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Exclusive ContentWhat is TOEFL Exam?

What is TOEFL Exam?

What is TOEFL Exam?

The acronym TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. The non-profit organisation ETS (Educational Testing Service) conducts the test all over the world since 1964. There are four sections in the test – reading, listening, speaking and writing. The score range for each section ranges between 0 to 30. The score range for each section is segregated into 4 to 5 proficiency levels. The proficiency levels are – 1) advanced, 2) high-intermediate, 3) low-intermediate and 4) below low intermediate.

Purpose of TOEFL Exam

The key purpose of the TOEFL exam is to test the English proficiency of non-native English speakers. Millions of students belonging to non-native English speaking countries such as India take the test to apply to overseas universities. The TOEFL score is accepted in the universities in approximately one sixty countries including popular educational destinations such as the USA, the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Testing Format

ETS offers the TOEFL exam in two different formats – TOEFL iBT and TOEFL essentials. The candidates select their chosen format based on their preferences, styles and patterns of the offered formats. TOEFL iBT is considered to be one of the most accepted tests in the world for testing the English language proficiency of people applying to overseas universities or for other purposes such as work or immigration.

Different Formats Of TOEFL iBT

The TOEFL iBT test can be taken via three testing options –

TOEFL iBT test: This test is taken on a computer in a recognised test centre. There are many test centres spread across India. The candidates can select the test centres of their choice while registering for the exam. The authorised TOEFL test centres conduct the TOEFL iBT test more than sixty times a year.

TOEFL iBT HOME EDITION: TOEFL iBT test can be taken from home. The facility is available in India.

TOEFL iBT PAPER EDITION: This format is available in India. The candidates have to book two appointments at the time of registering for the exam as the candidates take the test for the reading, listening and writing sections on a paper at an authorised test centre and for the assessment of speaking section, the candidates appear from home for the test. However, the candidates can only select this method if the candidates meet certain conditions related to computer equipment and the home environment of the candidates.

Exam Pattern of TOEFL iBT

Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing are the four sections in a three hour TOEFL iBT test.


The purpose of the reading section is the assessment of the reading capabilities of candidates. The reading section consists of three to four reading passages of seven hundred words. Ten questions are asked from each passage. A candidate can answer the questions of reading sections within 54 minutes to 72 minutes.


The purpose of the listening section is the assessment of the capability of understanding lectures and communication in English. The candidates listen to lectures and conversations of two speakers and both the lecture and conversation objects contain language that is campus-based. The candidates are required to listen to three to four lectures of 3 minutes to 5 minutes of duration and then answer six questions from each lecture and the candidates are also required to listen to two to three conversations of three minutes between two speakers and answer five questions for each conversation. The candidates are allowed to take note of the audio objects during the assessment and the candidates get 41 minutes to 57 minutes to complete the assessment related to the listening section.

The accents used in the audio objects of the listening section are of native English accents from the native English speaking nations such as the USA, Australia, the U.K and New Zealand.


The purpose of the speaking section is the assessment of the English language speaking capabilities of candidates in an academic environment.

The assessment related to the speaking section is divided into two kinds – 1) independent speaking task – question 1 in the speaking section is of this type. In this section, the response of the candidates is based on the personal experience, opinions and thought process of the candidate, 2) integrated speaking task – question 2 to question 4 in the speaking section are of this type. The term ‘integrated’ is used here as the task demands the candidates to integrate their other English language skills of listening and reading with speaking to respond to the three questions.  The candidates get a preparation time of 15 seconds to 30 seconds before responding to each question in this section. The response time for each question ranges between 45 seconds to 60 seconds.


This section assesses the English writing capabilities of candidates in relation to an academic setting. The tasks in this section are of two types – 1) integrated writing task – In this section, the candidates are required to listen to a brief lecture and need to read a brief passage and write answers based on the objects that have been listened to and read. Twenty minutes of time is allocated to candidates for the completion of this task, 2) independent writing task – The candidates write an essay based on a given topic. The candidates get thirty minutes to complete the task.

Overall, a candidate gets fifty minutes to complete the writing section.

Details Related to the Application Process

The candidates are required to register with ETS before applying for the exam. There is no facility for walk-in registration at the authorised test centres. The candidates can register with ETS through the ETS online account, phone and mail.

Application process through ETS online account: At first, a candidate is required to create an account with ETS using authentic information as it appears on the candidate’s ID. Next, the candidate needs to select the preferred testing method. After that, the candidate is required to select the exam date, find out the test centres that are available to the candidates and the candidate book a preferred time slot on the selected date. In the final step of the application process through the ETS account, the candidate pays for the TOEFL test; purchases test preparation, select the score recipients and finish all the required final steps of the registration process.

The advantages of using an online ETS account for the application are – a test centre search facility, test preparation resources, and the advantage of registering at any time of the day.

A candidate is required to pay a late fee in case the candidate applies a week before the test with an online ETS account.

Application process through phone: A candidate can apply by phone by calling RRC (Regional Registration Centre). The candidates need to select a test centre to find out the regional registration centre that represents the location. The candidates need to register by phone before a week of the exam otherwise they need to pay a late fee. The payment can be made through a debit card and other options are available as well.

Application process by mail: In order to apply through mail, a candidate needs to download the registration form in PDF format from the ETS website. The candidate then fills up the form using a blue or black ink pen. The candidate selects the method of payment at this stage and after filling the form up, mails the form to the concerned RRC under which the testing location of the candidate falls. The form needs to reach the RRC at least four weeks before the date of the test. The candidate will receive a mail with confirmation that the form of the candidate has been received by the test centre. In case, the candidate does not receive the confirmation, the candidate is required to call the concerned RRC minimum of three days prior to the registration deadline. The candidates need to enter certain codes manually such as department codes, region codes while opting for the registration process by mail.

Preparation for TOEFL iBT

The candidates get access to the official test preparation sources after registering for the examination with ETS. The candidates can purchase test materials using their ETS account and they also get access to the free sources of test preparation when they apply for the TOEFL iBT.

The formats of test preparation in ETS –

Courses: The ‘TOEFL Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide’ is a self-paced course. This includes an introduction to the TOEFL test. The course makes use of videos, quizzes, instructor tips and discussion boards to help the preparation of the candidates. The course is free of cost.

Practice Sets: TOEFL iBT Free Practice Test, TOEFL iBT Paper Edition Practice Test, TOEFL iBT Practice Sets, TOEFL Practice Online are the practice sets offered by ETS for online preparation. Among the above-mentioned practice sets offered by ETS.

TOEFL Practice Online provides an experience that is similar to the real-life experience of taking the TOEFL iBT test. The practice test allows candidates to review and answer the way it is done in the TOEFL iBT test centres.  The candidates receive their score within twenty-four hours and the scores come with feedback related to all four sections of the test. The candidates can take the test anytime from anywhere with an internet connection. 

Guides and Books: This section of test preparation contains guides, preparation planners, and test bundles. The students can choose sets among the offered sets – The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT Test, Official TOEFL iBT Tests, Volumes 1 & 2, Official TOEFL iBT Tests Savings Bundle, and The TOEFL iBT Test Prep Planner.

Value Packs:  The candidates can select from the offered value packs as these are popular TOEFL preparation resources. The offered value packs are – Value Pack Prep, Value Pack Prep Plus, Value Pack Premium, Exclusive TOEFL Practice Online volume. 

TOEFL Go! GLOBAL Official App – The candidates can also prepare using the official TOEFL App from the ETS. The application contains the necessary resources for preparation.

TOEFL Talks: These are webinars that provide the candidates with knowledge related to TOEFL iBT preparation.

TOEFL Exam Date

  • TOEFL iBT test at test centres is conducted over sixty times a year, it is offered six days a week at test centres across India.
  • The candidates opting for home edition TOEFL iBT can take the test anytime in a day. The test is offered four days a week. The candidates are eligible to get an appointment after twenty-four hours of registration.
  • TOEFL iBT paper edition is conducted once or twice a month in India. The candidates need to book two appointments at the time of registration for the paper edition.

TOEFL Fees The exact amount of fees for the TOEFL exam can be known during the registration process. It usually ranges between Rs 13000 to Rs 14000.

TOEFL test is a standard test that assesses the English language proficiency of the test takers. The score of the test is accepted across many universities belonging to native-English speaking countries as proof of the English proficiency of the students in an academic environment. Apart from getting admission to universities overseas, the test is also taken for immigration purposes. There are two formats of the test -TOEFL essentials and TOEFL iBT. TOEFL iBT score has a huge acceptance in top-rated universities belonging to popular educational destinations such as the U.S.A, the U.K, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. TOEFL iBT test can be taken from test centres, and homes. The candidates need to register to apply for the test. The registration for the test can be done through mail, phone or with an online ETS account. The fee for the test is between US$180-US$185 which is between 13000-14000 in INR. The test assesses the speaking, reading, writing and listening skills of the candidates related to the English language and thus there are four sections in the test – reading, listening, speaking and writing. The candidates can get access to the preparation resources for the test through the ETS website. The candidates are free to select format, test time and test location for the test.


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