Familiarise yourself with the TOEFL® Test Format

TOEFL iBT®: Test format

The best way to score well on the TOEFL® iBT is be to understand how the test goes and prepare accordingly. It is an internet-based test with an easy to understand format.

The Exam

The TOEFL iBT® is a 3-hour computerised test which is comprised of four skill sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing.

In each section you would tend to use a certain specific skill to test your proficiency. These sections are divided and given a set time limit for each. Overall the TOEFL iBT® is a 3-hour test of English language.

There will be a 10-minute break in between the first two and last two sections. This is a break where the timer stops and you can have a quick refresher. Any other breaks you take whilst your test will cut into your test time as the timer will not pause.

The table underneath highlights the overall TOEFL iBT® format, including the sequence of the sections, how long are they, and how many questions each section contains:

Reading 54-72 min. 30-40 Read passages and respond to questions
Listening 41-57 min. 28-39 Answer questions about brief lectures or classroom discussions
Break 10 min.    
Speaking 17 min. 4 tasks Talk about a familiar topic and discuss material you read and heard
Writing 50 min. 2 tasks Read a passage, listen to a recording, and type your response
TOTAL TIME 3 hours    

Reading Section

The TOEFL iBT® Reading section assesses how well you read and understand materials in English. You might get exploratory questions, which will be 30-40 questions requiring you to read a passage and respond.

The main task of this section involves reading passages on various topics such as History, Science, Psychology, Art etc. Each passage covers about 14 questions and it’s advised that you manage your time to go over all of them.

Generally, a good Reading score is 20 or more, though different Universities might have different requirements.

Listening Section

The TOEFL iBT® Listening section is designed to measure your ability to understand conversations in English. This section can have 28-39 questions.

The test contains a total of 3-4 lectures and 2-3 conversations. Each lecture is around three to five minutes in length with six subsequent questions and each conversation is around 3 minutes followed by five questions.

Audio clips will be played only once. A speaker will be on the screen which each clip for the Listening section.

A good Listening score is 21 or more, though different Universities might have different requirements.

Speaking section

TOEFL® Speaking format has been divided into two main categories - Independent and Integrated - and resembles real-life situations.

For the independent tasks, you will be asked to talk about your own ideas, opinions and experiences. Then there are two to four exercises that require you to combine your English-language skills — listening and speaking, or listening, reading and speaking — just as you would in real life.

Speaking tasks are scored using a combination of AI scoring and certified human raters to ensure the scores are fair and unbiased.

A typically good speaking score is anything above 22. This is marked on a scale of 0-30.

Writing section

The last section of TOEFL iBT® is the writing section or the TOEFL® Writing format has two essays that need to be written. These are integrated and independent essays. The integrated writing task requires you to read a short passage and listen to a short lecture, then write in response to what you have read and listened to. The independent writing task requires you to write an essay based on personal experience or opinion in response to a writing topic.

The writing section has to be completed in 50 minutes. The first essay has to be completed in 20 minutes and for the second one will be 30 minutes long. Writing tasks are scored using a combination of AIU scoring and certified human raters to ensure the scores are fair and unbiased.

A good Writing score is 22 or more, though different Universities might have different requirements.

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