Your Guide to the Basics of TOEFL


This is Guide TOEFL in which you will familiarize yourself with all the components of TOEFL. In Guide TOEFL, you will come to know what TOEFL is all about. The other aspects of Guide TOEFL include descriptions of the TOEFL sections and the question types.

What is TOEFL?

Familiarizing the test-takers with TOEFL is the most important function of Guide TOEFL. TOEFL is the abbreviation for Test of English as a Foreign Language. TOEFL is accepted by almost 8,500 colleges around the world in 130 countries. TOEFL is taken by about 27 million students around the world. TOEFL is usually taken by non-native speakers of English all around the world. It is also popular among the people who would like to migrate to English-speaking countries.

What Does TOEFL Test?

TOEFL tests your proficiency in English and your ability to converse in English. The level of English that is tested in TOEFL is between advanced and intermediate levels of English. There are two formats of TOEFL; Computer-based Test (iBT) and Paper-based Test (PBT). TOEFL iBT is followed in almost all test centers of TOEFL. However, in places where TOEFL iBT is not available there is a provision to take the TOEFL PBT.

What Are The Sections In TOEFL?

There are 4 sections in TOEFL iBT. The total test time is four and a half hours. TOEFL PBT requires three and a half hours to complete in addition to an extra 30 minutes for the writing test (TWE). Let's look the sections in both iBT and PBT.

Sections in TOEFL PBT:

  • Listening Comprehension: 30-40 minutes, 50 questions
  • TWE: 30 minutes, 1 topic
  • Reading Comprehension: 55 minutes, 50 questions
  • Structure and Written Expression: 25 minutes, 40 questions

Sections in the TOEFL iBT:

  • Reading: 60 - 100 minutes, 36-70 questions
  • Speaking: 20 minutes, 6 tasks
  • Listening: 60-90 minutes, 34-51 questions
  • Writing: 50 minutes, 2 writing tasks

Note that there is a 10 minute break between the Reading and Listening sections in TOEFL iBT.

What are the Question Types in TOEFL?

The next section of this guide TOEFL is a description of the TOEFL question types.

Reading: The Reading section tests the abilities of the candidate to assimilate information that is provided and to reproduce it in a coherent manner. The passages in this section are central to a main idea. You may be asked direct or indirect questions from the passage itself. The content of the passages will be pertaining to general understanding; for example, historical, or biographical accounts. An extensive vocabulary is required to understand contextual meaning of words in this section. This section is general for both TOEFL iBT and PBT.

Listening: The Listening section will include 4-6 lectures around 3-5 minutes long coupled with 2-3 conversations around 2-3 minutes long. The lecture could include one or two speakers; usually a conversation between a professor and his students is recorded. The conversation will be a formal interaction; for example between a professor and the teaching assistant discussing matters of official importance in a formal setting like an office. This section is general for both TOEFL iBT and PBT.

Speaking: The first two tasks in this section are independent speaking tasks. You will be asked to express your ideas or opinions about certain familiar topics at hand. For the other tasks, the test taker may be required to use more than one or two skill sets. For example, the test taker may be asked to read or listen to something before responding. This section is specific to TOEFL iBT.

Writing: You will be given two tasks to complete. The first task will be an integrated one, which simply means you will be made to listen and read and then write a response. The second task will be an independent task where a test-taker will be required to write his opinion on the subject. This section is general for both TOEFL iBT and PBT.

For more information on TOEFL, refer to the official website:

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