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7 key information to remember
Created in 1964, the TOEFL is a language test which is internationally recognized in a major way. It is considered to be one of the main references among the standardized English tests. The test has evolved over the years and its most common form today is the TOEFL IBT (Internet Based Test), which is carried out online.
There are many reasons to pass the TOEFL. This test is particularly popular with many prestigious Anglo-Saxon universities as a reliable measurement tool to assess the level of English of an applicant. To take things further, TOEFL is recognized by most universities in the world, providing English courses. No less than 8,500 higher education establishments (universities, ivy leagues and agencies) in 130 countries recognize and use the TOEFL. Obtaining your TOEFL certification can allow you to study in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States or even in Asia..
This English test is made for students but also for professionals and anyone whose mother tongue is not English. It is a simple and reliable way to prove your command on English and / or to position your level precisely in relation to the CEFR scale.
TOEFL IBT is known to assess the language level of candidates in a very comprehensive manner. This test is designed to assess the four main areas of skills required to master the language. To succeed at the TOEFL IBT, the candidate must combine these various skills to prove his ability to communicate correctly in English. Therefore, TOEFL is a particularly difficult and long test, since it lasts around 4:30, with specific instructions.
The TOEFL IBT test takes place as follows:
- Written comprehension (Reading test): the candidate must read several extracts from university content and answer different questions in the form of a multiple choice question. This section lasts from 1h to 1h40 and includes 3 to 5 exercises (of which only 3 are marked, but the candidate doesn’t know which ones). The first exercise lasts 20 minutes, exercises 2 and 3 are separate and last 40 minutes, as are exercises 4 and 5 if applicable. There are approximately 15 questions per exercise. Our advice: read the questions before reading the text, in order to save time and already be familiar with the sentences and words you need to spot.
- Oral comprehension (Listening test): this section lasts between 1h and 1h30 and includes 6 to 9 exercises, each one lasts 10 minutes. The candidate must listen to audio recordings (between 6 and 9) containing extracts from academic courses and conversations, and then answer various questions in the form of a multiple choice question. There are 5 to 6 questions, per recording.
Example of a question that can be asked in the TOEFL Listening:
You hear the following conversation:
“Student - Good morning!
Secretary - Oh! Good morning, I hadn't seen you there. How can I help you?
Student - Well, I'm looking for the office that's managing student loans.
Secretary - Well, you came to the right place.
Student - Mmm, is this not the Student Council?
Secretary - Yes, the loan office closed last year and we take up the mission of managing the loans.
Student - Oh OK, well I’ve come to check my balance to see how much I still owe you.
Secretary - Of course. I'm going to need your student card and your ID.
Student - OK. Well, here's the student card, and, hmm, and my ID.
Secretary - Oh the ID is out of date, it expired last month. Don't you have another?
Student - No, I haven't had time to change it.
Secretary - Well OK, we only accept valid ID but since you have your student card and you seem honest enough I'll let it pass with this one.
Student - Great, thanks. I really need this information in order to evaluate my budget to see if I can afford the trip to France that the Student Council organizes.
Secretary - Indeed OK, let’s have a look... hmm, well you still owe us $10,000, you've already paid back 5,000, um, from the, the 15 that you owed us.
Student - Ah OK. Do you know if I am still allowed to borrow any more money?
Secretary - Hmm, your authorized amount is 15,000, um, so $5,000 per term, and the trip to France is only $1,000.
Student - OK, well, let's say that I'll need about $1,000... that’s not too expensive so I should probably ask for $2,000.
Secretary - Of course. So do you want to borrow 2,000 extra dollars then?
Student - Absolutely.
Secretary - Of course, okay, let's fill in the papers then.
Student - OK great. Do you need any credit card details or bank details to set this up? I know you need it for initial loans.”
Secretary - Well I should ask you for them, but to tell you the truth, I don't really need them since I have all the information here in your file so don't worry about it.
Student - Thanks so much, I thought it would be more difficult to set up all this stuff.
Secretary - Well it is normally, but let's just say we can make things a little bit simpler when we want to.”
Why is the student visiting the Student Council?
- Because she needs to check her flight times for the trip to France
- Because she wants to book the trip to France
- Because she needs to pay for her trip
- Because she wants to check her budget
Correct answer: D. (Reference to the sentence: "I really need this information in order to evaluate my budget to see if I can afford the trip to France that the Student Council organizes.").
(10 min Break)
Oral expression (speaking test) : the candidate must express his opinion on a current or familiar theme, then express himself on various topics, related to university life. This test lasts 20 minutes and is divided into 6 exercises:
- Exercise 1 : talk about a familiar person, object, or event. 15 seconds of preparation followed by 45 seconds of oral expression. Question example: What is your favorite movie or book? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.
- Exercise 2 : answer a question asked about 2 situations or opinions. Say which one you prefer and explain your choice. 15 seconds of preparation and 45 seconds of well-argued response. Question example: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Men and women are equal.
- Exercise 3 : 45 seconds to read a short text of about 100 words, then listen to a dialogue of 1 or 2 minutes on the same topic, in a daily life context. A question is then asked about the text and the audio. 30 seconds of preparation and 60 seconds of oral response.
- Exercise 4 : similar to exercise 3.
- Exercise 5 : An audio extract of a conversation or conference of maximum 2 minutes is played (generally a student speaking about a problem and a member of the university trying to help him out). A question is then asked about this audio. 20 seconds of preparation and 60 seconds of oral. Our advice: Your answer will be assessed based on your ability to pass on information, so be specific and do not keep away from the subject.
- Exercise 6 : similar to exercise 5.
- Written expression (Writing test) : this section lasts 50 minutes and is made up of 2 writing exercises of 20 and 30 minutes. As for the oral expression, the candidate must lean on texts and audio recordings related to university life, to write an answer in the essay form. He must then express his opinion in writing on a more or less familiar subject.
Careful: A QWERTY keyboard is used for this test. Therefore, it is strongly advised to practice using this type of keyboard in advance. This will save you time but also prevent you from feeling extra stressed on D-Day.
Each of the four parts of the TOEFL is scored on 30 points. Depending on the number of correct answers and the quality of your oral and written expression, you will receive a higher or lower mark for each part. The sum of these four scores will then give you your final score. The 4 sections of the TOEFL IBT are as significant and have the same importance, when it comes to the overall score The validity of the TOEFL certification is not unlimited. After two years, the ETS institute (founder and organizer of the test) considers that the candidate's language level has most likely changed. Therefore, it must be reassessed in order to make companies and universities feel secure about the reliability of ETS expertise.
There isn’t a good or bad TOEFL score. The assessment was designed to give the most reliable and precise positioning possible on the candidate’s English level. What is primarily taken into account in the analysis of the score therefore concerns the motivations and issues that encouraged the candidate to take the TOEFL. Most of the time, TOEFL is taken for an academic purpose, to get enrolled in an English-speaking school or university. In this case, the minimum score required won’t be the same as one needs to join a company for example The results obtained at the TOEFL can be equated with the levels defined by the CEFR. Moreover, higher education establishments also have access to detailed scores for each section of the test, which allows them to know the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, in terms of language skills.
TOEFL is scored on 120 points :
- Score between 42 and 71 points: level B1. This is a basic level of English, not enough to join a university abroad.
- Score between 71 and 94 points: level B2. This level considers that your mastery of the language is average. It can help you with your academic ambitions. The majority of universities around the world require a minimum score that varies between 80 and 94 points.
- Score above 94 points: level C1. It is a very good level, requested by the most prestigious higher education establishments, such as Harvard or the London Business School..
Several examination centers are available to pass the TOEFL IBT. You can, for example, take it in Germany, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherlands. To register, you must pass the ETS which is the founding body of the evaluation. The latter has organized and administered the test since its creation in a neutral and impartial manner. It is not attached to any institution. You can find all the information you need on the website but also to register for the TOEFL. ETS also offers three different registration methods:
- By telephone: you will need to spell out your personal information and pay by credit card after the call. The advantage of registering by phone is that it allows you to do it at the last minute, subject to available places
- By email: you must print your registration form and send it to the Regional Registration Center along with your payment. Be careful, in this case, you have to do it four weeks before the session date
- Online: this method is, in our opinion, the simplest. You can register very quickly with a few clicks by completing the online form. It is very easy to register from any digital medium
TOEFL IBT is a standardized English certificate. This means that it is governed by a specific structure and instructions, which are specific to the latter and it is always the same each time one passes the test. It is therefore possible to maximize your score by getting familiarized with the rules of the TOEFL IBT. It is only by learning to master the structure of the test and by acquiring a precise methodology that you can pass the test in the best of conditions. By implementing a revision strategy to prepare properly before the test, you will be more confident on D-Day, you will be able to anticipate certain responses, shall be able to detect traps and will thus save a lot of time.
To do so, you can use TOEFL-specific review books, online exercises or even comprehensive training platforms like GlobalExam.
GlobalExam offers in its formula two types of TOEFL preparation by level of difficulty:
- our training mode includes many timed standard exercises for all test sections
- our exam mode includes complete, timed mock TOEFL IBTs’ which will allow you to prepare for the test in the real exam conditions
On our GlobalExam platform, it is also possible to access detailed corrections at the end of each exercise and to follow the progress as you move forward. Clearly visualizing your progress and your development will go a long way, when it comes to maintaining motivation and being eager to learn.
GlobalExam is the first e-learning platform, which is 100% dedicated to language testing. All the content made available to learners is produced by experts. The latter base themselves on the examination to establish standard training sessions, leaning on the initial structure of the test.
In addition to typical exercises and mock topics, our online TOEFL IBT training also includes a large number of resources to train:
- revision sheets addressing the crucial points of grammar, vocabulary
- recommendations, tricks and advice on the language functions, which is important to master and pass the test with flying colors
- a blog containing a lot of practical information on the test such as how to register for the exam, the conversion of the TOEFL result to the CEFR level, the prices in force, the reasons for taking the test, the specific instructions for each section, etc
You can benefit from a free trial on the GlobalExam platform, simply by registering. Then, if you want, you can choose a Premium plan to unlock more exercises and white topics.