TOEFL is short for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It measures the language ability of non-native speakers of English. The test evaluates the four skills of communication in English – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. TOEFL scores are accepted by 7,000+ universities and educational institutions in more than 130 countries, as an indicator of English proficiency of prospective students. Additionally, institutions such as government agencies, licensing bodies, businesses, or scholarship programs may require this test.
The test is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) at hundreds of locations across the globe. The TOEFL is conducted all year round. In each location, it is conducted at least twice or thrice a month. You need to check up the scheduled test date in your city and reserve a seat.
The TOEFL is offered in two different testing formats: the Internet Based Test (iBT) and the Paper Based Test (PBT). In India, the iBT format is offered. The iBT version of the TOEFL test is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points. Most good universities require a minimum score of 100. The following are the details of the various sections along with tips to tackle them.
The Reading section consists of 3–5 passages, each approximately 700 words in length, followed by questions on the passages. You get twenty minutes per passage. The passages are on academic topics; they are the kind of material that might be found in an undergraduate university textbook. Prior knowledge of the subject under discussion is not necessary to come to the correct answer. For tackling the reading section, it is advisable to superficially skim the passage first and to then move on to the questions, reverting and reading in detail, whenever required.
The Listening section consists of 6 passages, 3–5 minutes in length and questions about the passages. These passages include 2 student conversations and 4 academic lectures or discussions. A conversation involves 2 speakers, a student and either a professor or a campus service provider. A lecture is a self-contained portion of an academic lecture, which may involve student participation and does not assume specialized background knowledge in the subject area. Each conversation and lecture stimulus is heard only once. Each conversation is associated with 5 questions and each lecture with 6. For the listening section, it is best to take notes which can be referred to while answering the questions.
The Speaking section consists of 6 tasks, 2 independent tasks and 4 integrated tasks. In the 2 independent tasks, test-takers answer opinion questions on familiar topics. They are evaluated on their ability to speak spontaneously and convey their ideas clearly and coherently. In 2 of the integrated tasks, test-takers read a short passage, listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and answer a question by combining appropriate information from the text and the talk. In the 2 remaining integrated tasks, test-takers listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and then respond to a question about what they heard. For each question, there is a stipulated time for preparation and for speaking. The recording device runs according to the timer, hence time management becomes important. In the Speaking section again, it is important to take notes as you listen and to utilize the preparation time in formulating your answer.
The Writing section measures a test taker’s ability to write in an academic setting and consists of 2 tasks, 1 integrated task and 1 independent task. In the integrated task, test-takers read a passage on an academic topic and then listen to a speaker discuss the same topic. The test taker will then write a summary about the important points in the listening passage and explain how these relate to the key points of the reading passage. In the independent task, test takers must write an essay that states, explains and supports their opinion on an issue. While writing your essays, it is important to be spontaneous and casual. Keep your sentences short and the language simple yet effective.
The best way to score well in TOEFL is to practice hard and improve your concentration. The more you practice, the more you will be able to concentrate. Also remember, TOEFL is not testing your hold on the language but, your basic understanding of the English language.
– Team Leverage