The TOEFL -Test of English as a foreign language is a standardized English proficiency test that assesses English Language skills in the areas of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The total test is graded out of 120 and each module is scored out of 30. The TOEFL test is administered in more than 180 countries, making it the most accepted test in the world. This score is valid for a period of 2 years. Students can use this test to study in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, in addition to the United States and Canada.
If your first or native language is not English, it is likely that the College or University you are applying to will require you to take the test.
Brief on each section
The Reading section tests candidates' ability to read and comprehend the passages, while answering questions based on the same. It consists of 3 – 4 passages, each passage consisting of 13 – 15 questions. This section lasts for approximately 60 – 80 minutes.
The Listening section tests candidates' ability to understand spoken English that deals with interactions in an academic environment. It comprises of talks and lectures of American speakers. Listening has two formats i.e. Short Listening (SL) and Long Listening (LL), one of which appears in the test. SL comprises of 6 talks of which three are conversations and three are lectures. LL has 9 talks of which three are conversations and 6 are lectures. SL will last for approximately 45 – 55 minutes, whereas LL will last for approximately 70 – 80 minutes.
Writing tests a candidates' ability to be expressive through written text. It comprises of 2 tasks. In Task 1 i.e. Integrated Writing, candidates are required to read a passage, listen to a lecture and compose a technical essay based on the passage and the lecture. The time allotted is 20 minutes. In Task 2 i.e. Independent Essay, students are given a general topic to write an essay on, students have 30 minutes for this task.
Speaking tests a candidates' ability to converse in English. Speaking has 6 question prompts which include independent speaking questions, as well as integrated speaking questions. Candidates are given a few seconds to think and the time allotted to speak differs in accordance to the question format. The time limit per question in speaking is approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute. Overall the test lasts for 20 minutes.
Tips and Strategies for the TOEFL Test
- For inference questions, do not choose an answer just because it seems important or true. The correct answer is usually inferred from the passage
- Scan the passages to find and highlight key facts (dates, numbers, terms) and information
- You should be able to clearly point to the stated information in the passage that leads to the inference you have selected
- For reference type of questions, if the question is about a pronoun, make sure your answer is in the same number as the highlighted pronoun
- Substitute your choice for the highlighted word/words in the sentence. Be sure that it does not violate any grammar rules
- For insert text questions, try the sentence in each of the places indicated by the squares. You can replace the sentence as many times as you want
- Look at the structure of the sentence you are inserting and the logic. Logical connecting words can provide important information about where the sentence should be placed
- The inserted sentence should connect logically to the sentence before and after it
- Stay active
- Take down notes while you listen, do not try to write down every detail
- While listening to a lecture, pay careful attention to new words/concepts introduced by the professor
- Listening questions MUST be answered in order. You cannot go back to the question and change your answer
- Focus on the content and flow of material
- Do not begin speaking until you are told to do so
- Be loud and clear when you begin speaking, you need to be audible when you begin to give your response
- Do NOT be in a hurry to speak, maintain a constant pace
- Answer each question thoroughly within the time allotted
Integrated Writing Task
- Look for the main idea of the reading passage, do not worry about forgetting the reading passage you will be able to access it while writing the essay
- As you listen to the audio, be sure to take down notes. Listen for information, examples or explanations that make points in the reading passage seem less convincing or even untrue
- Remember that you are not being asked for your opinion. You are being asked to list the points of opposition between the reading and the lecture
Independent Writing Task
- There is no maximum word limit, be sure to respond to the topic at hand
- Your essay will be graded on how efficiently you pen down your ideas
- Keep track of your time; try to finish writing your essay 4 to 5 minutes prior. Use the remaining time to check your work and make any final changes
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