#EngTips: TOEFL

In this post, well talk about TOEFL. If you miss our previous discussion on IELTS, have a look at this post: #EngTips: IELTS

Apart from this post on TOEFL and another post on IELTS, there is another dedicated to talk about the differences of IELTS and TOEFL. #EngTips: IELTS vs TOEFL


What is TOEFL?

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is for non-native speakers wishing to study in American universities. It assesses whether you can speak, read, understand & write English well enough to attend college in an English-speaking program.


TOEFL formats

You might have heard of different formats of TOEFL test such as CBT,PBT & iBT. Let’s have a look at their differences.

  • CBT stands for computer-based tests.
  • PBT stands for paper-based tests.
  • And iBT is the Internet-based test format of TOEFL.

Today, PBT is used for local purposes only such as graduation prerequisite in certain university, scholarship prerequisite, etc.


Where is TOEFL from?

The official institution having the right to issue the test as well as the certificate is ETS called TOEFL ITP (Institutional Testing Program). ETS stands for Education Testing System. Other institutions are only allowed to conduct TOEFL test when designated or have official cooperation with ETS. TOEFL ITP test fee is Rp 300,000 but it may vary according to the institution policies holding the test.

TOEFL ITP test is not allowed to be internally held by institutions without official permission from or cooperation with ETS. TOEFL equivalent, TOEFL prediction, or other names are the common terms to distinct the internally TOEFL test held by other institutions from the official ones held by ETS. Their test fees would vary and usually below the official TOEFL ITP rate :)

CBT (Computer Based Test) version of TOEFL is yet less popular amidst the other types, at least in Indonesia. CBT was discontinued in September 2006 and the scores are no longer valid.

Since its introduction in late 2005, iBT has progressively replaced both CBT and PBT. iBT is today the only official TOEFL test recognized internationally. It is the official proof of your English proficiency. If you wish to study abroad, you would need to take the iBT format of TOEFL as it is the only internationally recognized format.



Due to the reason stated in above, we will particularly talk about the iBT format of TOEFL.
The 4 hour test consists of 4 modules and all tasks focus on language used in an academic, higher-education environment.

The 4 modules tested in iBT TOEFL are:

  • Reading,
  • Listening,
  • Speaking and
  • Writing.


Reading Module

The TOEFL reading module asks you to read 3 to 4 passages of university level and answer multiple-choice questions (MCQs) about them. The passages are on academic topics like those in undergraduate university textbooks. The passages aims to assess your understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast and argumentation.

You will be facing MCQs on: main ideas, details, interference, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas of the passage. You might even be asked to fill out tables or complete summaries. Each passage will be approx. 700 words in length and followed by 12-14 questions.

You have 60-80 minutes to finish the module.

If I may add, @ passage consists 13-14 ques. with the last ques worth 3-4 points – @sierrapritta


Listening Module

The TOEFL listening module consists of 6 passages of 3-5 minutes in length, including 2 student conversations and 4 lectures/discussions. The situations are always related to university life for example a conversation on research materials or a marketing lecture.

The questions are multiple choice and ask you about important details, inferences, tone and vocabulary. You may take notes while listening to the recording and refer to them when you answer the questions. The module aims to assess your ability to understand main ideas, important details, implications, relationship between ideas, organization of information, speaker’s purpose and speaker’s attitude.


Speaking Module

The TOEFL speaking module lasts for about 20 minutes. You will speak into a microphone and be recorded for later assessment.

  • Two questions will be on familiar topics and ask you to give opinion or describe something familiar to you, like your town or favorite teacher. You will be evaluated on your ability to speak spontaneously and convey your ideas clearly and coherently.
  • Two other questions will ask you to summarize information from a text and a conversation. You will read a short passage, listen to a lecture or conversation and answer question by combining appropriate information from the talk.
  • The two last questions will ask you to summarize information from a short conversation. You will listen to a lecture or a conversation about campus life and then respond to question about what you heard.

You may take notes as you read and listen and use them to prepare your response.


Writing Module

The TOEFL writing module measures your ability to write in an academic setting. You will deal with 2 tasks.

  • In the 1st task, you will read a passage and listen to a speaking discuss the same topic. You will then be asked to write a summary about the important points in the recording and explain how they relate to the key points in the reading passage.
  • In the 2nd task, you are required to summarize information from a text and a lecture which often disagree with each other. You’ll need to write an essay that states, explains, and supports your opinion on an issue, supporting your opinions or choices.



The iBT TOEFL test is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points. Each module receives a scaled score from 0 to 30.

Each university or institution often has a minimum TOEFL score requirement. One source stated an average required total iBT TOEFL score of 75 for undergraduate admissions and 82.6 for graduate admissions.



A special thanks to @chiw for making this —> All about TOEFL by @EnglishTips4U

Compiled and written by @miss_qiak at @EnglishTips4U on Saturday, January 19, 2013


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