TOEFL Test Help

The Test of English as a Foreign Language popularly known as (TOEFL) iBT, is an Internet Based test created by ETS that assesses and confirms a student’s mastery of the English-language in its spoken, read, heard and written forms. 

TOEFL is the world’s most widely accepted and highly regarded English language test as over 8000 learning Institutions such as colleges, universities and other agencies in over 130 countries globally accept its scores

Why so?

Due to a wide range of preparation materials it offers, backed by its decades of experience, innovations, resources and latest research for developing reliable, valid, and fair tests that support educational purposes and assist students in preparing for success.  

As earlier mentioned, TOEFL has four main sections, which are: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Let’s briefly examine each section:

1. Reading

This is normally the first section of TOEFL. It tests your reading comprehension skills and comprises three to four passages of between 600 to 700 words, followed by 12 to 14 questions each, totalling to between 36 to 56 questions. Normally you are given a timing of  60 to 80 minutes to complete this section.

Great News!

The great news about the Reading test section  is that you can skip answers and return to review them later.

In addition, you can also read TOEFL test questions online free and prepare for your Reading test offline thanks to free TOEFL Reading practice test PDF download: BestMyTest’s  which includes reading passages with questions and answers.

2. Listening

Usually the second section of the TOEFL iBT.  contains two to three tasks each as follows:

A conversation of 2 to 3 minutes between two people, followed by 5 questions

2 lectures of 4 to 6 minutes of either a  university don interacting with students or delivering a speech, followed by 6 questions.

All questions in this section total to between 34 to 51 with about 17 of them in each Listening task. You will have approximately 10 minutes in which to complete these 17 questions. Note that this excludes the time you spend listening to the audios.

The entire Listening section will take approximately between 60 to 90 minutes to complete.

Once you submit your answer, that’s it! you cannot return to it like in the case of the Reading test. You might need to guess an answer should you get stuck along the way.

Taking time and preparing with the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) practice tests will greatly help improve your Listening skills to an extent whereby, should a need arise to guess an answer, you will be able to make a fairly accurate one.


3. Speaking

This is the third section of TOEFL iBT, and it normally takes about 20 minutes to complete. There are six speaking tasks of which two are independent Speaking questions while four are integrated Speaking questions.

Below are details on each task.

a) Independent Speaking Question 1

You are usually, asked a general question over your life and you are given 15 seconds to prepare and 45 seconds to give your response.

b) Independent Speaking Question 2

You are given two options and asked to choose between the two and elaborate on your preference or asked to air your opinion on a topic. You are given 15 seconds to prepare and 45 seconds to give you answer.

c) Integrated Speaking Question 3

You are asked to read a campus announcement or a Newsletter and then you hear two students sharing their views on the written notice. You are then asked to state one student’s opinion and explain his or her reasons for having that opinion. You have 50 seconds to read, 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to respond.

d) Integrated Speaking Question 4

You read a textbook passage or an academic article on a general concept. You then hear a lecture on a particular example of this concept. You are then asked to summarize the reading, the lecture and discuss the connection between the two. You have 50 seconds to read, 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to give yoir response.

e) Integrated Speaking Question 5

You hear a discussion between two students on a problem that one of them has and deliberations on two possible solutions. You therefore summarize the problems, explaining which solution of the two you prefer over the other. You are given 20 seconds for preparations and 60 seconds to respond.

f) Integrated Speaking Question 6

You hear a lecture then you summarize its main points. You are given 20 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to answer.


4. Writing

This is the fourth and the last section of the TOEFL test. It takes approximately 50 minutes to complete.

Below are details on each task.

  • Integrated Writing Task

You are given an academic passage to read within three minutes after which you listen to a lecture on that same topic. Next, you write an essay summarizing both the reading passage and the lecture, illustrating the relationship between them.

Note that you are neither expected to express your own opinion on the issues, nor to bring in any information not found in the lecture or the passage. You are given 3 minutes to read and 20 minutes to write.

  • Independent Writing Task

You read a topic (a prompt) and convey your opinions in your answer based entirely on your own experience and knowledge. You are given 30 minutes to write.

When you have completed your Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), your writing will have to be assessed by a combination of a computer program known as e-rater and human readers. Each of your essays is rated from 0 to 5, after which your overall essay scores are converted to the section score of 0 to 30.


TOEFL raters and e-rater programs evaluate and  determine your score  for Independent Writing Task using four basic criteria which are:

 – How well have you addressed the topic?

 – How well have you developed and supported your ideas?

  – How well have you organized the essay and connected your ideas?

  – How well have you used the English language, vocabulary, grammar and writing conventions (special writing rules in English which include punctuation, spelling and capitalization).

TOEFL Integrated Writing Task, also has four basic evaluation criteria on your essay as follows:

  – Your ability to select vital information from the lecture

  – Your ability to relate the reading points to the lecture points

  – Your ability to provide details and organize the essay

  – Your ability to use the English language, vocabulary, grammar and writing conventions

All said and done, one of the greatest techniques to improving your writing skills is by comparing your written essay with the high-scoring Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) essays and studying how they are structured while answering the same question. You should aim at your essay being one of those sample essays, however, it is an uphill task.

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