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TOEFL Overview

  • Exam Name: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).
  • Description: It is an online test to assess your English proficiency (the TOEFL paper-based test is being phased out).
  • Suitable for: Students wishing to pursue a Master's or graduate course, especially in the United States.
  • Countries in Which Accepted: 130+
  • Preferred Score Range: 80 - 100
  • Flexibility: Test is held throughout the year at multiple locations. You cannot test more than once in 3 days. There is no limit on the number of attempts.
  • Registration Fee: USD 185


  • TOEFL was first administered in 1964 by a national council on the testing of English as a foreign language in the United States.
  • Over 11,000 universities across 130 countries accept TOEFL.
  • It is often needed for admission into a graduate or postgraduate course abroad.
  • It is designed to measure the English proficiency of people whose native language is not English.
  • It was initially a paper-based test with five sections. In 1998 it became a computer-based test. Since September 2005, it has become an internet-based test (iBT).



Many universities abroad seek your TOEFL scores as part of their admission process (along with other test scores such as GRE, GMAT, or SAT). So, what is TOEFL? TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language and is one of the most popular English language tests globally.It is oftena prerequisite for admission into a graduate or postgraduate course abroad. It is designed to measure the English proficiency of people whose native language is not English.

TOEFL wasfounded in 1962when a national council on the testing of English as a foreign language was formed in the United States. The council had to design a test for non-native speakers of English who wished to study at colleges and universities there. The first test was administered in 1964. The TOEFL Board was created in 1973, and the current board members come from Australia, China, Ecuador, Canada, Scotland, Spain, and the United States.

Over the years, the test has seen several iterations. It was initially a paper-based test with five sections. The computer-based test was introduced in 1998, and in September 2005, the current internet-based test (iBT) was introduced. The paper-delivered test is still available where the internet test is not and does not include the Speaking test.

It is important to understand the TOEFL test and prepare for it well since your scores play a crucial role in the admission process.

Countries in which TOEFL is accepted

Over 11000 universities across 150 countries accept TOEFL.These include most of the universities in the United States and Canada as well as universities in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe, and Asia.

What's New

What's New

TOEFL now offers the TOEFL IBT Home Edition test designed for students who want to take the test in their homes instead of visiting a centre. This was introduced as a safety measure during the coronavirus pandemic. It is offered in all countries where TOEFL is available except Mainland China and Iran. The test is similar in content and format to what you would undertake at a centre. The test is monitored by a human proctor online.

Test Centre vs Home Based

Both options come with their benefits and drawbacks. Due to COVID-19, you run the risk of your test being rescheduled or cancelled when held at a centre. The ETS website provides a list of COVID precautions taken by their centres and the guidelines you need to follow. But you should also inquire with your test centre if you must take any specific precautions before or during the test.

It is important to keep checking your mail for any updates or developments about your test. If the test is cancelled or postponed by ETS, you will not be charged a fee.

Home Based tests are a safe way to give the tests, but you need to fulfil a long list of requirements. These include both equipment and environmental requirements. Here are a few such requirements:

  • A desktop or laptop computer: You cannot use a tablet or a mobile phone
  • Only Chrome and Firefox are listed as supported browsers
  • A functional web camera that can be moved around to show the proctor a 360 degree of the room
  • Your room must be empty, and no one must enter during the test
  • You cannot have any food or drink during the test
  • You will need a desktop whiteboard with an erasable marker. At the end of the test, you must show the proctor that you have erased all your notes. You are not permitted to take notes on paper with a pen or pencil

You must verify that you meet all the requirements before you register for the Home Edition. If you don't, you will not be permitted to take the test.

TOEFL Eligibility

Anyone who seeks to pursue a course in universities in English speaking countries can take the test. There is no age limit or minimum educational qualification . There are no limits to the number of times you can take the test; however, there needs to be a three-day gap between two attempts.

TOEFL Registration

Registration Fee

A TOEFL test costs USD 185 in India. The fee varies from country to country. The fee is the same for a test taken at a Centre and the TOEFL iBT Home Test, and you can pay for it either through credit or debit cards, electronic checks or paper checks, or money orders (all drawn in US dollars).

Here is a snapshot of additional costs you may have to incur:


Fees (USD)



Late registration




Reinstatement of cancelled scores


Additional score reports (per institution or agency)

20 (each)

Speaking or Writing Section score review


Speaking and Writing Section score review


Returned payment


Note: To receive a refund, you must cancel your registration four days before your test date. In such an event, you will receive 50% of the original test fee.

Steps to Register for TOEFL

To register for a TOEFL test, you need to first set up an account with the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which conducts the TOEFL exam. During the registration, you will need to enter personal details such as your name, date of birth, email ID, and mobile number.

TOEFL only accepts a valid passport as the primary ID, which you need to present at the test centre. The spelling of your name in your registration should match the one on your passport. If the names don't match, you won't be able to take the test, and your test fee won't be refunded.

Once you have created a profile, log in and go to the TOEFL homepage, where there is an option to 'Register/Find Test Centres'.

Choose between the Test Centre and Home Edition.

Next, you must choose the dateon which you would like to give the test. Universities expect to get the TOEFL test scores before the admissions process. Make sure you know the date by when you must submit the scores, and plan accordingly.

Pick a test date that's at least 2 to 3 months before your earliest deadline.Do not leave the test for the last minute.

Once you select the months and the city, you will be presented with a calendar with the test dates and the venues. The time of the test will be mentioned with each venue.

In the case of multiple test centres, choose the one which offers convenient time slots and is easier to reach.

If you choose the Home Edition, you will get a similar calendar with the available dates. However, a key difference is that there are multiple time options throughout the day. Since you are taking the test at home, choose a time when you will not have any interruptions or disturbances.

After selecting the date and venue (or the date and time slot for the Home Edition), you can proceed to register and pay for the test.

You can register up to seven days before any test date, after which you will need to pay a late registration fee to book a slot.

Slots fill up quickly. Hence, it is wise to register approximately four months before your desired test date.

TOEFL Structure


Time Limit




54 - 72 minutes

30 - 40 questions

Read passages and respond to questions


41 - 57 minutes

28 - 39 questions

Answer questions about brief lectures or classroom discussions


10 minutes




17 minutes

4 tasks

Talk about a familiar topic and discuss material you read and listened to


50 minutes

2 tasks

Read a passage, listen to a recording, type your response

The TOEFL test has four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. The exam is structured and designed to test your proficiency in English used in an academic setting.

The total duration of the test is 3 hours. In 2019, the test duration was reduced by 30 minutes from 3.5 hours.

Each section is designed to test one aspect of your proficiency in English.

Here's a snapshot of the four sections:


You will get around 3-4 passages that are about 700 words long. The passages will test your ability to contrast and compare arguments or points made in the text. Each passage will have 10 questions. Time: 54-72 minutes.


The section will have 3-4 lectures, which may include a classroom discussion. Each lecture will be around 3-5 minutes long and have six questions. You will also be given 2-3 conversations to listen to, each three minutes long with five questions to answer. You will be tested on comprehension and your ability to understand the key themes, ideas, arguments, or points discussed. Time: 41-57 minutes.


You will need to talk into the computer's microphone either at the test centre or at home. You will be given four tasks in this section. The first task is called an"independent speaking task" to express an opinion on a familiar topic. Tasks 2, 3 and 4 are called "integrated speaking tasks", which require you to combine your listening, reading and speaking skills.

  • Task 1: You will be given a topic to speak about with no additional material. You will have 15 seconds to prepare and 45 seconds to speak.
  • Task 2: You will be given a passage to read and asked to listen to a discussion about that passage. You will then be given 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak the answer.
  • Tasks 3: You will be given a passage to read, and you will listen to a lecture on the same subject. You have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak the answer.
  • Task 4: You will be given a lecture to listen after which 20 seconds to prepare. You will have 60 seconds to speak about the lecture.

This is a challenging section. It is the shortest of the four, and it requires you to be clear and coherent. If you are giving this test from home, make sure your mic is working properly. You will be graded on your delivery and ability to develop a topic. Time: 17 minutes.


You will be asked to write two essays, where you will be tested on your ability to develop and organise arguments supported by explanations.

The two tasks include:

An integrated task: You will be given a short passage to read, and you will be asked to listen to a short lecture on the same topic. After this, you will have 20 minutes to type the response which should typically be between 150 to 225 words long.

An independent task: You are given a question, and you have 30 minutes to type your answer. The question will ask your opinion on a topic or an issue. You will need to proved reasons and examples to support your opinion. There is no maximum word limit for the answer, but a good response is expected to be at least 300 words long. Time: 50 minutes.

TOEFL Score Calculation

TOEFL iBT Test has four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. You are graded between 0-30 for each section, and your total score is out of 120. Nearly 98% of applicants give the TOEFL iBT Test.

Each university has a different minimum test score, but most reputed universities expect a score between 80 – 100.

The TOEFL score reports also include MyBest scores, which combine the best score you have got for each section from all the test results over the last two years. Your score reports will includethe scores from the test you gave on a particular date as well as the MyBestscores.

TOEFL scores are valid for two years.

TOEFL scores are calculated between 0 to 120, with each section being scored on a scale of 0 to 30.

The evaluation is done through a combination of automated methods driven by artificial intelligence and human examiners who are certified by ETS.

Your scores will be available online approximately 6 days after the test date. The PDF of the report is ready to be downloaded and printed within 8 days after you give the test. The scores will be sent to the institutions or universities that you selected during registration. The scores are valid only for two years. Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, paper score report delivery may be delayed. Most paper score reports are sent 1 to 2 weeks after the test date.

Tips to Prepare for the TOEFL

A key aspect of scoring well in TOEFL is to get a feel of the test by doing several mock tests.

Here are a few Pro Tips that you can follow while you prepare for the exam:

  • Since it's a computer-based examination, you will need to type out your Writing section essays. If you are not comfortable at typing, we recommend you practice typing to improve your speed.
  • Listening requires a high degree of attention and note-taking ability. You need to train your ears for the same.
  • Speaking is another area which requires practice. It would be best to speak clearly and put forth your points or views coherently within the available time. Remember that you will be speaking into a mic and not with an actual person. This may also take some time to get used to as we subconsciously look for cues and reactions from the person with whom we are speaking.
  • Read your Writing questions properly. It does not matter how well you have written your essay if you fail to understand the task.
  • Go through all the material provided on the TOEFL website, including mock tests and exercises for each section.

Pro Tip

The TOEFL test is a very important requirement, and we recommend that you start preparing for it as soon as possible. Remember to pick your slot early and make sure that you give the test sufficient time in hand for your university deadline.If you do not get the required score, you can give the exam again.

While you prepare to give the TOEFL, you must also start working on other aspects of the admission process, such as writing a statement of purpose, getting recommendations, and thinking of financing options. If you or your child gains admission into the course and university of their choice, you will need to be ready to fund the education.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I am unable to take the test, will I get a refund?

You can get 50% of your test fees refunded, provided you cancel your registration four days before the actual test date.

Can I change the dates of my test?

Yes. You will need to pay USD 60 to do so.

Can I change the details on my registration form?

If you wish to change your name, date of birth, and gender, you will need to contact TOEFL Services. You can change other details at any time.

How long are TOEFL scores valid?

They are valid for two years.

Is there an age restriction for TOEFL?

No. However, if you are under 15 years, an adult parent/guardian needs to accompany you to the test centre.

Can I resit a TOEFL test?

Yes, you can. You need to give a gap of at least three days before being eligible to give the test again.

Is there a limit to the number of times I can sit for the TOEFL test?


Can my test be cancelled due to COVID-19?

Yes. It is a possibility. But your centre will inform you about any changes.