TOEFL Test Overview

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Exam is intended to measure a student’s ability to understand and use English at a college level. Over 6,000 colleges, government organizations, and businesses accept TOEFL test scores worldwide. The TOEFL Test serves a similar function to other standardized tests (such as SAT and ACT Tests) in that they used by colleges and universities as a factor in admissions.  Different institutions place varying degrees of importance on standardized tests, such as the TOEFL, and use them along with other factors such as GPA, class rank, community service, recommendations and extracurricular activities.

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The TOEFL test is delivered in two formats: the TOEFL Internet-based Test (iBT) and the TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT).  The TOEFL test that you take depends on which tests your testing center offers.  There are currently more than 4,300 TOEFL test centers worldwide.

The TOEFL iBT tests your English ability in four areas: reading, listening, speaking and writing.  The TOEFL test is four hours long and it focuses on language used in an academic, higher-learning environment.

TOEFL Test Format

Currently, over  6,000 colleges, universities, licensing agencies and immigration services in more than 110 countries accept (and/or require) TOEFL exam scores. The TOEFL test questions will measure your fundamental English skills and may require you to combine these skills to respond to a question. There are four major sections of the TOEFL exam: reading, listening, speaking and writing.  The number of questions and time limit for each of these sections vary. These sections are summarized in the table below.


Time Limit



TOEFL Reading

60-100 minutes

36-70 questions

Read 3-5 long passages from academic texts. Answer 12-14 questions from each passage about main ideas, details, vocabulary etc.

TOEFL Listening

60-90 minutes

34-51 questions

Listen to 4 to 6 lectures including classroom discussion.  Each lecture is about 5 minutes long and will have 6 questions.  Additionally, you will listen to 2 or 3 short (3 minute) conversations that will have 5 questions each.  The questions will ask you about main ideas, details, inferences etc.

TOEFL Speaking

20 minutes

6 tasks

You will be asked to express an opinion on two familiar topics related to academic life.  You will also be presented with 4 integrated tasks where you will read and listen to passages and then convey information and defend your opinions clearly.

TOEFL Writing

50 minutes

2 tasks

There are two writing assignments.  You will listen to a passage, read another passage and write on how the two passages are related.  In the second assignment you will write a personal essay to support an opinion on a topic.

To improve your scores, please try our Free TOEFL Practice Tests.