Test Of English as a Foreign Language, more commonly known by its shorthand notation TOEFL, is a test designed to prepare a student to understand and use English at a university level. The test focuses on combining the candidates’ skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking, and testing them to make sure that they don’t become a hurdle in their education.
TOEFL is accepted worldwide along with some other standardized tests like IELTS and FCE and over 6,000 government institutes, colleges and universities recognize it when applying for admissions in various programs. So, if you’re a student looking to study abroad, applying for a visa as a worker or just keeping track of your English language skills, taking TOEFL is definitely the way to go!
Why Take TOEFL?
You might be wondering why would anyone want to take TOEFL when there are quite different types of English Language tests available and what actually makes it stand out from the other. So, let’s look at some reasons why anyone would prefer taking TOEFL.
1. Accepted Worldwide
When planning for abroad, you’re sometimes not very sure of your destination and take the language test far ahead of that. It would be really agonizing if you end up selecting a country where the test you took won’t be recognized. However, with TOEFL, you won’t need to worry about this as it’s accepted in almost all the important countries in the world.
2. Popular with Students
In countries like the US, Canada and most of Europe except for Great Britain, TOEFL scores sent to universities are more than the scores of all other language tests combined. This indicates TOEFL being highly popular among students. Meaning you would get more study material, better advices from people around you and better teachers.
3. Success Rate
According to a survey taken among students who took TOEFL to apply to universities, around 85% of the test takers got into the university of their choice.
TOEFL isn’t just limited to the exam hall. Rather it provides you with satisfactory English skills to join an overseas university compared to the students who took other language tests. Passing the test makes sure you know the basics and effectively communicate for satisfying all your academic purposes.
There are some language tests which use face-to-face examiners and candidates making the possibility of biased marking. However, there’s no biased marking when it comes to TOEFL as they’re checked by examiners while hiding the identity of the candidates, through a centralized network making sure each candidate gets fairly marked.
TOEFL is a computerized test lasting for about 4 hours, consisting of four sections taken on the same day with all of them being compulsory. Note-taking is also allowed throughout the test. Let’s break down to individual sections and see each one in detail.
Lasting for about 60 to 90 minutes, this section has 3-5 passages each having 12-14 questions. The main task consists of reading passages, understanding them, and finally answering the questions based on them, usual types being Multiple Choice Questions, Fill in the Blanks or Read to Learn. The passages are quite long and usually cover various topics like history and psychology. You are managing your time for the whole section important as you’re not timed on individual questions.
This again varies in lengths, 65-85 mins having 35-50 questions. Typically you’ll have to listen to around five lectures and two to three conversations. Both are lasting for three to five minutes each. Lectures bring six questions along while conversations do five. One important thing to keep in mind here is that one clip will only be played once, so you need to be really attentive. There can be multiple speakers in a clip with different accents, so be prepared for that as well. Again, three types of questions can be asked, including multiple-choice, multiple answers, and replay questions.
All test takers are required to get a break of 10 minutes after the second section. During the break, you may get up and clear mind and let it relax. You may also use the bathroom or have some refreshments.
This is the third section in the test and is the shortest one, taking only about 20 minutes altogether. It comprises of six tasks, first two being individual where you have to give your opinion on a certain topic for a duration of around 45 seconds. The next four tasks are combined and require you to speak for a minute each for different audio clips and passages.
Lastly, this section comprises of writing two essays. The total time to complete the said task is 50 minutes, 20, and 30 minutes for each, respectively. There will be two types of essays, an integrated one and the other being individual.
Some Tips to Ace TOEFL
- For the first section, managing your time is highly important, and you also have to have a well-thought strategy to read the passages and don’t just head out aimlessly.
- Skip the difficult questions first and answer the easier ones.
- Take notes while listening in the second section so you can answer questions based on them later when required.
- Take time while deciding on multiple choice answers. Don’t be very quick to choose the right one as they can often sound right and be inaccurate in reality.
- For the third section, keep a scratch pad along to write what you plan to speak to avoid getting confused.
- Don’t speak very low into the microphone as the environment can be noisy sometimes, so make sure you’re being listened accurately.
- While attempting the last section, always choose the choice which is easier to support whenever presented with a choice and avoid choosing something which it’s hard to argue about.
- Outline your essays in advance to make the writing easier for you.
All the sections are first marked in raw marks, and then they are scaled to marks out of 30. There are different perspectives for each section on what a good score actually means but anything above the 50th percentile is actually considered good.
I hope that this article on the TOEFL Exam was helpful. If you are interested, visit the TOEFL Category!