The TOEFL (which stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language according to ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG) is a standardized test for measuring the English proficiency of non-native speakers. The TOEFL (by the way, often colloquially called the TOEFL test in this country) originally comes from the USA. Universities in almost all of the English-speaking countries now accept it as proof of language proficiency for admission to studies.
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) organizes the TOEFL. This US company specializes in the development and implementation of standardized language and admission tests.
Trial versions of the TOEFL
Since its introduction in 1964, the TOEFL has gone through various phases with different test versions:
- The hand-filled paper-based TOEFL (TOEFL PBT)
- The computer-based TOEFL (TOEFL cBT)
- The internet-based TOEFL (TOEFL iBT)
While the ETS offered the different test versions in parallel for a while, the company completely abolished the computer-based TOEFL a few years ago. The paper-based TOEFL, which was recently used primarily in regions of the world without stable, nationwide internet coverage, is slowly being “sneaked out”.
Exam content and test procedure of the TOEFL
The TOEFL iBT examines four areas of competence:
- Listening comprehension
In total, the test is scheduled for four hours and thirty minutes.
The examination unit in this TOEFL examination area lasts sixty to eighty minutes. Here you have to answer multiple-choice questions about several passages from academic texts.
This unit lasts sixty to ninety minutes. The examinees answer multiple-choice questions about lectures, discussions and conversations that they have previously heard over a computer and headset.
Twenty minutes are available for this area. Here it is important to verbally formulate your own opinion on an everyday topic based on written and auditory tasks.
The TOEFL writing exam unit is 50 minutes long. Here the examinees write freely formulated answers to written and auditory tasks. Here, too, the point is to substantiate your own opinion with arguments.
In the areas of reading or listening comprehension, the test may contain additional questions that are not included in the assessment. These questions are used by the ETS to make different test versions comparable and to test new test questions under real conditions. If an area contains such additional questions, you will accordingly have more time to process.
TOEFL evaluation scale
The examinees receive a score between 0 (low) and 30 (high) in each of the four test areas of the TOEFL. The total number of points (total score) consists of the sum of all individual points (section scores) and can accordingly be between 0 and 120 points.
There is no “ pass ” or “ fail ” at the TOEFL iBT. Each university sets its own requirements with regard to the number of points required for university admission. This number of points can vary depending on the level and subject of study. Find out in advance at your chosen university what number of points you need!
It is possible to repeat the TOEFL to improve the score achieved. However, you can only take the TOEFL once within twelve days. Otherwise there is no limit.
The TOEFL result is officially valid for two years. If the test was taken some time ago at the time of application, the universities generally no longer accept it. The reason: the test result loses its meaningfulness over time. There is no longer any guarantee that the applicant’s language skills will still correspond to the level of the test result after this period.
Preparation for the TOEFL
Preparing for the TOEFL test makes sense even if you have very good English skills, as the TOEFL iBT is not just about language skills. Resistance to stress and good time management are also important. It is helpful to deal with the test structure of the TOEFL and the respective requirements in the individual test areas. So you will not be surprised on the test day and can concentrate better on the test content.
The organizer ETS offers various learning aids to prepare for the TOEFL on the official TOEFL website. For example, some practice questions are available free of charge. There are also paid, more detailed learning materials, such as the Official Guide to the TOEFL test or an online preparation course.
TOEFL test centers and exam dates
There are numerous test centers around the world where you can take the TOEFL. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland there are now a number of places to choose from. There you can take the test at around fifty times a year. An overview of all test centers and the upcoming exam dates can be found on the official TOEFL website.
You can register online, by phone, by post or, in some regions, in person at the test center. The registration period ends one week before the respective exam date. However, it is advisable to register several months in advance, as some of the exam dates are fully booked early. When planning the exam date, take into account the deadlines of the universities for which you are applying. The evaluation currently takes around 14 days.
TOEFL costs and payment options
The fees for the TOEFL iBT differ slightly:
- Germany and Austria: US $ 240
- Switzerland: US $ 250
The fees can be paid by credit card, e-check, PayPal or check.