TOEFL

TOEFL

English language proficiency is an important prerequisite if you are looking to study or emigrate to an English-speaking country. This prerequisite can be fulfilled by taking a standardized test. The Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL is one of the most trusted of such standardized tests. It measures an applicant’s hold on the English language through a comprehensive evaluation of their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Although the IELTS and PTE also measure the same, the TOEFL is definitely the most popular one.

Facts about TOEFL

Here are some relevant facts about the TOEFL exam:

  • Over 10,000 universities in countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France etc accept the TOEFL as a valid measure of English language abilities.
  • 90% of United States universities, when asked about their preference, chose the TOEFL over all its competitors. 
  • All Australian and New Zealand universities, as well as immigration authorities, accept the TOEFL scores. 
  • Close to 98% of United Kingdom universities accept the TOEFL scores.

Exam Format

TOEFL iBT is a computer-based examination that aims at analyzing your English language fluency skills and for this purpose, it is divided into four sections. The four sections of the TOEFL exam are- Writing, Reading, Speaking and Listening.

TOEFL Registration Process

The TOEFL exam is available throughout the year but operates on a first-come-first-served basis. You can choose the test date and centre as per your needs. Also, there is more than one way of registering for the test. These are mentioned below:

  • Register through the Internet: This is the most common and easy way of registration. Online facilities for registration are open 24*7. Seats need to be booked at least 7 days before the date of the exam.
  • Register through Phone: Prospective applicants can also register through the phone. 
  • Register through Mail: For those who can’t register through the above methods may choose to register through mail as well. In this mode, you should send your form at least 4 weeks prior to your intended test date. A confirmation is processed after a successful registration.

The registration cost of TOEFL is $180(INR 12755). Applicable taxes and fees are not included.

Structure

The test evaluates a candidate’s all-round skills of the English language. Its structure contains diverse questions on reading, writing, speaking and listening. The following paragraph elaborates on the content and structure of these four sections. The TOEFL test has also undergone major revisions on 1st August 2019, making it shorter than before.

Reading

This section of the TOEFL evaluates skills of understanding long texts and comprehension. Further, it sees how the candidate reacts to complex sentence structures, difficult vocabulary,  author’s motive and mood, various narration styles, unfamiliar content and a host of other things. The questions are based on excerpts of academic passages. The number of questions asked in the reading section has been reduced from 12-14 in each section to 10 from each section. The box at the end of the Writing section describes the changes in an elaborate way.

The reading section has a set of three formats on which the questions are based on, these are:

  • Traditional multiple-choice questions with four choices and single correct answer. 
  • Sentence-insertion questions in a multiple-choice format wherein the test-taker is asked to choose the best phrase from the given four options that suits the sentence.
  • Questions that have more than four choices and multiple correct answers. One question of this type appears in every passage.

Tips for TOEFL Reading Section:

  • Increase vocabulary as much as possible. Check the roots of words, their origins and translations in your native language. This way, you can remember them more vividly.
  • Read from a diverse set of academic texts throughout your preparation. Get acquainted with the central themes, contrary perspectives and how the author makes his case. 

Speaking

This section helps evaluators in assessing your fluency in the English language. It is the most difficult section on the whole test as it requires quick thinking, analysis of ideas and replying accordingly. The speaking section tries to assess whether a person is comfortable with speaking and understanding class-level as well as real-life conversations. Further, if they are able to express their opinions clearly, participate in dialogues and reply. The test-taker is required to speak from their personal experience, assert opinions and make arguments. It is conducted online. The predefined question formats have been summarized below.

  • Independent speaking tasks wherein the speaker is asked to speak about their ideas, opinions and experience. These are introductory questions that try to know how a person introduces themselves, their attitude, speaking style and much more.
  • Integrated speaking tasks differ from the above tasks as they blend two or more skills of English such as reading and listening. The tasks can be from a campus situation or an academic course.

Tips for TOEFL Speaking Section:

  • Work on creating grammatically accurate sentences rather than integrating complex vocabulary into your speeches.
  • Speak steadily rather than rapidly. Errors cost you marks but accuracy rewards you.

Listening

The TOEFL listening section aims at a comprehensive evaluation of how the test-taker understands spoken English. Typically, this section helps the evaluator assess how one will react in an academic environment where conversations and lectures involve diverse information, complex sentence structures, speaker intentions etc. Moreover, it examines one’s abilities to make connections between different topics, drawing conclusions, judging the attitude and mood of the speaker etc. Due to recent changes in the format, the number of lectures has been reduced from 4-6 to 3-4.

Test takers of TOEFL hear recordings of lectures and academic conversations in natural speech. Based on the information of the recording, candidates are asked various questions that have been outlined below:

  • The traditional multiple-choice questions which have four choices and a single correct answer.
  • Multiple choice questions but with more than four choices and more than one correct answer.
  • Ordering questions that ask test-takers to arrange the given events according to how they occur in the recording.
  • Matching questions that require test-takers to match categories with relevant text, objects and phrases.

Tips for TOEFL Listening Section:

  • Make a habit of listening to sample conversations and focusing on its important points, various speaking styles, etc.
  • Listening to sample conversations can also help you with vocabulary and understanding new and unfamiliar words in a clearer way.
  • Be attentive to the degree of certainty with which the speaker asserts his opinions.

Writing

The ability to write correct, error-free and coherent passages is tested in this part of the TOEFL exam. Often, in an academic environment, you will be required to summarize, prepare notes, write essays and papers based on a topic. This section assesses skills of idea phrasing, making relationships between bits of information, comparing perceptions, argument-formation and conclusion. The two types of tasks on this section have been mentioned below:

  • Integrated Writing Task: Test-takers of TOEFL, hear 20 minutes of recording and read a 230-300 word passage. Based on the understanding of both, they have to write how both relate to each other. Note-taking is allowed. There is no correct or incorrect answer. Suggested word limit is 150-225 words but you can write as much as you want as there is no penalty. 
  • Independent Writing task: This is an experience-based essay. An issue or topic is provided on which the test-taker expresses their opinions in a minimum of 300 words. Evaluators try to gauge skills of grammar, writing in an organised manner, capacity to support a claim with evidence, detailing, sentence construction, conclusion etc.

Tips for TOEFL Writing Section:

  • Correct spelling and punctuation can earn you easy points while silly mistakes have penalties.
  • Form short paragraphs and try to connect them. An organized essay is more important than bombarding the reader with information.
  • Always check your sentences twice after completion. Change subjectivity into objectivity and better your sentence transition.

The changes in the TOEFL exam after August 1st, 2019 are shown below:

TOEFL Test Scores

Scoring across the sections is done in the following manner:

  • Reading: (0 to 30)
  • Writing:(0 to 30)
  • Speaking: (0 to 30)
  • Listening: (0 to 30)
  • Total: (0-120)

English language certifications are instrumental in securing admission at leading universities. Many of them require that you score the predefined marks so that you can be eligible to apply. In any case, a high score increases your chances of admission. Build a plan with Leverage Edu experts and strengthen your English score as well your application so that you can secure your spot in your dream college.

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