Bird’s Eye View: TOEFL

The Test of English as Foreign Language is an English proficiency examination that is administered through the internet. It particularly measures your ability to comprehend and utilize English at a university level. It also looks into how well you are able to listen, read, write, and speak in English in relation to performing academic tasks. This means that the materials used as exam content are similar to those used in universities, or applied in the university setting. The TOEFL is primarily used to gauge a candidate’s ability to survive in an English-communicating university or in a professional workplace. To date, the TOEFL iBT is mostly for those who wish to study and to work in the United States of America. However, changes are being made to the examination to accommodate international English.  

Candidates who take the TOELF iBT use the computer and thus fair computer proficiency is needed to successfully answer the exams. It is a lengthy test, requiring at most 4 hours for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Unlike other English exams, the TOEFL considers the test-taker’s ability to integrate all four subtests, as it is done in real life.

The TOEFL is quite difficult for most people, because the subtest are not stand-alone. In order to completely answer one subtest – Writing, for instance – the test taken must integrate his or her listening, reading, and writing skills. The four subtests are very challenging, particularly the Speaking test which is where most test-takers would fail. Specific skills are needed in order to succeed in the examination.

The TOEFL is structures as follows. TOEFL review centers will also teach you how to work the time elements to your advantage:

  • Reading Exam. This runs for 60-80 minutes and you must answer 36-56 questions.
  • Listening Exam. This is a bit longer than Reading – it is for 60-90 minutes, but you only need to answer 34-51 questions.
  • Speaking Exam. Although being the shortest test, the Speaking Exam is usually the most challenging. This runs for only 20 minutes, and you must complete 6 tasks.
  • Writing Exam. This is the last test you take. It will take you 50 minutes to complete two writing tasks.

Preparation for the TOELF would require ample time and guidance, especially for the Speaking part, which follows a specific matrix for grading.

TOEFL review centers offer such service. In order for you to correctly prepare for the examination, it doesn’t hurt to go into a review center as there are those that are quite worth your money and would help you achieve success.

Good luck!


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