As the most popular English language assessment test in the world, the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in English language exam market. Since more than 8,500 colleges and universities – not to mention quite a few immigration departments – accept the results of the TOEFL it is the natural place to start our overview of English proficiency exams.
What is the TOEFL and what makes it unique?
The TOEFL is designed to measure the ability of non-native English speakers to read, write, speak, and listen to English in both academic and non-academic situations. Its most recent iteration, the TOEFL iBT, is unique for several reasons. Not only is it, as its name suggests, an internet-based test, but also, unlike the paper-based version of the exam (which is still offered at select testing sites), many of the sections in TOEFL iBT contain integrated tasks. That means that the test contains sections which requite the test taker to combine several disparate language skills in order to complete a single task. One of the exam’s two essay sections, for example, asks candidates to respond in essay form to related reading and listening passages.
How is the TOEFL scored?
Each section of the TOEFL is scored separately on a scale of 0-30. While each section score is itself reported on a given score report, each score report also includes a composite score that, as the sum of each of the four sections, ranges from 0 to 120. What constitutes a “good” score varies from school to school and department to department. While many organizations are looking for a minimum composite score, some require section minimums, and still others utilize a combination of the two.
Where can I take the exam and how do I register?
The TOEFL exam is administered at testing centers around the world on upwards of 30 dates a year. For more information about a place and time that would be convenient for you, visit the TOEFL registration page.