TOEFL Exam Preparation: Everything You Need to Know Before You Start

The TOEFL exam (Test of English as a Foreign Language) measures your English language proficiency and is a key requirement for admission to universities and colleges. Learn more about the test format, scoring, and preparation strategies.

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What is TOEFL Exam?

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a language proficiency examination in English, recognized by over 11000 universities, professional organizations, immigration authorities, scholarship agencies, and institutions across 150 countries globally. It is the most widely used test of English language ability in the world, with more than 4,500 test centers operating in over 165 countries.

The non-profit organization ETS (Educational Testing Service) administers the TOEFL iBT, which evaluates the proficiency of individuals who are not native speakers of English in their ability to comprehend, use, and listen to English as it is spoken and written in college and university environments.

The abbreviation iBT refers to the Internet Based Test, which is the most widely administered version of the TOEFL worldwide. Students are allowed to take the TOEFL exam as many times as they wish, provided they do not exceed once in a 12-day span.

Why Take the TOFEL Exam?

The TOEFL exam is the preferred language proficiency test for over 80% of graduate programs in Canada and is accepted by all universities in the UK, including the prestigious Russell Group institutions. Surveys indicate that more than 90% of TOEFL test-takers were accepted into their first or second choice university. It is also the most favored language exam in France and Germany. Additionally, TOEFL provides a complimentary service that matches test-takers with universities based on their profile criteria, increasing the likelihood of receiving information on programs, financial aid, fellowships, and other educational opportunities.

TOEFL: Key Highlights
Exam NameTOEFL
TOEFL full formTest of English as a Foreign Language
Official Website
Conducting BodyETS (Educational Testing Service)
Widely popular asEnglish language proficiency test
Generally accepted byUniversities in the USA and Canada
Mode of Exam

TOEFL iBT: Internet-based test

TOEFL Test on Paper

TOEFL at Home test

TOEFL Exam Fees16900 Rs
Score Range

Listening: 0–30

Speaking: 0–30

Writing: 0–30

Reading: 0–30

What are the types of TOEFL Exams?

Test-takers should be aware that the ETS TOEFL exam is available in three formats, namely the TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test), the TOEFL Test on Paper, and the TOEFL Home Edition. The TOEFL iBT is the preferred mode of testing and accounts for more than 98% of all TOEFL exams administered globally. The TOEFL Test on Paper has been reintroduced with student safety and the pandemic in mind. The third option, TOEFL Home Edition, is a proctored TOEFL iBT test that can be taken safely from home, with a proctor monitoring the entire duration of the exam.

What is TOEFL iBT?

The TOEFL Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) is the online edition of the TOEFL exam, intended for individuals who wish to take the test remotely. The TOEFL iBT is the favored testing method due to its convenience and low resource utilization. Authorized TOEFL iBT test centers are established across major cities throughout the country to conduct these exams.

What is TOEFL Test on Paper?

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) has reintroduced the TOEFL iBT Test on Paper in certain countries. This edition of the TOEFL exam assesses the same four skills as the online version, but it is administered on paper and takes place over two testing sessions. The TOEFL Reading, Listening, and Writing sections are taken on paper at a designated test center, while the Speaking section is completed at home on a computer and monitored by a human proctor online within three days of the paper sections. The paper-based TOEFL exam is available in some countries, including India. As the Speaking section is taken remotely, test-takers must have the necessary equipment and a suitable environment before registering for the ETS TOEFL exam.

What is TOEFL Paper Based Test (PBT)

Once available in areas that had poor or limited access to the Internet, the TOEFL paper-based test (PBT) evaluates the Listening, Reading, and Writing skills of the candidates. The TOEFL paper-based test (PBT) has only three sections, Listening, Reading, and Writing and does not have a speaking section due to the unavailability of equipment. However, the TOEFL paper-based test (PBT) is no longer continued. Candidates should not confuse the TOEFL paper-based test (PBT) with the TOEFL Test on Paper. The TOEFL Paper Delivered test is the offline version of the TOEFL iBT Test. TOEFL PBT (Paper-based) Test is no longer offered effective April 11, 2021. However, TOEFL PBT scores will remain valid for two years after your test date

What is TOEFL Home Edition?

ETS has responded to the COVID 19 pandemic by launching the TOEFL Home Edition, which allows students to take the English proficiency test from the comfort of their own homes. This option is available in locations where the TOEFL iBT computer based format was previously offered. However, it is essential for candidates to verify that their system meets ETS's equipment requirements before registering for the TOEFL exam.

TOEFL Exam Eligibility

The TOEFL exam is a prerequisite for students who wish to study abroad. However, many students are uncertain about the TOEFL eligibility requirements. Fortunately, ETS, the organization that administers the TOEFL iBT, has not set any age limits, educational qualifications, or other prerequisites for candidates appearing for the TOEFL test.

  • Age Requirements
  • ETS - the conducting body of the TOEFL exam has not set any TOEFL exam age limit for candidates looking to appear for the exam.

  • Education Qualifications
  • While ETS has not set any academic qualification as part of the TOEFL eligibility criteria. However, by extension of admission to universities abroad, candidates should ideally have passed their 10+2 from a recognized board to be eligible to apply to universities abroad for higher education, which could also double as a TOEFL eligibility for appearing for the TOEFL exam.

    TOEFL Exam Syllabus & Pattern

    The 2021 TOEFL exam format assesses a candidate's proficiency in English reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The Reading and Listening sections consist of multiple-choice questions, with a total of 58 to 79 MCQs. In the Writing section, candidates are required to provide descriptive answers. During the Speaking phase, candidates need to deliver brief to extended responses to the questions asked. The entire TOEFL exam takes approximately three hours. TOEFL evaluates a candidate's language skills by measuring their performance across the four different areas.

  • Reading a passage, listening to a tape or lecture, and answering to a specific question;
  • Listening to a recording/lecture and answering with a written response to a specified question;
  • Reading a passage, listening to a recording/lecture, and answering to a specific question in writing
  • TOFEL Exam Dates

    It is recommended that you schedule your TOEFL iBT exam at least a month before your application deadline to allow enough time for working on your applications and retaking the exam if necessary. For instance, if your application deadline is in November, you should plan to take the TOEFL by October. If you need to retake the exam, you can do so in the latter half of October as there is a three-day window for retaking the exam. The TOEFL exam dates are accessible on the official website for candidates to check.

    TOEFL Exam Structure

    Listening Section (41–57 minutes)3–4 lectures, 6 questions per lecture 2–3 conversations, 5 questions per conversation
    Reading Section (54–72 minutes)3–4 reading passages, 700 words long 10 questions per passage
    Writing Section (50 mins)2 tasks of writing essay responses based on reading and listening
    Speaking17 minutes - Discussing, reading and listening material as well as one solo and three integrated speaking assignments on a related subject.
    Total ScoreTOEFL scores are out of 120 points
    Total Time3 hours

    TOEFL Registration

    The ETS TOEFL exam registration can be completed through multiple modes, including phone, online, mail, or in person by visiting the official website of the TOEFL test guide. The registration process is available year-round. Candidates can choose from several designated TOEFL test centers to take the exam. It is essential to select the exam location before filling out the application. Note that applicants can register online up to two days before the test, but late fees will apply for registrations made seven days before the test.

    TOEFL iBT Registration

    Candidates who wish to take the TOEFL exam in India must first visit the TOEFL login page and create an online profile. Next, they must pay the exam fee of US$195. Online registration through the ETS website is the quickest and easiest method, and test takers who register online can choose to pay in Indian Rupees based on the day's exchange rate as calculated in the registration system. It is important to spell your name precisely as it appears on your identification, which for Indian students should ideally be their passport. Payment can be made using a credit or debit card.

  • Step 1 : Sign-up with the ETS website to start the registration
  • Step 2 : Create a profile after which a confirmation will be received
  • Step 3 :Choose a date and center for the test
  • Step 4 :Select universities where the scores are to be sent
  • Step 5 :Download and print the registration form
  • Step 6 :Fill up the information with black or secondary ink
  • Step 7 :Send the form to Regional Registration Center with payment
  • The TOEFL exam is an important and widely recognized English proficiency test for students who are seeking to study abroad. With the recent launch of the TOEFL Home Edition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates now have the convenience of taking the exam from their own homes. It is important for candidates to understand the exam format, eligibility criteria, and registration process to ensure they are fully prepared for the exam. By scheduling the exam well in advance and preparing thoroughly, candidates can increase their chances of success and achieve their academic goals.

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