Are you thinking of taking the TOEFL test?
Maybe you’ve heard that scoring well on the TOEFL can help you get into your dream university.
Perhaps you want to immigrate to or land a job in an English-speaking country and think the TOEFL might help.
Scoring well on the TOEFL will give your English skills the recognition they deserve.
Whether you use it to stand out to admissions officers or to boost your job application, taking the TOEFL can help you get to the destination of your choice.
This article will look at different reasons for taking the TOEFL and how it can benefit you.
What is TOEFL?
TOEFL stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language.” It is one of the most popular English-language proficiency tests in the world.
The TOEFL test is widely accepted by universities, institutions, employers, and immigration authorities in English-speaking countries and across Europe and Asia.
The test measures your ability to understand and use English at a university level. It tests your writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills.
Scores are given on a scale of 0 – 120. Scoring well on the TOEFL means that you are ready to thrive in an English-speaking environment.
There are several versions of the TOEFL, but this article will focus on the TOEFL iBT, which is taken online, as it’s the most common version.
What Makes the TOEFL Stand Out?
1. Fair Scoring
One aspect of the TOEFL that sets it apart from other exams is the fair scoring on the speaking exam. A single examiner usually rates other speaking tests in an interview-style conversation.
However, you’ll hear recorded questions and speak into a microphone to answer when taking the TOEFL. As many as six different raters will rate your responses. Many test-takers favor this unbiased scoring system.
2. Test Duration
The Speaking section of the TOEFL is always the third part of the exam and lasts about 20 minutes.
Other exams might hold the Speaking section on a different day. If you prefer to take the whole exam in one sitting, the TOEFL is a good choice.
3. Multiple-Choice Questions
Another aspect of the TOEFL that sets it apart is the question format of the Reading and Listening sections.
While other tests require you to write your own answers, most of the TOEFL questions are multiple-choice. This means that you won’t have to produce your own answers. Instead, you’ll choose your answer from a list of options.
4. Home-Based Option
Unlike other English proficiency tests, it’s possible to take the TOEFL on a computer at home.
This means that you can take the test from the privacy and comfort of your own home, although a human proctor will be monitoring you online.
Why Take the TOEFL Test?
English is the language of international communication. Being able to express yourself confidently in English opens up a world of possibilities. It allows you to connect with more people than ever before in our modern age of technology.
Speaking English also makes it easier for you to travel. When you travel to a country where you don’t know the language, it won’t take long to find someone who speaks English.
Knowing English gives you access to more information as well. The majority of the internet is in the English language, not to mention the countless T.V. shows, movies, and books produced in English.
While there are many reasons for taking the TOEFL test, the most common reasons are study, work, and immigration.
TOEFL for Study
More than 11,500 universities and institutions in over 160 countries accept the TOEFL test. This includes almost every university in the major English-speaking countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K.
One survey found that 9 out of 10 universities in the USA prefer the TOEFL test to other English proficiency tests. And TOEFL scores are accepted for admissions by 100% of universities in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
It’s still a good idea to check with the university or institution of your choice to be sure that they will accept your TOEFL scores as proof of English fluency.
TOEFL for Work and Immigration
Would you like to get a work permit in an English-speaking country? You’ll probably have to prove your English fluency first. For example, anyone applying for a visa to live or work in Australia or New Zealand must prove proficiency in English. Both countries accept TOEFL scores as proof of fluency.
The TOEFL is required to get a work permit in the United States (if you don’t already have a Green Card).
Currently, TOEFL scores are not considered for immigration to Canada, but they are accepted by 100% of Canadian universities. If you plan on applying for a study visa in Canada, then TOEFL is a good choice.
What Does It Mean to Have TOEFL Certification?
Your TOEFL scores give an accurate reflection of your skills in English. This is because the TOEFL is a comprehensive test of your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
Some of the tasks on the test combine these skills. For example, you may be asked to:
- read, listen and then speak your response to a question
- read, listen and then write your response to a question
- listen and then speak your response to a question
The test takes about 3 hours to complete.
The Reading section takes 54 – 72 minutes.
It includes 3 or 4 reading passages, each of which is around 700 words long. There are ten questions about each passage. The passages are selected from university-level textbooks.
Because TOEFL is aimed at a more academic audience, some of the passages can be slightly more difficult than the average written texts that English speakers face daily.
This is because of the academic vocabulary. However, there is a glossary that you can use to define words that are not commonly used.
The Listening section takes 41 – 57 minutes to complete.
The material is divided into lectures and conversations. Both use university-level language and vocabulary to measure your ability to succeed in an academic environment.
You can take notes on the material throughout the test to help you answer questions.
After a 10-minute break, you will have 17 minutes to complete the Speaking section.
Four tasks are designed to imitate things that might happen both in and outside of a university classroom. You’ll be able to prepare for 15 – 30 seconds before you record your responses.
Each of your answers should be between 45 – 60 seconds long. Your recorded responses will be sent to ETS, the company that runs the TOEFL, where multiple raters will grade them to make sure that you get a fair score.
There are two tasks in the TOEFL Writing section.
First, you’ll have 20 minutes to read a short passage listen to a short lecture and then write your response to what you just read and listened to.
Then you’ll have 30 minutes to write a personal, opinion-based essay in response to a writing topic.
6 Benefits of Taking the TOEFL Exam
1. Objective Assessment
The TOEFL is a great test to take because of how comprehensive it is. It allows you to showcase your English skills to admissions officers and future employers at a specific point in time. The unbiased scoring system gives you the peace of mind that your English skills are precisely and accurately recorded.
2. A Widely-Accepted Certificate
Another positive aspect of the TOEFL is that it is one of the world’s most widely recognized English-language proficiency tests.
With the TOEFL under your belt, you can rest assured that the university of your choice* or your future employer will recognize and accept your scores as proof of your English fluency.
Always double-check with your future university or employer to be sure!
3. Improve Your English Skills
Preparing for the TOEFL will improve your English skills a lot! It takes money, time, and energy to take the TOEFL. That being said, it’s a good idea to take the time to prepare well beforehand. ETS has official test prep materials on its website.
You can practice with free resources on their website, as well as purchase additional materials.
While you want your improved English skills to reflect in your TOEFL scores, your new English skills will positively affect other areas of your life, too.
4. Gain a Better Knowledge of Academic English
You may feel overwhelmed by academic texts and vocabulary.
Preparing for the TOEFL will help you come to terms with some aspects of university life that may feel out of reach. As you consistently add new words and terms to your vocabulary, you will feel more and more at ease in an academic environment.
5. Motivation to Study Harder
Have you been lacking motivation lately? Do you find yourself checking your phone when you should be studying?
Knowing that you will be taking the TOEFL soon can act as a good motivator! When you have a clear goal in mind, you will organize your time more effectively and stay focused.
6. Improve your Resume
Whether or not you’ll be applying for a new job soon, having your TOEFL scores on your resume is always a good thing.
It shows how committed you are both to English fluency and to succeeding in your chosen career. Future employers will surely see you as more credible and professional. Just keep in mind that TOEFL scores expire after two years.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Taking the TOEFL Test
In short, if you need to take an English-language proficiency test, then the TOEFL is a good choice. Your TOEFL scores can open many doors and opportunities for you.
It’s essential to allow yourself enough time to study thoroughly. You want to be well-prepared when you go to take the test.
It’s always a good idea to check with your future university, employer, immigration authority, etc., to be 100% sure that they will accept your TOEFL scores as proof of your English fluency.
However, considering the popularity of the TOEFL, the odds are that your scores will be accepted pretty much everywhere.
The TOEFL really can be a key that unlocks the door to a bigger world.
Additional FAQs on the TOEFL Test
What TOEFL Score Do I Need to Be Accepted by a University?
Minimum TOEFL scores for colleges and universities can vary a lot.
Each university sets its requirements based on the English skills they want their students to have.
The best thing to do is contact the university directly to find out. In general, most universities require prospective students to have an overall score of 79 – 100.
How Long Will My TOEFL Scores Stay Valid?
TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date.
After the 2-year period has passed, your expired scores will disappear from the TOEFL website, and you won’t be able to view or send them anymore.
The reason the scores expire after two years is to ensure that they accurately reflect your current English skills.
Is It Possible to Take a Paper-Based TOEFL Test?
The TOEFL paper-based test is only available in Colombia, India, Mexico, and the United States. It’s the same as the online version, although it’s given in 2 sessions.
The Reading, Listening, and Writing sections are taken on paper at a testing center.
The Speaking section is taken no more than three days later at home on your personal computer, where you’ll be monitored online by a human proctor.
Can TOEFL Be Retaken?
The good news is that you can take the TOEFL test multiple times. There’s no limit to how many times you can take it. The only rule is that you can’t take it more than once in 3 days.
Statistics show that people who retake the test generally improve their scores. The average TOEFL test taker improves their score by 6 points when they take the test a second time and improves their score by 10 points on the third retake.
It’s still a good idea to study and prepare for the test as much as possible before taking it for the first time. In fact, why don’t you take a free TOEFL practice test now?