The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) measures the English-ability of non-native speakers of English to use and understand English as it is spoken, written, and heard in college and university settings. TOEFL is administered by ETS (Educational Testing Services) an institution that assesses students who want to pursue graduate/ fellowship programmes. ETS develops, administers and scores assessment tests annually in more than 180 countries.

Almost all the universities in the United States and Canada require TOEFL scores from each applicant. The TOEFL tests the ability to understand North American English. A TOEFL score is valid for 2 years.

TOEFL measures the following skills of the test-takers.

                               • Speaking Skills
                               • Listening Skills
                               • Reading Skills
                               • Writing Skills

Most people take the TOEFL test as a prerequisite for admission into colleges and universities where English is used or required. In addition, many government, licensing, and certification agencies and exchange and scholarship programs use TOEFL scores to evaluate the English proficiency of people for whom English is not their native language. More than 6,000 colleges, universities, and licensing agencies in 110 countries accept TOEFL scores.

Non-native English speakers at the 11th-grade level or above should take the TOEFL test to provide evidence of their English proficiency before beginning academic work. The test content is considered too difficult for students below 11th grade. Many institutions report that they frequently do not require TOEFL test scores of certain kinds of international applicants.

These include

• Non-native speakers who hold degrees or diplomas from postsecondary institutions in English-speaking countries (e.g., the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand)

• Non-native speakers who have successfully completed at least a two-year course of study in which English was the language of instruction.

• transfer students from institutions in the United States or Canada whose academic course work was favorably evaluated in relation to its demands and duration.

• Non-native speakers who have taken the TOEFL test within the past two years.

• Non-native speakers who have successfully pursued academic work at schools where English was the language of instruction in an English-speaking country for a specified period, generally two years.
Students should contact their prospective institutions directly concerning their specific admission requirements.

TOEFL iBT is taken via the Internet at ETS-certified test centers. This makes it possible to greatly expand the number of locations where the test can be taken.

The TOEFL test is offered in two different formats depending on a test taker's location.

                               • Internet Based Test (iBT)
                               • Paper Based Test (PBT)
The computer-based test was abolished on September 30th 2006.

The Internet-based TOEFL Test:

The TOEFL Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) tests all four language skills that are important for effective communication: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The test helps students demonstrate that they have the English skills needed for success.

The test includes four sections and takes about four hours to complete.

Section Time Limit No. of Questions
Reading 60-100 minutes 36-70
Listening 60-90 minutes 34-51
Break 10 minutes -
Speaking 20 minutes 6 tasks
Writing 50 minutes 2 tasks

Each of the six tasks in speaking section is rated from 0 to 4 and the average of these scores is converted to a scaled score of 0 to 30. Human scorers rate the responses. They evaluate the test-taker's ability in topic development, delivery and language use.

The two tasks are rated from 0 to 5, and the average of these scores is converted to a scaled score of 0 to 30.

Human scorers rate the responses. Scorers evaluate the integrated writing task on the overall quality of the writing (development, organization, appropriate and precise use of grammar and vocabulary) and the completeness and accuracy of the content. Scorers rate the independent writing essay on the overall quality of the writing:

                               • Development
                               • Organization
                               • Appropriate and precise use of grammar and vocabulary

The new score scale is shown here.

Section Score Scale
Listening 0-30
Reading 0-30
Speaking 0-30
Writing 0-30
Total Score 0-120

The total score is the sum of the four skill scores.

TOEFL iBT emphasizes integrated skills and provides better information to institutions about students' ability to communicate in an academic setting and their readiness for academic coursework. With Internet-based testing, ETS can capture speech and score responses in a standardized manner. Online registration and online score reporting make it easier for students to register for TOEFL iBT and receive their test scores.

The computer-based test was abolished on September 30th 2006.

The Paper-based TOEFL Test:

The paper-based TOEFL test measures

                               • Listening Comprehension
                               • Structure and Written Expression
                               • Reading Comprehension

In areas where TOEFL iBT is not yet available, the paper-based version of the TOEFL test will be offered to continue to provide access for TOEFL test takers in these areas.
The TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT) has 3 sections plus a 30-minute writing test, the TWE (Test of Written English), which is required of everyone who takes the paper-based test.

Section Time Limit No. of Questions
Listening Comprehension 30-40 minutes 50
Structure and Written Expression 25 minutes 40
Reading Comprehension 55 minutes 50
Writing (Test of Written English) 30 minutes 1 topic

Listening Comprehension measures the ability to understand English as it is spoken in North America.

Structure and Written Expression measures the ability to recognize language that is appropriate for standard written English.

Reading Comprehension measures the ability to understand non-technical reading material.

Test Preparation:

This Web site has many resources you may find helpful to familiarize yourself with the test.

Test Overview:

• TOEFL iBT measures receptive and expressive skills equally. The student is tested for all the four English language communication skills: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.

• The exam has no grammar or sentence structure section. The student's knowledge of English grammar is tested through actual usage in speaking and writing sections.

• TOEFL iBT replaces the structure section with a speaking section in which students wear headphones and speak into a microphone. The digital recording is transmitted to ETS Online Scoring Network where human scorers rate the speaking.

• The exam also allows note-taking. The students can now take notes while they listen and/or read and they can jot down points before they start to speak or write. Students can use these notes while giving their responses, but they will not be allowed to carry them outside the examination center.

• The Writing section has been expanded to include one integrated writing task in addition to the independent writing task.

• The Reading section usually consists of 3 passages (sometimes 5), each of around 700 words. This section includes categorization of information and/or filling in a chart or completion of a summary.

• Lectures and conversations in the listening section are a little longer than earlier, but speech is more natural. Although the focus of the listening tasks remains American, there is likely to be at least one lecture in British /Australian accent. There may be questions that measure understanding of a speaker's attitude, degree of certainty and purpose.

• There will be fixed dates for TOEFL iBT and the students have to make their choice out of the same. Depending upon the number of test takers and the capacity, a test center will normally have 30 to 40 test dates in a year.

• TOEFL iBT scores are reported online. Students can view their scores within 15 working days of the test and will also receive their score-sheet by mail.

• TOEFL iBT is not computer adaptive as was the case with TOEFL CBT (computer based test). Here all the test takers receive the same set of questions. There is also no computer tutorial.

For more information, contact the following address or visit the official website of TOEFL.

P.O. Box 6153
Princeton, NJ 08541-6153 U.S.A.