Test of English as a Foreign Language is a standardised English proficiency test aimed at measuring the English language ability of non-native speakers who wish to enrol in English-speaking universities. It is one of the two major English-language tests in the world. It is one of the major requirements for students who intend to go further in their study in higher institutions of learning in the US, UK, Canada, etc.
The Reading section consists of questions on 3-4 passages, each approximately 700 words in length and with 10 questions. The passages are on academic topics; they are the kind of material that might be found in an undergraduate university textbook. Passages require 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 TOEFL iBT test require filling out tables or completing summaries. Prior knowledge of the subject under discussion is not necessary to come to the correct answer.
The Listening section consists of questions on 2-3 conversations with 5 questions each, and 5-7 lectures with 6 questions each. Each conversation is 2.5-3 minutes and lectures are 4.5-5.5 minutes in length. The conversations involve a student and either a professor or a campus service provider. The lectures are 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 passage is heard only once. Test-takers may take notes while they listen and they may refer to their notes when they answer the questions. The listening questions are meant to measure the ability to understand main ideas, important details, implications, relationships between ideas, organization of information, speaker purpose and speaker attitude.
The Speaking section consists of 4 tasks: 1 independent (Task 1) and 3 integrated (Task 2, 3, 4). In task 1, 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 task 2 and 4, 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 task 3, test-takers listen to an academic course lecture and then respond to a question about what they heard. In the integrated tasks, test-takers are evaluated on their ability to appropriately synthesize and effectively convey information from the reading and listening material. Test-takers may take notes as they read and listen and may use their notes to help prepare their responses. Test-takers are given a short preparation time before they have to begin speaking. The responses are digitally recorded, sent to ETS’s Online Scoring Network (OSN), and evaluated by three to six raters.
The Writing section measures a test taker’s ability to write in an academic setting and consists of two tasks: one integrated and one independent. In the integrated task, test-takers read a passage on an academic topic and then listen to a speaker discuss it. The test-taker then writes a summary about the important points in the listening passage and explains how these relate to the key points of the reading passage. In the independent task, the test-taker must write an essay that states their opinion or choice, and then explain it, rather than simply listing personal preferences or choices. Responses are sent to the ETS OSN and evaluated by at least 3 different raters.
Listening (30 – 40 minutes)
The Listening section consists of 3 parts. The first one contains 30 questions about short conversations. The second part has 8 questions about longer conversations. The last part asks 12 questions about lectures or talks. Harder questions are worth two scores.
Structure and Written Expression (25 minutes)
The Structure and Written Expression section has 15 exercises of completing sentences correctly and 25 exercises of identifying errors. Harder questions are worth two scores.
Reading Comprehension (55 minutes)
The Reading Comprehension section has 50 questions about reading passages. Harder questions are worth two scores.
Writing (30 minutes)
The TOEFL PBT administrations include a writing test called the Test of Written English (TWE). This is one essay question with 250–300 words on average.
Its highest obtainable score is 120 marks for the iBT (Internet-Based Test). A pass mark of, at least, 80/120 is required for admission into higher institutions of learning. However, some Ivy League institutions (i. e. 1st-Tier universities) may require a score of 100 or 110 as pass mark for admission. For the PBT, the highest obtainable score is 677 marks.
- Writing Section
- Reading Section
- Speaking Section
- Listening Section
Its result is usually required by more than 10,000 higher institutions of learning in over 130 countries of the world.
The test is conducted every three (3) or four (4) weekends of every month of the year.