toefl TOEFL

TOEFL - The ultimate guide

TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is one of the most widely accepted English proficiency exams at American and Canadian colleges and educational institutions across the world. The exam assesses overseas students' knowledge and understanding of English as it is read, spoken, written, and heard in college and university settings. ETS (Educational Testing Services), the TOEFL exam's administering organisation, is in charge of administering the TOEFL exam, delivering the TOEFL iBT test, and emailing each examinee their scorecard.

Why take the TOEFL test?

  • There are several reasons why students and professionals take the TOEFL:
  • University admissions: Many universities in Australia, United States, Canada, and other English-speaking countries require TOEFL test Score as part of their admission process.
  • Visa requirements: In some countries, a TOEFL test  score may be required as part of the visa application process for non-native English speakers.
  • Professional development: Some professions, such as teachers or medical professionals, may require TOEFL test scores as part of their licensure or certification process.
  • Personal growth: Taking the TOEFL can help individuals assess and improve their English language skills, which can be beneficial for personal and professional development.
  • Overall, taking the TOEFL can provide individuals with a standardized and widely recognized assessment of their English language abilities, which is valuable for various academic, professional, and personal reasons.

TOEFL exam eligibility

  1. Candidates looking to take the TOEFL test will be pleased to know that there are no specific eligibility criteria defined by the administering organisation – Educational Testing Service (ETS). The TOEFL is designed for individuals seeking admission to English-speaking universities or educational institutions, with most test-takers having completed high school or its equivalent. The only requirement for taking the exam is a valid passport for identification purposes.

    It's important to note that while the TOEFL measures English language proficiency, the specific requirements for admission to a particular university or institution may vary. For this reason, candidates should verify the admission requirements of their desired college or university. The TOEFL is mandatory for non-native English speakers who are seeking admission to universities in English-speaking countries such as Australia, the United States and Canada.

    In addition to students, professionals may also take the TOEFL as it is often required for obtaining a visa. ETS, the organisation that administers the TOEFL, does not impose age restrictions on the exam.


The TOEFL is designed to assess a candidate's ability to use and understand the English language in an academic setting. The following is a general outline of the syllabus for the TOEFL:

Reading: This section measures the candidate's ability to understand academic texts in English. The questions will test the candidate's ability to identify main ideas, make inferences, and understand vocabulary in context.

Listening: This section measures the candidate's ability to understand spoken English in an academic setting. The questions will test the candidate's ability to understand lectures, conversations, and other academic materials.

Speaking: This section measures the candidate's ability to speak English in an academic setting. The questions will test the candidate's ability to speak on familiar topics, express opinions, and participate in academic discussions.

Writing: This section measures the candidate's ability to write in English in an academic setting. The questions will test the candidate's ability to write clear and coherent responses to questions based on academic material.

In addition to the four main sections, the TOEFL may also include additional questions designed to assess the candidate's ability to understand and use academic vocabulary and grammar.

It's important to note that the format and content of the TOEFL may vary depending on the version of the exam you take (i.e., iBT, PBT, or CBT). However, the overall goal of the exam remains the same, which is to assess a candidate's ability to use and understand English in an academic setting.


The TOEFL exam pattern 2023 includes four sections - reading, listening, speaking, and writing - as well as a total score. Candidates are always advised to practice thoroughly, as the more they practice TOEFL sample papers, the higher their scores will be. The ETS, the conducting body that governs the TOEFL exam, is in charge of determining the TOEFL exam pattern.

Sections Time duration No. of questions Details
Reading 60-80 minutes 36-56 questions 3-4 reading passages to answer questions
Listening 60-90 minutes 34-51 questions Audio clips of 4-6 short lectures and 2-3 long conversations to answer questions
Break 10 minutes - -
Speaking 20 minutes 6 Tasks Need to speak on familiar topics or any academic-related issues
Writing 50 minutes 2 Tasks Articulate opinion, logic, and argument after a comparison between a reading passage and classroom lecture

TOEFL score

TOEFL score range:

  • Your score report will consist of the reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections' scores along with the total score.
  • The band score for each section ranges between 0 and 30.
  • The consolidated score of all four sections is taken as the total score ranging between 0 and 120.
Section TOEFL score range Proficiency level
TOEFL reading section 0-30 Poor (0–14)
Average (15–21)
Proficient (22–30)
TOEFL listening section 0-30 Poor (0–14)
Average (15–21)
Proficient (22–30)
TOEFL speaking section 0-30 Poor(0–9)
Below average (10–17)
Average (18–25)
Proficient (26–30)
TOEFL writing section 0-30 Poor - Below average (1–16)
Above average (17–23)
Proficient (24–30)
TOEFL total score 120 -

TOEFL band score sheet

Total TOEFL score Percentile
120 100
116 99
112 97
108 93
104 88
100 81
96 74
92 67
88 59
84 51
80 44
76 37
72 31
68 25
64 20
60 16
56 13
52 10
48 8
44 6
40 4
36 3
32 2
28 1
24 1
20 0
16 0
12 0
8 0
4 0
0 0

TOEFL preparation

The TOEFL exam is divided into portions, which make up the overall TOEFL test – let’s get into the section-specific TOEFL preparation guide.

How to prepare for TOEFL? (section-wise)

As previously stated, the TOEFL exam is made up of several portions that join together to form the TOEFL test. Continue reading for key section-by-section preparation recommendations to prepare for the TOEFL exam.

How to prepare for the TOEFL reading section?

  • You are strongly recommended to read as much as possible in English. The primary goal behind this activity is to keep your attention engaged with the English language at all times.
  • Reading brief paragraphs and transforming them into a question-and-answer format to completely comprehend the idea behind the piece is a tried and established way of practising the discipline of reading.
  • Newspapers, magazines, and articles in English are excellent resources for learning new terms and comprehending the written language.
  • Exchanging articles and literary work for grading or self-rating your work may also serve as a guideline for calculating your success rate.
  • To perform well in the TOEFL reading section, you must increase your vocabulary. You should also engage in regular vocabulary development exercises to enhance your performance in the TOEFL reading section.

TOEFL reading tips

  • Regularly read university textbooks or other texts written in an academic style that span a wide range of topic areas (e.g., sciences, social sciences, arts, business, etc.). There is a vast range of academic literature available on the internet, as well as journals and case studies.
  • Before attentively reading each word and sentence, practise skimming a chapter to gain a basic sense of the primary concept first.
  • After scanning a section, reread it carefully and jot down the primary concept, major ideas, and key details.
  • Increase your reading fluency by practising regularly.
  • Select several unfamiliar terms from the passage and deduce their meaning from the context (surrounding sentences). Then search them up to find out what they imply.

How to prepare for the TOEFL writing section?

  • To begin, you should listen to brief passages or readings and write a synopsis of them in order to completely comprehend the recordings. You would be able to communicate your understanding of the recording in this manner.
  • Connecting words is crucial because they demonstrate the relationship between sentences and paragraphs and also link two or more short sentences into one lengthy statement.
  • You may identify the writer's opinion or opinions while listening to recordings, analyse them, and write about them in depth.
  • You would frequently come across opposing viewpoints in the same paragraph. As a result, you must pay attention to how the writer tackles any objections to the argument if they are there, and then express the same in your own words.

TOEFL writing tips

  • Increase your vocabulary and understanding of idiomatic speech so that you can use it correctly.
  • Learn grammatical structures thoroughly enough to be able to employ them naturally when writing.
  • Learn the rules of spelling, punctuation, and page structure (e.g., paragraph creation).
  • Find a textbook that offers material-related questions at the conclusion of each chapter and practise writing responses to the questions.
  • Read an article that is 300–400 words in length. Create an overview of the article's main ideas and relevant details. Create a summary of the material and thoughts using the outline. Summaries should be brief and crisp, containing only the most significant ideas and details. Make use of a variety of vocabulary and grammatical structures while paraphrasing.

How to prepare for the TOEFL speaking section?

  • You can begin by compiling a list of subjects you are familiar with and practice speaking about them. The subjects may be both scholarly and non-academic.
  • You can collect images from websites and newspapers and describe them in under one minute as part of a self-exercise. You can also make the assignment more challenging by describing the same subject numerous times, using various adjectives, and adding details.
  • You may also choose opinion articles and express an opinion or preference for or against the issue, as well as provide clear, thorough reasoning for your decisions. You should utilise linking words or phrases to clarify your opinions in this practice.
  • You can also self-assess your TOEFL iBT speaking skills by thinking about activities relevant to your student life and writing reasons to justify your preferences for the same, then speaking for one minute about it.
  • You can also establish the habit of reading newspapers and articles online and discussing current events with your friends.

TOEFL speaking tips

  • Increase your vocabulary and learn how to utilise colloquial speaking correctly.
  • Learn to employ grammatical structures naturally when speaking.
  • Improve your pronunciation by focusing on word stress, intonation patterns, and pauses. (There are a variety of items and websites that can assist you in improving your pronunciation abilities.)
  • Before you talk, take some time to think about what you're going to say. Make a list of keywords and concepts, but don't try to write down precisely what you're going to say. 
  • To provide fresh information or ideas, link concepts, and mark essential words or ideas, use signal words and phrases. This will make it easier for the audience to understand what you're saying. (For example, "on the one hand...," "but on the other hand...," "what that implies is...," "The first difference is...")

How to prepare for the TOEFL listening section?

  • The key to passing the TOEFL listening exam is being able to take accurate notes when someone is dictating to you. As a result, applicants must recognise that one of the most appreciated abilities in the TOEFL listening test is taking correct notes rapidly.
  • Developing listening skills is yet another vital factor that must be focussed on. Many students find it difficult to listen for lengthy lengths of time because they are unable to assimilate information after a certain point. As a result, it is critical that you first cultivate the habit of listening to extended audios in order to extract relevant information and apply it to answer questions.

TOEFL listening tips

  • Look for terms that demonstrate links and interconnections between concepts. 
  • To remain focused, anticipate what someone is going to say. Listen to the recorded content and pause it at various places.
  • Try to determine the aim of the statement or discussion - is it an apology, a complaint, or a suggestion?
  • Take note of whether the language is formal or informal. Take great note of the speaker's tone of voice. Is the speaker's tone of voice calm or agitated? What is the speaker's level of confidence in the facts he or she is presenting?
  • Take note of any shifts in topic or digressions.

Frequently asked questions

Is a passport required for TOEFL Exam?

A valid passport is an essential requirement for anyone wishing to take the exam.

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