All you Need to Know About TOEFL


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!

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. There are two types of TOEFL exam, i.e. TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT. TOEFL iBT is a computer-delivered test which is conducted in online mode in a multitude of authorities test centres around the world while TOEFL PBT is a paper-based test which is only carried out in those areas where internet is not available. Further, there is a slight difference between these two exam types as TOEFL iBT comprises of 4 sections, namely Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening while TOEFL PBT has 3 sections, i.e. Reading, Listening and Writing as per its revised pattern. Further, TOEFL iBT is widely conducted across the countries and TOEFL PBT is gradually being phased out with the easy connectivity of the internet around the world.

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 $180 (INR 12755). 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 Test Centres: There are a total of 39 cities in India where this test is conducted and 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.


There are many differences between the two formats of IELTS, i.e. iBT and PBT. While TOEFL iBT is a computer-based test spanning across the duration of 4 hours, the TOEFL PBT is 3-hours long and is a pen and paper-based exam. Further, the PBT version is only available in areas where there is no internet connectivity while the iBT version is frequently chosen by most of the candidates. Also, there are four sections in the iBT test, i.e. Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing while the PBT exam only has Reading, Writing and Listening.

Check out the section-wise and detailed comparison between these two versions at TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT!

TOEFL Exam Pattern

The TOEFL exam pattern for iBT and PBT slightly varies. There is an additional section in the iBT version and it encompasses a longer duration, i.e. 3-4 hours. On the other hand, the paper-delivered version has 3 sections and is of 2.5 hours in duration. Now, let’s understand the exam format for these two exams.

TOEFL PBT Exam Pattern

As per the latest revised pattern for PBT, there are only 3 sections in this TOEFL version and the duration and number of questions for each section are as follows:

Section Duration Number of Questions
Reading 54 Minutes 30 MCQs
Listening 41 Minutes approx. 28 MCQs
Writing 50 Minutes 2 constructed-responses
Total 2 hours 25 minutes 60 Questions

TOEFL iBT Exam Pattern

As the commonly preferred version of TOEFL, the iBT exam is a computer-based examination that aims at analyzing your English language fluency skills and for this purpose, it is divided into four sections which are elaborated in the following table:

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

Related Read: TOEFL Scholarship

TOEFL Syllabus

TOEFL evaluates a candidate’s all-round skills of the English language. Below we have detailed the TOEFL syllabus for both iBT and PBT focusing on each section and its components.


The TOEFL iBT syllabus is quite similar to the paper-delivered test in terms of its reading section as well as the type of questions. ETS introduced some new changes in the TOEFL iBT by reducing the number of questions in some sections as well as the duration of this exam version. These changes are as follows:

Courtesy: ETS

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 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.

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, 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 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


The paper-delivered test for this exam consists of a total of three sections, i.e. Reading, Listening and Writing. Let’s explore the key contents for each of these sections in further detail:


The reading section of TOEFL PBT aims to assess the test-taker’s ability to comprehend university-level academic texts in English. It mainly contains reading passages from university-level books that focus on introducing a new topic. The passages are slightly changed as they mainly aim to analyse how well the test-taker can read them. There are 3 passages having 10 questions each and these questions are of 3 types, i.e.

  • MCQs with 4 options
  • “Insert a sentence” MCQs with 4 options
  • Reading to learn questions that have more than 4 options and more than 1 correct answer.


The listening section of TOEFL PBT measures how well you understand spoken English in an academic context. The questions are mainly lectures and conversations and the test-taker can take notes throughout the test. There are 2 conversations and 3 lectures with a total of 28 questions. The two types of questions in the listening section of TOEFL iBT are:

  • MCQs with 4 options
  • MCQs with 4 options and 2 correct answers


The last section of the TOEFL PBT assesses the writing skills of the test-takers in an academic setting. There are two tasks in this section, i.e. one integrated task and one independent task.

In an integrated writing task, the test-taker is required to

  • Take notes of what they hear and read and then utilise these notes while writing
  • Summarise, paraphrase as well as cite information from the given source material in a precise and accurate manner
  • Write how the information you heard relates to the information you read

The test-taker must draw information from the given source and complete the task accordingly.

In the independent writing task, the test-taker needs to express their opinion on an issue and support their opinion based on their knowledge and experience.

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

TOEFL Results and Scores

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)

Check out our detailed scoring analysis at TOEFL Results and Score!

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!

How to Crack TOEFL in 3 Months?

One can efficiently prepare for the TOEFL 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!

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

TOEFL Preparation Tips


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 $180 (roughly 13,740 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, 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 Detailed Comparison of IELTS vs TOEFL!

How long is TOEFL valid?

The validity of TOEFL score is for only two years.

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 as your application so that you can secure your spot in your dream college.

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