Frequently asked questions about TOEFL

What is the TOEFL?

The TOEFL is a test designed to assess your level of English. It is taken by students who want to pursue higher education in an English speaking country. Almost every university in the US has a minimum TOEFL score that they require. Prestigious universities will only admit students who have a high TOEFL score.

What is the difference between the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT tests?

The TOEFL test has two formats. TOEFL administered via internet is called TOEFL iBT. TOEFL administered in a paper based format is called TOEFL PBT. The TOEFL PBT is administered in areas where the internet based TOEFL test is not available. The format you take depends on your testing location.


The TOEFL iBT test has four sections: reading, listening, speaking and writing. More than 4,500 testing centers in over 165 countries administer the TOEFL iBT test. It is offered 30-40 times a year.


The paper based TOEFL test too has four sections: reading, listening, grammar and writing. As you may have noticed PBT doesn’t have a section on speaking. Instead it focuses on grammar. The TOEFL PBT is offered six times a year. It is only administered in areas where the TOEFL iBT is not available. You can’t usually decide which format you want to take. It depends upon your testing location and the capabilities of the testing center.

Where are TOEFL test scores accepted?

The TOEFL score is accepted by more than 8000 colleges, universities and agencies in over 130 countries.

Can I take the test in one day?

The TOEFL test is given in one day. You can register online, by mail, by phone or in person. The test takes about 4 hours.

Can I retake the test?

If you are not satisfied with your score you can retake the TOEFL. There are no limits. Remember that you can’t pass or fail in the TOEFL test. You can consider yourself successful if your TOEFL score is good enough to get into the university of your choice. As we have already mentioned, prestigious universities require higher scores.

How much does the TOEFL test cost?

The cost depends upon your testing location. It usually ranges between $150 US and $225 US. You can find more details at the official TOEFL website.

Your test fee includes one examinee score report and up to four official score reports. The official score reports are sent to universities or institutions you selected while registering for the test.

What to bring on the test day?

On your TOEFL test day you have to bring a valid, acceptable ID card with your name, recent photo and signature. You will also need to bring your registration confirmation.

You must arrive at the site at least 30 minutes early. The TOEFL test takes 4 and ½ hours. You will get a 10 minute break mid-way. You will not be allowed to bring your mobile phone or other devices into the test room.

For how long is my TOEFL score valid?

Your TOEFL score is valid for a period of two years. If you take your TOEFL test in July, 2011, your score will be in the official TOEFL database until July, 2013. Afterwards, they will delete your score. If you still have a copy of your original TOEFL score report, you should be able to ask universities if they will accept it. But most universities won’t accept a score report from you; they require a score sent directly from ETS, the agency that administers the TOEFL test.

What is a good score on the TOEFL?

The highest score on the paper based TOEFL test is 677. The highest score on the TOEFL iBT is 300. The score that you need depends upon the universities you want to get into. Prestigious universities require higher TOEFL scores. To find out the exact TOEFL requirements of each university, you will need to contact the university itself.

Are there universities that don’t require TOEFL?

Most universities require TOEFL. You can’t get into a good university if you don’t have a respectable TOEFL score. However, there are a few universities that require no TOEFL score. Be careful, though. These are not good universities. You are pursuing higher education in the US to brighten your career prospects, right? Then you should try and get into a decent university.

How can I raise my TOEFL score?

Practice. Practice. Practice. Generally speaking, scoring well in the grammar section is easier than scoring well in other sections, provided that you have a good understanding of the grammatical structures in English. Many students who take the TOEFL test have difficulty understanding the different accents with which English is spoken. To improve your chances of scoring well in the listening section, watch English TV channels and English films. To do well in the speaking section, practice speaking out loud in English.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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