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TOEFL

What Is TOEFL?

TOEFL how to prepare, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is an international standardised test for demonstrating proficiency in English language by a non-native English speaker when applying to universities in English speaking countries.

What Is the Purpose of TOEFL?

TOEFL aims to test the four academic English skills, namely, Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and is used as a measure to gauge a test takers proficiency in the English language in order to enrol in a university in an English-speaking country.

Types of TOEFL

There are three types of TOEFL to choose from. The only difference among the three is the mode of test taking.

  1. TOEFL iBT Test: The test taker attempts this test at a test centre on a computer.
  2. TOEFL Home Edition: The test taker here attempts the test at his or her home on a computer via the internet.
  3. TOEFL Paper Based Test: This test is conducted where there is unstable internet connection and computer related issues.

The TOEFL Paper Based test is completed in two sessions, where the Listening, Reading and Writing modules are attempted on paper and the Speaking module is recorded on a computer.

The former part of the test is taken at a test centre, whereas the latter part of the test is taken at home on a computer.

TOEFL Scoring System

TOEFL Score

TOEFL PBT Score

IELTS Band Equivalent

IELTS Description

0 – 31

0 – 397

0.0 – 4.0

Extremely Limited User / Non-User

32 – 34

400 – 413

4.5

Limited User

35 – 45

417 – 450

5.0

Modest user

46 – 59

453 – 497

5.5

60 – 78

500 – 547

6.0

Competent User

79 – 93

550 – 583

6.5

94 – 101

587 – 607

7.0

Good User

102 – 109

610 – 633

7.5

110 – 114

637 – 653

8.0

Very Good User

115 – 117

657 – 663

8.5

118 – 120

667 – 677

9.0

Expert User

Format of TOEFL Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT)

Reading Section:

  • 3 – 4 Passages; Per passage 10-12 questions
  • Time : 54 – 72 minutes
  • Points : 0 – 30

Listening Section:

  • 3 – 4 lectures; Per lecture 6 questions
  • 2 – 3 conversations; Per conversation 5 questions
  • Time : 41 – 57 minutes
  • Points : 0 – 30

Break:

10 minutes break.

Speaking Section:

  • 4 Tasks (One open question and three integrated tasks)
  • Time : 17 minutes
  • Points : 1 – 30

Writing Section:

  • 2 Tasks (One integrated task and one open task)
  • Time : 50 minutes
  • Points : 0 – 30

In Depth Analysis of Each Section:

Reading:

  • This section contains 3 to 4 passages which are actually excerpts from university level textbooks. These passages are around 700 words in length. 10 to 12 questions will be asked per passage.
  • The purpose of this section is to evaluate your ability to read and understand academic materials used at university level.
  • Prior knowledge of the topics discussed in the passages is not required. All the information required to answer the questions will be present in the passage itself.
  • For technical terms and jargon used in the passages, a glossary will also be provided.

Question Types in The Reading Section:

  1. Factual Information:
  • In this section, factual passages are given.
  • There are four options, and the test taker is expected to select the best possible alternative.
  1. Insert Text:
  • There is one Insert Text question in each of the passages asked in the Reading Section.
  • There will be one paragraph provided in the question which you will have to insert in the passage which has been already provided.
  • You have to click on any of the four black squares available as options to decide the location where you think the paragraph should be inserted according to the question.
  1. Reading Vocabulary:
  • The question will prompt the reader to identify or infer the meaning of certain highlighted phrases or words from the passage.
  1. Inference And Rhetorical:
  • These types of questions require the test taker to infer answers to questions, information for which is not explicitly or directly stated in the passage.
  1. Sentence Simplification:
  • Sentence simplification questions require the test taker to select a sentence from the sentences provided as options which essentially has the same meaning as the sentence given in the passage.
  1. Prose Summary:
  • Each question has 6 options provided to the test taker.
  • 3 correct options discuss the most important points and ideas of the given passage.

Listening Section:

 

  • There are 3 to 4 lectures in the Reading Section. Each of these lectures is 3 to 5 minutes long. Per lecture, the test taker has to answer 6 questions.
  • There are 2 to 3 conversations involving 2 speakers in the Reading Section apart from 3 to 4 lectures. Each of these conversations is 3 minutes long. Per conversation, the test taker has to answer 5 questions.
  • The test takers can take notes if required as each lecture and conversation can be heard only once.

Question Types in The Listening Section:

  1. Gist Questions:
  • Gist Content questions require the test taker to infer the main idea or topic of the conversation.
  • Gist Purpose questions require the test taker to infer as to what the main purpose of that conversation or lecture is.
  1. Function Questions:
  • Function questions require the test taker to identify the contextual meaning of a particular sentence.
  1. Organisation Questions:
  • Organisation Questions test your ability to understand the structure of a lecture.
  1. Detail Questions:
  • Detail questions require the test taker to recall certain specific facts from the conversation or lecture.
  1. Connecting Content:
  • These questions may ask you to fill in tables or charts to evaluate your ability to understand relationships among ideas expressed in a lecture.
  1. Attitude Questions:
  • Attitude Questions require the test taker to gauge speaker’s feeling or attitude about something from the conversation or lecture heard.
  1. Inference Questions:
  • Questions of this type require the test taker to infer the meaning of something which is not directly or explicitly said in the conversation or lecture.

Speaking Section:

  • There is one open question and three integrated questions in the Speaking Section.
  • The integrated questions require the test taker to integrate his or her three out of four basic English skills, namely speaking, reading and listening.
  • Before each response, the test taker is given a time of 15 to 30 seconds for preparation.
  • The test taker’s response has to be 45 to 60 seconds long.
  • The recorded responses are sent to ETS for scoring.
  • The test takers can take notes while listening and reading to prepare for their spoken responses.

Question Types in The Speaking Section:

  1. Independent Question:
  • The test taker will be given a topic presenting two opinions or situations, out of which the test taker has to choose which option he or she picks and why.
  • There is no additional listening or reading passage in this question.
  1. Q.2 – Integrated Question
  • The test taker will be given a campus-related passage to read.
  • Next, the test taker will listen to a conversation on the same topic.
  • In his or her response, the test taker will then be required to infer the speaker’s opinion from the listening passage and explain its relation to the topic discussed in the reading passage.
  1. Q.3 – Integrated Question:
  • First, there will be a reading passage based on an academic subject.
  • Next, there will be a listening passage containing a part of a lecture on the same academic subject.
  • The test taker will then have to speak the answer based on both the passages.
  1. Q.4 – Integrated Question:
  • There will be a listening passage containing a part of a lecture which the test taker has to summarise in his or her spoken response.

Writing Section:

  • The responses typed on a computer keyboard are sent to ETS for scoring.

Question Types in The Writing Section:

  1. Q.1 – Integrated Task:
  • First, there will be a reading passage on a certain topic for the test taker to read. Time given to read this passage is 3 minutes.
  • Next, there will be a listening passage containing a short lecture on the same topic for the test taker to listen to.
  • The listening passage can be heard only once, after which the reading passage reappears.
  • The test taker has to type his or her response summarising both the passages, reading as well as writing, in 20 minutes time duration provided.
  • There is no word limit, but to give an effective response, the answer should preferably be 150 to 225 words long according to ETS.
  1. Q.2 – Independent Task:
  • In this type of question, an issue will be presented to the test taker.
  • The test taker has to type his or her opinion about the issue as a response in about 30 minutes.
  • There is no word limit, but according to ETS, an effective response is a minimum 300 words long.

Format of TOEFL Paper Based Test (TOEFL PBT):

Listening Section:

  • 30 to 40 minutes.
  • This section contains 3 parts.
  • Part 1 contains short conversations and 30 questions based on those.
  • Part 2 contains longer conversations and 8 questions based on them.
  • Part 3 contains talks or lectures and 12 questions based on them.
  • Difficult questions carry two scores.

Structure And Written Expression:

  • 25 minutes.
  • Sentence Completion – 15 exercises
  • Error Identification – 25 exercises
  • Difficult questions carry two scores.

Reading Comprehension:

  • 55 minutes.
  • Reading passages – 50 questions
  • Difficult questions carry two scores.

Writing:

  • 30 minutes.
  • Writing test in TOEFL PBT is called the Test of Written English (TWE).
  • One essay question; about 250 to 300 words long.

Accommodations:

There are Technical, Specialised and Adaptive Accommodations available for test takers. While some of these are available for all test takers, certain accommodations are available only for test takers with special needs.

For queries and more information, test takers can contact the Disability Services of ETS.                                                      

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Frequently Asked Questions About TOEFL

There are a number of coaching centres across multiple cities in India offering TOEFL English test preparation services.

There are also online websites providing TOEFL preparation services including TOEFL free practice tests.

The “Educational Testing Services”, that is, the ETS website has all the TOEFL exam details a test taker needs since ETS is the body that conducts the TOEFL English test.

There is no maximum number of TOEFL test attempts. A test taker can take the TOEFL English test any number of times.

However, the test taker cannot attempt the TOEFL English test more than once in every 3 days.

You can do the TOEFL exam registration by creating an ETS account on www.ets.org website. TOEFL exam registration is done through this website.

A number of preparation websites offer TOEFL free practice tests online. However, apart from free TOEFL online practice tests, a number of websites also provide paid TOEFL practice tests with personalised reports and analysis of the points scored in the online TOEFL practice test.

Sample TOEFL exam papers are available on the ETS website – www.ets.org . a number of other preparation websites also provide sample TOEFL exam papers for download.

Although different universities and colleges have different minimum TOEFL score requirements, usually a score around 90+ is considered to be a good score.

You can register for the TOEFL at home test on ETS’s website – www.ets.org . TOEFL at Home Test registration is done on this website.

 

TOEFL scores are valid for 2 years.

There will be extra questions in the TOEFL exam paper which are not scored and are included to model questions for future tests. But the test taker will not be informed as to which question is the extra or ungraded question.

For instance, if there are 4 questions instead of 3 questions, one among them will be extra but the test taker will have to attempt all four with equal sincerity because he or she does not know which three will be scored during the final score evaluation of the test.

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