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Understand more about TOEFL

TOEFL is one of the most popular English proficiency exams accepted at American, Canadian & Australian universities and schools. TOEFL tests the international students’ usage and understanding of English as it is spoken, written and heard in college and university surroundings. The Educational Testing Services (ETS) is the conducting body of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and is responsible for setting the TOEFL questions, conducting the test, and sending each examinee their scorecard. Students wanting to study abroad, can choose from multiple TOEFL Test Dates available round-the-year and select from the various test centers located across major cities to appear for their TOEFL Exam. Candidates looking to appear for their TOEFL exam will learn about the following TOEFL topics as they read along.

Why take the TOEFL Exam?

The TOEFL is mostly undertaken by students who are planning to pursue higher education abroad. Appearing for TOEFL would also allow students to be eligible for several scholarships and also help students and candidates looking for employment abroad with their visa application process. Accepted in over 10,000 universities and other institutions worldwide, including universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, the United States, and across Europe and Asia, TOEFL is one of the most preferred English-language tests for students wanting to study abroad.

Registration for TOEFL is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Candidates can register for their TOEFL exam via the online method, via phone or through mail or in person. Candidates should keep in mind that TOEFL online registrations close 7 days before the exam and late registration closes 4 days before the test date with a late fee of US$40. Candidates appearing for their TOEFL from India are required to pay a TOEFL registration fee of US$180.

Recent Updates in TOEFL

The Educational Testing Services (ETS) – the conducting body of TOEFL has shortened the duration of the test by 30 minutes starting August 1, 2019. The conducting body has significantly reduced the number of questions in all three sections – reading, listening and speaking. The previous duration of the exam was 3 hrs and 30 minutes, the current duration of the exam is 3 hours. ETS has also introduced ‘MyBest Score’ – which is taking the candidate’s best scores for each section from all valid TOEFL scores from the previous 2 years.

ETS – the organizing body of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) has rolled out another set of initiatives to enhance the TOEFL iBT® test experience for students. Students can now book TOEFL exam slots for afternoon testing sessions, worldwide.

Types of TOEFL Exam

Candidates should be aware that the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is held in two formats, viz. TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) and TOEFL PBT (Paper-based Test).

The TOEFL iBT is a more preferred mode of the exam while TOEFL PBT is only available in locations that do not support the use of the Internet and this mode of examination does not have the TOEFL Speaking Test due to lack of resources.

TOEFL Exam 2020 Fees

The registration fee for the TOEFL exam varies from location to location. The registration fee for TOEFL in India is US$180. Apart from this, candidates also need to pay extra for other services like late registration, rescheduling the exam or score review. The cost of different services is mentioned below.

TOEFL Cancellation Fee

Candidates who have booked a test date and would want to cancel or reschedule the same would be required to do so 4 full days in advance before the actual test date. Rescheduling of tests by mail or email or at the test center is NOT acceptable. Candidates would have to either call their Regional Registration Centre (India – 91-124-4147700) and furnish them with their full name and appointment number to reschedule. Candidates can also log into their ETS account online and reschedule any upcoming tests. The fee for rescheduling the test is US$60.

Additional TOEFL score reports (per institution or agency)


Speaking or Writing Section score review


Speaking and Writing Section score review


TOEFL Payment Policies

TOEFL has laid down certain payment policies that the candidates are required to follow. These include, candidates are required to pay the entire fee at the time the service is requested, they should have the correct numerical amount and have the appropriate signature.

Forms of Payment

ETS is accepting all Credit/debit cards, electronic check, Paypal account, paper check or money order and Western Union Quick Pay for the payment of TOEFL Fees. Modes of payment that are NOT accepted are cash or demand drafts, post-dated checks, any currency other than US dollars, receipts for bank checks.

TOEFL Online Application

Candidates are required to visit the TOEFL login page and create an online profile. Then they’ll be required to pay the exam fee of US$180 (for Indians). Online registration on the ETS website is the fastest and easiest method. Through the online method, you can register anytime and on any day. Be sure to spell your name exactly as it appears on the identification you will bring on the test day, which for Indian students should ideally be their Passport. You will be required to pay with a credit/debit card.

Steps include,

  • Go to the official website of ETS and create your profile.
  • Fill all the information like your name, address, and email id, etc.
  • Make sure the information you provide is the same as it is on your passport.
  • Proceed to pay the application fee.

How to Book TOEFL Slot

Whenever you plan to give the TOEFL exam, just check the appropriate TOEFL dates and TOEFL test centers to book your slot. Those who are thinking of pursuing an international degree, giving TOEFL must be on their priority list. Selecting dates is one of the most crucial factors as it is the first step in getting into your school of choice. It also depends on the college/university you are going to apply, as some universities have a single deadline where the candidates need to submit their TOEFL score reports before the deadline. Also, some colleges have rolling deadlines, here candidates have the option of submitting their TOEFL scores as per their convenience. So, based on your need, choose the TOEFL exam dates and the TOEFL test center and then do TOEFL Slot Booking. In addition to this, the candidate also needs to have a valid passport for showing as an identity proof.

TOEFL Exam Dates

Your target date for taking the TOEFL exam should be at least a month before your first application deadline. This will give you plenty of time to work on your applications, and in case you need to retake the exam you can do so after 12 days of the first attempt. So if the deadline for your application is November, you should take the exam by October. If you feel the need to retake TOEFL, you can take it in the latter half of October again. You can retake the TOEFL after 12 days post your first attempt.

TOEFL Exam Centre Locations

In India, TOEFL iBT is conducted in 39 cities: Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dehradun, Delhi, East Godavari District, Gurgaon, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kochi, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Madurai, Mumbai, Mussoorie, Nagpur, Nashik, Nizamabad, Patna, Pondicherry, Pune, Raipur, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Tirupati, Trichy, Vadodara, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, and Warangal.

NOTE: Candidates should always check the availability of their exam date and time at the nearest center and then book it accordingly.

TOEFL Exam Pattern

TOEFL exam pattern is as follows – four sections, namely, Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing – along with the total score. It goes without saying that the more you practice TOEFL sample papers, the better your scores will be. The total score is the sum of the scores of the four skill areas. Scores will be posted online 10 days after the test date. ETS will send up to four official score reports directly to the institutions the student selects.

TOEFL Syllabus

TOEFL Reading Syllabus

In this section, you will read 3-4 passages and answer 10 questions on each passage. The section is scored based on the number of correct reading comprehension responses.

Question type: 3–4 passages, 10 questions each

Total no. of questions: About 40

Total time: 64-72 minutes

TOEFL Listening Syllabus

In the test section, you will hear short conversations as well as long conversations. After the short conversation, you will be asked one question and multiple choices of answers will be given. You have to choose one answer. In long conversations, you will be asked multiple questions based on the conversation.

Question type: a) 3–4 lectures (3-5 minutes long, about 500-800 words), 6 questions each

  1. b) 2–3 conversations (about 3 minutes long, about 12-25 exchanges), 5 questions each

Total time: 41–57 minutes

TOEFL Speaking Syllabus

For you to earn the highest scores in the Speaking Section, your responses must fulfill the demands of the task given with only minor mistakes or lapses. The test graders are looking for a highly intelligible and sustained conversation. Three main factors comprise scoring for the section.

Question type:

  1. a) 1 independent task (prep time: 15 sec; response time: 45 sec)
  2. b) 3 integrated tasks – Read/Listen/Speak (prep time: 30 sec; response time: 60 sec)

Total no. of questions: 4

Total time: 17 minutes

TOEFL Writing Syllabus

The essay should effectively address a topic. The response should be well-organized and well-developed using relevant explanations and detailed support. Furthermore, it should also display unity, progression, and coherence. If you want to achieve a high writing score, make sure that you demonstrate the syntactic variety and appropriate word choice with minor grammatical errors.

Question type:

  1. a) 1 integrated task – Read/Listen/Write (20 minutes) (reading time: 3 min; listening

time: 2 min; writing: 15 min)

  1. b) 1 independent task (30 minutes)

Total no. of questions: 2

Total time: 50 minutes

TOEFL Scores 2019

Once you are done with your test, you need not wait much for the TOEFL results. When your scores are declared online, you receive an email intimation about it. Log in to your TOEFL iBT account and click on the scores option. You will receive your results after 10 days of your test. However, it will take at least 13 days (after the test date) for printed scores to reach you. These scores will be valid for the next two years from the date of the declaration.

How TOEFL Scores calculated?

For calculating TOEFL scores, both human evaluators and automated scoring methods are used. This is done to offer a complete and accurate picture of the candidate’s ability. While the automated scoring method has the advantage of being unbiased, it does not measure the effectiveness of the language and content. Human evaluators are required to attend to a wider variety of features, such as the quality of ideas and content as well as form. Also, you are expected to answer at least one question each in all sections. For reading and listening, you should answer at least one question. For writing and speaking, you must attempt one task each. For the online TOEFL iBT test as well the result is four-scaled along with a total score. The four-section scores of the TOEFL are divided as follow:

What is a Good TOEFL Score?

Along with the total score, your score report will also include performance feedback. This is an assessment of your overall test performance with a suggested description of the tasks you can do, within the score range obtained. This will give you an idea if you have fared well, what are your strengths and which sections do need to improve.

ETS has further divided each section into High, Intermediate and Low levels score for Reading and Listening section.

High: Simply put, High-level scores help you in getting into the best or top universities. Your chances of being accepted by them increase drastically if you score anywhere within this range. Ivy League schools usually target these scores for setting a cut-off.

Intermediate: Intermediate level scores will help you get into good universities as these scores meet the requirements set by most of the top 100 universities.

Low: Low-level scores speak for itself. Scoring within this range may not get you into good universities or the university you have short-listed. However, you can consider getting through conditional acceptance programs such as foundational courses or Pathway programs with these scores, if any university accepts scores within this range.

For the Speaking and Writing sections, ETS has given four levels of score range like Good, Fair, Limited and Weak.

Good: A Good-level score will help you get into top and upper-mid ranked schools. The higher the score, the more the chances of getting into an Ivy-league university.

Fair: Scores within this range can get you into mid-ranked universities. Most of the good universities accept scores within this range for STEM programs as finding such scores quite impressive.

Limited: Generally speaking, these scores can get you only conditional acceptance. You may have to go through different programs like the Pathway Programme to get acceptance into a particular course at that university.

Weak: Full acceptance is very unlikely with such scores. Some low ranked universities may offer conditional programs; however, such cases are quite rare.

The validity of TOEFL scores

Your TOEFL scores are valid until two years post the declaration of your result. If you are not satisfied with the scores of your first attempt, you can try again as there is no limitation on the number of retakes. However, there should be a 12-day gap between your retakes; i.e if you have a test appointment for today, you cannot register for another appointment for the next 12 days. Read more on TOEFL Scores and Results, here.


There are no minimum passing marks required for the TOEFL exam as each university or educational institution decides its score range or minimum score required. There is no such thing as a cut-off for the TOEFL score as each university will set its score range according to their requirements. Top universities or Ivy-league schools generally set a high score range (79 and above), which may change each year. Thus, you need to keep a check on the changes brought in by the universities by keeping a check on their website for any such updates. Read more on TOEFL Cut off, here.

Send TOEFL Scores to Colleges

At the time of registration, the candidate gets the option of sending four free score reports to colleges/universities/programs. Official score reports will be sent to the selected recipients approximately after 13 days when the official scores are released.

Order Online: Once you receive your scores, you can send them to your choice of colleges till two years, post which you will have to re-take the exam. Those who do not wish to send the free score report can send Additional Score Reports by paying additional charges. Students can also avail of a discount on sending five Additional Score Reports by ordering the TOEFL Value Pack premium. ETS offers more value packs which students can order and avail huge discount on sending their scores to colleges/universities. Usually, the amount per report is 20$ (USD), which you can pay through debit, credit, e-check or Paypal. After your request is received by the organization, your scores will be sent within 3-5 business days.

TOEFL Preparation Tips

There are two ways all exam-takers prepare for TOEFL i.e. self-study and attending coaching classes. Both these methods of studying have unique benefits and no one way is better than the other. If money is the prime consideration, then self-studies through TOEFL books and resources may be the better option. Similarly, if you need professional guidance to ensure you have some advantage in TOEFL exam preparation, then enrolling for a TOEFL coaching center is the better option.

TOEFL Test monitors the candidates’ ability to understand the English language at the university level. The four sections on which the candidate’s ability is judged are reading, writing, listening and speaking. While preparing for the test, first of all, candidates should understand the format of the test and result and scores system of the test. ETS, the conducting body of the TOEFL exam also provides free and paid study material, which is easily available.

When to start preparing for IELTS or TOEFL?

TOEFL Sample / Practice Paper

Since it is an English language test, TOEFL requires its candidates to have a good command over the English language. Like the other standardized tests required to study abroad, TOEFL is divided into sections. Every section has its weight and hence needs to be prepared accordingly. With four sections in total, the exam requires dedicated time to cover and excel in each section. Once you are done with your preparation, you may test your abilities through TOEFL 2019 Sample Papers to see how far you have reached in your preparation. It is essential to understand how to practice for TOEFL: Practice Tests and Samples.


Still, have doubts? Check out TOEFL frequently asked questions to ease the process to apply for your TOEFL Exam.

  1. How can the candidate opt for the paper copy of the score report?
  1. The candidates can opt for the paper copy of their score report at the time of registration by following these steps:
  • Log in to your TOEFL account
  • Go to the ‘Select Scorecard Preference’ tab
  • Make sure to check the box for a paper copy of the score report
  • Save the changes you have done
  1. What if I entered the wrong details during registration?
  1. Once the details are saved on the official website for at the time of registration, candidates cannot make any changes. They need to contact the TOEFL officials via email at or by phone at 16097717100/ 18778633546 to get the needful done.
  1. What all details will be there on the score report?
  1. Score Report contains the following details:
  • Scores of each section
  • Total scores
  • Feedback of your performance
  1. Why choose TOEFL over other exams?
  1. There are 3 major tests for the English language that are accepted by universities worldwide. Which exam you should take depends upon your requirements and its acceptance in the university or country of your choice. Check out the difference between the three of them here: IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE.
  1. How many times can I attempt the TOEFL Exam?
  2. The TOEFL test can be attempted as many times as the candidate wants, but to take a re-test the candidate has to wait for 12 days after attempting the first test.
  1. What documents do candidates need to carry to the exam center on the day of the exam?
  2. At the exam, candidates are required to carry their TOEFL Registration Slip or their TOEFL Admit Card. They will also be required to carry their photo ID as proof (a valid passport) and every other document the student might deem necessary at the examination venue.

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