The TOEFL or the Test of English as a Foreign Language is an examination intended for non-native English speakers to test their ability to understand and use English as a first language for academic purposes. It is used as a requirement for admission to colleges in English speaking countries for non-English speakers. Apart from universities and colleges, even government institutions, businesses and scholarship programs require this test. When you take a TOEFL test, the score will be valid only for two years after which it will no longer be officially reported. This is because in two years, a test-taker’s language proficiency will be changed significantly. Hence, universities that look at this score for admission purposes demand the latest version of the score.
The TOEFL is conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and it is available in all countries. The test’s policies are formulated with the help of a board of 16 members, who belong to colleges, universities, graduate schools, public agencies or pioneers of international educations. Some members are specialists in the field of English as a foreign or second language. The content of the exam is designed by a 12 member committee who are linguistic specialists, teachers or researchers of the language.
The TOEFL test used to be administered as a paper-based test and later as a computer-based test, but since 2005, it is an Internet-based Test (iBT). It was introduced in a few countries in the beginning, but is now available in most countries. Initially, demand for the test dates was more than the availability and candidates had to book before months in advance. Now, with the introduction of more test centers and more dates, students can book the test one to four weeks before the actual test date. One cannot take more than one test in a week.
The test is administered in four sections and it can take about four hours to complete it. The four sections are Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. Some of the tasks require multiple skills, like reading a passage and listening to a dialogue before writing an essay. All the tasks in the test are focused on skills and scenarios that one would come across in an academic environment. Note taking is allowed in this test.
Task Description: The reading section consists of around 3-5 passages having about 13-14 questions. The listening section consists of around 5-9 conversations with each having around 5 questions. A break follows this section after which there will be the speaking section which demands 6 tasks to be completed following which 6 questions will be asked. Finally is the writing section that consists of 2 essays. The time duration for the reading section is about 100 minutes, speaking for about 20 minutes, listening about 90 minutes and writing for 55 minutes. The test is scored on a scale of 0-120 points. Each section has a score of 0-30 points which is added up in the end.