What is the TOEFL exam all about? This article provides students with TOEFL preparation tips and a clear understanding of the various demands of the test.
All non-native speakers of English have to demonstrate their English language proficiency when applying to study for a course abroad. The popular English language tests that Universities consider for measuring an applicant’s English skills are:
Pearson’s Test of English
What is the TOEFL?
TOEFL stands for ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language’. Traditionally the TOEFL is offered in two modes — paper-based (where internet connectivity is very poor) and internet-based or iBT. In India, the internet-based test is in vogue, with the test being conducted in major cities on pre-scheduled dates.
Registering for the TOEFL
The easiest and most convenient method to register for the TOEFL is by visiting the official website. Step-by-step instructions are provided on how to create a profile and register for the test.
Students can register for a test on a date of their choice from the list of available dates listed on the official website.
The fee for the test varies from country to country and is regularly updated. Students are advised to visit the official website for the latest fee information. Currently the TOEFL fee varies from S160 to $250.
Structure of the TOEFL
The TOEFL combines the following skills — listening, reading, speaking and writing. The test is for a duration of around 4 to 4.5 hours with a 10-minute break in between. The order of the test modules is as follows:
Reading: 36 to 56 questions — read 3 or 4 passages and answer questions based on the passages.
Listening: 34 to 51 questions — listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, and then answer questions.
Speaking: Speak on a prescribed topic.
Writing: Write essays on the prescribed topic; the topic is generally linked to the content used in the reading and listening modules.
Each module of the test is for a maximum of 30 marks; so students may secure a total score of anywhere from 0 to 120. In addition to a numerical score value; performance feedback on the modules is also provided. TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date and there is no limit to the number of times you can take the test.
Official score reports will be sent to designated recipients as indicated by students approximately 13 days after they take the test.
Average Scores for Admission
The exact TOEFL scores prescribed vary from institution to institution and from course to course. The average prescribed scores are as follows:
For undergraduate courses: Varies from 68 to 80 on the iBT.
For postgraduate courses: Varies from 79 to 95 on the iBT.
Crack the TOEFL
If you have a clear idea of when you are taking your TOEFL; give yourself a minimum of six months to prepare for the test. There are a number of online resources available, which allow you to take up mock TOEFL tests. These let you get a feel of the real thing and help you analyze and find your strong and weak points. The ‘listening module’ of the test can be a bit tricky; listen to news broadcasts on international channels like the BBC and CNN; watch English TV serials and movies and try to grasp the finer aspects of British and American pronunciation of English words. This will definitely be very helpful!
Read international newspapers and journals; the quality of writing in publications like: ‘The Economist’, ‘The New York Times’ and ‘The Guardian’ will help you improve your vocabulary. Write a lot of practice essays on multiple topics. This will help you clear the essay module with ease.