TOEFL Test Sections

The computer based TOEFL test consists of four sections, namely Listening, Structure (Grammar), Reading and Writing.

The first section of the TOEFL test, which is the listening section, consists of about 30 or 50 questions in two parts, the first part consists of short conversation while the second part consists of longer conversations. This section of the TOEFL test revolves around the conversation of two or three speakers and that of four to six lectures inclusive of classroom dialogues. These questions have to be answered in 20 or 30 minutes. Since the time spent on listening to the questions is calculate separately, the total time spent on this section would range from 40 to 60 minutes. As and when the questions are answered the time left to answer the remaining questions in that section appears in a clock-like display on the computer.

During this first section of the TOEFL test the candidates will be provided with individual headphones through which they listen to the conversation and the test questions. The pictures of the speakers and the written format of the question will appear simultaneously on the screen. Since there is a time limit to answer the questions in each section it is advisable not to waste too much time pondering on a single question. The questions with four choices of answer appear one by one on the screen. The answer has to be selected by the candidate with the use of the mouse by clicking on the oval provided next to the list of choices. The Questions have to be answered as they appear. In this section of TOEFL test, it is impossible to revert back to the previous question or to skip a question. This section helps the examiner to evaluate if the candidate has the ability to understand a speakers attitude and meaning.

The second section of the TOEFL test helps to determine whether the candidate has the ability to recognize Standard Written English. This section consists of about 20 or 30 questions that need to be answered in 15 or 20 minutes. The questions are of two types, Sentence Completion and Error Identification. Most of the questions in this section of the TOEFL test have four multiple choice answers and the candidate has to select his answer by clicking on the oval provided next to each choice with the help of a mouse. This section also contains question which need to be answered by following the direction especially provided for the same. There may be a few questions which need to be answered by following the directions specially provided for answering them.

The third section of the TOEFL deals with the candidates vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. There will be about 44 or 60 questions that need to be answered by 70 or 90 minute, depending on the number of questions asked. Passages that vary in difficulty are to be read by the candidate and answered. This section is specially designed to calculate the candidates understanding of the reading material provided by the examiner. The passages that are given in these tests are basically the non-technical reading materials that the candidate may encounter in their American university courses. Both the passage & the question will appear on the screen together. The candidate is allowed to revert to the previous questions in this section to check or change his answers. While most of the questions are multiple choices, some of the questions may require interaction with the text on the screen. That is, a meaningful sentence or a phrase will be given and the candidate will be asked to pick out a word from the given text to act as its synonym. Sometimes the candidate is given sentence and asked to designate the best place within the text.

The last and fourth section of the TOEFL test assesses the candidates capability of expressing his ideas in the standard written English. A topic is selected at random and is provided on the day of test. The candidate has to write a clear and articulate essay on the topic that is provided to him. The essay in the TOEFL test has to be completed within the time slot of 30 minutes. The candidate is provided with the choice of handing the essay written on a sheet of paper or type directly on to the computer that he had used to answer the previous 3 sections. Though the candidate is allowed to make notes or drafts on a paper to format his final copy, these papers are not awarded any points. Points are awarded on the basis of the writers ability to form grammatically correct passages, his style of writing and comprehension of his ideas with good examples.

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