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What Is the TOEFL Test?

Home >> Tips for learning >> International exams >> TOEFL


TOEFL1. General information 

The TOEFL test is the most widely respected English-language test in the world, recognized by more than 7,500 colleges, universities and agencies, including the top 100 colleges and universities in the UK, U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and more. If you're not a native speaker of English, you will need to show you can use and understand English at the university level. Schools rely on English-language proficiency tests like the TOEFL test to measure applicants' English language abilities.

Other organizations rely on TOEFL scores as well:

  • Immigration departments use them to issue residential and work visas;
  • Medical and licensing agencies use them for professional certification purposes;
  • Individuals use them to measure their progress in learning English. 

Who Takes the TOEFL iBT Test?

  • Students planning to study at a higher education institution;
  • English language learning program admissions and exit;
  • Scholarship and certification candidates;
  • English-language learners who want to track their progress;
  • Students and workers applying for visas. 

There are two formats for the TOEFL test. The format you take depends on the location of your test center. Most test takers take the Internet-based Test (iBT). Test centers that do not have Internet access offer the Paper-based Test (PBT)

2. Structure

The TOEFL iBT Test

The TOEFL iBT test is given in English and administered in an internet-based format. There are four sections (listening, reading, speaking and writing) which take a total of about four and a half hours to complete and each section is taken online.  The TOEFL iBT test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. 

During the test, you are asked to perform tasks that combine more than one skill, 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.

Listening.  60 – 90 minutes. Listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, then answer questions.

Reading. 60 – 100 minutes. Read passages from academic texts and answer questions.

Speaking. 20 minutes.Express an opinion on a familiar topic; speak based on reading and listening tasks.

Writing. 50 minutes.Write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing.    


The TOEFL PBT, administered in a paper-based format, takes about three and one-half hours to complete. There is also a 30-minute writing test, called the TWE test (Test of Written English), which is required of everyone who takes the paper-based test. The total time to take both tests will be about four hours. The TOEFL PBT Test measures your ability to use and understand English in a classroom setting at the college or university level. It accurately measures how well you can listen, read and write English while performing academic tasks.

The TOEFL PBT test has three sections plus the TWE writing test, all of which are mandatory. At  least one question in each section must be answered and one essay must be written to earn a score.

Listening Comprehension. 30-40 minutes. Measures the ability to understand spoken English.

Structure and Written Expression. 25 minutes.Measures the ability to recognize language appropriate for standard written English.

Reading Comprehension. 55 minutes. Measures the ability to understand non-technical reading material.

Test of Written English. 30 minutes. Measures the ability to write in English. You will be asked to write a short essay on one topic from your TWE test book to show your ability to: generate and organize ideas, support ideas in writing with examples or evidence, use standard written English formats. 

3. When and where

The TOEFL iBT Test test has more test dates (30 – 40) and locations (4,500 test centers in 165 countries) than any other English-language test in the world. You can retake the test as many times as you wish.   

The TOEFL PBT Test  is offered six times a year. See a list of TOEFL PBT test centers and dates or check the online registration system for the latest information. Not all test centers are open for every test date. 

4. Test results validity

A TOEFL score is valid for two years and then will no longer be officially reported.

The following information is taken from official site www.toefl.org