TOEFL Test Structure And Preparation

TOEFL Test Structure And Preparation

The Test Of English as a Foreign Language or the TOEFL is one of the best-standardized exams in the U.S. Through this test, you can develop your English language skills and alsoapply for various colleges and universities in the U.S. and elsewhere. Various graduate and postgraduate institutions use your TOEFL score as an useful indicator of your English speaking, writing and reading capabilities and also for granting you admission.

Moreover, TOEFL scores are valid throughout the world when it comes to securing admissions in colleges. The TOEFL is one of the best options that can improve your ability and competency in English. The TOEFL is conducted in the United States every year. You can choose a test date as per your convenience and wish. However, before you set your mind to accomplish this test, you must know its structure and constituent. Here’s a detailed discussion about the test, its patterns, type of questions, time allocated, sections and other relevant details.

The Structure of TOEFL in USA

The TOEFL is conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). You can take the test via both the online (Internet Based Test, IBT) and offline (Paper Based Test, PBT) format. The paper based test is conducted only at locations that are remote or not suitable enough for online testing. However, in the USA, ETS conducts the TOEFL exam only in the online format.

It is conducted for about two to three times a month, across several test centers in the U.S. The test aims to measure certain aspects about your understanding of the English language. It evaluates certain skill sets like comprehending, expressing, writing, framing essays and well-structured sentences in English, respectively.. Hence, it is a generalized test that records your capability in certain practical grounds. Let us find out about the test sections of the TOEFL.

Test Sections

The TOEFL IBT exam comprises of four sections, each having particular time limits, number of questions and testing particular skill sets. You will be allocated a total time of four and a half hours to complete the sections. You will get a 10 minute break after and before the first and last two sections, respectively. Detailed information of each sections are as follows (the order of the following sections are same as the actual test):

The Reading Section

You will have to comprehend three or four paragraphs or excerpts and answer questions based on them. These written pieces are lifted from academic texts, journals, magazines and also apply other similar sources. a and they use on testing your reading skills.

This section tests two major traits in the test-taker, that is, cognitive and perceptive skills. It checks your capability to quickly understand the theme of the passage and start answering questions based on it. You will get a total of 80 minutes to complete this section.

The Listening Section

This is a 90 minute section that measures your ability to listen and interpret the substance you are hearing. You will have to pay close attention to a lecture or a discussion, or verbal dialogues and announcements. Once thes audio clips stop playing, you will have to answer questions that are based on them. Hence, it is of utmost importance that you pay very close attention to the announcements and lectures, etc.

The Speaking Measure

Before this section starts, you will get a short break for 10 minutes. Once your recess is over, you have to get started with the Speaking test. In this section, you have to verbally express your views and ideas about a certain opinion, about contemporary or familiar topics. Your clarity of speech and addressing power are two things that are tested in this section. You may also have to speak upon the reading and listening sections.

The Writing Measure

This section is again based on the Reading and Listening tests. You have to respond to questions based on the former two sections in a written format. 

Your response would be in the form of two written essays. This is a 50 minutes section where you have to provide essay responses in writing. Use of logic, tangible reasoning and arguments in the essay are highly favored by the examiners.

Question Types

Each of the four sections has a combination of question types. In total, there are three of them as follows:

Multiple Choice Responses

The first two sections, the Reading and Listening Tests, contain Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). You have to choose one of the given options of the MCQs, as your answer. There would be about 56 and 51 MCQs in the Reading and Listening sections, respectively.A

Questions in the Speaking Task

There are four tasks in the Speaking section where your responses are preserved in high clarity in digital playback recorders. The ETS Online Scoring Network analyzes your response and then generate your scores. There would be about three raters who measures your response.

Questions of the Essay Section

There would be two essay tasks, one Integrated and the other Independent, based on Reading and Listening sections.


Raw score of the Reading and Listening sections are first derived and then represented on a scale of 1-30. The Speaking section contains six tasks, which are measured on a scale of 1-4 and later converted onto a scale of 1-30. The scores of Written Assessment are given by both a human and the eRater® (an electronic device measuring the lingual attributes and organization of the essay response).

The score is given on a scale of 1-6 with one point intervals. The final TOEFL scorecard would reflect scaled scores of each of the four sections and the total score. The score for the Written section would be highlighted inside a separated box. You will receive your scores within five weeks after the exam date of TOEFL. The scores are valid for two years.

If you wish to register for TOEFL, you need to check out the official website of ETS for relevant information. There are no fixed number of attempts for taking TOEFL. You are free to take it as many times you desire. TOEFL test scores are valid for every admission processes in U.S. colleges and universities. If you require, then there are provisions for TOEFL prep courses all across the USA.

Tips for the Exam

Once you are prepared for the exam, you need to build some good strategies which would prove effective during the TOEFL iBT test. In the exam hall, you should carefully follow all the directions in order to not squander any time. Panicking may make things worse. Just concentrate on the current question without pondering about preceding or upcoming ones.You should also avoid spending too much time on any question.

The review option gives you time to go through difficult questions later. You should also pace yourself throughout the exam. Especially in the listening and speaking section, there is very less time to be prepared for the answer. Hence, you should be careful as well as prompt- a combination that would develop with enhanced and superior practice. The one thing that counts at TOEFL is not only practice, but intelligent and effective practice.