The TOEFL iBT® test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. And it evaluates how well you combine your reading, listening, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.
Why Take the TOEFL® Test?
Compared to other English-language tests, the TOEFL® test includes a number of advantages that help you stand out from other applicants.
More Popular With Students
More TOEFL scores are sent to U.S. and Canadian universities than all other English-language tests combined.
More TOEFL scores are sent to German and French universities than any other English-language tests.
More Preferred by Universities
The TOEFL test is the English-language test most preferred by universities in the United States, France and Germany, and by graduate programs in Canada.1
Makes Dreams Come True
90% of TOEFL test takers surveyed got into their 1st or 2nd choice university.2
Better for Success in the Classroom
Only the TOEFL test prepares you for the academic English requirements of a university. Test questions combine reading, listening, speaking and writing skills just as in an academic classroom. Studying for the TOEFL test helps ensure you arrive at university better prepared than others who have not taken the TOEFL test.
100% Fair and Unbiased Scoring.
There are no unfair TOEFL test centers, because tests aren’t scored there. Tests are only scored through a centralized scoring network. The crucial Speaking section uses multiple human raters who do not know test takers’ identities. This prevents the bias that can occur in other tests that use a face-to-face interview with a single rater.
Who Takes the TOEFL Test?
More than 35 million people from all over the world have taken the TOEFL test to demonstrate their English-language proficiency. The average English skill level ranges between Intermediate and Advanced.
- Students planning to study at a higher education institution
- English-language learning program admissions and exit
- Scholarship and certification candidates
- English-language learners who want to track their progress
- Students and workers applying for visas
Where Can I Get Local, In-language Support?
You can contact a local TOEFL iBT Resource Center for general in-language information about the TOEFL test and test preparation. TOEFL iBT Resource Centers are available in specific countries.
Who Accepts TOEFL Test Scores?
TOEFL scores are accepted by more than 10,000 universities and other institutions worldwide, including universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., the United States, and across Europe and Asia. It is the English-language test most preferred by universities in the United States, France and Germany, and by graduate programs in Canada.
Where and When Can I Take the TOEFL iBT Test?
The TOEFL test has over 50 test dates per year at authorized test centers around the world. You can retake the test as many times as you wish, but you cannot take it more than once in a 12-day period. If you already have a test appointment, you cannot register for another test date that is within 12 days of your existing appointment. The registration fee is due each time you register for a test date.
This retake policy will be enforced even if a violation is not immediately identified (for example, inconsistent registration information).
- If the violation is identified after registration but before the test date, your test appointment will be canceled and your test fee will not be refunded.
- If the violation is not identified until after your scores have been reported, your scores will be canceled. You and any score recipients will be notified by a cancellation letter, and your test fee will not be refunded.
What Does the TOEFL iBT Test Cost?
The cost of the test varies depending on location. For information on registration, fees, test dates and locations, select your test location.
1 Sources: Surveys of university admissions officers (329 in the United States, 107 in Canada, 59 in France, 100 in Germany).
2 Source: Survey of 296 randomly selected university students who took the TOEFL test.
Register for the TOEFL iBT® Test
Testing in Mainland China (not Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan): Create an account and register at https://toefl.neea.cn. Some policies and procedures for mainland China may differ from those on this website.
Note: Walk-in registration at the test center is not allowed.
If you are requesting testing accommodations due to a disability or health-related need, you cannot register using the online registration system or by phone. Find the information you need to request accommodations and register for the test.
- Register 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Be sure the name you use when you register exactly matches the identification you will bring on test day. See Identification Requirements. You are required to enter at least 1 form of identification before you can register for a test date.
- Pay with a credit/debit card: American Express®, Discover®, JCB®, Mastercard® or VISA®. You can also use a PayPal® account, or an electronic check (e-check) if you have a bank account in the United States or its territories.
Payment methods are subject to change without notice.
Note: American Express, Discover, JCB, Mastercard and e-checks are not accepted for the following locations: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Togo. Only VISA cards are accepted for those locations.
- Registration closes 7 days before your test date.
- Late registration closes 4 days before your test date and has a late fee of US$40.
- Need help registering online? Use our step-by-step guide (PDF).
Important browser requirements
Mac® users: The TOEFL® registration system is not compatible with Safari®. You must use Google Chrome™ or Mozilla® Firefox®.
Windows® users: Use Internet Explorer®, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with Windows 7 operating system or higher.
For best results, make sure your browser is updated to the most current version before you register for the test.
Register by Phone
- Review the Registration Form (PDF) before you call. Spell your name exactly as it appears on the identification you will bring on test day. See Identification Requirements.
- Go to www.ets.org/toefl/contact and select your location to find the phone number for your Regional Registration Center (RRC).
- Pay with credit/debit card: American Express, Discover, JCB, Mastercard or VISA; or with an electronic check (e-check) if you have a bank account in the United States or its territories.
- Registration closes 7 days before your test date.
- Late registration by phone closes at 5 p.m. local test center time on the business day before the test and has a late fee of US$40.
Register by Mail
- Download and fill out a Registration Form (PDF). Spell your name exactly as it appears on the identification you will bring on test day. See Identification Requirements.
- Choose 1 of the payment methods listed on the form.
- If you are testing outside the United States, U.S. territories and Canada, mail your form and payment to your RRC. To find the contact information for your RRC, go to www.ets.org/toefl/contact and select the country where you plan to test. If you are testing in the United States, a U.S. territory or Canada, use the mailing address listed on the Registration Form.
- Forms must be received at least 4 weeks before your test date.
- If you do not receive a confirmation, call the location where you mailed your paperwork — at least 3 business days before your registration deadline.
- If you register by mail you will need to enter certain codes manually that are input automatically online.
What to Bring on Test Day
Valid, Acceptable Identification (ID) Document(s)
Test takers are advised to bring at least 2 forms of acceptable ID each time they report to a test center. With few exceptions, ID documents must meet all of the following requirements. Each ID document must:
- be an original document; photocopied documents are not acceptable
- be valid; expired documents (bearing expiration dates that have passed) are not acceptable
- include the test taker’s full name matching exactly the name used to register
- include a recent photograph that clearly matches the test taker
- include the test taker’s signature
If you do not bring valid and acceptable identification, or if the name on your ID does not exactly match the name on your registration, you will not be permitted to test and your test fee will not be refunded.
- You may be required to show your ID and/or to sign a test center log at various points throughout the test administration.
- If the test administrator questions the ID you present, you may be required to provide a supplemental ID. If positive confirmation cannot be made, you may not be permitted to test or your test scores may be held or canceled.
- Prior admission to a test center based on a given ID document does not guarantee that that document will be considered acceptable. Test centers are not required to hold your seat if you leave the center to obtain acceptable identification.
- Admission to the test center does not assure that the ID you provided is valid or that your scores will be reported. All reported cases of questionable ID are subject to review and approval by the ETS Office of Testing Integrity either during or after the test administration. ETS reserves the right to hold and/or cancel scores in the event that the ID requirements set forth herein are not met.
- Your test fee will not be refunded if you are not permitted to test or if your scores are held or canceled because of invalid or unacceptable ID.
Personal items other than your ID document(s) are not allowed in the testing room. Any items you choose to bring to the test center may be inspected and/or confiscated.
TOEFL iBT® Test Scores
Your scores are based on your performance on the questions in the test. You must answer at least 1 question each in the Reading and Listening sections, write at least 1 essay, and complete at least 1 Speaking task to receive an official score. For the TOEFL iBT® test, administered via the internet, you will receive 4 scaled section scores and a total score:
- Reading Section (Score of: 0–30)
- Listening Section (Score of: 0–30)
- Speaking Section (Score of: 0–30)
- Writing Section (Score of: 0–30)
- Total Score (0–120)
In addition to your scores, your test taker score report also includes performance feedback that is a reflection of your performance level and a description of the kinds of tasks that test takers within the reported score range can typically do.
There is no passing or failing TOEFL® score; individual higher education institutions and agencies set their own score requirements. TOEFL scores are valid for 2 years after the test date and there is no limit to the number of times you can take the test, but you cannot take it more than once in a 12-day period. If you already have a test appointment, you cannot register for another test within 12 days of your existing appointment.
The Way the Test Is Scored
ETS uses both human raters and automated scoring methods to offer a complete and accurate picture of a test taker’s ability. While automated scoring models have advantages, they do not measure the effectiveness of the language response and the appropriateness of its content. Human raters are needed to attend to a wider variety of features, such as the quality of ideas and content as well as form.
Additionally, studies have shown that prompts designed for fully automated scoring have been more vulnerable to prompt-specific preparation and memorized responses.
The TOEFL test uses automated scoring to complement human scoring for the 2 tasks in the Writing section. Combining human judgment for content and meaning, and automated scoring for linguistic features, ensures consistent, quality scores.
How We Ensure Quality
ETS raters are trained extensively, pass a certification test and are calibrated daily. The calibration includes task familiarization, guidance on scoring the task, and practice on a range of responses. Raters are continuously monitored for accuracy by ETS scoring leaders and checked each time they score a new test question.
Rating Is Kept Apart from Test Administration
To ensure the security and integrity of scores, it is critical that scoring not take place at test sites, but rather through a centralized scoring network that implements and ensures consistent scoring standards. The TOEFL test is scored by a network of raters, carefully controlled from a secure central location. ETS uses a highly diverse pool of raters rather than those exclusive to an applicant’s country of origin, and ETS raters score responses anonymously for truly objective scoring. Multiple raters’ judgments contribute to each test taker’s Speaking and Writing scores in order to minimize rater bias.
10 Simple Strategies to Pass the TOEFL Independent Writing Section
There are some ways you can improve your score by using some basic strategies. Today, I’ll share them with you, along with ways that you can practice them. Some of these things will probably surprise you because they might be different from what your English teacher taught you in school — but just stay with me! I know what I’m talking about here, and I won’t guide you down the wrong path.
1. Practice timed writing before the day of the test.
Preparing an essay for English class and writing on the day of the TOEFL are completely different experiences. With an essay for class, you have tons of time to formulate your ideas and write them down carefully.
When a timer is involved, things change. You need to think fast, write fast and correct writing fast. You must practice this, especially if you aren’t good at typing on a computer keyboard. Choose a topic and set a timer for thirty minutes. Try to spend the entire 30 minutes writing, without stopping.
When the timer is finished, read your writing carefully to see how you did. How was your grammar? How many sentences could you write?
Do this several times per week. Lots of practice can really help you improve on the TOEFL. With practice, you’ll be able to think about ideas faster and type your responses out more quickly.
Eventually, you’ll want to take a complete TOEFL practice exam—it’s the only way to be fully prepared for the TOEFL. When you’re ready, take a TOEFL practice exam on BestMyTest. You’ll get a real score and a full review of your writing from a TOEFL certified teacher.
2. Think quality, not quantity.
Shorter, well-written responses are fine. Many of the responses that receive scores of 4 or 5 are only one paragraph long. On the other hand, many longer responses receive only a 2 or a 3. If you use transitions and clear language, you can fit all of your reasons and details into one smooth paragraph. That will really impress your rater.
If the response is too long, you’ll be in a rush and you won’t be able to check your grammar and vocabulary. You also might repeat yourself or include irrelevant specifics. Of course, don’t make your response so short that you can’t show off your ability to make a good argument.
3. Learn some basic sentence patterns that you can use comfortably.
TOEFL raters look at your ability to make different types of sentences. Create your own toolbox of different types of English connectors, such as “but,” “however,” and “although.” Practice writing sentences and use them in your TOEFL response. If you only use simple short sentences, your response won’t receive a high score. You don’t need to be a grammar expert, but you do need to show sentence variety.
4. Learn the common types of TOEFL prompts.
You won’t have a choice of your topic on the day of the TOEFL exam.
The topic will be a complete surprise.
However, Educational Testing Services (the makers of the TOEFL) publish sample topics on their website. If you study these, you can be more prepared.
Look for keywords that are repeated over and over in the prompts, like “prefer” or “oppose,” and make sure you understand their meanings and how to respond to the questions they’re asking.
Ask yourself: “Should I make a choice? Agree or disagree?”
Once you notice these patterns, they’re be easier to identify and respond to correctly on the day of the exam.
5. Have (or Fake) an Opinion.
Don’t say that you don’t have an opinion.
This is an argumentative essay. In many cultures, people don’t express their opinions directly — but you’ve got to do it on the TOEFL Independent Essay.
If it’s new for you to have an opinion and express it strongly, practice. When you read something or listen to something, think: “Do I agree or disagree? Do I support or oppose this decision?”
Have coffee with another ESL student and practice discussing current events. Talking about your opinions will make it easier to write about them. On the day of the TOEFL, choose the side you can argue best, even if it’s not your true opinion. If you don’t have an opinion on the TOEFL topic, invent one!
6. Brainstorm before you start your response.
It’s good to make a little plan before you start writing your TOEFL response. Don’t immediately start writing.
Instead, take 1-3 minutes to decide what you’ll write about and think about some reasons and examples. Again, usually you’ll have to choose between two opposite arguments. That means it’s useful to quickly brainstorm both sides and see which one you have the most reasons and details for, even if you truly think differently.
7. Write a basic thesis statement.
This is the first thing your rater will see, so you should make a clear and grammatically-correct sentence that states the main idea of your response. You don’t need an introductory paragraph, but you should definitely write a thesis statement. This can be borrowed mostly from the prompt itself.
For example, if your prompt says, “In some countries, teenagers have jobs while they are still students. Do you think this is a good idea?” I can write “I think it’s a good idea for teenagers to have jobs while they are still students” or “I don’t think it’s a good idea for teenagers to have jobs while they are still students.” Simply take the words from the original prompt and create a strong opinion sentence. The rest of your essay will be built around this sentence which strongly and clearly states your opinion on the topic.
As you’re looking at sample TOEFL prompts, practice writing a thesis statement like this for each one.
On the day of the exam, your topic will probably be different from any sample topics you’ve looked at. Even so, the topics will probably be very similar overall. You don’t need to have much specific knowledge on any topic to succeed. It should be easy to write the thesis statement if you’ve already studied and practiced how to write.
8. Give specific reasons and details.
Every TOEFL prompt asks for specific reasons and details.
One reason a response receives a higher or lower score is because of the number of reasons and examples they can give.
To get the highest scores, you’ll need three different, well-written reasons along with specific details. When you do your timed practices at home, be sure to practice doing this.
Many students have trouble thinking of specific examples, but it’s an important part of good writing. You can also practice brainstorming or planning reasons even if you don’t write a complete response. You shouldn’t use statistics because you won’t be able to research during the exam. Instead, practice using experiences or facts from your general knowledge to support your thesis statements.
9. Stay on topic.
Unfortunately, you can’t choose or change your topic. Write only about the topic that’s given to you by the exam.
Keep in mind: TOEFL raters are always looking for pre-made essays. Some students will memorize essays before the TOEFL exam and use them instead of writing on their own. Therefore, one of the lowest scores students can receive is for missing the topic. Writing about a different topic is an easy way to get a low score. I don’t recommend trying to memorize an essay.
Honest, dedicated practice is much more useful and effective.
If there are unfamiliar words in the prompt, use context to guess their meanings. Try your best to write about the exact topic given to you. Don’t include sentences that don’t connect to your thesis statement — these irrelevant sentences will lower your score.
10. Edit your response if you have time.
Even native speakers make small mistakes in their writing, but if we read our essays again we can find our mistakes. Try to save the last 1-3 minutes for fixing your errors. Of course, the more grammar you learn the better you’ll become at fixing and avoiding errors as you write, but anyone can identify small mistakes in typing (typos) that would bring the score down.
Five Tips to Improve Your TOEFL Listening Score!
The TOEFL Listening portion is a tricky one. You are required to listen to four to six lectures, which each have six questions, and two to three conversations, which each have five questions. It will take a total of 60 minutes for the shortened version and 90 minutes for the extended version, with a total of 34 to 51 questions. If you receive the extended section, the extra lectures and conversations do not count towards your score (sorry!). It is just there to help the TOEFL company prepare questions for next year. Unfortunately you cannot predict which questions are the extra questions and you should do your best on all of them!
So what are the types? According to research papers from ETS, the company that makes the TOEFL, they have identified 5 types:
lecture: a monologue delivered in a formal academic setting, usually by a professor
interactive lecture: a lecture delivered in a formal academic setting, where students may ask questions for clarification or the lecturer may ask students questions
consultation: a group of speakers discussing academic or class-related material (e.g., a student asking a professor questions during office hours)
group discussion: a group of speakers discussing academic material in an imposed structure (e.g., students in a study group or students performing a classroom activity assigned by the professor)
conversation: a group of speakers talking about class-related or campus-related material (e.g., a student looking for a book on reserve in the library).
Now, in keeping with the theme of 5, here are the 5 best pieces of advice you can have to score well on the TOEFL test.
- Take Notes
Taking accurate notes quickly is the most important skill on the TOEFL. It is both a mental and a physical skill. It is physical because by moving your hand faster and writing faster, you can write more notes than another person can. Additionally, it is mental because you need to summarize sentences, shorten words, identify the most important parts of a sentence and throw out unnecessary statements.
– Main points that the lecture has said
– Details about main points
– Facts that are difficult to remember, but can be asked about (often in the conversations there is one question about an inconsequential fact from the beginning)
Do not write down:
– Function words (like ‘the’ or ‘a/an’)
– Words signaling the organization of the passage (‘The first reason the Maldives are beautiful is…’ or ‘The main idea is..’)
For example, here are my notes for this listening passage: https://www.ets.org/s/toefl/audio/greenhouse_effect.mp3
First no neg, b4 glob warm
Was pos, trouble no
Day heat, night rad back space
Surf below 0
Grnhs gas, absrb heat, then release
Like blanket, trap heat
Reduce heat rad to space
Like glass walls grnhs, hold heat
If grnhs overheat, worry
Enhanced grn fct
As long stay same, equal, but upset, bad
Evid alrdy upset, warming century
Cause? Too much gas atmo, c02 (human, nrg use, petrol, meth)
Expect grow signif, world warmer
Quant? Unsure. Var factors affect, oceans, absrb, 1k X atmo
Study, oceans warm, absrb more 50yrs
Warm good +bad
hope not happen – extra heat ocean – slow glob warm
ocean evap? – unknown, 0x vap grnhz
vap = warm earth, but clouds block sunlight
delay, but also vapor, no known net affect
For more information on Note Taking, check out this document from the TOEFL company on the effects of Note Taking. Skip down to page 55 on the document, but page 67 on the PDF. The company has affirmed through study that just reading these 4 pages will improve your TOEFL listening score.
- Know the Organization
Another important aspect of the TOEFL Listening is to know the organization of the Lectures. ETS has even listed the types of organization on its website.
First, there are two main structures:
Lecture or Presentation where there is a clearly defined Introduction, Body and Conclusion, and
Narrative where there is a Beginning, Middle and End.
In the Greenhouse Effect Listening above, we saw a Lecture/Presentation type where the idea of the Greenhouse Effect was described, then it was described more in detail with differing versions (pos + neg) then its actual effect in the world was detailed.
Then we look at the different styles of organization:
- Theory and Evidence
- Cause and Effect
- Steps of a Process
- Comparison of Two Things
As you might have guessed, our Greenhouse effect lecture was the Theory and Evidence type.
When you are listening, remember to listen for the General Ideas (like the Greenhouse effect and the enhanced greenhouse effect) as well as the details: Facts, Examples and Opinions (like the fact that the ocean absorbs heat, the study that showed it was warming and the opinion on whether we know if it is bad or good).
- Listen to Audio
An important way to practice for the TOEFL Listening is to actually listen to audio all around you. The television is good, specifically documentaries or channels like Animal Planet and National Geographic.
Additionally, seek out audio sources like news programs. Here are some of my favorites:
- National Public Radio (http://www.npr.org/) (I like ‘On Point’ with Tom Ashbrook the most)
- CNN Radio (http://cnnradio.cnn.com/)
- Podcasts (‘Podcast Addict’ on Google Play is a good source for Android users.
- Voice of America (http://www.voanews.com/)
- Audio books (https://librivox.org/ = Free and legal audio book downloads)
Remember that these lectures and conversations ready you for the Standard American Dialect. While listening to the BBC is helpful, you may want to stick to an American accent.
We may have mentioned it above, but signals are very important to pay attention to when you are listening to a TOEFL conversation or lecture.
ETS lists words that signal type of information in the phrases below:
- Opinion (I think, It appears that, It is thought that)
- Theory (In theory)
- Inference (therefore, then)
- Negatives (not, or words that begin with ‘un’, ‘non’, ‘dis’, or ‘a’)
- Fillers (non-essential information like uh, umm, or er)
Additionally, keep an eye out for conjunctions and signal words like:
- reasons (because, since)
- results (as a result, so, therefore, thus, consequently)
- examples (for example, such as)
- comparisons (in contrast, than)
- an opposing idea (on the other hand, however)
- another idea (furthermore, moreover, besides)
- a similar idea (similarly, likewise)
- restatements of information (in other words, that is)
- conclusions (in conclusion, in summary)
Remember that often the speakers will use pauses and changes of speed to provide clues as to how to organize and group information.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Most importantly, remember to practice. The TOEFL listening section is a very quick and tricky section. Even native speakers need to train themselves for this section because it does not come naturally. So the best way to get better at it is to practice a lot.
Free TOEFL sample questions – https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/sample_questions
- Youtube is always nice – http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=toefl+listening