Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) About The Test

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TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language is an English Proficiency test, conducted to evaluate the English speaking and understanding ability of a candidate. TOEFL is accepted as proof of English proficiency in 9,000 colleges, universities and organizations and other TOEFL participating institutes across 130 countries in the World. It is conducted more than 50 times a year by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

The TOEFL test comprises of four sections:

1. The Reading section is 60-80 minutes long comprising of 36-56 questions where you have to read 3 or 4 passages from academic texts and answer questions. You can get a score from 0-30 in this section.

2. The Listening section is 60-90 minutes long comprising of 34-51 questions where you have to listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, then answer questions. You can score anywhere between 0-30 in this section.

3. The Speaking section is 20 minutes long comprising 36-56 questions where you have to express an opinion on a familiar topic; speak based on reading and listening tasks. You can score anywhere between 0-30 in this section.

4. The Writing section is 50 minutes long comprising 2 questions where you have to write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing. You can score anywhere between 0-30 in this section.

Reading Section 

The TOEFL Reading section is quite easy compared to its GRE counterpart. It is just fact-finding and reporting from the passages which test you at a High School English level. Some students face a problem in this section because of its length as someone who doesn’t have a regular reading habit might feel exhausted after the section and getting an experimental section on this one just makes it worse. To overcome that problem we advise you to be ready and develop stamina for long reading sessions.

To prepare yourself for the reading section, read as many books as you can. One can always develop rapid reading skills by reading a plethora of books. Any book will do for that matter. All you need is the patience to sit and read a thousand words at a stretch. If you develop that skill, the reading section is a cakewalk. Now, for the week before the exam, start going through different types of paragraphs which are similar to the ones appearing. For at least 2 days in that week concentrate on reading, yes just reading!

Listening Section

To describe the listening section, it has 6-9 passages, each consisting of 5-6 questions, which lasts for about 60-90 minutes. The conversations vary from a simple conversation between 2 students to a lecture on a subject. Do not worry, you are not expected to know the spoken subject. All answers appear in the conversation itself.

During the exam, you are provided with a sheet of paper to take down notes. The listening passages are based on academic and campus-type environments. Again, if you are a regular English listener then you shouldn’t face any problem with this section. The section, however, requires some commendable note-taking skills. In such a scenario, NOTEFULL’s note-taking strategies may prove to be very helpful.

Here, you’re in good hands if the luck’s by your side too. The reason being, the test goes on at a different pace in the classroom. So while you are having your listening test, your neighbour or neighbours may have their speaking test going on and you end up being surrounded by 2-3 people speaking at the top of their voices, while you are trying to listen carefully in the headphones.

Speaking Section

To describe the speaking section, you answer six questions on various topics; the first ones will be opinion-based. For these, you get to hear the questions, take a few seconds to collect your thoughts, form an opinion, and then speak for 45 seconds. The speaking section includes integrated questions. For these, you have to incorporate outside information from a short reading passage and a short lecture excerpt or conversation into your answer. Integrated questions take slightly longer to collect your thoughts (20 or 30 seconds) and about 60 seconds to answer them in return.

Always LISTEN to the instructions given before EACH section. In this section, you are supposed to speak. The exam records your voice and sends it to the evaluator. Before beginning the section, your voice will be calibrated.

  1. Speak slowly and clearly. Do not, we emphasize DO NOT elongate your speech by adding “umm”, “hmmm”, “eh”, or any other dragging bits.
  2. Do not complicate your vocabulary, try to communicate clearly. Learn a few synonyms for the words you already know.
  3. Focus on the task that expects you to solve the problem, and not stray from it by talking about nonsensical topics.
  4. Please do not get distracted by others attempting the speaking section at the same time as you, and focus on your test.

Writing Section

There are mainly two tasks in the TOEFL Writing Section, the first one is the Independent Writing task and the second one being the Integrated Writing task. Always LISTEN to the instructions given before EACH section.

  1. Read as many sample essays as possible. The more you read, the more familiar you become with the structure and tone of the essay.
  2. Make sure that you can write a 300-400 words essay at a stretch within 30 minutes.
  3. Needless to say, Grammar is important. High School level vocabulary and grammar are not recommended. Instead, try to use Graduate-level vocabulary.
  4. Try to complete the essay 5 minutes prior time, so you can tweak it in the end. Also, check for any grammatical or spelling mistakes and edit them.
  5. Use transition words like Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly, Moreover, Additionally, In contrast, etc.
  6. Present the points exactly as mentioned in the reading paragraph and the lecture. The relationship in between is also important.
  7. The essay structure is extremely important.

 Format: Introduction → Content → Paragraphs → Conclusion.