All You Need to Know About TOEFL Exam

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English language proficiency scores are amongst the key prerequisites if you are looking to study or immigrate to an English-speaking country. This prerequisite can be fulfilled by taking a language proficiency test. The Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL is one of the most popular language proficiency exams and aims to measure an applicant’s hold on the English language through a comprehensive evaluation of their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Through this blog, we will take you through the various features of TOEFL, its format, syllabus as well as preparation tips!

Exam  TOEFL 
Full-Form Test of English as a Foreign Language
Purpose  English language proficiency test
Conducting Body Educational Testing Service (ETS)
Generally accepted by Universities in the USA and Canada
Level of Exam International
Mode of Exam Internet-based and Paper-based
Sections  Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking
Duration Around 3 hours 30 minutes
TOEFL Fee TOEFL iBT fee: $185 (INR 13,652)
TOEFL PBT fee: $180 (INR 13,283)
Score Range Reading: 0–30
Listening: 0–30
Speaking: 0–30
Writing: 0–30
TOEFL Test Centers 4500 across the world
Official Website 
TOEFL Helpline 1-609-771-7100
Fax 1-610-290-8972

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL is conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is widely accepted by over 11,000 universities and academic institutions in more than 150 countries, such as the US, the UK, New Zealand, Canada, Australia as well as across Asia and Europe. Earlier there used to be two types of TOEFL exams, i.e. TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT. TOEFL iBT is a computer-delivered test that is conducted in online mode whereas TOEFL PBT was a paper-based test that is only carried out in those areas where the internet is not available. But 11th April 2021 onwards, the official authorities- ETS have discontinued TOEFL PBT. This implies that TOEFL is now available in iBT i.e.,computer-based format and TOEFL iBT Home Edition.

Latest Updates on TOEFL Exam 

  • Starting July 1, 2021, ETS, the TOEFL exam’s administering body has stated that they would accept Aadhar Cards from Indian students who take the TOEFL exam if they do not have their passports as part of their student ID ready. Because of the pandemic, new passports have not been provided on a regular basis, therefore students who have not received their passports can temporarily use their Aadhar cards as evidence of ID. This service’s termination date has not yet been announced.
  • Due to the continuous pandemic, several institutions were forced to implement test-optional policies or depend on substandard language examinations, which were more inexpensive and convenient but not always of good quality or sustainable in the long run. As a result, ETS, a niche English test provider, has created the TOEFL Essentials test, a higher-quality testing alternative in the face of the pandemic.

TOEFL iBT Home Edition

During the lockdown phase of 2020, ETS has launched a special version of the TOEFL test – TOEFL iBT Home Edition. This version of the test allows you to take the examination from the comfort of your home provided that you have all the essential equipment required. Listed below are some of the essential pointers related to TOEFL iBT Home Edition- 

  • Generally, all the countries except Mainland China and Iran offer this format of test
  • It is exactly similar in terms of content format and on-screen experience for a test taker when compared to a test centre
  • It is taken on your own computer at home and is monitored by a human protector online through ProctorU
  • It is available for 24 hours a day, 4 days a week and you can take appointment as early as 24 hours after your registration 

Here are some of the essentials you need to have before you appear for this format-

  • Computer
  • Browser download and equipment check
  • Speaker
  • Microphone
  • Camera
  • Tabletop and seating

TOEFL Eligibility Criteria

There are some prerequisites that the candidates must fulfil in order to appear for the TOEFL exams. The TOEFL eligibility criteria have been given a rundown below:

  • There is no certain age limit specified to take the TOEFL exam.
  • The candidate must have 10+2 level of qualification from a recognized Indian board.

TOEFL Registration

The TOEFL exam can be taken throughout the year but the exam dates are allotted 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. The three modes for TOEFL registration are as follows:

  • Register Online: 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 on Call: Prospective applicants can also register through the phone. The TOEFL Registration number for Indian test-takers is 91-124-4147700.
  • Register through Mail: For those who can’t register through the above methods may choose to register through mail as well. For this, you must download the form from the official TOEFL website, fill it with correct details and send your form at least 4 weeks prior to your intended test date. You can check your nearest TOEFL centre on the official website and mail the form on the same address. A confirmation is processed after a successful registration.

The registration cost of TOEFL (iBT/PBT) is $190 (INR 14,086). Applicable taxes and fees are not included.

ID Requirement for TOEFL Registration: For Indian applicants, a valid passport is an essential ID requirement needed at the time for TOEFL Registration.

TOEFL Exam Pattern

The iBT exam is a computer-based examination that aims at analyzing your English language fluency skills and for this purpose, the test is divided into four sections. You will have to complete in a time of 3-4 hours. The following table elucidates the pattern in detail:

Section Duration Number of Questions
Reading 54-72 minutes 30-40
Listening 41-57 minutes 28-39
Break 10 minutes
Speaking 17 minutes 4 tasks
Writing 50 Minutes 2 tasks

Related Read: TOEFL Scholarship

TOEFL Syllabus

Below we have elaborated the iBT exam syllabus in the following sections as per these new changes.


This section of the TOEFL evaluates skills of understanding long texts and comprehension. Further, it assesses 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.


This section helps evaluators in assessing your fluency in the English language. It is the most difficult section of 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.

Don’t Forget to Practice these Exclusive TOEFL Sample Speaking Questions!


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, draw conclusions, judge 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 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.


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 in this section have been mentioned below:

  • Integrated Writing Task: Test-takers of hear 20 minutes of recording and read a 230-300 word passage. Based on the understanding of both, they have to write about 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.

Must Read: TOEFL Sample Essays

To understand the exam pattern and syllabus, take this TOEFL Sample Test!

Can I take a Break?

Absolutely yes! The TOEFL exam administrators will allow you to have a 10-minute break and it is mandatory for everyone. During this break, you are required to leave the room. Taking a break will help you to recharge up and get prepared for your next test section which is the Speaking and Writing sections. Use this time to walk around, stretch your legs, get a beverage or a snack and use the loo.

TOEFL Exam Scores & Results

Skill/ Score Range Level
ReadingScore Range 0–30 Advanced (24–30)
high-intermediate (18–23)
Low-Intermediate (4–17)
Below Low-Intermediate (0–3)
ListeningScore Range 0–30 Advanced (22–30)
high-intermediate (17–21)
Low-Intermediate (9–16)
Below Low-Intermediate (0–8)
SpeakingScore Range 0–30 Advanced (25–30)
high-intermediate (20–24)
Low-Intermediate (16–19)
Basic (10–15)Below Basic (0–9
WritingScore Range 0–30 Advanced (24–30)
high-intermediate (17–23)
Low-Intermediate (13–16)
Basic (7–12)
Below Basic (0–6)
Total Score These are added together for a total score of 0–120.
Source – ETS

Scoring across the different sections of IELTS is done on the following scale:

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

Note: The official TOEFL iBT score will be accessible to you within 6 days of the exam date, and test-takers who choose the Special Home Edition of the TOEFL exam will receive their results within 6 to 10 days after the test date. If a candidate requested a print copy of their score report prior to taking the exam, it will be mailed to them within 11 days after the test date. Delivery timeframes will be determined by local postal services.

How are TOEFL Exam Scores Calculated? 

TOEFL exam scores are calculated using both human raters and computerised scoring systems. This is done to provide a comprehensive and accurate picture of the candidate’s ability. While the automatic scoring technique is neutral, it does not assess the efficacy of the language and content. Human raters must consider a broader range of factors, such as the quality of ideas and substance, as well as form. In addition, you are expected to answer at least one question in each area. You must answer at least one question for reading and listening. You must complete one task each for writing and speaking. For the online TOEFL iBT test, the result is four-scaled along with a total score.

ETS has offered 4 to 5 competence levels for each skill to make your exam experience more personalised and to help you understand your score better. So where your score falls within that range indicates your skill level for that ability. This will offer you a good sense of your performance, your strengths, areas that need to be improved, and so on. Please see the table below:


TOEFL iBT Score TOEFL PBT Score Level of Expertise 
118-120 ≥ 645 Expert User
115-117 626 – 644 Very Good User
110-114 610 – 625 Very Good User
102-109 581 – 609 Good User
94-101 560 – 580 Good User
79-93 546 – 559 Competent User
60-78 530 – 545 Competent User
42-59 516 – 529 Modest User
35-41 490 – 515 Modest User
32-34 450 – 489 Limited User
0-31 400 – 449 Extremely Limited / Intermittent / Non English User

Top Universities Accepting TOEFL Scores

TOEFL is one of the prominent English proficiency tests which is widely accepted by academic institutions in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, etc. One can also utilise their TOEFL scores for visa application in English-speaking countries as the test is also taken for immigration purposes though the required score range might differ as per the country.

Take a look at our comprehensive blog on Top Universities Accepting TOEFL Scores to know about the score range preferred to major academic institutions across the globe!

TOEFL Exam Centres

There are around 4500 TOEFL exam centres spread over 165 countries. Test takers in 59 cities throughout India can register for available exam centres based on their convenience. Some of these test centres include Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Coimbatore, Vijayawada, Delhi, Fatehpur, Bhopal, Gandhinagar, Greater Noida, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Jabalpur, Allahabad, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Cochin, Nizamabad, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Madurai, Indore, Mumbai, etc.

Here is the complete list of all the TOEFL exam centres in India!

TOEFL Exam Dates 

Test takers must register ahead of time according to the availability of TOEFL exam dates. TOEFL exam dates are distributed to candidates in the range of 50. Test takers might have taken examinations at the registered test centres prior to the pandemic outbreak. Test takers can now take online examinations at home while being watched.

How to Crack TOEFL in 3 Months?

One can efficiently prepare for the exam in 3 months if they have curated a preparation plan and strategy to cover the different sections of the exam. The first step of devising a study schedule is to familiarise yourself with the exam pattern and syllabus of the test and then plan accordingly while considering your strong and weak points.

Here is a well-defined preparation plan and study schedule on How to Crack TOEFL in 3 Months!

Preparation Tips

You must also go through the following TOEFL Preparation Tips that will guide you in acing each section of this exam!

TOEFL Preparation Tips

Study Material and Best Books

You may supplement your TOEFL preparation with a few books to ace your TOEFL exam.  Here are some famous book recommendations, along with links to where you can get them online!

Books  Author  Buy Here
ETS Official Guide to the TOEFL Test (4th Edition)  ETS Buy Here 
Cracking the TOEFL iBT Princeton Review  Buy Here
Official TOEFL iBT Test Volume 2 ETS Buy Here
Kaplan TOEFL iBT Premier with 4 Practice Tests  Kaplan Test Prep Buy Herre
The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment  Susan Thurman  Buy Here
Essential Words for the  TOEFL, 6th Edition (Barron’s Essential Words for the TOEFL ) Steven J. Matthiesen Buy Here
Practice Exercises for the TOEFL with MP3 CD  Pamela J. Sharpe  Buy Here
TOEFL Grammar Guide: 23 Grammar Rules You Must Know To Guarantee Your Success On The TOEFL Exam  Timothy Dickeson  Buy Here
240 Speaking Topics: With Sample Answers (Volume 2)  LIKE Test Prep Buy Here
240 Writing Topics: with Sample Essays  LIKE Test Prep Buy Here


What is the TOEFL exam?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL is an English proficiency test which is conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). There are two versions of TOEFL, i.e. TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) and TOEFL PBT (Paper-based Test). It is a widely accepted language proficiency assessment in more than 11,000 universities and academic institutions in over 150 countries.

How much does it cost to take TOEFL?

The test fee for this exam varies depending on the test location. In India, The TOEFL fee for both iBT and TBT is $190 (roughly 14,086 INR).

What is a good score on the TOEFL?

TOEFL scores in the range of 90-100 are considered as perfectly good while scores between 100-110 are considered as very good.

Is TOEFL easier than IELTS?

While both these tests vary as per the test-taker and how good their English language proficiency is, many test-takers have referred to TOEFL as a complex one for preparation while the reading section of IELTS is considered much easier than TOEFL.

Check Out a Detailed Comparison of IELTS vs TOEFL!

How long is TOEFL valid?

The validity of the TOEFL score is for only two years.

What is the fee of the TOEFL iBT® Special Home Edition test?

ETS has kept the fee of the TOEFL iBT® Special Home Edition test at par with the test centre rates, i.e. US$185. Any extra cost has been absorbed by ETS to make the test more accessible to the test taker.

How can I pass TOEFL?

There is no such thing as failing or passing the TOEFL exam. Every university would have its own TOEFL Score cut-off and students are required to achieve scores higher than the set grade. Candidates should note that higher TOEFL scores would automatically increase their chances of securing a seat in the university and also make them a front runner for any scholarships being offered by the university. A low TOEFL score would require the student to re-take the exam to improve his/her performance.

How many times can I take TOEFL?

The TOEFL test can be attempted as many times as the candidate wants, but to take a re-test the candidate has to wait for a 3-day period after attempting the first test. 

How many hours is the TOEFL test?

The duration of the total TOEFL test takes about 3 hours to complete, but candidates should plan for 3.5 hours, allowing 30 minutes for check-in. 

English language certifications are instrumental in securing admission to 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‘s Leverage Live classes and our top trainers and strengthen your English score as well as your application so that you can secure your spot in your dream college.

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