0 to 30.
Raters do not expect your responses to be perfect, and even high-scoring responses may contain occasional errors. Your pronunciation does not need to sound like that of a native speaker of English. The raters are listening for the effectiveness of your communication and your ability to accomplish the tasks you are given.
The total time for the Writing section is 50 minutes. You are asked to write responses to two writing tasks: an integrated Writing task and an independent Writing task.
Integrated Writing task (20 minutes) — read a short passage and listen to a short lecture. Then write in response to what you read and listened to.
Independent Task (30 minutes) — write an essay in response to a Writing topic.
If it's the first time you are taking the TOEFL, we recommend the following.
Take an initial test to evaluate where you stand. You will know the areas that you need to work on. Try to follow a personalized study plan based on your strengths and areas for improvements.
Unless you know the type of questions that come on the SAT, you cannot possibly practice. Get familiar with the question types by picking up a relevant and reliable practice book.
Don't get burnt out; however, don't procrastinate either. The best way to prep is practice each day. Remember it is important to practice on relevant material which will eventually help you get comfortable with all types of questions.
A standardized test is more a test of endurance than merely content. Make sure you time yourself to get a better feel of what the actual testing experience will be like. Schedule in section stops and breaks just like on test day. You should take 3 to 4 simulated tests with adequate sectional practice in between.