TOEFL iBT Vocabulary

How is Your Vocabulary Tested in TOEFL iBT?

TOEFL is a test of English Language, which is taken by non-native speakers for pursuing academic courses in those countries where English is the primary mode of communication. Beside this, by taking the test, the students can participate in learning programs of English Language, secure scholarships and certifications and also obtain work or student visa.

The test is conducted in the following formats:

  • TOEFL iBT: This is the online or Internet based test that is taken by most students.
  • TOEFL PBT: The paper based test is conducted in those test centers where internet access or facility is not available.

It contains the following four sections:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Reading

The students are required to make appropriate use of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing skills while carrying out their academic tasks. The scores are accepted by many educational institutions and professional or government agencies throughout the world. The students can take this test several times as it is held on various dates throughout the year.

How is Vocabulary Tested in TOEFL iBT?

The students should have a reasonably good knowledge of words for taking the test. In fact, vocabulary of the students is tested in all four sections of the test. Therefore, TOEFL aspirants should strengthen their vocabulary for obtaining good scores in this test. Let us consider each section of the test and see how it will test your vocabulary:

  • Reading Section: In this section, the students are required to answer questions based on excerpts that are usually taken from the university level textbooks for introducing a particular topic or concept. The knowledge of vocabulary of a student will determine how well he/she interprets the excerpts so that he/she is able to answer at least 12-14 questions that are related to each passage. The students may or may not have knowledge about the topic, which is given but a proper understanding of English words or phrases or a perfect knowledge of words will help him/her tackle this section properly.

  • Listening Section: In this section, the test takers should be able to interpret the words and phrases after hearing the recorded messages. They must possess proper knowledge of iBT vocabulary to comprehend the use of words, phrases, idioms or homonyms in this section.

  • Writing Section: It is also required in Writing Section in which an individual should respond to two different tasks. In this section, the knowledge of vocabulary will help him/her to write correct or suitable English by using proper words and phrases while responding to the passages, lectures and essays.

  • Speaking Section: In the Speaking Tasks, the knowledge of iBT vocabulary will aid in the proper expression of opinions and ideas by using appropriate words and phrases. It will help the test takers to demonstrate their skills and competence while performing the "Integrated Speaking Tasks".

How to Improve Vocabulary for TOEFL?

The students can take online vocabulary tests or use the flash cards and learn TOEFL words to improve their knowledge of vocabulary. The online vocabulary resources help the test aspirants to strengthen their knowledge of words, phrases and idioms for taking this test. With the help of these resources, they can tackle each section of this examination and learn how the proper use of words and phrases will help in sentence construction while answering the Listening, Reading and Writing tasks. The practice tests are also useful and allow the students to implement their knowledge of vocabulary. These tests are conducted by several well known preparatory classes including ETS. The following books can provide aid in sharpening vocabulary skills:

  • Longman iBT Vocabulary of TOEFL consists of flashcard sets for enhancing vocabulary knowledge for iBT.

  • TOEFL Vocabulary Quiz book by Kaplan contains 350 vital words for the test and their definitions along with their usage in sentences in a flashcard format.

  • Essential Words for the TOEFL by Barron's features 500 words along with definitions. This book also tells the students how to use a dictionary and contains practice tests with answer keys.


Cracking TOEFL and scoring well in this exam is centered on the proper use of English words and phrases. Therefore, the test aspirants must use appropriate resources to strengthen their  vocabulary.