The Test of English as a Foreign Language® - TOEFL - measures English skills by testing reading, writing, listening, and now, in most locations, speaking.
The test is offered in 180 countries around the globe. If you're a non-native English speaker at the 11th-grade or above level, planning to attend college or graduate school in the United States, chances are you need to take the exam. More than 6,000 colleges and universities worldwide require this test as part of your application. It is designed to evaluate your mastery of the English language and your ability to be successful in an English-speaking academic environment. The exam is required by most collleges and universities, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. In addition students may also be required to submit GRE (graduate levels) and SAT (bachelors level) scores.
Get to Know the Test of English as a Foreign Language
Content provided by Peterson’s, a Nelnet company
About the TOEFL
Depending upon your testing area, the exam is administered in either iBT format or paper-based format (PBT).
The iBT test has a new format that now includes an emphasis on your speaking ability. The new test includes voice-recording technology that more effectively measures your ability to both understand and to speak English. Because effective communication includes many skills, the iBT introduces the concept of "integrated questions" which combine multiple language skills. The new test is a better evaluation tool for assessing your overall communication skills in the English language.
The iBT test has four sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
Reading: Students will read three to five passages and then answer questions that test their ability to analyze and understand the passages.
Students will listen to two to three conversations and four to six lectures. Questions will test the students' ability to understand the content of these recordings and interpret the meanings and attitudes of the speakers.
Students will complete six tasks, some of which will require them to respond to reading or listening material. Students will be evaluated on topic development, speaking delivery, and use of language.
students will complete two tasks, one of which will require them to respond to reading and listening material and one of which will require them to respond to a topic using their personal knowledge and experience. Students will be evaluated based on their understanding of the material, and the organization and development of their writing.
The TOEFL PBT has three sections: reading comprehension, structure and written expression, and listening comprehension. It also contains a writing portion, known as the Test of Written English.
students will read several passages and answer questions about them. They will be tested on their ability to understand and analyze the information in the passages and their ability to understand the meanings of specific words as they are used in the passages.
Structure and Written Expression
students will be tested on their ability to recognize structural and grammatical errors in sentences and on their ability to select the proper word or phrase to fill in the blank in a sentence.
Students will listen to both short and long conversations and speeches and then answer questions about the recordings. This section tests students' ability to understand spoken English, including vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and grammatical constructions.
Test of Written English
Students will write an essay in response to a given topic and be evaluated on the development, organization, language, and grammar of their writing.
The total score range for the TOEFL iBT is 0 to 120. Each of the four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) is scored on a scale from 0 to 30.
On the PBT, the total scaled score range for the three main sections (reading comprehension, structure and written expression, and listening comprehension) is 310 to 677. The score scale for Reading Comprehension is 31 to 67. Listening Comprehension and Structure and Written Expression each have a score scale of 31 to 68. The Test of Written English is scored separately, on a scale from 1 to 6.
Need-to-Know Tips & Strategies for the TOEFL
Prepare with a Practice Test
Practice tests are an ideal way to begin your preparation. They’re affordable and they give you instant results to see how you might score if the test were today. You’ll learn your strengths and weakness, and be able to develop a personalized study plan. Try prepping with Peterson’s practice tests for the TOEFL.
Approach the test with a plan
Spend enough time preparing that you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Having this kind of understanding can help you decide where to focus your energies. Work first on questions that deal with your strengths and make sure to answer them correctly. Then move on to questions that are more challenging for you. The only way you'll be able to use your time wisely is to know where your abilities are beforehand.
Practice makes permanence! If you set aside time in a quiet place to take some practice exams, you will be ready for the rigors of sitting in a chair and focusing on test material for a few hours. You can also use this opportunity to assess where you need to spend more time studying.
Be ready for test conditions
It's a good idea to dress in layers and bring a sweater or sweatshirt because the temperature in the testing room may be warmer or colder than you anticipated.
Skim the passage first to get a sense of the main idea. You can always go back and look up specifics. Answer the questions that ask about vocabulary words and details first. Then work on questions that ask you about the main idea or require you to make inferences.
Structure and Grammar
Think about the simplest, clearest way to express an idea. If an answer choice sounds awkward or overly complicated, chances are good that it's wrong.
Speaking and Listening
Become as familiar with the English language as you can, including learning vocabulary words and idioms. Practice working with the language in everyday life; this will help you become more comfortable with it and understand it better.
Planning for a few minutes before writing will help you to write a more focused and organized essay. It is also important to develop your ideas and express them clearly, using examples to back them up. Although the essay doesn't need to be grammatically perfect, try to make as few errors as possible. Always save a few minutes at the end to proofread.
These additional articles on Petersons.com will give you even more advice about preparing for the TOEFL.
A Brief Introduction to the TOEFL
TOEFL ® is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS). This product is not endorsed or approved by ETS.
Search For Campus & Online Schools
Find a School
[?] Subscribe To This Site
Return to top