What is TOEFL?

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What is TOEFL?

TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is a standardized international proficiency exam designed to assess the English language skills of individuals whose native language is not English and who wish to enroll in universities in countries where English is the language of education and communication. In this content, you can find answers to questions such as the dates and fees of the TOEFL exam. Alternatively, you can contact Dream Big Overseas University Counseling.

Accepted by more than 11,500 educational institutions in over 160 countries, TOEFL is one of the most widely recognized English proficiency exams worldwide, alongside other exams like IELTS and Cambridge Assessment English.

The TOEFL exam, developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a non-profit organization, was originally created in 1962 by a national council consisting of representatives from government and private organizations. The purpose was to address issues related to ensuring the English language proficiency of individuals who, despite not having English as their native language, sought higher education in universities located in the United States.

The TOEFL exam, which was first held in 1964, has gained international validity over time and has become a proficiency exam accepted by many educational institutions and organizations from many different countries.

Although the TOEFL exam is divided into two as TOEFL iBT (computer-based exam) and TOEFL PBT (written exam), the TOEFL iBT exam, which is performed digitally via computer, is more popular today. However, it can also be done on a paper-based basis in countries where computer technology is not sufficient.

Universities in the United States, France, and Germany, as well as graduate programs in Canada, predominantly prefer the TOEFL as the English proficiency exam and in comparison to other English proficiency exams, universities in the United States, Canada, Germany, and France receive more TOEFL score reports.

According to a study conducted on the TOEFL exam, which more than 35 million students around the world take to demonstrate their English language skills, 90% of the students who take the TOEFL exam can get into the 1st or 2nd university of their choice.

TOEFL iBT exam evaluates test participants' 4 language skills in English: reading, listening, speaking and writing. The TOEFL iBT exam is administered in three different formats:

  • TOEFL iBT Test: It is performed through a computer located at an authorized TOEFL iBT test center.
  • TOEFL iBT Home Edition: Test takers take the test in their own homes, accompanied by a proctor.
  • TOEFL iBT Paper Edition: Reading, Listening and Writing tests are performed in two sessions: at an authorized testing center and the Speaking test at home on a computer.

Structure of the TOEFL iBT Exam

In the TOEFL iBT Exam, which consists of 4 parts which are Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing, test participants are asked to use skills that combine these 4 communication skills in English, For instance:

  • Speaking in response to a question following reading, listening, and then responding.
  • Speaking in response to a question following listening and then responding.
  • Writing in response to a question following reading, listening, and then responding.




Number of questions



54–72 minutes

30–40 questions

Reading passages (3 or 4 academic articles) and answering related questions.


41–57 minutes

28–39 questions

Listening to a recording of a brief classroom conversation and answering related questions.


10 minutes


17 minutes

4 tasks

Speaking about a familiar topic and discussing it based on the materials given as passages and audio records.


50 minutes

2 tasks

Reading a given passage, listening to an audio recording, and writing a text in response.

TOEFL iBT Reading Section

The TOEFL iBT® Reading section is designed to assess how well exam participants can read and comprehend materials that are commonly used in an academic setting. It includes 3 or 4 reading passages, each approximately 700 words long, with 10 questions per passage. Test-takers are given a time ranging from 54 to 72 minutes to answer all questions in this section.

TOEFL iBT Listening Section

The listening section of the TOEFL iBT exam is designed to measure participants' ability to understand conversations and lectures in English, and includes listening to audio recordings to assess the following skills:

- Basic Comprehension 

- Pragmatic Understanding (attitude of the speaker, etc.) and the Ability to Relate and Synthesize the Information Received

In the speaking section, there are two types of prompts, including university lectures and conversations. Both of these audio recordings are made in a language used on a university campus.

- 3 to 4 university lectures, each lasting 3 to 5 minutes, with 6 questions per lecture.

-2 to 3 conversations, each lasting 3 minutes, with 5 questions per conversation.

Test takers are allowed to take notes on any audio element played during the test to help them answer the given questions.

TOEFL iBT Speaking Section

The speaking section of the TOEFL iBT exam is designed to measure participants' ability to effectively speak English in academic environments. It consists of four tasks resembling real-life situations both inside and outside the classroom.

- The first question is referred to as the "independent speaking task," as participants are required to respond entirely based on their own ideas and experiences.

- Questions 2 to 4 are called "integrated speaking tasks" because these questions require participants to answer in English by combining listening and speaking or listening, reading, and speaking skills, much like they would in a classroom or real-world setting.

Participants are given 15 to 30 seconds to prepare for each question before responding, and they are asked to provide a response lasting 45 to 60 seconds. To complete the speaking section of the exam, participants are allotted 17 minutes.

TOEFL iBT Writing Section

The TOEFL iBT Writing Section is designed to assess participants' writing skills in English in an academic setting, requiring them to present their ideas in a clear, concise, understandable, and well-organized manner. There are two tasks in the writing section:

- Integrated Writing Task (20 Minutes) - Participants are asked to read a short passage and listen to a brief audio recording, then write a response based on the elements they read and heard.

- Independent Writing Task (30 Minutes) - Participants are asked to read a short passage and listen to a brief audio recording, then write a response based on the elements they read and heard.

Scoring of the TOEFL iBT Exam

To receive an official score from the TOEFL exam, participants must answer at least one question in each of the Reading and Listening sections, write at least one composition, and complete at least one Speaking task.

The TOEFL exam score report for participants includes scores, performance feedback reflecting proficiency levels, and an explanation of tasks participants in the specified score range can generally perform. The TOEFL score report document is valid for two years from the exam date, and the TOEFL exam is scored on a scale of 0 to 120.

The score report sent to participants includes scores for four sections and one total score. Each section has a score range of 0 to 30, and these scores are added together to obtain a total score within the range of 0 to 120.

For each skill, there are 4 or 5 proficiency levels.

Language Skills

Proficiency Level


Advanced (24-30)
Medium-High (18-23)
Medium-Low (4-17)
Low                                                             (0-3)


Advanced (22-30)
Medium-High (17-21)
Medium-Low (9-16)
Low                                                             (0-8)


Advanced (25-30)
Medium-High (20-24)
Medium-Low (16-19)
Basic (10-16)
Low                                                             (0-9)


Advanced (24-30)
Medium-High (17-23)
Medium-Low (13-16)
Basic (7-12)
Low                                                             (0-6)

Frequently Asked Questions About What is TOEFL?

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