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Your Definitive Guide to TOEFL

What is TOEFL?

A good TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score is a qualifying requirement for foreign students planning to study in American and Canadian universities, and whose proficiency in English needs to be of an acceptable level.

TOEFL gauges how well you can carry out academic tasks in English through reading, writing, listening, and speaking tests. It is designed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a private, non-profit organization. ETS has its headquarters located in Princeton, New Jersey, and several offices worldwide.

Some universities in Europe and other countries also accept TOEFL scores, though IELTS is more popular outside the United States.

Test structure

TOEFL is offered in two typical formats, based on where your test center is located. TOEFL iBT is available for candidates who have internet access. It is administered several times a year at authorized test centers throughout the world. Those who do not have internet connectivity may have to appear for the Paper-Based Test (PBT).


This section is 60-80 minutes long. You may have to answer 36-56 questions, based on 3 or 4 passages drawn from academic texts. The maximum score for reading is 30. You may be asked to answer questions about main ideas, vocabulary or filling out tables. To arrive at the right answer, you do not require any prior knowledge of the topics of the texts.


Writing involves completing two tasks in a span of 50 minutes. The first task requires you to write an essay after completing reading and listening tasks. The second task gives you an opinion as a topic. You will have to support the opinion by writing an essay. Your responses will be sent to Educational Testing Services’ Online Scoring Network (ETS OSN) and assessed by at least 3 different evaluators.


This part is for 60-90 minutes. You listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations and answer 34-51 questions based on what you have heard. You can listen only once; you may take notes while listening if desired, and refer to later when you answer questions. This section measures your ability to understand ideas and organize information. The maximum score is 30.


You need to complete six tasks in this section in 20 minutes. Speaking involves expressing your opinion on a familiar topic, and speaking on reading and listening tasks. This part tests your fluency and spontaneity and how appropriately you synthesize information from the available material.

Your responses will be digitally recorded, sent to Educational Testing Services’ Online Scoring Network (ETS OSN), and rated by 3-6 evaluators.

TOEFL score

TOEFL score is valid for two years. The overall maximum score is 120 from four sections carrying 30 marks each. If you score in the range of 80-100, you stand a good chance of acceptance by most universities.

You can view your scores online within a fortnight from the test date. You have an added bonus of sending free your official TOEFL score to a maximum of four institutions on the test day, if you had chosen them before the test.

Who accepts TOEFL scores?

Over 9,000 colleges and other institutions accept TOEFL scores. Compared to other English tests, admission officers are more in favor of using TOEFL scores as a means of measuring your proficiency in English. It is accepted by medical agencies for professional certification purposes. Those seeking residential and work visas can submit TOEFL scores to immigration authorities.

Studying abroad: the TOEFL advantage

The biggest TOEFL advantage for you is to qualify for a college admission in a prestigious foreign country, which by itself is a game changer. It launches you firmly on your study-abroad journey. A good TOEFL score stands you in good stead in terms of acceptance by a wide range of colleges and universities in the United States. Voila! Your great American academic dream then becomes a breeze. Apart from the US, top academic institutions in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand among others are open to accepting TOEFL scores. Exposure to international academic circles helps you acquire a skill set that has a positive stamp on your career and life over the years. You demonstrate your adaptability to new environs and capacity of response to new ideas, languages and cultures. In short, it makes you stand out from others before your prospective employer. Though the TOEFL test format may appear to be misleadingly simple for those who claim to be proficient in English, the standards of the test can be really challenging even for those who ARE proficient. It would be best for you to enroll with a reputed online TOEFL prep portal to acquire the right language skills that would surely be a good start to realize your great aspirations for a mark abroad.
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