Test of English as a Foreign Language, more commonly known by its shorthand notation TOEFL, is a test designed to examine the student’s ability to comprehend and understand the use of English at a university level. The test has four sections focusing on candidates’ skills in listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

TOEFL is accepted worldwide along with some other standardized tests like IELTS and FCE and over 6,000 government institutes, colleges, and universities recognize it when applying for admissions in various study programs. So, if you’re a student looking to study abroad, applying for a visa as a worker, or just keeping track of your English language skills, taking TOEFL is definitely the way to go!

Why Take TOEFL?

You might be wondering why would anyone want to take TOEFL when there are quite different types of English Language tests available and what actually makes it stand out from the others. So, let’s take a look at some reasons why anyone would prefer to take TOEFL.

1. It is Accepted Worldwide

When planning to study, live, or work abroad, you’re sometimes unsure of your destination and take the language test far ahead of that. It would be really agonizing if you end up selecting a country where the test you took won’t be recognized. However, with TOEFL, you won’t need to worry about this as it’s accepted in almost all the English and non-English-speaking countries in the world.

2. Popular Among Degree-Seeking Students

In countries like the US, Canada, and most of Europe except for Great Britain, TOEFL scores sent to universities are far superior and accepted than any other language tests combined. This indicates TOEFL is highly popular among students, meaning you would get more study materials and better advice from experts and teachers.

3. Success Rate is High

According to a survey taken among students who took TOEFL, around 85% of the test takers got into the university of their choice.

TOEFL isn’t just limited to the exam hall. Rather it will give you the opportunity to join an overseas university compared to students who took other language tests. Passing the test is indicative that you are an advanced learner and can effectively communicate in English in various situations.

There are some language tests that use face-to-face examiners and candidates making the possibility of biased marking. However, there’s no biased marking when it comes to TOEFL as they’re checked by examiners while hiding the identity of the candidates, through a centralized network making sure each candidate gets fairly marked.

TOEFL Test Structure

TOEFL is a computerized test lasting for about 4 hours, consisting of four sections taken on the same day with all of them being compulsory. Note-taking is also allowed throughout the test. Let’s break it down into individual sections and see each one in detail.

1. Reading Section

Lasting for about 60 to 90 minutes, this section has 3-5 passages each having 12-14 questions. The main task consists of reading passages, understanding them, and finally answering the questions based on what the test taker read. Usually, the questions are in the form of multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, or read-to-learn. The passages are quite long and cover various topics like history and psychology. Remember that you are being timed for the whole section and not on individual questions.

2. Listening Section

This again varies in length, 65-85 mins having 35-50 questions. Typically you’ll have to listen to around five lectures and two to three conversations. Both last about 3-5 minutes each. Lectures include six questions while conversations have five. One important thing to keep in mind here is that each clip will only be played once, so you need to be really attentive. There can be multiple speakers in a clip with different accents, so be prepared for that as well. Again, three types of questions can be asked, including multiple-choice, multiple answers, and replay questions.

3. Speaking Section

This is the third section in the test and is the shortest one, taking only about 20 minutes. It comprises six tasks: the first two being individual where you have to give your opinion on a certain topic for a duration of around 45 seconds. The next four tasks are combined and require you to speak for a minute each for different audio clips and passages.

5. Writing Section

Lastly, this section comprises writing two essays. The total time to complete the said task is 50 minutes, 20, and 30 minutes for each, respectively. There will be two types of essays, an integrated one and the other being individual.

8 Tips to Increase Your TOEFL Scores

Tip 1: For the first section, managing your time is highly important, and you also have to have a well-thought strategy to read the passages and don’t just head out aimlessly.

Tip 2: Skip the difficult questions first and answer the easier ones.

Tip 3: Take notes during the Listening section so you can answer questions based on them later when required.

Tip 4: Take time while deciding on multiple-choice answers. Don’t be very quick to choose the right one as they can often sound right and be inaccurate in reality.

Tip 5: For the third section, keep a scratch pad along to write what you plan to speak to avoid getting confused.

Tip 6: Don’t speak very low into the microphone as the environment can be noisy sometimes, so make sure you’re speaking out loud and clear.

Tip 7: While attempting the last section, always choose the choice which is easier to support whenever presented with a choice, and avoid choosing something which is difficult to argue about.

Tip 8: Outline your essays in advance to make the writing easier for you.

TOEFL Scoring

All the sections are first marked in raw marks, and then they are scaled to marks out of 30. There are different perspectives for each section on what a good score actually means but anything above the 50th percentile is actually considered good.


We hope this guide will provide sufficient information about what you are looking for. Make sure to also check out our Scholarships Page for different information on scholarships and universities across the globe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

Share this article via


  1. Kaif Hassan July 21, 2023 5:11 am - Reply

    Thanks 👍

    • Hyun Lee July 22, 2023 1:09 pm - Reply

      You are welcome!

Leave A Comment