The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) tests your ability to understand Standard North American English. The TOEFL is written and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and used by North American colleges and graduate schools to evaluate the level of English-language proficiency of international student applicants. Since its inception in 1964, the TOELF test has been taken by over 20 million students.
The main format for testing is the IBT or Internet-Based testing, which was introduced in 2005 to replace the CBT (Computer-Based testing). The CBT was officially retired in September of 2006 and so the main two formats that are now used are IBT and PBT (Paper-Based Testing). The PBT however is rarely used and the most common format is the IBT.
The IBT format has been rolled out over a series of phases, with the USA, Canada, France, Germany and Italy ths first to get the new format and then the rest of the world was moved over in 2006. Demand for the TOEFL IBT test is often very high and it is advisable to book a few months in advance to make sure you get the date you want.
The IBT consists of a 4 hour test in 4 sections which covers:
- Reading - students are given a reading passage and then posed questions about the content they have just read
- Listening - students are given a passage to listen to and then posed questions about the content
- Speaking - new for the IBT, the speaking section asks students to read passages and answer questions on a variety of subjects.
- Writing - students are given a passage and then asked to write a passage in response to the text.
Taking the Test
If you would like information on taking the TOEFL, please visit the TOEFL website at http://www.TOEFL.org as the cost and type of test you need to take will vary depending on your country. You can also register online and book your test in via this website so please visit here for more information about that.
TOEFL Test Tips
- Review key concepts. Do not frantically try to memorize new material.
- Know the exam location precisely - how long it takes to get there, where to park, the building and room, where you can eat during the break and assure returning in time, etc. A late arrival can lead to panic and unnerve you for a portion of the test.
- Try to relax the evening before the test. Attempting to learn anything new may end up confusing what you already know. If you feel it necessary to study, make this a light review.
- Get a good night's rest.
Wake up early enough that you don't have to rush, have time to eat breakfast, and can get to the test center a few minutes early.
- Wear whatever you feel most comfortable studying or testing in. Layers are a good idea - you never know how hot or cold the room might be.
- Finally, do the best you can, keeping in mind that acceptance into a North American school depends on other factors in addition to your TOEFL score. You want to put together the best package deal as possible.
There are many English language programs that are designed to prepare students for successfully taking the TOEFL exam. Programs typically vary in length although a typical TOEFL preparation course lasts 4-12 weeks. Many programs offer curriculums that simulate the TEOFL exam, provide in-classroom discussion, offer test taking skills, and more. Check out the following English language programs for more information:
- St. Mary’s College - has an English Language School that offers small classes and expert faculty members to prepare students for the TOEFL. Taking a holistic approach, St. Mary’s College offers full immersion in US college life and provides students with activities throughout the year!
- ELS – leaders in teaching English and preparing students for the TOEFL, ELS offers a variety of programs ranging from 4-12 weeks long. These courses are designed to focus on key English language skills in addition to test taking strategies and tips. Depending on the program selected, students have the option to take the TOEFL test at the same ELS center – making students feel more comfortable in their test taking environment.
Directions: In Part A, you will hear two people having short conversations. After each conversation, you will hear a question. The conversations and questions will not be repeated. After you hear a question, read the four possible answers and choose the best answer.
On the recording, you hear:
Woman: Will you be at the library tonight?
Man: No way! I've got tickets to the game.
Question: What does the man say?
(A) that he will not go to the game
(B) that he doesn't have a way to the game
(C) that he is going to a sporting event
(D) that he came to the library the previous night
Answer and Explanation: In this question, answer choices (A) and (B) are both negative distractors. A student who is
not paying careful attention might hear the negative in the man's answer - "No way!" - and incorrectly
choose an answer that also contains a negative. Answer (D) is a homonym distractor that tries to make the unwary
student confuse the words game and came. But in reality the man is not going to the library because he wants to
attend a game of some kind. Therefore, (C) is the correct answer.
Structure and Written Expression
Directions: The question below is an incomplete sentence. Beneath the sentence you will see four words or phrases, marked (A), (B), (C), and (D). Choose the one word or phrase that best completes the sentence.
We came here ----- the beautiful beaches.
(A) for visit
(C) to visit
(D) for visiting
Answer and Explanation: The correct answer is (C), which completes the sentence with the meaning of "in order to visit." Be careful not to fall for the distractors in (A) and (D). You can recognize an infinitive of purpose by placing in order in front of the word to. If the new sentence still "sounds good," it is an infinitive of purpose.