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Everything You Need To Know About TOEFL

Posted on Jul 12, 2019
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TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language is a standardized exam used to assess English language abilities of a non-native speaker who wishes to study in a university where English is the chief language. It is one of the major English-language tests, accepted by most universities around the world. It is a four-hour long exam administered by the nonprofit organization ETS.

What is the TOEFL format?

TOEFL exams are either paper-based or internet-based. With the wide popularity of the internet, it is now possible to take the test within one to four weeks. In countries where the internet exam is not available due to the computer or other issues, are provided with the option of a paper-delivered test.

1. Internet-based test

The four-hour test is divided into four sections, each measuring the candidates’ basic language skills. The sections are-

SectionDescriptionSkillsDuration
Reading3-4 passages, each approximately 700 words in length on academic topicsRequires understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast, and argumentation60-80 minutes
Listening
6-9 passages, each 3-5 minutes in length. Includes 2 student conversations and 4 academic lectures or discussionsRequires understanding of main ideas, important details and organization of information60-90 minutes
Speaking6 tasks: 2 independent and four integratedAssesses ability to speak spontaneously and convey ideas clearly and coherently20 minutes
Writing2 tasks: 1 integrated and 1 independentStating opinion and clear explanations50 minutes

2. Paper-based test
Similar to internet-based, paper-based test is also divided into four sections- Listening (30-40 minutes), Structure and Written Expression (25 minutes), Reading Comprehension (55 minutes), Writing (30 minutes)

Scoring system

The TOEFL Internet-based test is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points. Each section consists of 30 points. The paper-based score ranges from 310 to 677. It is based on 3 subscores- Listening (31-68), Structure (31-68) and Reading (31-67). The raw scores are then converted, taking into consideration factors like difficulty level, duration, etc. of the individual tests and then a more accurate converted score is provided.

What score should I aim for?

Anything above the 50th percentile is a good score. But if want to apply for top schools, aim for an above average score possibly in the 75th percentile. The average TOEFL minimum requirement in US universities is 78. But colleges like Columbia and Cornell require 100 for iBT and 600 for PBT. Carnegie Mellon requires 102 iBT whereas Penn State requires 80 iBT; 550 PBT. So, keep your dream university in mind and study accordingly.

Why should I opt for TOEFL?

TOEFL is the most preferred English-language test in majority of the countries abroad like the United States, UK, Australia, France, Germany, and Canada. It is accepted by more than 10,000 universities and other institutions worldwide. Also, if you are not satisfied with your score, you have the option of reappearing for the exam. There is no maximum limit on re-examination but you cannot give the exam within 12 days of your previous appearance. There are TOEFL scholarships provided to students who fit the eligibility criteria for their education abroad as well.

When can I take the exam?

The test has over 50 dates per year at the authorized test centers around the world. Metro cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad conduct these exams at least thrice a month. The dates usually fall on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. Confirm with your nearest center about the availability of seats and dates.

TOEFL is just one factor considered on your application but you need to make sure you ace it to create a good impression on the admission officers.

Here are also some of the other mandatory standardized tests for studying abroad- https://www.reachivy.com/blog/want-study-abroad-5-exams-must-know

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