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What you need to know about the TOEFL Test
The TOEFL test measures English language proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing at the college/university level. There are two main versions of the TOEFL exam:
The vast majority of people take the TOEFL iBT version of the test, as it is the most established and accepted for all the TOEFL exam offerings.
In 2021, ETS introduced the TOEFL essentials exam. While it covers the same topics as the TOEFL iBT– speaking, listening, reading, and writing– it takes half the time and is taken at home with supervision by a proctor. Because it is a newer test, not every institution accepts the TOEFL Essentials score. Be sure to check if your institution does before you commit to taking the exam.
Three other versions of the TOEFL are aimed at assessing the English skills of younger students:
The TOEFL PBT, an alternate paper version, was discontinued in April 2021.
Answers to all your questions about the TOEFL Test
Table of Contents
What are the costs?
TOEFL testing costs vary on depending on your specific location. Currently, TOEFL iBT testing in the United States seems to be around $230. Other countries range anywhere from $190 to over $300.
There are additional costs for late registration/rescheduling (available 2 to 7 days before the test), additional score reports, and review of specific scores.
The TOEFL Essentials Test typically costs between $100-120.
What should I bring?
On test day, you will need at least two forms of identification that must be original (not copies) and valid (unexpired). The name on the ID documents must exactly match the name you used to register for the test, must include a clear photograph of you, and must display your signature.
ID documents are the only personal items allowed in the TOEFL testing room. Some testing locations utilize inspection and scanning to make sure no other items are brought into the facility or testing room. You may not check phones, smartwatches, tablets, or other electronic devices during the test or break period. You will be allowed to take notes during the TOEFL test, but only on scratch paper provided to you at the testing site. This paper will be collected and destroyed following your testing session.
Be sure to review the official TOEFL testing bulletin for the most up-to-date information before exam day.
How is it scored?
The TOEFL test score report includes a score of 0 to 30 on each of the four sections and a total score between 0 and 120, which is the four section scores, combined. The report will also contain a summary of the capabilities shown by your test scores. You will be able to see your scores for the Reading and Listening sections online at the end of the test. Remaining scores are now posted online about 6 days after you take the TOEFL test. You can download a pdf copy 8 days after the test and scores are sent to the agencies you requested (and to you if you requested this) by 11 days after testing. These scores will be reported by ETS for about 2 years after the test date.
A new feature, after August 1, 2019, is the MyBest™ score. This is an added part of the score report showing your top scores from any test session in the past two years.
What kind of job can I get?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, proficiency in English is key to both initial employment and advancement in a career. Employers are looking for well-trained employees who can converse fluently in English. Accessing the required training in America can also be limited for a person who is not fluent in English. Employees who have native-speaking English ability are also more likely to be tapped for promotion and advancement opportunities in many professions.
Am I eligible?
You may take the TOEFL test an unlimited number of times, as long as the testing dates are more than 3 days apart. If it is discovered that you have registered for a second test within this time period, your test will be cancelled, with no refund of the test fee.
Why does it matter?
The TOEFL test is the most widely offered and accepted test of its type and scores are requested by over 9,000 institutions and agencies around the world. Your TOEFL test score may be the key to admission to college, an English language learning program, scholarship money, or an approved visa application. Tracking your scores on this test is also a good way to monitor your acquisition of spoken and written English.
What salary can I expect?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the ability to speak English fluently positively affects a person’s earning capacity. Individuals with a native-equivalent English language ability consistently earned higher wages and were able to secure more profitable positions than those with limited English proficiency.
When is it available?
There are three ways you can take the TOEFL iBT exam:
on the computer at home with a proctor
on the computer at a testing center
on paper at a testing center
The paper version is broken into two sections and currently only offered once or twice a month in the United States, Mexico, India, and Colombia.
Both computerized versions of the test are widely available. Testing centers offer exam dates 60 times per year, while the at-home version is available 24 hours a day, 4 days a week.
No matter which version of the test you take, be sure to schedule your exam date well in advance of your earliest admissions deadline, as score reports can take a couple weeks to arrive.
What are some Tips & Tricks
We have provided free TOEFL practice tests and flashcards to assist in your preparation for the Reading and Listening sections of this test. Since the Speaking and Writing sections do not lend themselves to this format of online practice, we encourage you to consult our study guides for specific preparation recommendations. They will give you examples of online and other resources, as well as in-person practice ideas to improve your English speaking and writing.
How much time is allowed?
You should allow at least 3.5 hours for TOEFL iBT testing. This includes check-in procedures. The actual TOEFL testing time is about 3 hours and is divided among the four sections, as follows:
|Test Section||Time Allowed|
|Reading||54 to 72 minutes|
|Listening||41 to 57 minutes|
The TOEFL Essentials exam can be done from home in 1.5 hours.
|Test Section||Time Allowed|
|Listening||21 to 34 minutes|
|Reading||22 to 33 minutes|
|Personal Statement (unscored)||5 minutes|
Within each timed section (especially Reading), you need to monitor how much time you spend on each task to ensure you have time to finish the entire section.
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