Test of English as a Foreign Language® 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 many English-speaking academic and professional institutions. TOEFL is one of the two major English-language tests in the world, the other being the IELTS.
TOEFL is a trademark of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a private non-profit organization, which designs and administers the tests. ETS issues official score reports, sent independently to institutions, for two years following the test.
A test of all four language skills
IELTS is a test of your language skills in Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. IELTS is available in two test formats: Academic or General Training. There are four parts – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
All test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests. The difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training is in the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections.
Listening, Reading and Writing must be completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them. The order in which these tests are taken may vary.
The Speaking test will either be after a break on the same day as the other three tests, or up to a week before or after the other tests. This will depend on your test centre.
Why is the IELTS test format fairer for you?
The TOEFL iBT® test is given in English and administered via the internet. There are 4 sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) which take a total of about 4 ½ hours to complete, including check-in.
Combining All 4 Skills: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing
During the test, you are asked to perform tasks that combine your English communication skills, such as:
- Read, listen and then speak in response to a question
- Listen and then speak in response to a question
- Read, listen and then write in response to a question
TOEFL iBT Test Sections
|Reading||60–80 minutes||36–56 questions||Read 3 or 4 passages from academic texts and answer questions.|
|Listening||60–90 minutes||34–51 questions||Listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, then answer questions.|
|Speaking||20 minutes||6 tasks||Express an opinion on a familiar topic; speak based on reading and listening tasks.|
|Writing||50 minutes||2 tasks||Write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing.|
The test you take may include extra questions in the Reading or Listening section that do not count toward your score. These are either questions that enable ETS to make test scores comparable across administrations or new questions that help ETS determine how such questions function under actual testing conditions.
Please read the timing instructions for the Reading Section carefully. The instructions will indicate how many passages you will receive and the amount of time you have to respond to questions for those passages. Be sure to pace yourself so that you have time to answer all the questions.
A standard English language (QWERTY) computer keyboard is used for the test. We recommend that you practice typing on a QWERTY keyboard before taking the test.
Native-speaker English Accents
The Listening and Speaking sections of the TOEFL iBT test include other
native-speaker English accents in addition to accents from North America. You may hear accents from the U.K., New Zealand or Australia.
ETS added these accents to better reflect the variety of native English accents you may encounter while studying abroad.
Below are examples similar to what you might hear in the Speaking and Listening sections.
Listen to a talk about the greenhouse effect (MP3). The lecturer is from Great Britain.
In the Speaking section, only items 1 and 2 of the 6 tasks may have accented speech. Below are two examples similar to what you might hear. The speakers are from Great Britain. In each instance, the example is 15 seconds long, and you would have 45 seconds to respond.
|Item 1 (MP3)||If friends from another country were going to spend time in your country, what city or place would you suggest they visit? Using details and examples, explain why.|
|Item 2 (MP3)||Some people enjoy taking risks and trying new things. Others are not adventurous; they are cautious and prefer to avoid danger. Which behavior do you think is better? Explain why.|
Your scores are based on your performance on the questions in the test. You must answer at least 1 question each in the Reading and Listening sections, write at least 1 essay, and complete at least 1 Speaking task to receive an official score. For the TOEFL iBT® test, administered via the internet, you will receive 4 scaled section scoresand a total score:
Score of zero (0)
Although the score range for each of the 4 test sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing) is from 0 to 30, each section is a separate measure and each measure has its own scale. Therefore, scores obtained on a section can be compared to other scores from the same section, but it is not appropriate to compare scores across different sections.
The Reading and Listening sections are scored by computer with a score range from 0 to 30. The Reading section has 36–56 tasks based on reading passages from academic texts and answering questions. The Listening section has 34–51 tasks based on listening to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, then answering questions.
- Each of 6 tasks is rated from 0 to 4. The sum is converted to a scaled score of 0 to 30.
- ETS-certified test scorers rate responses and evaluate how well you develop your topic and deliver your message in English.
- The 2 tasks are rated from 0 to 5. The sum is converted to a scaled score of 0 to 30.
- The Writing section is scored by:
- - evaluating the integrated writing task for development, organization, grammar, vocabulary, accuracy and completeness
- - rating the independent writing essay on overall writing quality, including development, organization, grammar and vocabulary
- Human rating — multiple, rigorously trained raters score tests anonymously. ETS raters are continually monitored to ensure fairness and the highest quality.
- eRater® automated scoring technology is used with human ratings to score the independent and integrated writing tasks. Using both human judgment for content and meaning with automated scoring for linguistic features ensures consistent, quality scores.
In addition to your scores, your test taker score report also includes performance feedback that is a reflection of your performance level and a description of the kinds of tasks that test takers within the reported score range can typically do.
There is no passing or failing TOEFL® score; individual higher education institutions and agencies set their own score requirements. TOEFL scores are valid for 2 years after the test date and there is no limit to the number of times you can take the test, but you cannot take it more than once in a 12-day period. If you already have a test appointment, you cannot register for another test within 12 days of your existing appointment.
The Way the Test Is Scored
ETS uses both human raters and automated scoring methods to offer a complete and accurate picture of a test taker's ability. While automated scoring models have advantages, they do not measure the effectiveness of the language response and the appropriateness of its content. Human raters are needed to attend to a wider variety of features, such as the quality of ideas and content as well as form.
Additionally, studies have shown that prompts designed for fully automated scoring have been more vulnerable to prompt-specific preparation and memorized responses.
The TOEFL test uses automated scoring to complement human scoring for the 2 tasks in the Writing section. Combining human judgment for content and meaning, and automated scoring for linguistic features, ensures consistent, quality scores.
How We Ensure Quality
ETS raters are trained extensively, pass a certification test and are calibrated daily. The calibration includes task familiarization, guidance on scoring the task, and practice on a range of responses. Raters are continuously monitored for accuracy by ETS scoring leaders and checked each time they score a new test question.
Rating Is Kept Apart from Test Administration
To ensure the security and integrity of scores, it is critical that scoring not take place at test sites, but rather through a centralized scoring network that implements and ensures consistent scoring standards. The TOEFL test is scored by a network of raters, carefully controlled from a secure central location. ETS uses a highly diverse pool of raters rather than those exclusive to an applicant's country of origin, and ETS raters score responses anonymously for truly objective scoring. Multiple raters' judgments contribute to each test taker's Speaking and Writing scores in order to minimize rater bias.