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What is the TOEFL Test?


What is the TOEFL test?
TOEFL is one of the international English language tests organized by the ETS Institute of Princeton University. TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language and was first held in 1964. The TOEFL test consists of 4 skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. 

This exam is held all over the world in 3 forms: CBT (Computer-based test which is designed for some countries that have internet restrictions.), PBT (Paper Based Test), and iBT (Internet Based Test). The validity period of this exam is 2 years.

Surely, whenever you hear the name TOEFL, you immediately remember immigration and studying and working abroad. Logically, this way of thinking exists in everyone’s mind, but it is interesting to know that TOEFL and getting its certificate is not only for these cases but it can also be very effective in your career. But what exactly is TOEFL and what do you need to know about it

If you have questions about TOEFL and are looking for answers, this article will help you! This article is about what TOEFL is, how to take TOEFL, what are its requirements, whether you must take the test to get a certificate, and what is its structure. If you have similar questions about TOEFL’s sister, IELTS, you can find the answers to those questions in the article What is IELTS?

What is the TOEFL Test?  Paper Based TOEFL – PBT

Paper-based TOEFL has 3 main parts. The score of this exam is from 310 to 677, which is related to the sum of the scores of its 3 sections, and the score of the written section is calculated separately.

1- Listening section ——————– 50 questions —– 35 minutes
2- Structure and writing section ————-40 questions —– 25 minutes
3- Comprehension ————————- 50 questions — – 55 minutes

Listening section: 

This section of TOEFL measures your ability to understand English conversations. This section is divided into three parts. The first part of this section includes short conversations that take place between two people, and after the end of each conversation, a question is asked about what was exchanged between these two people, or a question about the time or place of this conversation.

In the second part, there are more extensive conversations between two or more people, and the third part includes speeches and lectures that are mostly about university and academic issues.

Structure and Writing Section: This section includes two sets of questions and both sets are designed to measure your ability to recognize correct grammar and structure in a text. In the first category of questions (Structure), you must recognize the correct structure and word order. 

This category of questions consists of a sentence with one or more blanks and you have to choose the option that best completes the sentence. In the second category of questions (Written Expression), you will encounter complete sentences with four of their words underlined, and you must identify the incorrect word or phrase.

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Sufficient skill in understanding English texts and good vocabulary is considered the key to success in all sections of TOEFL, but in this section, these skills are specifically evaluated. This part of the TOEFL test usually includes five texts in scientific and academic fields and 10 questions are asked after each text. All the information you need to answer the questions is included in the texts, and you do not need a special scientific background.

Computer Based TOEFL – CBT

Computer-Based TOEFL – This test is very similar to the TOEFL exam, except that it is done by computer. This type of exam is not held in Iran.

The computer version of the TOEFL test consists of the following sections:
1- Listening part———— 30-50 questions——- 40-60 minutes
2- Structure——————– 20-25 questions——- 15-20 Minutes
3- Comprehension —————– 44-60 questions——— 70-90 minutes
4- Writing part———— 1 essay ————30 minutes

Internet Based TOEFL – iBT

The main difference between the iBT test and the other two types of TOEFL (pbt-cbt) is the addition of the Speaking section and the removal of Structure from it. All 4 language skills are tested in it. This test consists of 4 parts of 30 marks and lasts for approximately 4 hours.

Scoring system in TOEFL iBT  

Listening: 0-30
Reading: 0-30
Speaking: 0-30
Writing: 0-30
Total score: 0-120

In general, the iBT exam can be defined in two types:

1. The Reading part is the long format and the Listening part is the short format.
2. The Reading part is the short format and the Listening part is the long format.

Candidates of the test randomly see one of the above types at the same time in the exam hall. There is no difference between them in terms of scoring. Each group has one of the sections in a long format.

There are three parts to the Long Format Reading skillThe first part of a text lasts 20 minutes and the other two parts each have 2 texts and a time of 40 minutes.

In general, each text contains 12 questions. After answering the questions of texts 2 and 3 (the second part) during the time 40 minutes, he must also answer the questions of texts 4 and 5 (the third part) in the next 40 minutes. Of course, it should be noted that 2 of these 5 texts have not been corrected and it has no effect on grading. 

However since the examiners do not know during the exam which 2 of the 5 given texts will not be evaluated, they must do their best to answer the given questions.

In the Short Format type, which is two parts, three texts are given. The first part, like the Long Format type, must be answered in 20 minutes, and texts 2 and 3 (the second part) in 40 minutes. In this type of test, all the texts and their questions are corrected.

Listening skill

The time of this section is 40 minutes. The listening part of this exam includes long conversations and there are no other two types of short conversations in it. In this skill, candidates are advised to take notes of what they hear while listening to conversations. Taking notes of keywords or abbreviations is useful for answering questions better.

The subjects of the test skills are almost common subjects in the university environment for students and common and simple subjects in classes such as culture, geology, art, history, botany, etc.
Note: after the end of these two sections, a mandatory 10-minute break is planned for candidates outside the exam site.

Speaking skill

This part consists of three parts in which two similar questions are asked in each part. In the first part, a general topic is given, in which the first question will usually be a definition of general events, and the second question will be a critique of your rejection or approval of a topic. In this section, you will be given 15 seconds to review your answer and talk about it after 45 seconds. The timer on the computer screen will show you the exact time.

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In the second part, the title of the question will be played from the headphones, then a readable text will appear on the screen, which you have 45 seconds to read. During this time, you can write down the points on the sheet given to you. 

In this regard, our conversation between two people (in the first question) and a lecture in the classroom (in the second question) are also broadcast from the headphones. After that, a question will be asked from these two items. You have 30 seconds to think and 60 seconds to talk.

In the third part, a conversation between two people (in the first question) and a lecture in the classroom (in the second question) will be played through headphones, and a question will be asked describing the conversations and speeches, in this part, you will have 20 seconds to think and You have 60 seconds to talk.

There are two parts to the writing skill

in the writing part of this exam. In the first question, a text of 200 to 300 words appears on the computer screen for the candidate, which the candidate has 3 minutes to read. The writing time is 20 minutes, and the text should be 150- 200 words. 

The second question of this section, like a TOEFL sheet, contains a question with a general theme, which is enough to present a 5-paragraph text in accordance with the proper writing principles for TOEFL. The response time for this text is 30 minutes and it should be at least 300 words. When writing both texts, the number of words written is shown at the top of the page.

TOEFL is one of the international English language tests organized by the ETS Institute of Princeton University. TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language and was first held in 1964. The TOEFL test consists of 4 skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. This exam is held all over the world in 3 forms: CBT, PBT, and iBT. The validity period of this exam is 2 years.

What are the requirements to participate in the TOEFL exam?

You will be eligible to participate in this test if you are 16 years old or older and present a valid ID card with an identifiable photo. These specific requirements vary depending on where you take the test, so be sure to check with the center where you want to take the test before choosing a test date.

Also note that according to ETS regulations, the following documents are not acceptable as primary or supplementary identification under any circumstances:

✖ Childhood birth certificate

✖ Driving license

✖ Employee ID card

✖ Student card

✖ Any type of temporary ID card

✖ Credit or bank cards

✖ Diplomatic, consulate, or embassy identification card

✖ Letter or document prepared by the notary public

How much does the TOEFL test cost?

From the beginning of August 2020, the cost of the TOEFL iBT test ranges from $185 to $320. For more information, you can ask the various centers that conduct this test. In Iran, this cost is 320 dollars (about 6 million and three hundred thousand tomans!).

What is the structure of the TOEFL test?

The TOEFL test consists of 4 parts:

1- Reading skill

2- Listening skills

3- Speaking skills

4- Writing skills

The first part, or Reading, lasts 54 minutes. The Listening skill section lasts approximately 41 minutes, then you will have a 10-minute break. After that, it will be the turn of the Speaking skill section, which lasts between 14 and 18 minutes, and the Writing section, which lasts about 55 minutes.

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How is the scoring of the TOEFL test?

All 4 sections have between 30 and 0 points and the maximum score is 120. Your score report will include scores for each of these sections.

How good does my English need to be to pass the TOEFL exam?

TOEFL is not a pass-or-fail test. The final score ranges from 0-120. If you are participating in the test and want to obtain the required quorum to enter foreign universities, it is recommended that your English language level be at an advanced or intermediate level before taking the test.

In the table below, you can see the differences between IELTS, TOEFL, and CEFR tests.

Exam scores table
8.5117-115C2very well
8110-114C1very well

How is the TOEFL exam planned?

TOEFL tests are scheduled by email or online registration. In addition, some institutes currently offer a home version of this test. For more timing information, please check the TOEFL iBT, TOEFL-at-home, and TOEFL-Essentials sections on the official TOEFL website.

How long does this test take?

TOEFL generally takes about 3 hours, but it is better to consider 3.5 hours just in case.

How many years is the TOEFL certificate valid?

All TOEFL exams are valid for two years from the date of the test. You can use it for up to two years from the date the certificate is issued to you, and after two years, the TOEFL certificate is no longer valid and you must take the test again

What are the benefits of having a TOEFL iBT certificate?

The TOEFL exam provides you with a very valid certificate that is accepted in almost all countries of the world. It means that you can study, immigrate, or work in any country. But what are the other benefits of the TOEFL certificate? The following can be mentioned:

  • Studying in prestigious universities around the world at all levels of education
  • Educational and professional immigration will require a TOEFL certificate.
  • Work in international companies around the world
  • Many language training institutions also ask you for a TOEFL certificate

How to send TOEFL scores to universities, employers, etc.?

According to the regulations of the ETS site, you can send four free official reports of your TOEFL score to the destination you want before the test. You can also remove or add score report recipients through your ETS account online or through the official TOEFL application until 10:00 PM (local time of the test center) the day before the test. these are other international language you should check:

After the test, you can request a few more copies of the score report through your ETS user account, phone, fax, or email. Each copy costs $20.

Who should take TOEFL?

Usually, non-native speakers who wish to attend English-language universities or obtain a licensing board certificate must take TOEFL. It is always best to check your eligibility and see if you are eligible.

What is a good TOEFL score?

The definition of “good grades” and requirements for each university or licensing board can vary significantly, so it’s always important to check these requirements. Note that some of these universities may only require a total score of x while others may require more specific scores. For example, a test may require a total score of 100 and a speaking skill score of 26 or even higher.

The total score required in some tests is usually 90 or higher, and the minimum score is considered for the speaking skill section. More competitive courses require a total score of more than 100, which shows a person’s high command of the English language.

However, you must adapt the conditions to your field of study.

How long does it take to get your TOEFL test results?

It takes about 6 days from your test date for your TOEFL score to appear in your ETS account. When you get your TOEFL results, you will receive an email and you can access the scores online with your account or through the official TOEFL app.

What do you need to take with you when you take the TOEFL exam?

A hard copy of your confirmation email from ETS, pencil, pen, paper, and a valid photo ID. You can also have a small snack with you.

Are other language tests as good as TOEFL?

There is a difference of opinion on this matter. Some universities and fields of study accept other tests. It is always better to consult with the university of your choice to see which tests are allowed and which are not. However, TOEFL is often considered the gold standard of English proficiency tests and is accepted almost everywhere

How many sections does the TOEFL iBT test have?

The TOEFL test has four parts. Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing are among the sections that TOEFL evaluates candidates. All these sections are conducted by computer and you are connected to only one computer system.