TOEFL Test Complete Guide

TOEFL is one of the most commonly used English proficiency tests in the world. It is recognized and regularly accepted by universities, colleges, American institutions, and even in various countries worldwide. 

In this article, you will learn what the TOEFL Exam is, the exam format, how it’s scored, and information on exam dates and locations. 

What is the TOEFL Test? 

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized and globally accepted English language test for non-native speakers of the language. This test is used to examine one’s English proficiency which is regularly needed for academic purposes.

It includes applying for exchange programs, college, and university admission, and also for student visas. The test scores are also required by some companies for work requirements here and abroad.

It assesses all four communication skills, which include reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. This English language test uses formal, academic language, and high-level vocabulary rather than casual or conversational English, which is why most people and institutions prefer the TOEFL Test among the other English language proficiency tests available.

The ETS (Educational Testing Service) produces the TOEFL. In connection, most United States schools surveyed, which results in the fact that they preferred TOEFL scores over IELTS scores and other English language proficiency tests available.

The ETS recommends that those who take the test be 17 years old or in the 11th grade. It is because the test requires with high-level of English vocabulary, which most students are not yet exposed to this type of language before the 11th grade. In addition to that, the test requires the test taker to read complex passages.

The TOEFL test centers are open in all areas, where it is safe to do so during this pandemic. However, you can also check the test center’s availability at your location through their official website.

How Much Does TOEFL Cost?

The TOEFL iBT costs around USD 185, and the TOEFL PBT costs USD 180.

Take note that the test fee differs per location. Below are the additional charges for other services. 

Late RegistrationUSD 40
ReschedulingUSD 60
Reinstatement of canceled scoresUSD 20
Additional Score ReportUSD 20 (each)
Speaking or Writing Score ReviewUSD 80 each

Take note that you can apply for additional score reports through the Educational Testing Service (ETS) official account on their website, either by fax or mail. In addition to that, you are allowed to send scores to four universities of your choice for free. 

Why Take the TOEFL?

The global acceptance of TOEFL Test scores is one of the benefits why most people choose TOEFL, among others. In addition to that, TOEFL is a high-quality and high-standardized test for English language proficiency. 

TOEFL Test scores are accepted by more than 11,000 universities in over 150 countries worldwide. In addition, the TOEFL test can be taken in designated test centers and your home with their TOEFL Home Edition

Most universities, colleges, and immigrants prefer it. Choosing the TOEFL can help you stand out from admission officers and the like. Also, TOEFL is favored by 9/10 universities in the United States and has a 100% acceptance rate to UK universities, including the well-known Russell Group schools. 

Countries that Accept the TOEFL

  1. USA
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. New Zealand
  5. France
  6. Germany
  7. United Kingdom
  8. India
  9. Colombia
  10. Spain
  11. United Arab Emirates
  12. South Africa and more.

Top universities in Asia also accept TOEFL across mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia.

TOEFL Exam Format

The TOEFL test is a long and complex kind of test. To ace the test, you need to know about its structures and the different types of the TOEFL test available

The total duration of the TOEFL test takes about three to four hours approximately for you to complete the test. Nevertheless, it is good to take an additional 30 minutes for check-in before the exam schedule. 

The majority of the TOEFL tests (97%) taken are Internet-based tests (iBT), and the minority of 3% of all TOEFL tests are paper-based tests (PBT). However, the TOEFL PBT does not test the examinees’ speaking skills. As of 2016, the test-makers are phasing out the TOEFL PBT type, and one can only take this type of TOEFL in testing centers where internet testing is not available. 

  • We must mention that test-takers no longer have the option to write the TOEFL PBT test format. As of April 11, 2021, the TOEFL exam’s PBT (or the paper-delivered format) is no longer available.
  • If you’ve written the PBT test before that date, your test scores are valid for two years.
  • Aspiring test-takers must enroll and take the other version of the TOEFL test: TOEFL iBT, TOEFL Essentials, or TOEFL ITP.


The TOEFL Paper-based test (PBT) consists of four sections, wherein the structure and written expressions section replaces the speaking skill test. 

Another section of the TOEFL PBT is the listening section which lasts 30 to 40 minutes. It also consists of a structure and written expression section lasting 25 minutes, including 15 sentence completion exercises and 25 examples for error identification. 

It also has a Reading section that lasts up to 50 minutes and includes 50 follow-up questions about the given passages. The writing section of the TOEFL PBT lasts up to 30 minutes and includes writing one essay with 250 to 300 words. 


The second type of the TOEFL test is the iBT (internet-based test). It is a computer-delivered test that measures four English language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It is composed of four different sections.

There are four test sections in the TOEFL iBT Test. In this test, all your English language skills are tested per section. 

1. Reading 

The first section is the Reading Section, wherein your main task is to read passages and then respond to related questions. In this section, it takes about 60 to 80 minutes for you to finish all the passages. 

It is advisable to manage your time wisely, not linger long on hard-to-understand or tricky passages, skip difficult questions, and return to them later before your time runs out. 

2. Listening

This section can range from 40 to 60 minutes long, depending on the number of questions and their length. In addition, you will listen to different lectures and conversations that may last up to five minutes, more or less. 

At the end of each audio, you are tasked to answer some follow-up questions regarding the audio you have listened to. Take note that you will only hear the audio clip once; it will no longer be repeated.

In the Listening section, you are not allowed to skip questions, unlike in the Reading section. It means that you need to read all the questions and choose your answers carefully. 

3. Speaking

The Speaking section is the shortest part of the TOEFL test, which lasts up to 17 to 20 minutes.

You have six tasks in this section, which are divided into two parts. The first part, Independent Speaking, is to speak about two familiar topics for 45 seconds.

The second part of the Speaking section, the Integrated Speaking Tasks, has four parts.

First, it includes listening to an audio clip and reading a passage. Then, you are to answer a few questions regarding it. The last two tasks require you to listen to an audio clip and then answer the following questions after it. 

4. Writing

The final section of the TOEFL test is the Writing section.

In this section, you need to write two essays (an Integrated essay and an Independent essay) in 50 minutes. You are given 20 minutes to complete the first essay and another 30 minutes for the second essay. 

TOEFL Scoring

The TOEFL tests are scored by a centralized scoring network and are never done in the test centers. The computer scores the reading and listening sections of the test. 

At the same time, the writing and speaking sections are scored by a combination of automated AI scoring and highly-trained people raters. With this, it offers a complete and accurate rate of your ability of English language skills. And it also minimizes the rater’s bias that may occur during face-to-face interviews. Moreover, it ensures the highest quality and consistency. 

The official TOEFL test scores will be sent to institutions around 13 days after taking the test. It is sent via postal mail, and keep in mind that the delivery may sometimes get delayed. 

However, if the test scores are sent through the Educational Training Service (ETS) Data Manager, the score report will be delivered within 6 to 8 days after the test date. If sent through the Scorelink Service, it will usually take around 8 to 10 days to reach the institution. The TOEFL test scores are valid for two years starting from your test date. 

In addition to that, the TOEFL Test does not have passing or failing scores to be considered. However, the different institutions, universities, and colleges that accept TOEFL set their score requirement for admission. Therefore, it is best to contact your institution of choice to know their scoring requirement ahead of.

Test Scoring for iBT TOEFL

 All test sections for IBT TOEFL (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) are scored from 0 to 30 each, with an overall total score ranging from 0 to 120. 

TOEFL Reading0 to 14
15 to 21
22 to 30
TOEFL Listening0 to 14
15 to 21
22 to 30
TOEFL Speaking0 to 9
10 to 17
18 to 25
26 to 30
TOEFL Writing1 to 16
17 to 23
24 to 30

Test Scoring for PBT TOEFL

The TOEFL scores on the PBT (Paper-based) TOEFL test range from 310 to 677.

The listening comprehension and structure/written expression sections are scored on a range of 31 to 68. 

In addition, the reading comprehension section is scored on a range of 31 to 67.

Finally, the raw scores for each area are converted to the TOEFL scale range of 310 to 677. 

TOEFL Exam Dates

The TOEFL exams are conducted more than 60 times a year and are given on predetermined dates across their testing centers.

However, if the testing centers are closed in your location due to the pandemic, you may opt to register for their TOEFL iBT Home Edition test

Keep in mind that when registering, you need to pick a test date that is at least two to three months earlier than your admission date. Therefore, it is advised to choose a 4-month schedule to avoid mishaps and give time for any delays and other circumstances. 

One of the most convenient and quick methods for you to register for the TOEFL test is through their online registration. In addition to that, if you opt for registering online, you can have advantages such as the ability to register 24/7, easy access to official test prep, and access to a Google Maps-powered test center search.   

However, there are multiple ways for you to register for the TOEFL test as well, wherein you can register by phone and or by mail where you need to download a PDF form from their website and so on. 

In cases that you need to cancel or reschedule your TOEFL test, you can do so up to four full days before the scheduled test date. If you fail the TOEFL test, you can retake it every three days, and there is no limit to how many times you can retake it. 

Moreover, each educational institution will have its own TOEFL test score requirements. So make sure to research the particular university and country to know if TOEFL is the test of choice. Also, make sure to understand all the TOEFL eligibility requirements before you are ready to sign up for a particular test date.

How to Prepare for the TOEFL Exam? 

Taking the TOEFL test can be a stressful one, especially for those first-time takers. In addition, it may be terrifying for you to think about your level of proficiency in the English language.  

You may have a lot on your plate right now, preparing for the test, scheduling for the TOEFL, and more. But, most importantly, you are thinking about taking the test or even reaching the bare minimum TOEFL test score requirement of the institution you are applying for. 

Before you stress over the test results, here are some ways to help you prepare for the TOEFL test

1. Find Your Best Study Method

There are many study methods available but find the perfect one that will suit you best. For example, you may be good at note-taking and like to do color coding to organize topics, while others prefer mind mapping, where they visualize information in their heads. to that particular study method where you can easily retain and recall information. Just always remember that what works for you may not work for others and vice versa. The most important thing here is for you to have a healthy and effective study method. 

2. Create a Study Plan

After knowing what study method works best for you, the next step is to create a study plan. First, you need to consider when and where you study for the TOEFL. Are you planning to take extra courses for the TOEFL? Or do you want to do a self-review? It depends on what you want. 

The most vital thing in creating a study plan is consistency and dedication to your schedule. Set aside specific hours each day for test practice and review. Your environment also plays an essential role in your study plan, choose a place conducive to learning, where you can focus, be comfortable, and be free from distractions. 

3. Identify Your Core Strengths and Weaknesses in the English Language

Another thing to consider is your strengths and weaknesses in the English Language. Pinpoint the language skills, whether it is in reading, listening, writing, or speaking, that you are struggling with. 

Acknowledging your weaknesses in the English language is a great stepping stone. In addition to that, it helps you focus on the skills that you need to improve. Then, take more practice tests in this specific area that you need to work on. In this way, you can set a study plan for each skill you fall short of. 

4. Study the Test Format

Taking the TOEFL test is not a walk in the park. It would be best if you also studied and were informed of the TOEFL test format and structure. By knowing the test format, you now know what to expect. 

Thus, you will not be taken aback and lose your concentration in the process of taking the test. However, it is good to prepare for what type of test you will take in the following months to practice more. Study the test format and integrate it into your study plan.

5. Utilize the Practice Tests Available 

There are multiple practice tests available online; utilize them. Please do your research about these practice tests and how to avail them all. The TOEFL also offers paid and free practice tests on its official website. 

Studying and utilizing the available TOEFL practice tests can help you ace the exam. You can also take practice tests for each specific language skill such as listening, writing, reading, and speaking, whichever you want to focus on and improve more.