Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers wishing to enroll in English-speaking universities. The test is accepted by more than 11,000 universities and other institutions in over 150 countries.
The TOEFL is available in paper-based and computer-based versions. The most popular version is the TOEFL iBT, which is an internet-based test. The paper version is delivered mostly in areas where internet facilities are not available.
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The TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) measures all four academic English skills- reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Since its introduction in late 2005, the Internet-based Test format has progressively replaced the computer-based tests (CBT) and paper-based tests (PBT), although paper-based testing is still used in select areas.
The test consists of four sections, each measuring one of the basic language skills (while some tasks require integrating multiple skills), and all tasks focus on language used in an academic, higher-education environment.
The TOEFL iBT® Reading section is designed to assess how well you can read and understand the kind of materials used in an academic environment. It includes 3 or 4 reading passages, each approximately 700 words long, with 10 questions per passage. You have 54 to 72 minutes to answer all the questions in the section.
Reading passages are excerpts from university-level textbooks that would be used in introductions to a discipline or topic. The passages cover a variety of different subjects. Don't worry if you're not familiar with the topic of a passage. All the information you need to answer the questions will be included in the passage. There is a glossary feature available to define words not commonly used, if you need it.
The TOEFL iBT® Listening section is designed to measure your ability to understand conversations and lectures in English. It includes listening for:
- basic comprehension
- pragmatic understanding (speaker's attitude and degree of certainty) and connecting and synthesizing information
There are 2 types of listening items in the Speaking section — lectures and conversations. Both use campus-based language.
- 3–4 lectures, each 3–5 minutes long, with 6 questions per lecture
- 2–3 conversations with 2 speakers, each 3 minutes long, with 5 questions per conversation
You can take notes on any audio item throughout the test to help you answer questions. You have 41 to 57 minutes to complete the section.
The TOEFL iBT® Speaking section is designed to measure your ability to speak English effectively in academic settings. It is composed of 4 tasks that resemble real-life situations you might encounter both in and outside of a classroom.
- Question 1 is called an "independent speaking task" because it requires you to draw entirely on your own ideas, opinions and experiences when you respond.
- Questions 2–4 are called "integrated speaking tasks" because they require you to combine your English-language skills — listening and speaking, or listening, reading and speaking — just as you would in or out of a classroom.
You'll get 15–30 seconds of preparation time before each response, and your response will be 45 or 60 seconds long.
To respond, you'll speak into the microphone on your headset. Your responses are recorded and sent to ETS, where they will be scored by a combination of AI scoring and certified human raters to ensure fairness and quality. You have 17 minutes to complete the Speaking section.
The TOEFL iBT® Writing section is designed to measure your ability to write in English in an academic setting, and you're expected to be able to present your ideas in a clear, well-organized manner.
There are 2 writing tasks.
- 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 writing task (30 minutes) — write an essay based on personal experience or opinion in response to a writing topic.
You'll type your responses on a computer keyboard. Responses are sent to ETS, where they are scored by a combination of AI scoring and certified human raters to ensure fairness and quality.
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