TOEFL

 

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TOEFL IBT TEST

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QUICK TOEFL iBT FACTS:

TEST COMPONENTS:

READING

LISTENING

BREAK

SPEAKING*

WRITING*

30-40 Q

54-72 MINS

28-39 Q

41-57 MINS

10 MINS

4 TASKS

17 MINS

2 TASKS

50 MINS

TOTAL

3.5 HRS

58-79 QUESTIONS

6 TASKS

*HAS INTEGRATED TASK COMPONENT

The TOEFL iBT is NOT an English grammar test.

Students who attempt the test by preparing only for English grammar ultimately perform poorly. 

The TOEFL iBT test measures your ability to understand and use the English language at the university level.

Therefore, the TOEFL iBT is designed to test and evaluate how well you combine the following skills to perform academic tasks:

  • Reading (0-30 Points)

  • Listening (0-30 Points)

  • Speaking (0-30 Points)

  • Writing (0-30 Points)

  • Total Score = Reading + Listening + Speaking + Writing Section Scores (0-120)

The TOEFL iBT test uses integrated tasks in the Speaking and Writing sections that require test takers to combine skills just as they would in a real classroom setting at a university where the language of instruction is English.

The integrated questions ask test takers to:

  • Read, listen and then speak in response to a question (Input: Reading, Listening, Output: Speaking)

  • Listen and then speak in response to a question (Input: Listening, Output: Speaking)

  • Read, listen and then write in response to a question (Input: Reading, Listening, Output: Writing)

READING SECTION:

 

The Reading section measures your ability to understand university-level academic texts and passages written in English. TOEFL iBT 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.

The following are 3 purposes for academic reading:

SKILL: Reading to Find Information

  • Sub-skill: Effectively scanning text for key facts and important information

SKILL: Basic Comprehension

  • Sub-skill: Understanding the general topic or main idea, major points, important facts and details, vocabulary in context, and pronoun usage

  • Sub-skill: Making inferences about what is implied in a passage

SKILL: Reading to Learn

  • Sub-skill: Recognizing the organization and purpose of a passage

  • Sub-skill: Understanding relationships between ideas

  • Sub-skill: Organizing information into a category chart or a summary in order to recall major points and important details

Question Formats:
Single-answer traditional multiple choice format

Single-answer multiple choice for best fit of sentence in a passage

Organizing/Sorting/Placing text options into a category chart of summary (Reading to Learn questions)

LISTENING SECTION:

Listening material in the test includes academic lectures and conversations.

The Listening sections include native-speaker English accents from North America. You may also hear accents from the U.K., New Zealand or Australia.

You can take notes on any listening material throughout the entire test.

Academic Lectures

The lectures in the TOEFL iBT® test reflect the kind of listening and speaking that occurs in the classroom.

In some of the lectures, the professor does all or almost all of the talking, with an occasional comment by a student.

In other lectures, the professor may engage the students in discussion by asking questions that are answered by the students. 

3-4 lectures, 3-5 minutes long, 6 questions per lecture

You can listen to a real sample lecture from the TOEFL iBT Listening section here. The speaker has a British accent.

Conversations in an Academic Setting

The conversations in the TOEFL iBT test may take place during an office meeting with a professor or teaching assistant, or during a service encounter with university staff. The contents of the office conversations are generally academic in nature or related to course requirements. Service encounters could involve conversations about a housing payment, registering for a class or requesting information at the library. 

2-3 conversations, 3 minutes long, 5 questions per conversation

SPEAKING SECTION:

Unlike the IELTS, when you sit for the TOEFL iBT test, you will not be speaking to a real examiner. This is an important consideration because you:

  • will be given a fixed amount of time to prepare your response (15-30 seconds) and a fixed amount of time to present it (45-60 seconds)

  • do not have the margin to be able to risk giving an incomplete, or irrelevant answer

  • cannot ask to repeat the question or ask to repeat your response

  • do not have the time to clarify an error you may have made

​The Speaking section is approximately 17 minutes long and includes 4 tasks.

  • 1 (one) independent taskit requires you to draw entirely on your own ideas, opinions and experiences when you respond.

  • 3 (three) integrated tasks: they require you to integrate your English-language skills—listening and speaking, or listening, reading and speaking—just as you must during class and outside the classroom.

Your responses in the speaking section will be recorded and sent to ETS for scoring and are scored on a scale of 0 to 4.

NOTE: Pronunciation does not need to sound like that of a native English speaker. The raters are listening for the effectiveness of your communication and your ability to accomplish the tasks you are given.

TOEFL Speaking Section

WRITING SECTION:

The Writing section measures your ability to write in English in an academic setting. 

You will have 50 minutes to attempt two writing tasks.

In all academic situations where writing in English is required, you must be able to present your ideas in a clear, well-organized manner. Often you’ll need to write a paper or an essay response on an exam about what you’ve been learning in class. This requires combining information you’ve heard in lectures with what you’ve read in textbooks or other materials.

Task 1 - Integrated Writing Task

  • comes first

  • takes about 20 minutes

  • you read a short text of about 230–300 words (reading time: 3 minutes) on an academic topic.

  • requires some listening (approximately 230-300 words, 2 minutes

  • suggested response length is 150–225 words, however, there is no penalty for writing more as long as it is in response to the task presented. Please understand that writing more with irrelevant details will NOT help your score.

  • you must be able to:

    • Take notes on what you hear and read, and use your notes to organize information before writing

    • Summarize, paraphrase and cite information accurately from source material

    • Write about the ways the information you heard relates to the information you read

 

When you finish the Integrated Writing Task, you may take the headphones off to work on the Independent Writing Task.

Task 2 - Independent Writing Task

  • takes about 30 minutes

  • you will express an opinion and support it based on your own knowledge and experience. For example, you may be asked to write an essay about a controversial issue. You would use past personal experience to support your position.

  • suggested response length is minimum of 300 words; no penalty for writing more if you wish. Please understand that writing more with irrelevant details will NOT help your score.

Your responses are rated on a scale of 0 to 5

 

TOEFL Writing Section