TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language



TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) tests the English language skills of non-native students who want to study or work in countries where English is the language of communication. It is an exam developed by ETS (Educational Testing Service). More than 6,000 institutions and agencies in 110 countries rely on TOEFL scores to select students with the English skills needed to succeed.

TOEFL tests all four language skills that are important for effective communication: speaking, listening, reading and writing. There are three versions of the TOEFL: paper-based, computer-based (CBT) and internet-based (iBT). The majority of test centers now use the Internet Based TOEFL (iBT).

Paper-Based & Computer-Based TOEFL
The computer-based TOEFL (CBT) was introduced in 1998. Its format is very similar to that of the original paper-based test. In areas where the computer-based test is not available, the paper-based test is used. Remember that you cannot change your answers in the first two sections of the CBT after you have confirmed them on the computer. There are more "types" of questions in the CBT, such as clicking on a phrase and looking at a diagram. Before you start the CBT you will take a tutorial which shows you how to answer the questions properly. The total time you will spend taking the paper-based test is 2.5 hours. The CBT takes approximately 4 hours (including tutorials).

TOEFL format (paper based)
Listening comprehension (30 minutes)

Part A: short dialogues
Part b: Long conversations
Part c: mini-lectures

Structure and written expression (25 minutes)

Sentence completion (15 questions)
Error recognition (25 questions)

Reading comprehension (55 minutes)

50 questions – approximately 5 passages

Computer based
Adaptive listening (60 minutes)

Part A: short dialogues
Part B: conversations, academic discussions, mini-lectures

Adaptive structure (15-20 minutes)

Sentence completion (approximately 10 questions)
Error recognition (approximately 15 questions)

Reading comprehension (70-90 minutes)

Over 60 questions – approximately 6 passages

Writing (30 minutes)

1 essay topic