TOEFL iBT Exam – Everything You Want to Know
What is TOEFL?
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is an English proficiency examination that is accepted for admission to universities and schools in the USA and Canada. This examination evaluates the candidate’s ability to comprehend the English language in a college/ university setting. The TOEFL is conducted by The Educational Testing Services (ETS). This institution handles the entire examination, from the questions to the scorecards of each candidate.
Students wanting to pursue an education in a foreign university can pick from multiple TOEFL test dates available throughout the year and choose from the various test centers located across major cities in India. Prospective candidates for the TOEFL exam can get better insights into the following TOEFL topics as they read along.
Why take the TOEFL Exam?
The TOEFL examination is for students who are planning to pursue higher education in a foreign university. Based on the TOEFL scores, students can check if they are eligible for different scholarships offered by universities. This examination is also for candidates looking for employment in a foreign country. Accepted in over 10,000 universities and other institutions all over the world, including universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, the United States, and across Europe and Asia, TOEFL is one of the most favored English-language tests among students planning to study abroad.
TOEFL is a preferred choice among students who want to pursue higher education in universities in the United States and Canada. Similarly, TOEFL is also the preferred English Test among countries like Germany, France when compared to other English tests. ETS – the conducting body of the TOEFL also guarantees a fair and unbiased process of assessment ensuring that the test is more authentic in nature.
Registration for TOEFL is available all days of the week. The registration for the TOEFL exam can be done via the online method, phone, through mail or in person. It should be noted that the TOEFL online registrations close 7 days before the exam and the late registration closes 4 days before the test date with a late fee of US$40. For candidates appearing for TOEFL from India, a TOEFL registration fee of US$180 is to be paid.
From August 1, 2019, The Educational Testing Services (ETS) – the organizing body of TOEFL has shortened the duration of the test by 30 minutes, i.e. now, the test duration is for a total of 3 hours. Previously, the exam duration was for 3 hours and 30 minutes. They have considerably reduced the number of questions in all the three sections – reading, listening and speaking. ETS has also introduced the concept of ‘MyBest Score’ – which takes the candidate’s best scores for each section from all the valid TOEFL scores from the last two years. They have also initiated a few other approaches to enhance the TOEFL iBT® test experience for students. Students can also now book exam slots for the afternoon sessions, globally.
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What are the types of TOEFL Exam?
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is held in two formats- TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) and TOEFL PBT (Paper-based Test). The TOEFL iBT is the more preferred mode of the exam while TOEFL PBT is only available in locations that do not have an internet connection and in this mode the TOEFL Speaking Test is unavailable due to the lack of resources. Read on to understand the two formats of the TOEFL Exam.
What is TOEFL iBt?
As the name implies, the TOEFL Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) is the online version of the TOEFL test. This is definitely a much-preferred mode of the TOEFL while considering the convenience aspect. This mode also utilizes fewer resources.
What is TOEFL PBT?
In the TOEFL Paper Based Test (TOEFL PBT) format, students use a pen and paper to write the exam. Not a big hit among students, the paper-based model of the TOEFL exam is conducted in areas that do not have access to the Internet. Candidates should be aware that in this format of the TOEFL exam, the TOEFL Speaking Test is not conducted due to the limited availability of resources.
|TOEFL full form||Test of English as a Foreign Language|
|Conducting body||Educational Testing Service (ETS)|
|Widely popular as||English language proficiency test|
|Generally accepted by||Universities in USA and Canada|
|Mode of exam||Internet-based and Paper-based|
|TOEFL iBT fee||US$180|
|TOEFL Paper-based test fee||US$180|
|Score Range||Reading: 0–30|
|TOEFL Helpline||1-609-771-7100, 1-877-863-3546|
What are the Eligibility criteria for the TOEFL Exam?
Students wanting to study abroad have to appear for the TOEFL exam. However, they have to fulfill certain eligibility criteria to qualify for the examination.
According to the ETS – the conducting body of TOEFL, there is no specific age limit required to appear for the TOEFL test.
Candidates who have completed high school education or its equivalent are eligible to appear for the exam.
The registration fee for the TOEFL exam varies based on the location. In India, the registration fee for TOEFL is US$180. In addition to the registration fees, candidates will also have to pay extra for other services like late registration, rescheduling the exam or score review. The cost of different services is given below.
A candidate who has booked a test date is allowed to cancel or reschedule the examination until four days before the actual test date.
Rescheduling requests sent by mail, email or in person at the test center is NOT accepted. Candidates can either call their Regional Registration Centre (India – 91-124-4147700) to reschedule their examination by giving their full name and appointment number or they can log into their ETS account online and reschedule any upcoming tests. The fee for rescheduling the test is US$60.
TOEFL Special Handling Requests
In several cases, candidates may need to avail special services provided by the ETS. In the table below, the special handling fees/charges are mentioned.
|TOEFL Registration Fee||$180|
|TOEFL Late Registration Fee||$40|
|TOEFL Rescheduling Fees||$60|
|Reinstatement of canceled TOEFL scores||$20|
|Additional TOEFL score reports (per institution or agency)||$20each|
|Speaking or Writing Section score review||$80|
|Speaking and Writing Section score review||$160|
TOEFL Payment Policies
TOEFL has stipulated certain payment policies that the candidates are required to follow. These include the full payment of fees at the time of registration with the correct numerical amount and the appropriate signature.
Forms of Payment
ETS accepts all Credit/debit cards, electronic check, PayPal account, paper check/money order and Western Union Quick Pay for the payment of TOEFL Fees. Cash or demand drafts, post-dated checks, any currency other than US dollars, receipts for bank checks and UNESCO coupons are NOT accepted.
Country Wise TOEFL Fees
The TOEFL examination is held in all major countries across the globe. Here is the TOEFL Fee for other countries:
How to Register for TOEFL?
Registration for TOEFL can be done via phone, online, mail or in person at the TOEFL 2020 test registration centre. Registrations for TOEFL exam are open throughout the year. There are various test centres available and the venue should be selected before filling the application form. Online registrations will close seven days before the test date.
Candidates have to first go to the TOEFL login page and create an online profile after which the exam fee of US$180 (for Indians) should be paid. Online registration on the ETS website is the quickest and simplest method. Online registrations can be done at any time and on any day. Your name in the application form should match with that on the ID proof (usually a Passport in case of Indian students) you bring to the examination hall.
You will be required to make the payment with a credit/debit card. Here are the steps to be followed:
- Create your profile on the official website of ETS.
- Fill in all the details like name, address, and email id, etc.
- Ensure that the information you provide is the same as that on your passport.
- Proceed to pay the application fee.
Registration by Phone
Candidates must thoroughly go through the registration form before they place the call. Spell out your name exactly as it appears on your passport. Call the Regional Registration Centre on this number – 91-124-4147700. Pay with a credit/debit card based on the instructions received. Registrations will be stopped seven days before the test date.
Registration by Mail
Candidates have to first download and take a print-out of the registration form. You need to ensure that the details entered match with that of the ID proof you will be required to produce on the test day. After filling the form with the correct details send the form with your payment to the address on the form or the Gurgaon center address. Forms must be received at least four weeks before your test date.
How to Book TOEFL Slot?
For those students planning on studying abroad, giving the TOEFL examination remains a top priority. Based on when you plan to give the examination, book your slot as per the availability of the test date and test center. Selecting the test date is an important element in your decision to apply to the school of your choice.
Some colleges/universities have a single deadline for the submission of the TOEFL scorecard. There are also colleges that have rolling deadlines i.e. the candidates can submit their scores based on their convenience. Therefore, book your test slot on the basis of the deadlines of the colleges you are applying to.
Apart from this, the candidate must also have a valid passport which is the ID proof required to be able to appear for the examination.
You should target a date that is at least one month before your first application deadline. This will give you plenty of time to work on your applications, and in case you want to reattempt the exam you take it after 12 days of the first attempt. So if the deadline for your application is March, you should take the exam by February. If you feel the need to retake the TOEFL, you can appear for the exam in the latter half of February again. You can retake the TOEFL 12 days after your first attempt.
TOEFL iBT is held across 39 cities in India: Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dehradun, Delhi, East Godavari District, Gurgaon, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kochi, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Madurai, Mumbai, Mussoorie, Nagpur, Nashik, Nizamabad, Patna, Pondicherry, Pune, Raipur, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Tirupati, Trichy, Vadodara, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, and Warangal.
NOTE: Candidates should always check the availability of their exam date and time slot at the nearest center and then book the slot accordingly.
Test Takers with Disabilities or Health-related Needs
ETS offers three different kinds of testing to accommodate the needs of test takers with health-related issues and disabilities. The test takers should meet the conditions set by ETS to be able to avail of these services.
Accommodations Provided by ETS
After the approval of ETS, the candidates can avail the following kinds of testing accommodation services as per their documented requirements:
TOEFL exam pattern is as follows- The exam is divided into four sections namely, Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. The more you practice the better your scores will be. Your total score is the sum of the scores earned in each section and your scores will be posted online after 10 days from the date of the examination. ETS will directly send up to four official scorecards to the institutions selected by the candidate.
The TOEFL syllabus tests the candidate’s reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Here is the TOEFL exam format covering the four skills tested:
In this section, there will be about 3-4 passages and you need to answer 10 questions based on each passage. The section is scored based on the number of correct answers to the reading comprehension passages.
Question type: 3–4 passages, 10 questions each
Total no. of questions: About 40
Total time: 64-72 minutes
In this section, you will listen to audio clips containing both short conversations and long conversations. After the short conversation, you will be asked one question and you will have to choose your answer from a multiple choice of answers. With reference to the long conversations, you will be asked multiple questions.
Question type: a) 3–4 lectures (3-5 minutes long, about 500-800 words), 6 questions each
b) 2–3 conversation (about 3 minutes long, about 12-25 exchanges), 5 questions each
Total time: 41–57 minutes
To get a high score in the Speaking Section, you should be able to give a suitable and error-free response to the questions asked. You are graded based on your ability to have a highly intelligible and sustained conversation. The scores for this section are on the basis of three main factors.
a) 1 independent task (prep time: 15 sec; response time: 45 sec)
b) 3 integrated tasks – Read/Listen/Speak (prep time: 30 sec; response time: 60 sec)
Total no. of questions: 4
Total time: 17 minutes
In this section, your essay should effectively convey the essence of the topic. Your response should be well-structured and it should be supported using relevant explanations. The essay should exhibit a clear progression of ideas and coherence in the points put forward. A grammatically correct essay with the right punctuations and appropriate words will help you fetch a high score.
a) 1 integrated task – Read/Listen/Write (20 minutes) (reading time: 3 min; listening
time: 2 min; writing: 15 min)
b) 1 independent task (30 minutes)
Total no. of questions: 2
Total time: 50 Minutes
After you finish your tests, your results will be published without much delay. You will receive an email notification when the scores are declared online. You can log in to your TOEFL iBT account to check your scores. The results are announced 10 days after the test date. However, it will take at least 13 days (after the test date) for printed scores to reach you. These scores will be valid for two years from the date of the declaration.
How are TOEFL Scores calculated?
To calculate the TOEFL scores, both human rating and automated scoring methods are employed. This is done to provide a complete and accurate evaluation of the candidate’s abilities. While the automated scoring method has the advantage of being unbiased, it cannot assess the effectiveness of the language and content. Human rating is needed to address a wider variety of features like the quality of ideas, content and structure. Also, you are expected to answer a minimum of one question in each section. For the reading and listening sections, you should answer at least one question. For writing and speaking sections, you must attempt one task each. For the online TOEFL iBT test as well the result is scaled individually along with a total score. The scores of the four sections of the TOEFL are divided as follows:
|Section/ Score Range||Mean Scores*||Level*|
A score of zero (0)
*Source – ETS
How to access TOEFL Scores?
Viewing your TOEFL scores has never been this simple. After 10 days from the completion of your examination, you will receive an email informing you about the date the results will be published. Since the TOEFL test is given via the Internet, you will be able to view your results online. You can check your results by logging into your TOEFL account on the TOEFL website and click on ‘view scores’. From the list of dates provided, you will get an approximate idea of when your score result will be available for viewing.
When will TOEFL Official Score Reports be available?
Printed score reports are mailed 13 days after the test date. This will take a minimum of 7 to 10 days to reach you. This process cannot be hurried as ETS has no control over the delivery of your mail. Your TOEFL scores will be valid for two years.
What is a Good TOEFL Score?
Apart from the score, your score report will also include a review of your performance. This review is based on the evaluation of your performance and it also includes suggestions on the next steps you can take for the score you have obtained. You will be able to identify your strengths and the sections you need to further work on. ETS has further divided each section into High, Intermediate and Low levels score for the Reading and Listening sections.
- High: The High-level scores will help in getting into the top-rated and best universities. If you score within this range, you have high chances of being accepted into these universities. Ivy League schools set their cutoffs based on these scores.
- Intermediate: Intermediate level scores will help you get into good universities as these scores meet the standards set by most of the top 100 universities.
- Low: If your score is within this range you may not be eligible for admissions into the good universities or the university you have short-listed. However, you can consider getting in through conditional acceptance programs such as foundational courses or Pathway programs if any university accepts scores within this range.
For the Speaking and Writing sections, the score has four ranges – Good, Fair, Limited and Weak.
- Good: A Good-level score will make you eligible for the top and upper-mid ranked schools. The higher the score, the better your chances of getting into an Ivy-league university.
- Fair: Scores within this range can get you into mid-ranked universities as they consider these scores to be impressive. Most of the good universities accept scores within this range for STEM programs.
- Limited: Generally speaking, these scores can get you only conditional acceptance. You may need to go through different programs like the Pathway Programme to get acceptance into a particular course at that university.
- Weak: It is very unlikely to get full acceptance based on this range. Some low ranked universities may offer conditional programs; however, such cases are quite rare.
What is the validity of TOEFL scores?
Your TOEFL scores are valid for two years post the declaration of your result. If you are not satisfied with the scores from your first attempt, you can try again as there is no limit on the number of retakes. However, there should be a 12-day gap between each of your retakes; i.e. if you have a test appointment today, you cannot register for another attempt for the next 12 days.
There is no minimum passing mark or cut off for the TOEFL exam as each university or educational institution sets its own score range or minimum score required.
Top universities or Ivy-league schools generally set a high score range (79 and above), which vary each year. Thus, you need to keep an eye on the changes by periodically checking the university websites for any updates.
How to Send TOEFL 2020 Scores to Colleges?
At the time of registration, the candidate gets the option of sending four score reports to colleges/universities/programs for free. Official score reports will be sent to the selected recipients approximately 13 days after the official scores are released.
- Order Online: Once you receive your scores, you can send them to the colleges of your choice for two years, post which you will have to re-take the exam. The Additional Score Reports can also be sent by paying additional charges. Students can also avail a discount on sending five Additional Score Reports by ordering the TOEFL Value Pack premium. ETS offers several such packs so that students can order and avail huge discounts while sending their scores to colleges/universities. Usually, the amount per report is 20$ (USD), which can be paid via debit, credit, e-check or PayPal. After your request is received by the organization, your scores will be sent within 3-5 business days.
- Order by Fax: You have to fill the ‘TOEFL iBT Additional Score Report Request Form’ that you can get from the ETS website. Fax the form along with your registration details and your payment information (debit or credit card) to 1-610-290-8972. If the fax fails or if you have to re-send the same form due to technical issues, do remember to mention ‘DUPLICATE’ in capital letters on the form to avoid double charges on your debit or credit card.
- Order by Mail: For mail order, you need to fill the same form: ‘TOEFL iBT Additional Score Report Request Form’. Mail the form along with your payment information (debit or credit card) to the following address:
- TES-TOEFL iBT, PO Box 6153, Princeton, NJ 08541-6153 USA
Colleges Accepting TOEFL Scores
Over 10,000 colleges, universities, and other organizations across 130 countries accept TOEFL scores including universities in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Canada. Apart from this, even immigration departments of different English speaking countries use this test for granting work permits and residential visas to prospective immigrants. The TOEFL exams have no cutoffs, so a score which can fetch you admission to your preferred college/university can be considered as a good score. Minimum requirements for TOEFL scores differ from one institution to the other, so, it is always recommended to verify these requirements for the program you are applying to.
Countries Accepting TOEFL Score
TOEFL scores are accepted in over 130 countries including the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Canada. To get a better understanding of these countries or to search for countries based on your TOEFL score, you can visit the ETS website and look up countries in their TOEFL Destination Search Tool.
TOEFL Preparation Tips
There are two ways to prepare for TOEFL – one is self-study and the other is by attending coaching classes. Both these methods have specific advantages and no one way is better than the other. If money is the main deciding factor, then self-studies using TOEFL books and resources may be a better option. Similarly, if you are seeking professional guidance to ensure that you have an advantage in the TOEFL exam preparation process, then enrolling for a TOEFL coaching center is a better option.
TOEFL Test evaluates the candidates’ ability to comprehend the English language at the university level. The four sections based on which the candidate’s abilities are measured are reading, writing, listening and speaking. While preparing for the test, the candidate should thoroughly understand the format of the test and the result and scores system of the test. ETS, the conducting body of the TOEFL exam provides both free and paid study materials, which is easily available.
TOEFL Sample / Practice Paper
Since it is an English language test, it is mandatory to have a good command over the English language. Similar to the other standardized tests required to study abroad, TOEFL is divided into four sections. Every section has its own weightage and hence needs to be prepared accordingly. With four sections in total, it is important to dedicate time for each section so that you can excel in the exam. Once you are done with your preparation, you can evaluate your progress using TOEFL 2020 Sample Papers to understand the level of your preparation. It is crucial to understand how to practice the TOEFL: Practice Tests and Samples.
TOEFL Exam Day Tips
As you get closer to your test day, you need to keep ready all the necessary documents to bring to the test center. You need to bring along at least two forms of acceptable ID proofs that need to meet the below-mentioned conditions:
- Be an original document (photocopies not allowed)
- Be a valid (expired documents are not allowed)
- Your full name mentioned in it must match with that during registration
- Have your photo in it (recent photo of the candidate)
- Have your signature
Also, note that no other personal items are allowed inside the test center except your ID documents.
One of the major challenges while studying abroad is the tuition fees that have to be paid along with the other expenses due to the high cost of living. Due to this reason, many students end up choosing other alternatives and give up on their dreams of studying abroad. However, there are various TOEFL Scholarships and education loans available for students now. The scholarship details are mentioned on the official website of every college along with other fellowships and grants that are awarded to deserving students on a regular basis. Students can also apply for education loans from financial institutions for studying abroad.
TOEFL Exam FAQs
Still got doubts? Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the TOEFL Exam to give you better clarity of the entire application process.
A. The candidates can opt for a paper copy of their score report at the time of registration. Here are the steps to be followed – Log in to your TOEFL account; Go to the ‘Select Scorecard Preference’ tab; Select the box for a paper copy of the score report and Save the changes you have made.
A. Once the details are saved candidates cannot make any changes. To make changes, they need to contact the TOEFL officials via email at [email protected] or by phone at 16097717100/ 18778633546 to get the needful done.
A. Score Report contains the Scores of each section, the total scores and feedback of your performance.
A. There are 3 major proficiency tests for the English language that are accepted by universities globally. The examination you choose depends upon your requirements and its acceptance in the university or country of your choice.
A. The TOEFL test can be attempted any number of times, but for a re-test, the candidate has to wait for 12 days after attempting the first test.
A. For the examination, candidates are required to bring their TOEFL Registration Slip or their TOEFL Admit Card. They will also be required to carry their photo ID as proof (a valid passport) and other documents that might be necessary at the examination center.
A. Both the TOEFL and IELTS are English language proficiency tests for students wanting to study abroad. However, both these tests have their own sets of advantages and drawbacks. Both these tests are accepted for college admissions, however, students are advised to check with their university admission guidelines before applying for either of these examinations.