Students who wish to pursue education abroad often face a crucial hurdle: the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. Recognized worldwide, this standardized test is a fundamental requirement for non-native English speakers seeking admission to educational institutions in English-speaking countries. To assist aspiring students in navigating this significant milestone, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to the TOEFL exam.
Introduction to the TOEFL exam:
TOEFL stands for the test of English as a foreign language. The test is conducted by the World’s largest educational assessment conducting entity called Educational Testing Service, or simply ETS. After TOEFL, this esteemed organization conducts GRE, TOEIC, and Praxis tests.
The test was first introduced in 1964 by a linguistic professor at Stanford University, Dr. Charles A. Ferguson. Since then, the test has gained global attention to become a standard for weighing the English language proficiency of candidates.
Today, the test is conducted in over 190 nations and is readily accepted by over 11,000 thousand educational institutes worldwide.
TOEFL Test is primarily categorized into the following two categories:
- TOEFL iBT (internet based test)
– TOEFL essentials
– TOEFL home edition: available for four days, 24 hours.
2. TOEFL PBT (paper based test)
1. TOEFL iBT (internet based test):
TOEFL iBT is the internet-based test now the most widely acceptable form.
The test comprises academic questions and literature-related questions, which are related to literature studies in college. The iBT is the more commonly administered format widely accepted by institutions and organizations worldwide. During the pandemic, two new test formats were introduced- TOEFL Essentials and TOEFL Home Edition.
A TOEFL Essentials is a comparatively brief and easier version of TOEFL iBT. The test usually lasts two hours, compared to the three-hour timeframe of TOEFL iBT, and the questions are more relatable to general speaking and communication than academic questions in iBT.
TOEFL home edition was launched during the pandemic to facilitate students to take the test from the comfort of their homes. The test requires students to have their computer system, audio system for speaking and listening tasks, and a webcam facility since each candidate is monitored digitally through live webcams.
2. TOEFL PBT (paper based test):
The paper-based test is available in only a few nations, such as India and Mainland China, where internet and digital resources are limited. In other nations, this version has been discontinued since May 2017.
TOEFL exam pattern:
The test assesses the overall English proficiency of the students. The test evaluates the students ‘ listening, writing, speaking, and reading skills in the English language.
- Reading: This section measures the ability to understand and interpret written texts, including academic articles, essays, and passages. The section will contain 20 questions to complete in an estimated time of 35 minutes.
- Listening: The candidate will listen to audio recordings of conversations, lectures, and discussions and answer questions to evaluate their listening comprehension. A total of 28 questions will be included, which shall be attempted in 30-35 minutes.
- Speaking: In this section, students will respond to questions and prompts by speaking into a microphone. The spoken responses are recorded and evaluated for pronunciation, fluency, and content. This section will include 4 tasks to complete in 15-20 minutes.
- Writing: The writing section includes tasks that assess candidates’ ability to write essays and summaries. This section will include 2 tasks to be completed in around 30-35 minutes.
Each category carries equal weightage of 30 marks, making the maximum achievable score of 120. This test score is valid for two years.
Registration for the exam:
To register for the TOEFL, candidates must create an account on the official ETS (Educational Testing Service) website. This account allows users to register for the test, view results, and access other exam-related information. During account creation, students must ensure that their entered credentials are the same as those on valid ID proof.
The TOEFL iBT and PBT fees are INR 16900, or $235 USD.
Which countries accept TOEFL?
Although the acceptance of the TOEFL score varies from University to university, almost all the universities in the USA, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, among others, accept the TOEFL exam as a valid proof of command over the English language.
However, the minimum acceptable TOEFL score for admission differs in all these countries. On average, UK, USA, Ireland, and Canada educational facilities have set a benchmark of 90- 100 marks out of 120. The score expectations in other countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, are below 75-90.
TOEFL Vs. IELTS:
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are both standardized tests designed to assess the English language proficiency of non-native speakers. However, they differ in several key aspects. TOEFL is primarily an internet-based test, though a paper-based version exists in some regions. It consists of four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. TOEFL measures your ability to understand and use English in academic settings, emphasising academic vocabulary and contexts. Scores range from 0 to 120.
In contrast, IELTS is available in Academic and General Training formats. The Academic version is typically used for educational purposes, while the General Training version is often required for immigration and job-related visas. IELTS assesses a broader range of English language skills and is divided into four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Scores are reported on a scale of 0 to 9 for each section, and the overall score is an average of these section scores.
The other notable difference between the two exams is their examination fees. TOEFL is comparatively affordable in comparison to IELTS but is considered tougher.
Ultimately, the choice between TOEFL and IELTS depends on the specific requirements of the institution or organization you are applying to and your personal preferences regarding test format and content.