The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, evaluates the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting. It is an admission requirement for non-native English speakers at many English-speaking colleges and universities. Additionally, institutions such as government agencies, licensing bodies, businesses, or scholarship programs may require this test. A TOEFL score is valid for two years and then will no longer be officially reported since a candidate's language proficiency could have significantly changed since the date of the test. Colleges and universities usually consider only the most recent TOEFL score.
Modes of TOEFL Exam
The iBT has been introduced in phases, with the United States, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy in 2005 and the rest of the world in 2006, with test centers added regularly. The CBT was discontinued in September 2006 and these scores are no longer valid. The TOEFL test is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is administered worldwide.
Paper Based Test
In areas where the internet-based test is not available, a paper-based test (PBT) is given. They should register in advance of the given deadlines to ensure a place because the test centers have limited seating and may fill up early. Tests are administered on fixed dates 6 times each year. The test is 3 hours long and all test sections can be taken on the same day.
TOEFL Exam Sections
TOEFL Reading Section
The Reading section consists of 3-5 passages, each approximately 700 words in length and questions about the passages. The passages are on academic topics. Passages require the understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast, and argumentation. Students answer questions about main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas. New types of questions in the iBT require filling out tables or completing summaries. Prior knowledge of the subject under discussion is not necessary to come to the correct answer.
TOEFL Listening Section
The Listening section consists of six passages 35 minutes in length and questions about the passages. These passages include two student conversations and four academic lectures or discussions. A conversation involves two speakers, a student and either a professor or a campus service provider. A lecture is a self-contained portion of an academic lecture, which may involve student participation and does not assume specialized background knowledge in the subject area. Each conversation and lecture stimulus is heard only once. Test-takers may take notes while they listen and they may refer to their notes when they answer the questions.
TOEFL Speaking Section
The Speaking section consists of six tasks: two independent tasks and four integrated tasks. In the two independent tasks, test-takers answer opinion questions on familiar topics. They are evaluated on their ability to speak spontaneously and convey their ideas clearly and coherently. In two of the integrated tasks, test-takers read a short passage, listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and answer a question by combining appropriate information from the text and the talk. In the two remaining integrated tasks, test-takers listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and then respond to a question about what they heard.
TOEFL Writing Section
The Writing section measures a test taker's ability to write in an academic setting and consists of two tasks: one integrated task and one independent task. In the integrated task, test-takers read a passage on an academic topic and then listen to a speaker discuss the same topic. The test-taker will then write a summary about the important points in the listening passage and explain how these relate to the key points of the reading passage. In the independent task, test-takers must write an essay that states, explains, and supports their opinion on an issue, supporting their opinions or choices, rather than simply listing personal preferences or choices. Responses are sent to the ETS OSN and evaluated by four raters.
Accepted TOEFL Scores
Most colleges use TOEFL scores as only one factor in their admission process. Each college or program within a college often has minimum TOEFL score required. The minimum TOEFL iBT scores range from 61 to 109. A sampling of required TOEFL admissions scores shows that a total TOEFL iBT score of 74.2 for undergraduate admissions and 82.6 for graduate admissions may be required. It is recommended that students check with their prospective institutions directly to understand TOEFL admissions requirements.