What is TOEFL Exam Overview and Requirement

18 mins

The "TOEFL" test may be familiar to non-native English speakers considering attending college in an English-speaking nation. But what exactly is the TOEFL test, and what do you need to know about it?

You've arrived at the right site if you have queries concerning the TOEFL! This article will explain the TOEFL, how it works if you'll need to take it, and how to prepare for it.

So let us begin.

The TOEFL: What Is It?

A person's proficiency in the English language is determined by the TOEFL ("Test of English as a Foreign Language"), a standardized test. Universities typically employ TOEFL scores as part of the admissions process.

Those who take the TOEFL typically desire to study at a university or graduate school in another country. However, anyone who wants to demonstrate English proficiency for academic purposes can take the TOEFL.

This includes anyone asking for a student visa, an exchange program, a community college, or a foreign high school.

Because the TOEFL focuses on how English is utilized in an academic context, it is used for admissions reasons by colleges and universities. Instead of informal or conversational English, the TOEFL reading passages use formal, academic language and high-level vocabulary.

Comparison between the TOEFL and the TOEIC

Despite its popularity, the TOEFL is not the sole test for English as a foreign language. In reality, there are multiple distinct English as foreign language examinations, and the one you take will be determined by your academic and employment ambitions.

You'll almost certainly have to take the TOEFL if you're a student. However, the TOEFL may not be the best choice if you're looking for a work visa.

You might need to take the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) instead of the TOEFL if you need to prove your English proficiency to get a job or a work visa. The TOEIC assesses ordinary and commercial language rather than academic language, making it more suitable for professional contexts.

Who Ought to Take the TOEFL?

Students who intend to attend a university or graduate program in an English-speaking country should take the TOEFL. However, people might take the TOEFL for different reasons. The following people may take the TOEFL:

  • Students who are starting high school in an English-speaking nation
  • Students enrolled in two-year community college programs in English-speaking countries.
  • People seeking to be licensed or certified in a specific industry, People seeking to demonstrate their command of the English language for immigration considerations
  • Those who want to assess their formal English language proficiency

According to the test's creators, students should be in the eleventh grade (or 17 years old) before taking the TOEFL. This is because the test asks you to read some challenging passages and be comfortable with specific high-level terminology, which most kids are not exposed to before the 11th grade.

Some colleges and universities do not require new overseas students to take the TOEFL. People often desire the TOEFL if:

  • Your first language is not English.
  • If English has not been your primary language of teaching for at least five years,

Some colleges will remove the requirement for you to take the TOEFL if you have:

  • Scored in a given percentile on the ACT or SAT English, reading, and writing parts.
  • Have you taken the TOEFL in the last two years?
  • Have you obtained a diploma or a degree from an English-speaking country?

Why Should You Take the TOEFL?

Academic language is generally complex and formal; thus, even long-term English students may struggle in an English educational setting.

Therefore, a university's admissions committee will use your TOEFL score as a benchmark of your English proficiency to determine whether or not you are qualified for admission to an academic program.

If you're an international student applying to institutions in a country where English is the predominant language, you'll almost certainly need to take the TOEFL. Many colleges accept results from alternative English examinations, but the TOEFL is the most common English-language assessment test.

In 130 countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Canada, and New Zealand, 9,000 universities accept TOEFL scores. Your top-choice school will probably require or receive TOEFL scores if you wish to attend an English-language college.

Requirements for School

Many colleges will require a minimum TOEFL score to be accepted. All colleges have various cutoffs, but you'll need at least a 70 to get into practically any US university.

More selective institutions, on the other hand, have higher TOEFL cutoffs since they have higher academic requirements and expect students to have a mastery or near-mastery of English.

Remember that your whole application is still the most significant criteria in university admittance, so don't get too worked up over your TOEFL score. As long as your TOEFL score is more than or equal to the required minimum for admission to your college, you don't need to worry about getting a high score.

For example, if your school requires a minimum TOEFL score of 90 and you get a 91, don't retake the test only to attain a better score. You passed the test. It's time to concentrate on other aspects of your application, such as your essay or SAT/ACT scores.

If you're concerned about taking the TOEFL, think of it as a tool to aid you rather than a hurdle to conquer. The exam allows you to determine early on if an English-based academic setting is a good match for you.

If at all feasible, take the TOEFL before submitting your applications. If you don't score well on the first try, it tells you that you need more experience before making the giant leap to study abroad. Of course, you may take the TOEFL test as often as you like.

In such a case, if you were dissatisfied with your result, seize the chance to fix your errors and be ready for the subsequent test.

TOEFL Exam Registration

TOEFL registration can be completed online, offline, or using the TOEFL official app, which is accessible on the Google Play store. The application period for the exam is available all year.

The most convenient way to register for the TOEFL exam is through your ETS account, either online or via the official app. Candidates can also register by phone or mail.

TOEFL Online Registration

Candidates will construct a verified profile by logging in to the TOEFL official website. When registering for the TOEFL, you should bring your passport as one of the essential papers. In addition, your name should be accurately spelled. To finish the registration, follow a few simple steps.

  • Fill out all of the needed information during registration.
  • Examine the facts you gave.
  • Finally, to finish the registration, pay the TOEFL Application Fee.
  • The quickest and simplest method to sign up for the TOEFL exam is through your ETS account. ETS will send you a confirmation email after you have completed the registration process. Save this email till test day.

TOEFL Offline Registration

Test takers must mail the TOEFL registration form to the registered address.

  • The candidate must first retrieve the TOEFL registration form.
  • To finish the registration process, candidates must manually enter special codes (accessible online).
  • Payments can be started, Using the options displayed in the state
  • The candidate must submit the form to RRC (Regional Registered Centers) after completing it
  • They should get mail at least a month before the exam date.
  • If a candidate does not get a confirmation, they must contact RRC at least three days before the registration deadline.

TOEFL Registration using a Phone App

  • Visit the TOEFL official website to discover the RRC contact number (+91-124-4147700) near your selected location.
  • The registration cost can be paid by credit card, debit card, or e-check.
  • Fill up your personal information
  • Candidates may apply till 5 p.m.
  • Phone registration will close a week before the exam date.
  • If the candidate registers recently, a $40 punishment will be imposed.

What Is the TOEFL Test Format?

The TOEFL is a lengthy and demanding exam, but understanding how it works is the first step toward mastery. So, let's look at the various TOEFL exam formats and how the test is designed.

iBT TOEFL Home Edition

During the 2020 lockdown period, ETS developed a unique version of the TOEFL test called TOEFL iBT Home Edition. This exam version allows you to take it from the comfort of your home, as long as you have the necessary equipment. Some vital information about TOEFL iBT Home Edition is provided below.

  • Except for Mainland China and Iran, all nations provide this exam format.
  • Compared to a test center, the material structure and on-screen experience for a test taker are the same.
  • It is completed on your home computer and supervised online by a human guardian through ProctorU.

You may schedule an appointment as soon as 24 hours after registering, and it is available every day of the week, 24 hours a day.

Before requesting this format, you must satiate the following conditions:

  • Computer
  • Browser installation and equipment verification
  • Speaker
  • Microphone
  • Camera
  • Seating and tabletop

Types of TOEFL

The overwhelming majority (97%) of TOEFL tests taken are online tests (IBTs). On a specific computer in a testing setting, often with many other people taking the test, students take the IBT TOEFL.

Only 3 percent of TOEFLs are paper-based exams (PBTs). Moreover, the PBT does not evaluate students' speaking skills. Hence the test's creators are gradually eliminating these tests. As of 2016, PBTs are only provided in exam centers where online testing is unavailable.

Many colleges accept just IBT TOEFL scores. If taking the PBT, double-check your school's foreign admissions webpage.

You can take the TOEFL test as often as you desire, regardless of the kind. The sole exception to this regulation is that you cannot retake the exam if you have taken a TOEFL within the previous 12 days.

Structure of the TOEFL Exam

The exam is divided into four sections and takes around 4.5 hours to complete. These four components are as follows: reading, listening, speaking, and writing.

Each part is graded on a scale of 30. These component scores are then totaled for a total score of 120 points.

Section 1: Reading

The reading component of the TOEFL is entirely multiple choice. Each reading portion will have three or four written sections, each with 12-14 questions. (Tests with three written passages will often contain more questions per passage than tests with four written sections.) Reading passages can include any academic subject, such as science, history, or literature.

Section 2: Listening

The hearing component of the TOEFL is likewise entirely multiple choice. Each listening session will consist of four to six lectures, each with six questions, and two or three dialogues, each with five questions.

Section 3: Speaking

The speaking section is more complex than the reading or listening components of the TOEFL. Fortunately, the format of each speaking portion will remain the same, allowing you to prepare in advance.

You will be given six speaking cues, or "tasks," in the speaking part. The first two exercises will stand alone and call for you to share your thoughts and experiences. The final four assignments will be integrated tasks in which you will be required to answer questions based on a specific conversation or piece of writing.

Let's go over each speaking challenge one by one.

Two independent speaking assignments:

Task 1 will inquire about your hobbies or ideas on a specific issue.
Task 2 will ask you to express your thoughts and pick between two possibilities.

Four Integrated Speaking Assignments:

  • Task 3 requires you to read a brief document and then listen to a conversation between two speakers about the same topic (usually, they agree or disagree about parts of the article). You will then summarize and compare the speaker's points of view to the text.
  • Task 4 provides two lectures on the same subject, one spoken and one written. After that, you'll either summarize the facts from each lesson or respond to a more specific question.
  • Task 5 requires you to listen to a conversation between two persons discussing an issue with two viable solutions. You will summarize the information and express your view (no text to read). (It's important to note that Assignment 5 typically presents the most difficult listening challenge since you must explain three things: what the student said, the student's alternative solutions to a problem, and which one you prefer and why.)
  • Task 6 requires you to listen to a monologue before summarizing or responding to a more precise inquiry concerning the content (no text to read).

Section 4: Composition

There are two elements to the TOEFL writing section: an integrated assignment and an individual task.

1 Integrated Writing Assignment (20 minutes)

You must read a small paragraph for this section and pay attention to the lecture. You will then react to and summarize the dialogue.

1 Independent Writing Assignment (30 minutes)

In this part, you will usually be asked to select between two possibilities and provide arguments and evidence for your decision. "Do you agree or think that most parents are overly controlling of their children?" for example. or "Do you think individuals are essentially 'good' or 'bad'?"

What Does a Good TOEFL Score Mean?

The average TOEFL score is roughly 90, ranging from 85 to 95. A TOEFL score of more than 100 is considered an excellent result. Universities often require this TOEFL score range since it demonstrates that the candidate has a strong command of the English language.

However, if you score between 100 and 110, your chances of admission to prestigious colleges improve. It should be remembered, however, that there are no good or bad TOEFL results. The TOEFL score is valid for two years. Let's look at some TOEFL cutoffs for major colleges to get a sense of what a decent score is:


Top US UniversitiesTOEFL Cutoff for US Universities
Harvard University100 – 105
Columbia University100
California Institute of Technology78
UC Berkeley100
Duke University90
Brown University100 or above
University of California, Los Angeles87
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

88 – 100;

23 minimum score in each section


TOEFL score card 2022 will be available to test takers six days after the exam day. Candidates must log in with their registered ETS user id to get their score card. TOEFL ibt scores have been graded differently from TOEFL PBT scores.

TOEFL iBT Exam Score

From 0 to 120 is the TOEFL ibt score range. The scaled scores from each TOEFL component are added to determine the final score on the scorecard.


Reading0-30A score of 22 to 30: Highest level A score of 15 to 21: Medium level A score of 0 to 14: Lower level
Listening0-30A score of 22 to 30: Highest level A score of 15 to 21: Medium level A score of 0 to 14: Lower level
Speaking0-30A score of 26 to 30: Average level A score of 18 to 25: Acceptable level A score of 10to 17: Restricted level A score of 0 to 9: Weak level
Writing0-30A score of 24 to 30: Average level A score of 17 to 23:Acceptable level A score of 1 to 16: Restricted level



TOEFL iBT ScoreTOEFL PBT ScoreLevel of Expertise
118-120≥ 645Expert User



626 - 644

610 - 625

Very Good User



581 - 609

560 - 580

Good User



546 - 559

530 - 545

Competent User



516 - 529

490 - 515

Modest User


450 - 489

Limited User


400 - 449

Extremely Limited/Intermittent/Non User

TOEFL Exam Schedule

Candidates must register ahead of time according to the availability of TOEFL exam dates. Candidates are given around 50 TOEFL exam dates. Some might have taken tests at recognized test centers before the pandemic breakout. So, they may now take the online exam home while being watched.

Take a look at the TOEFL exam dates for 2022:


MonthTOEFL Exam dates
July 20223, 6, 9, 23, 30, 31.
August 20223, 6, 13, 17, 27.

6 TOEFL Preparation Strategies

We'll go through how to do well on the TOEFL now that you know what it is used for and what it tests. However, even if your English abilities are much above average, it's a good idea to integrate a few studies and test-taking ideas and tactics. That way, you can give your all on exam day.

So, let's go through some TOEFL hints.

Identify whether the TOEFL is required.

Some colleges may not require TOEFL results, so you might not even need to take it!

The validity of your TOEFL scores is two years. Therefore, you should think about taking the test even if you are unclear about your future academic goals and have some time (and money) to spare. This will provide you some academic freedom in the future, whether or not you believe you need a TOEFL score right now.

Check again to see if you need to take the TOEFL if you don't have time to study or are apprehensive about taking the test for any other reason. If you can avoid taking the TOEFL, you will save time and work.

Make a list of all the schools or institutions to which you wish to apply first. Next, visit their websites or search for "[college name] + foreign admissions."

The first link that appears is almost usually the website you're looking for. You can check here to determine if overseas students must take the TOEFL or another English comprehension test.

Most significant institutions accept the TOEFL, but you should always double-check. Contact the admissions office if the institution does not state whether it takes the TOEFL on its application page. After all, you don't want to study for and pay for a test if your preferred institution would not accept it!

Some colleges need the TOEFL, while others do not, and others will waive the requirement if you satisfy other requirements. Always, always, always double-check what your school(s) need before applying!

Before the TOEFL, consider some topics for speaking and writing.

When you're asked to talk about yourself, it's easy to find yourself at a loss for words. Unfortunately, you will be required to speak and write about yourself multiple times during the exam.

Make a list of interests you enjoy before the test (or just have the vocabulary to talk about). This way, you'll be more comfortable and prepared for the exam. You don't need to be honest in this section; the test administrators are simply concerned with hearing how well you communicate, so feel free to make up your answers!

You may also construct template words that you can match to other themes to prepare better. Even minor preparations and pre-prepared statements might boost your confidence before the test.

Instead of attempting to pre-form and modify whole sentences, create some transition words that you can finish with your unique speaking topic. One of your listening assignments, for example, will always be to discuss a student's perspective on an issue and two potential remedies.

(Note: Take caution not to go crazy with your templates! Your grader is looking for how fluid your speech is and adapting multiple pre-prepared statements to a topic may seem odd.)

Include (More) English in Your Everyday Life

See whether you can quickly increase the English you use and study in your everyday life. If you don't use English daily, try introducing it into your routine gradually.

Watch English-language TV programs, movies, and YouTube videos. Read English news items, periodicals, novels, textbooks, or blogs. Look for someone with whom you can practice speaking English.

If you discover an English-speaking friend, be sure that individual is someone you trust to have a good command of the language. Also, make sure it's someone willing to correct your mistakes when required.

Take notes when taking the TOEFL.

Don't be scared to take notes on your scratch paper when you take the test. Even if it only takes a few seconds to scribble down a note, it will save you time later.

Underline the essential words and phrases in a piece of text in the reading portion, and write down some of the keywords or phrases you hear in the speaking section. Making notes and annotations like this can also assist you in avoiding going blank when it comes time to respond to requests.

Before responding in the speaking and writing portions, take some time to brainstorm subjects and phrases. You may develop an outline for your speech in the speaking area if you have time. And indeed, spend a few minutes creating an essay outline before you begin writing!

Practice your English in a Noisy Environment by Speaking and Writing

You'll almost certainly be taking the IBT TOEFL, which means you'll have to take the exam in the same room as other TOEFL takers. As a result, several individuals will be speaking at the same time around you throughout your test. This might make some individuals uneasy or feel they don't know what to say.

Even if you wear headphones for listening, speaking, and writing, you will most likely hear other individuals chatting. You can use this distracting setting by practicing speaking English in a busy place with a friend. A restaurant, a party, or any other event with many people assembled and conversing should assist you in duplicating the test set.

Practice your speaking and writing skills with a Timer.

It may seem that 45-60 seconds to speak or 20 minutes to compose an essay is a long time, but you'd be surprised. Moreover, communicating everything you want to say may be challenging as you react to queries.

Look up some past TOEFL speaking and writing problems to practice for the speaking portion. Then, answer the prompt while closely adhering to the time constraints for prep and speaking/writing. This will help you get in the habit of preparing for and answering questions on time.

Practice speaking and essay writing with the correct exam time to perfect your responses and timing strategies.

TOEFL Score Acceptance Countries 2022

TOEFL results are accepted by over 11,000 colleges, universities, and organizations in 150 countries, including US universities, UK universities, Australian universities, New Zealand universities, French universities, German universities, and Canadian institutions.

Aside from that, immigration agencies in several English-speaking nations employ this test to give potential immigrants work and residence visas. Candidates should know that there is no TOEFL cutoff any score that enables admission to the institution or university of your choice is considered a respectable score.

Minimal TOEFL score criteria differ per institution; therefore, verifying the minimum requirements for the program you are interested in is always advisable.

TOEFL Preparation Materials

TOEFL study materials: All test takers prepare for the TOEFL in two ways: self-study and attending coaching programs. These study approaches have distinct advantages, yet neither is superior to the other.

For example, if money is the most crucial factor, self-study with TOEFL books and resources may be the preferable alternative. Similarly, if you want expert assistance in TOEFL exam preparation, enrolling in a TOEFL coaching center is the preferable alternative.

The TOEFL Test assesses candidates' ability to understand English at the university level. Writing, listening, reading, and speaking evaluate the candidate's abilities.

Before studying for the exam, candidates should first comprehend the format of the TOEFL test scores and the TOEFL scores. The TOEFL test is administered by ETS, offering free and paid study materials on its official website.


Understanding a standardized test like the TOEFL (the Test of English as a Foreign Language) is half the fight. Perhaps you learned that the TOEFL is not the appropriate test for you. Or maybe you've found that you'll need to take it to get into your desired school. If that's the case, a little forethought will get you through.

The more you understand the test, whether you're just beginning to study for it or taking it for the tenth time, the more prepared you'll be. Best regards!

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