TOEFL, that is, the Test of English as a Foreign Language, was created and overseen by an American company called Educational Testing Service (ETS), a non-governmental, non-profit organization based in Princeton, New Jersey. The TOEFL was designed to enable the administration of American and Canadian colleges and universities to assess the level of professional English proficiency for international students wishing to study in the US or Canada.
Now, this test is one of the most popular in the world. Here are some of its characteristics:
- It is based on the American version of the English language, so it is necessary to understand the nuances that distinguish American English from the British version for its successful completion;
- It has a two-year "shelf life". In other words, you must apply for university studies no later than 2 years after you passed the exam. Moreover, most colleges and universities prefer to have the most up-to-date information about your level of English, and therefore the administration may ask you to present the TOEFL, which was submitted no more than 4-6 months ago;
- It cannot be failed. It is not an exam in the common sense of the word, it is a test put in points, and you need not just to pass the TOEFL, but also gain a certain amount of points in order to be accepted into this college or another.
Taking into account the peculiarities of the TOEFL, it becomes clear which categories of English learners it is designed for. This test is intended for those who are going to study at universities in the US or Canada and for those whose employers nominate the presence of TOEFL certificate as a prerequisite for work. If your goal is to get an internationally recognized document that confirms your knowledge of English, then it makes sense for you to take Cambridge exams. First, Cambridge exams are more universal, they are suitable for students wishing to study abroad, specialists, and just those who want to confirm their high level of knowledge. Secondly, Cambridge exams do not have a validity period.
TOEFL is a difficult exam, it assumes a very high level of knowledge. Therefore, if you do not know grammar or vocabulary well enough, do not have enough fluency in words, then it makes no sense to try the TOEFL preparation programs. Some language courses and tutors will promise to prepare you to take the TOEFL for 3-5 months. And very many believe in such miracles, forgetting that TOEFL cannot be failed, but you can pass it with the minimum point, and this can already be regarded as a failure.
The administration of the university, in which you decided to enter, and your boss on the job, most likely, will be happy with a high score. Therefore, before you decide to prepare for TOEFL, we recommend that you pass a test simulating a TOEFL exam. Based on its results, you will be able to understand what your chances of a real exam are. You can find a similar test on the Internet.
Who Does Not Need It?
This test is needed for those who are planning to study in the near future, rather than work, because it is academic in nature. Without it, you will not be able to take part in many scholarship programs and probation programs. To be frank, it does not show how good you are in English: even native speakers can get the low score without the necessary preparation. To solve it you need special knowledge and skills, so, it is better to choose a more general English course for those who want to simply improve their language skills.
So, students take this test in order to:
- Go to college or university in the USA or Canada;
- Measure their progress in academic English;
- Some companies accept it as the certificate of English knowledge.
What Does the Test Consist Of?
Currently, there are two types of TOEFL: the iBT version (Internet-based Test), which completely passes online, and PBT is the usual test on paper. Although PBT (Paper Based Test) is used less and less, some universities still accept it.
The iBT version of TOEFL is completely online, so you will be working at the computer during the whole test.
The exam consists of four sections, for each one you can get 30 points. The maximum score, respectively, is 120. Admission to the best universities requires a minimum of 80-90 points.
- Reading (60-90 minutes). It includes 3-4 texts, each of which is accompanied with 12-14 questions. This part will assess your understanding of the details, the ability to analyze and master rhetoric. To make it all, you can spend no more than 20 minutes on each text, so watch the time carefully;
- Listening (60-90 minutes). There are two types of audio text: discussions about campus life and academic lectures. You will hear 2-3 conversations, five questions for each, and 4-6 lectures, six questions for each;
- Speaking (20 minutes). This part includes 6 tasks, two of which imply a story about your experience and a statement of your opinion (both answers take about 45 seconds). The remaining four include listening and reading. You must summarize and synthesize everything that you have read or heard there (it is given about a minute for each answer);
- Writing (50 minutes). You will need to write an essay based on the reading and listening to the texts, summarizing and synthesizing everything that you heard before. Also, you will have to write a second essay, persuading or descriptive, based on the given utterance.
The result will be available in about three weeks.
What to Expect on the Test?
The test takes place in a center approved by ETS (a company that organizes TOEFL and other tests). You can register for the exam at the ETS website.
Since the test is passed on computers, students use headphones and a microphone for speaking. For training, try to record yourself on the dictating machine before the exam. The essay will need to be printed, so make sure that you feel confident in working with the English keyboard layout. During preparation, familiarize yourself with the time constraints in each section, the time of passing the test is very limited.
Without training, a student can quickly get tired or give up before the time, because the test does not provide time for respite.
5 Test Rules
- If you are late, you will not be admitted, so try to come to the examination center at least half an hour before the start;
- All electrical appliances have to be left outside the classroom or stored in a sealed packet under a chair, otherwise the violator will be forced to leave the room;
- It is strictly prohibited to talk with other examinees during the test;
- You cannot leave the room independently, you need to inform the assistant about it by raising your hand and showing your pockets;
- For security purposes, a video recording can be conducted at the examination center.
7 Test Tips
- As tests are compiled by a computer, it makes sense to practice performing computer tasks in advance;
- You can always skip questions to return to them later, and also modify the data previously answered;
- The result depends on the number of correct answers, so it is better to answer the questions somehow than not to answer them at all;
- During Speaking, the pronunciation should be clear and loud so that you do not have to re-record part of the test;
- During Writing, it is given 30 minutes for an essay, and there is no opportunity to check spelling and punctuation, so use words in the spelling of which you are sure;
- Do not forget to follow the time at every stage to perform all tasks timely;
- If you feel that the result will be unsatisfactory, it can be canceled at the end (and also restored within ten days. It will cost $ 20).
Also, remember that you can protest the result by appealing within three months after taking the test. This possibility extends to the Speaking and Writing sections. The decision on the appeal, which will be final this time, will be made within three weeks after the application is filed.