Test of English as a Foreign Language
||This article contains instructions, advice, or how-to content. (January 2011)|
|Type||Internet-based or paper-based standardized test.|
|Test administrator||Educational Testing Service|
|Knowledge/skill(s) tested||Reading, listening, speaking and writing of the English language.|
|Purpose||Testing the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers for academic and other purposes.|
|Duration||Internet-based test (iBT): 3 hours 10 minutes to 4 hours 20 minutes (excluding 10 minute break in-between).
Paper-based test (PBT): 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes.
0 to 30 (in 1 point increments) on each of the 4 sections. So total of 0 to 120.
Listening: 31 to 68, Structure: 31 to 69, Reading: 31 to 67. Total of 310 to 677. Writing (separate): 0 to 6. (All in 1 point increments.)
|Score validity||2 years|
|Held||More than 50 times a year.|
|Country(ies) / region(s)||4500 test centers in 165 countries.|
|General requirement(s)||No official requirement. Intended for non-native English speakers of high school or higher academic qualification.|
|Testing fee||iBT: US$ 160 to US$ 250, depending on the country.|
|Scores used by||More than 8500 universities, agencies and other institutions (in over 130 countries) desiring to test the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers.|
TOEFL© // TOH-fəl, formally known as "Test of English as a Foreign Language" is a standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers wishing to enroll in U.S. universities. The test is accepted by many English-speaking academic and professional institutions.
TOEFL is a trademark of ETS (Educational Testing Service), a private non-profit organisation, which designs and administers the tests. The scores are valid for two years; then they are no longer reported.
- 1 History
- 2 Formats and contents
- 3 Test scores
- 4 TOEFL ITP Tests
- 5 TOEFL Junior Tests
- 6 Linking TOEFL iBT Scores to IELTS Scores
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
In 1962, a national council made up of representatives of thirty government and private organizations was formed to address the problem of ensuring English language proficiency for non-native speakers wishing to study at U.S. universities. This council recommended the development and administration of the TOEFL exam for the 1963-1964 time frame.
In 1973, a cooperative arrangement was made between ETS, The College Board, and the Graduate Record Examinations board of advisers to oversee and run the program. ETS was to administer the exam with the guidance of the TOEFL board.
Formats and contents
Since its introduction in late 2005, the TOEFL Internet-based Test (iBT) format has progressively replaced the computer-based tests (CBT) and paper-based tests (PBT), although paper-based testing is still used in select areas. The TOEFL iBT test has been introduced in phases, with the United States, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy in 2005 and the rest of the world in 2006, with test centers added regularly. The CBT was discontinued in September 2006 and these scores are no longer valid.
Initially, the demand for test seats was higher than availability, and candidates had to wait for months. It is now possible to take the test within one to four weeks in most countries. The four-hour test consists of four sections, each measuring one of the basic language skills (while some tasks require integrating multiple skills) and all tasks focus on language used in an academic, higher-education environment. Note-taking is allowed during the TOEFL iBT test. The test cannot be taken more than once a week.
- The Reading section consists of 4–6 passages, each approximately 700 words in length, and questions about them. The passages are on academic topics; they are the kind of material that might be found in an undergraduate university textbook. Passages require understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast and argumentation. Students answer questions about main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas. New types of questions in the TOEFL iBT test require filling out tables or completing summaries. Prior knowledge of the subject under discussion is not necessary to come to the correct answer.
- The Listening section consists of six passages 3–5 minutes in length and questions about them. These passages include two student conversations and four academic lectures or discussions. A conversation involves two speakers, a student and either a professor or a campus service provider. A lecture is a self-contained portion of an academic lecture, which may involve student participation and does not assume specialized background knowledge in the subject area. Each conversation and lecture stimulus is heard only once. Test-takers may take notes while they listen and they may refer to their notes when they answer the questions. Each conversation is associated with five questions and each lecture with six. The questions are meant to measure the ability to understand main ideas, important details, implications, relationships between ideas, organization of information, speaker purpose and speaker attitude.
- The Speaking section consists of six tasks: two independent and four integrated. In the two independent tasks, test-takers answer opinion questions on familiar topics. They are evaluated on their ability to speak spontaneously and convey their ideas clearly and coherently. In two of the integrated tasks, test-takers read a short passage, listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and answer a question by combining appropriate information from the text and the talk. In the two remaining integrated tasks, test-takers listen to an academic course lecture or a conversation about campus life and then respond to a question about what they heard. In the integrated tasks, test-takers are evaluated on their ability to appropriately synthesize and effectively convey information from the reading and listening material. Test-takers may take notes as they read and listen and may use their notes to help prepare their responses. Test-takers are given a short preparation time before they have to begin speaking. The responses are digitally recorded, sent to ETS’s Online Scoring Network (OSN), and evaluated by three to six raters.
- The Writing section measures a test taker's ability to write in an academic setting and consists of two tasks: one integrated and one independent. In the integrated task, test-takers read a passage on an academic topic and then listen to a speaker discuss it. The test-taker then writes a summary about the important points in the listening passage and explains how these relate to the key points of the reading passage. In the independent task, the test-taker must write an essay that states, explains, and supports their opinion on an issue, supporting their opinions or choices, rather than simply listing personal preferences or choices. Responses are sent to the ETS OSN and evaluated by four raters.
|Reading||3–5 passages, each containing 12–14 questions||60–100 minutes|
|Listening||6–9 passages, each containing 5–6 questions||60–90 minutes|
|Speaking||6 tasks||20 minutes|
|Writing||2 tasks||50 minutes|
One of the sections of the test will include extra, uncounted material. Educational Testing Service includes extra material to pilot test questions for future test forms. When test-takers are given a longer section, they should give equal effort to all of the questions because they do not know which question will count and which will be considered extra. For example, if there are four reading passages instead of three, then one of the passages will not be counted. Any of the four could be the uncounted one.
The TOEFL® paper-based Test (PBT) is available in limited areas. Scores are valid for two years after the test date, and test takers can have their scores sent to institutions or agencies during that time.
- Listening (30 – 40 minutes)
- The Listening section consists of 3 parts. The first one contains 30 questions about short conversations. The second part has 8 questions about longer conversations. The last part asks 12 questions about lectures or talks.
- Structure and Written Expression (25 minutes)
- The Structure and Written Expression section has 15 exercises of completing sentences correctly and 25 exercises of identifying errors.
- Reading Comprehension (55 minutes)
- The Reading Comprehension sections has 50 questions about reading passages.
- Writing (30 minutes)
- The Writing section is one essay with 250–300 words in average.
TOEFL iBT Test
- The TOEFL iBT test is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points.
- Each of the four sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing) receives a scaled score from 0 to 30. The scaled scores from the four sections are added together to determine the total score.
- Each speaking question is initially given a score of 0 to 4, and each writing question is initially given a score of 0 to 5. These scores are converted to scaled scores of 0 to 30.
- The final PBT score ranges between 310 and 677 and is based on three subscores: Listening (31–68), Structure (31–69), and Reading (31–67). Unlike the CBT, the score of the Writing section (referred to as the Test of Written English, TWE) is not part of the final score; instead, it is reported separately on a scale of 0–6.
- The score test takers receive on the Listening, Structure and Reading parts of the TOEFL test is not the percentage of correct answers. The score is converted to take into account the fact that some tests are more difficult than others. The converted scores correct these differences. Therefore, the converted score is a more accurate reflection of the ability than the correct answer score is.
Accepted TOEFL Scores
Most colleges use TOEFL scores as only one factor in their admission process. Each college or program within a college often has a minimum TOEFL score required. The minimum TOEFL iBT scores range from 61 (Bowling Green State University) to 100 (MIT, Columbia, Harvard). A sampling of required TOEFL admissions scores shows that a total TOEFL iBT score of 74.2 for undergraduate admissions and 82.6 for graduate admissions may be required.
ETS has released tables to convert between iBT, CBT and PBT scores.
TOEFL ITP Tests
TOEFL ITP tests are paper-based and use academic content to evaluate the English-language proficiency of non-native English speakers. The tests use new and previously administered TOEFL test questions and are used for placement, progress, evaluation, exit testing and other situations. Unlike the TOEFL iBT test, TOEFL ITP tests are administered by the institution and should not replace the need for the TOEFL iBT test. There are two levels: Level 1 (intermediate to advanced) and Level 2 (high beginning to intermediate).TOEFL ITP scores are mapped to the CEFR and test takers are provided with a certificate of achievement.
TOEFL Junior Tests
ETS also offers the TOEFL Junior tests, a general assessment of middle school-level English-language proficiency, and a distinct product within the TOEFL family. The TOEFL Junior is intended for students ages 11–14. The tests are administered in two formats — TOEFL Junior Standard (paper-based) and TOEFL Junior Comprehensive (administered via computer). The TOEFL Junior Standard test has three sections: Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension and Language Form and Meaning. The TOEFL Junior Comprehensive test has four sections: Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension, Speaking and Writing. TOEFL Junior scores are mapped to the CEFR and test takers are provided with a certificate of achievement. TOEFL Junior is a trademark of ETS.
|IELTS Score||TOEFL Score|
- English as a Foreign or Second Language (EFSL)
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- International Student Admission Test (ISAT)
- List of admissions tests
- National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI)
- Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL)
- Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC)
- PTE Academic Pearson Test of English Academic
- Standardised test
- UBELT University of Bath English Language Test.
- University of Cambridge ESOL examination
- Trinity College London ESOL
- The European Language Certificates (TELC)
- "Test and Score Summary for TOEFL Internet Based Test: September 2005-December 2006 Test Data", Educational Testing Service, 2007
- TOEFL iBT™ Test Scores
- Cf. ETS 2007 document "Test and Score Summary for TOEFL Internet Based Test: September 2005-December 2006 Test Data", p.3, section "History of the TOEFL Program"
- Stanford University, Memorial Resolution: Charles A. Ferguson (1921–1998), May 1999
- TOEFL iBT Locations and Dates
- "Test Of English as a Foreign Language". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- "TOEFL® ITP Assessment Series". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- "TOEFL® Junior™ Tests". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- "Linking TOEFL iBT Scores to IELTS Scores". ETS. p. http://www.ets.org/toefl/institutions/scores/compare/. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
- Bailey, Kathleen M., "Washback in Language Testing", TOEFL Monograph Series, Educational Testing Service, June 1999
- ETS Official TOEFL Site
- TOEFL related sites at the Open Directory Project
- Comparison charts to convert scores between the three TOEFL variants (from ETS)
- TOEFL Junior