TOEFL stands for 'Test Of English as Foreign Language'. TOEFL is a Standardized test that evaluates the English Proficiency of people whose native language is not English. Almost all the universities in the United States and Canada require TOEFL scores from each applicant. The test is also used by institutions in other countries where English is the language of Instruction. The TOEFL tests the ability to understand North American English. A TOEFL score is valid for 2 years.
The TOEFL is administered worldwide by Educational Testing Service (ETS). The test was first administered in 1964 and has since been taken by nearly 20 million students. The TOEFL test is offered in different formats depending on a test taker's location.
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Why TOEFL Test?
TOEFL test is a prerequisite for admission into colleges and universities where English is a lingua franca i.e., native or official language. Besides admissions, many licensing, government, and certification agencies and exchange and scholarship programs use TOEFL scores to evaluate the English proficiency of people for whom English is not their native language.
Who Should Take the TOEFL Test?
Non-native English speakers at the 11th-grade level or above should take the TOEFL test to provide evidence of their English proficiency before beginning academic work. The test content is considered too difficult for students below 11th grade.
Who don't need to take the TOEFL Test?
Non-native speakers who hold degrees or diplomas from post-secondary institutions in English-speaking countries (e.g., the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand)
Non-native speakers who have successfully completed at least a two-year course of study in which English was the language of instruction
Transfer students from institutions in the United States or Canada whose academic course work was favorably evaluated in relation to its demands and duration
Nonnative speakers who have taken the TOEFL test within the past two years
Nonnative speakers who have successfully pursued academic work at schools where English was the language of instruction in an English-speaking country for a specified period, generally two years
Who administers the TOEFL test?
The TOEFL test is developed and administered by the US-based "Educational Testing Service" (ETS). This implies that ETS sets the questions, conducts the test, and sends each examinee the score report. For the conduct of the test, ETS has appointed Testing Agencies in various countries, which act as franchisee for ETS.
Formats of the TOEFL
Internet-based Test (iBT)
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT), ever since its introduction in late 2005 has progressively replaced both the (CBT) computer-based and (PBT) paper-based tests. The iBT has been introduced in phases, with the United States, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy in 2005 and the rest of the world in 2006, with test centers increased periodically till-date. The demand for test seats remains very high even after almost a year after the introduction of the test; candidates have to wait for months since short-term test dates are fully booked. The four-hour test consists of four sections, each measuring mainly one of the basic language skills (although some tasks may require integration of these skills) and focusing on language used in an academic, higher-education environment.
The TOEFL Internet-based test emphasizes integrated skills and measures all four language skills, including speaking. The content on the test is authentic, and the language is consistent with that used in everyday, real academic settings. The test assesses proficiency of the candidates in all communication skills.
The test has four sections
Reading measures the ability to understand academic reading matter.
Listening measures the ability to understand English as it is used in colleges and universities.
Speaking measures the ability to speak English.
Writing measures the ability to write in a way that is appropriate for college and university course work. Detailed
descriptions and samples are available at the official website.
Computer-based Test (CBT)
The computer-based test was abolished on September 30th 2006. It is divided into four sections, measuring language proficiency in listening, structure (grammar), reading and writing.
1. Listening Comprehension (45-70 minutes)
Type of Questions: Conversations between two or more people in academic environments. Short conversations between students, and lectures may be possible conversations. Questions are basically of the who said what type.
2. Structure (grammar) (15-20 minutes)
Type of Questions: Identify the erroneous word(s) in the sentence. Fill in the blanks using the appropriate word.
3. Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary (70-90 minutes)
Type of Question: Questions are posed about content, intent of the author, and ideas inferred from each of the 3-4 passages given.
4. Essay Writing (30 minutes)
Type of Question: To write an essay on a given general topic, and take a position towards it.
The Listening and Structure sections are computer-adaptive, meaning that the difficulty level of each question depends on the correctness of previous responses. Three sub scores are obtained, each of which is given on a 0-30 scale: Listening, Structure/Writing (combined), and Reading. These sub scores are averaged to obtain the final score, which is in a 0-300 scale. The Writing score is also reported separately, on a 0-6 scale.
Paper-based Test (PBT)
In areas where the iBT and CBT are not available, a paper-based test (PBT) is given. The PBT tests essentially the same skills as the CBT, albeit with some differences, noticeably the number of questions (which is higher in the PBT) and the score scales. The final PBT score ranges between 310 and 677, and is based on three sub scores: Listening (31-68), Structure (31-68) and Reading (31-67). Unlike the CBT, the score of the Writing section (referred to as the Test of Written English, TWE) is not part of the final score; instead, it is reported separately on a scale from 0 to 6.