Salient Features of iBT TOEFL Test

iBT TOEFL test is the Internet-based version of the TOEFL test which is administered by ETS (Educational Testing Service). The full form of TOEFL is Test of English as a Foreign Language. As the name suggests, it is a standardised test of the English language for non-native English speakers. Statistics report that over 27 million people take this test every year the world over. There are two versions of the test - PBT (paper-based test) and iBT- and their availability depends on your location.

iBT TOEFL testmeasures the level of proficiency in the English language that a candidate possesses. The duration of the test is around 4 hours. You will have to find out the minimum requirement of scores that your desired university or agency demands. The test is divided into four sections - Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. There is a 10 minute break between the Reading, Listening sections and the Writing, Speaking sections. Let us discuss each of the sections in detail.

Reading Section:

The Reading section of the iBT TOEFL test is 60 - 80 minutes long and has 3-4 passages on the basis of which you have to answer 36-56 questions. The texts are general academic texts and are the sort which you would find in any university textbook. You are not expected to have any special knowledge to understand the texts as all the answers to the questions asked would be given in the passage itself. Questions are related to vocabulary, sentence completion, rhetorical functioning, table completion, reference to context, inference, and insertion and short questions pertaining to the main content and idea of the text.

Listening Section:

The Listening section is 60-90 minutes long. It has anywhere between 6-9 listening sections which are 3-5 minutes long. 2-3 sections are student discussions and the rest are academic lectures. The questions are related to understanding the main idea of the recording, understanding factual information, finding out the main purpose of the talk, categorising information heard and summarising the lecture or the discussion. This section is made easier by the fact that you can take notes while you are listening to the recording.

Speaking Section:

The Speaking section of the iBT TOEFL testhas six tasks in all which take place in a 20 minute time slot. Two questions are independent tasks in which you are asked to talk about topics which are familiar to you, or to express your opinions and views on certain subjects. The other four tasks are integrated tasks which combine your speaking and listening or speaking, listening and reading skills. You could be asked to listen to a discussion or a lecture and answer a question based on that. The other type of question could ask you to first read a passage, and then listen to a discussion or a lecture in order to answer a question based on that. Be sure you speak into the microphone.

Writing Section:

The Writing section has two tasks which are to be completed in 50 minutes. The first task will ask you to read a passage, then listen to a related recording, following which the reading passage will reappear and you will be given a question, to which you have to plan and frame a response in 150-225 words. The question is basically a summary of both the reading and listening samples, relating both of them. The second task is an independent task in which you are asked to write an essay about your opinion or view on a particular subject, justifying the same with suitable reasons and examples.

All your answers for the Speaking and Writing sections of the iBT TOEFL test are sent to ETS OSN (Online Scoring Network) where they are judged by 3-6 reviewers. The test has one unmarked section which can be in either the Reading or the Listening Section in which ETS tests new question formats for future tests. The marks of the test range from 0-120 with each section being scored out of 30 marks each. Go to the official website for the iBT TOEFL test (http://www.ets.org/toefl) for more information. You can take the test again in a week's time if you are not happy with your scores.

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