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Everything You Wish You Knew About TOEFL

What is TOEFL?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized test that measures an individual's ability to communicate in English. The test is often required for non-native English speakers who wish to study at universities in English-speaking countries or for those seeking employment opportunities in English-speaking environments. Here's everything you need to know about the TOEFL exam.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is one of the most widely recognized English proficiency exams in the world. It is used by universities, colleges, and other educational institutions in English-speaking countries as a measure of English language proficiency. The purpose of TOEFL is to evaluate the ability of non-native speakers of English to use and understand the language in academic settings.


TOEFL Purpose: Who Should and Why Take TOEFL?

The TOEFL is required for international students who are seeking admission to universities and colleges in the United States, Canada, and other English-speaking countries. It is also required for students who are applying for scholarships, visas, and jobs that require English language proficiency. Additionally, the TOEFL is often taken by non-native speakers of English who want to improve their language skills or demonstrate their proficiency for personal or professional reasons.


Taking the TOEFL can provide several benefits to non-native speakers of English. The test measures language skills that are essential for academic success in English-speaking countries. Therefore, achieving a high score on the TOEFL can increase an individual's chances of being accepted into a university or college program. A high TOEFL score can also help non-native speakers of English to secure scholarships or financial aid that can assist in covering the costs of education.


Moreover, the TOEFL score is often required for individuals who wish to obtain a visa to work or study abroad. Some employers may also require a high TOEFL score for certain jobs that involve communication with English-speaking clients or colleagues. Finally, taking the TOEFL can also be a way for non-native speakers of English to measure their English language proficiency and set personal goals for improvement.


What Parts Does TOEFL Include?


The test consists of four main parts, which are designed to evaluate your proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In this article, we'll take a closer look at each of the four parts that make up the TOEFL.


Reading Section

The reading section of the TOEFL consists of three to five academic passages, which are typically 700 words in length. The passages are taken from textbooks and other sources used in university courses. The passages cover a variety of topics, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and business. The reading section is timed and you have 60 to 80 minutes to complete it. The questions in this section assess your ability to understand and analyze the information presented in the passages.


Listening Section

The listening section of the TOEFL assesses your ability to understand spoken English in academic settings. The section consists of four to six academic lectures and two to three conversations between two people. The lectures and conversations are typically three to five minutes long. The section is timed and you have 60 to 90 minutes to complete it. The questions in this section assess your ability to understand the main ideas and details of the lectures and conversations.


Speaking Section

The speaking section of the TOEFL assesses your ability to speak in English in academic settings. The section consists of six tasks, which include speaking about familiar topics, summarizing information, and expressing opinions. The section is timed and you have 20 minutes to complete it. The speaking section is evaluated by certified raters, who assess your ability to speak clearly, organize your thoughts, and use appropriate vocabulary and grammar.


Writing Section

The writing section of the TOEFL assesses your ability to write in English in academic settings. The section consists of two tasks, which include writing an essay based on a given prompt and summarizing information from a passage and a lecture. The section is timed and you have 50 minutes to complete it. The writing section is evaluated by certified raters, who assess your ability to write clearly, organize your thoughts, and use appropriate vocabulary and grammar.


Scoring System

Scoring System Overview TOEFL is a computer-based test, and its scores range from 0-120. The TOEFL test has four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Each section is scored independently, and the total score is the sum of all four section scores. The maximum score for each section is as follows:

  • Reading: 30

  • Listening: 30

  • Speaking: 30

  • Writing: 30

TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. Candidates can take the test as many times as they want, but they need to wait for a minimum of three days before retaking the test.


Scoring Criteria for Each Section

Reading and Listening Sections The Reading and Listening sections are scored based on the number of correct answers a candidate gives. The number of correct answers is converted into a scaled score of 0-30. The score for these sections is determined by the difficulty level of the questions answered correctly. Candidates who answer harder questions correctly are given a higher score than those who answer easier questions correctly.


Speaking Section The Speaking section is scored by human raters who evaluate the candidate's responses based on specific scoring criteria. The Speaking section consists of six tasks, and each task is scored on a scale of 0-4. The scores of all six tasks are then converted into a scaled score of 0-30. The raters evaluate the candidate's responses based on the following criteria:

  • Delivery: Pronunciation, intonation, and pacing.

  • Language Use: Grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure.

  • Topic Development: Coherence, relevance, and completeness.

Writing Section The Writing section is also scored by human raters who evaluate the candidate's responses based on specific scoring criteria. The Writing section consists of two tasks, and each task is scored on a scale of 0-5. The scores of both tasks are then converted into a scaled score of 0-30. The raters evaluate the candidate's responses based on the following criteria:

  • Development: Relevance, completeness, and coherence.

  • Language Use: Grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure.

  • Organization: Logical progression of ideas and overall essay structure.

Total Score The total score for TOEFL is the sum of the scores of all four sections. The maximum total score is 120, and the minimum is 0. The total score is the most critical score for most institutions, and they typically require a minimum total score for admission. The minimum total score varies from institution to institution and depends on the program of study.


Preparing for TOEFL


Preparation for the TOEFL exam is essential for achieving a high score. There are various methods of preparing for the exam, including self-study, group study, private tutoring, and courses at language schools like Language Academia.


Self-study involves using TOEFL test prep materials such as books, online courses, and practice tests to prepare for the exam. It can be a flexible and affordable way to prepare for the TOEFL, but it requires self-discipline and motivation to stay on track. Group study involves studying with other students who are also preparing for the TOEFL exam. It can be a great way to practice speaking and listening skills, exchange study tips and strategies, and get support from peers. Private tutoring can be a more personalized approach to TOEFL preparation, where students can receive one-on-one attention from a qualified and experienced tutor. Private tutoring can be tailored to a student's specific needs and weaknesses, which can be particularly helpful for students who need extra help in certain areas.

Courses at language schools like Language Academia provide structured TOEFL preparation programs that include classes with qualified instructors, practice tests, and feedback on students' progress. Language schools can also provide a supportive and motivating environment for students to study in.

Choosing the right method of preparation depends on each student's needs, learning style, and budget.

Dates and Registration.

The TOEFL is offered in more than 4,500 locations in 165 countries worldwide. ETS, the organization that conducts the TOEFL, offers the test around 50 times a year, so you can choose a test date that works best for you.

To register for the TOEFL, you need to create an ETS account and provide your personal and payment information. You can register online, by phone, or by mail. However, online registration is the most convenient and quickest way to register for the test. You will also need to select your preferred test date and test center during the registration process. The registration fee for the TOEFL varies by country and ranges from $160 to $300. The fee includes sending your score reports to up to four universities or institutions of your choice. However, if you need to send your score reports to additional universities or institutions, you will need to pay an extra fee.

It is crucial to register for the TOEFL early to secure your preferred test date and center. The registration deadline for the test is usually around four days before the test date, but it is recommended to register at least two to three months in advance to allow sufficient time for preparation.


What if I Fail the Test?

Retaking the TOEFL exam is allowed but with some limitations. According to ETS, test-takers can retake the exam as many times as they wish, but they must wait at least three days before taking the test again. Moreover, a test-taker cannot take the same version of the test within a 12-day period. If a test-taker has already taken the exam three times in the same 12-month period, they must wait for 12 months before they can register for the test again.


It is essential to note that retaking the test does not guarantee an improved score. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the reasons for the previous low score and work on improving those areas before taking the test again. Test-takers can use their score reports to identify the sections that they need to improve on and use study materials or private tutoring to prepare for the retake.

Retaking the TOEFL exam is an option for test-takers who are unsatisfied with their scores. However, it is essential to consider the waiting periods and evaluate the reasons for the previous low score before deciding to retake the exam. Test-takers can improve their scores by using their score reports to identify areas that need improvement and using study materials or private tutoring to prepare for the retake.

Electronic and Home Era of TOEFL


The TOEFL iBT Home Edition is a version of the TOEFL test that can be taken from the comfort of your own home. It was introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it difficult for many test-takers to travel to a testing center to take the exam. The TOEFL iBT Home Edition is administered using the same format and content as the traditional in-person TOEFL exam, but is taken on a computer in your own home. It is monitored remotely by a human proctor using video, audio, and screen-sharing technology. To take the TOEFL iBT Home Edition, you must have a computer that meets the technical requirements for the exam, including a reliable internet connection, a microphone, and a camera. You will also need a quiet, well-lit space where you can take the exam without interruptions.

Registration for the TOEFL iBT Home Edition is done through the official ETS website, and the cost of the exam is the same as the in-person version. Test-takers will also have access to the same resources and accommodations as they would for the traditional exam, such as extra time or assistive technology.

While the TOEFL iBT Home Edition offers a convenient and safe way for test-takers to take the exam during the pandemic, it is important to note that not all countries and regions may offer this option due to technical or logistical limitations. Additionally, some universities or organizations may not accept scores from the TOEFL iBT Home Edition, so it is important to check with your intended institution or program before registering for the exam.

The Day You Take the Test


On the day of the TOEFL test, it is important to be prepared and arrive at the testing center on time. The test typically lasts about four hours, so make sure to get a good night's sleep and have a meal before arriving. It is important to bring a valid ID and the registration confirmation to the test center.

Once at the testing center, test-takers will be given instructions on how to use the computer and will be allowed to take a practice test to get used to the format. The test is divided into four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. There will be a 10-minute break between the Listening and Speaking sections.

During the test, it is important to stay calm and focused. Pay close attention to the instructions and make sure to manage your time effectively, as each section is timed. Make sure to answer all questions within the allotted time.

After the test, test-takers will receive a score report. Scores are typically available online within 10 days of the test date. If you have any concerns about your score, you can request a rescoring for an additional fee.

Overall, the TOEFL test is an important step for those who wish to study or work in an English-speaking country. With proper preparation and a clear understanding of the test format, test-takers can feel confident and perform to the best of their abilities on test day.

Beware of Scams


It is important to be cautious when registering for the TOEFL exam and only use trusted sources such as the official ETS website or authorized testing centers. There have been instances of scams and misleading websites claiming to offer TOEFL exams, so it is essential to do thorough research before registering and paying for the exam. It is also recommended to check the test date availability and registration deadlines to avoid any last-minute issues. By taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure a smooth and successful TOEFL exam experience.




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