Familiarise yourself with the TOEFL® Test Format

TOEFL iBT®: Test format

The best way to score well on the TOEFL® iBT is be to understand how the test goes and prepare accordingly. It is an internet-based test with an easy to understand format.

The Exam

The TOEFL iBT® is a 4-hour computerized test which comprises of four solid sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing.

In each section you would tend to use a certain specific skill to test your proficiency. These sections are divided and given a set time limit for each. Overall the TOEFL iBT® is a comprehensive 4-hour test of English language.

There will be a 10-minute break in between the first two and last two sections. This is a break where the timer stops and you can have a quick refresher. Any other breaks you take whilst your test will cut into your test time as the timer will not pause.

The table underneath highlights the overall TOEFL iBT® format, including the sequence of the sections, how long are they, and how many questions each section contains:

Section Time Limit Questions Tasks
Reading 60-80 minutes 36-56 questions 3-4 passages from academic texts and other questions and answers
Listening 60-90 minutes 34-51 questions Lectures, classroom discussions, conversations
Break 10 minutes    
Speaking 20 minutes 6 tasks Express opinions on known topics, speaking test based on reading and listening tasks
Writing 50 minutes 2 tasks Writing essays based on responses based on reading and listening, also a piece on opinionated writing

Reading Section

The TOEFL iBT® Reading section is not a fixed length. You might potentially get exploratory questions, which will be 48-56 questions in 80, or you will otherwise get 36-42 questions that you must answer in 60 minutes.

The main task of this section involves reading passages on various topics such as History, Science, Psychology, Art etc. Each passage covers about 14 questions and it’s advised that you manage your time to go over all of them.

Generally, a good Reading score is 20 or more, though different Universities might have different requirements.

Listening Section

The TOEFL iBT® Listening section also differs in its length and the number of questions that need to be answered. This section can have 34 questions which would take around 60 minutes or 51 questions which would take 90 minutes.

The test contains a total of 4-6 lectures and 2-3 conversations. Each lecture is around four to five minutes in length with six subsequent questions and each conversation is around 3 minutes followed by five questions.

Audio clips will be played only once. A speaker will be on the screen which each clip for the Listening section.

A good Listening score is 21 or more, though different Universities might have different requirements.

Speaking section

TOEFL® Speaking format has been divided in two main categories- Independent and Integrated.

For the independent tasks you will have to complete two exercise and would need to speak for 45 seconds on familiar topics. Then the next four exercise which comes under the integrated task you would need to speak for 60 seconds about the passage and the audio pieces. A typically good speaking score is anything above 22. This is marked on the scale of 0-30

Independent Speaking task

There are 2 tasks. Task 1 you would need to select one of the many options and task 2 you need to select one of the two options. There will be a prompt that you will get for both these tasks. You will get 15 seconds to prepare for your response and then followed by 45 seconds to speak. If you support your opinions with examples you will get a better score.

Integrated Speaking Tasks

Task 3-6 is where you would integrate your reading, listening and speaking skills. Generally, tasks 3 and 5 look at campus perspective while 4 and 6 on academic matter.

For task 3 and 4, you will have 45 seconds to read the passage, 1 minute to listen to a clip and 30 seconds to get ready with your response. You will then be given 1 minute to speak.

For tasks 5 and 6, you will listen to an audio clip which is around 2minutes long and 20 seconds to prepare and then again 1 minute to speak.

Writing section

The last section of TOEFL iBT® is the writing section or the TOEFL® Writing format has two essays that need to be written. These are the integrated and independent essays.

The task has to completed in 50 minutes. The first essay has to be completed in 20 minutes and for the second one will be 30 minutes long.

A good Writing score is 22 or more, though different Universities might have different requirements.

Integrated Writing

Ideally, you would take three minutes to read the passage of 300 words. After, you will be played a lecture and you are tasked to write an essay which tries to show the connection or disconnect between the passage and the lecture.

The passage will be in front of you for the entire time, the length of the essay should be about 150-220 words.

Independent Writing

As the name suggests the independent task involves your opinion and thought. There will be no passage or audio piece.

A prompt will suggest you the topic and you will have to write 300 words in 30 minutes.

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