TOEFL : Test of English as Foreign Language


The purpose of the TOEFL test is to evaluate proficiency in English writing and reading of people whose native language is not English. It focuses mainly on international students planning to study in the United States, Australia, U.K. Canada and other countries. TOEFL is the most widely respected and popular English-language test in the world required for purposes of admission by colleges and universities in approximately 130 countries. The TOEFL test is administered by Eduational Testing Service (ETS). Read more to get details on ETS TOEFL, what is TOEFL, TOFEL scores, TOEFL sample test and TOEFL registration.

Why TOEFL is Important?

The TOEFL evaluates non-native English speakers' ability to read, write, speak, and listen to English in a similar way that it is spoken and used in educational institutions. This test is important to validate the speaking  and writing capabilities of applicants who wish to pursue education in countries where English is the primary langauage. Also, a good TOEFL score is essential for international students to get teaching assistant ships and other on-campus jobs.

TOEFL Test Structure

There are two formats for the TOEFL test:

TOEFL iBT test which is administered via the Internet and the TOEFL paper-based test (PBT). The specific test format depends on the location of the country and test center. Most test takers take the TOEFL iBT test because the paper-based test is in the process of being phased out in 2012.

TOEFL iBT Format: The four-hour test consists of four sections, each measuring one of the basic language skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Focus Area Coverage Number of Questions Time Duration Total Time
Listening 4-6 lectures  6 questions  3-5 minutes long  60-90 minutes
  2-3 conversations 5 questions 3 minutes long  
Reading 3-5 text passages 12-14 questions Each passage approx 700 words long 60-100 minutes
Speaking  Speak on one familiar topic 2 independant  tasks   20 minutes
  Speak based on what you read and hear 4 independant tasks    
Writing Write based on what is read and heard 1 independant  task   50 minutes
  Support an opinion 1 independant  task    

TOEFL Paper-Based Format: The TOEFL PBT test takes about three and one-half hours to complete. There is also a 30-minute writing test called the TWE test, which is required by every student appearing for the paper-based test. The total time to take both tests is about four hours.

Focus Area Coverage Number of Questions Total Time
Listening Comprehension On taped conversations  50 questions  30-40 minutes
Structure & Written Expression Correct sentence structure, sentence completion 40 questions 25 minutes
Reading Comprehension  Read and understand short passages 50 questions 55 minutes
Written English Generate and support ideas with evidence, examples and opinion One Topic 30 minutes

Tips to Prepare for TOEFL


The cost of the TOEFL iBT test can range from US$160 to US$250 and varies between countries.The cost of the TOEFL PBT test is US$160. For more information on fees, test dates, locations and formats, please visit the official ETS website.


TOEFL iBT score report contains five scores: one total score on a scale of 0 to 120, and four skill scores, each on a scale of 0 to 30.

1. Listening (0 to 30 points)
2. Reading (0 to 30 points)
3. Speaking (0 to 30 points)
4. Writing (0 to 30 points)
5. Total Score (0 to 120 points)

The TOEFL paper-based test score is determined by the total number of correct answers and contains one score report. The TWE test is reported separately and is not part of the total score. Each of the other sections are scored as follows:

1. Listening Comprehension (on a scale of 31-68)
2. Structure/Written Expression (on a scale of 31 to 68)
3. Reading Comprehension (on a scale of 31 to 67)
4. Total Score: 310 to 677

The raw score for each section is converted by statistical means to a number that is called the TOEFL test scale. The total paper-based test score is reported on a scale that ranges from 310 to 677.

 A TOEFL score is valid for two years. Scores are generally available 5 weeks after the test is taken. The minimum score required for admission depends on the college the applicant applies to because each educational institution defines its own minimum range.

Test Dates & Location

The test is conducted in more than 4,500 centers in 130 countries and is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). For more information please visit the ETS official site.


Applicants can register using one of four methods online, in person, by phone or by mail. Online registration is the fastest and easiest method. To register for TOEFL please visit the ETS official website.