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Many international students consider studying in a college or university within the United States. In order to be accepted as an international student, most colleges and universities may require them to take standardized tests. One such exam, the TOEFL, is used by universities to assess the level of English language proficiency. The TOEFL exam is necessary in academic setting to be sure students can get by in an English-speaking environment. So what is the TOEFL? Let us take a look.


The TOEFL exam is required by almost every school for foreign students who want to study any subject in the US. While there are many requirements for international students to study in the US, the TOEFL is one of the most important. Schools look to the TOEFL as one of their earliest indicators to see if a foreign student is ready to study in the US. Students should put in plenty of preparation to ensure they get a top score.

Test Format

The main format for testing is the IBT or Internet-Based testing, which was introduced in 2005 to replace the CBT (Computer-Based testing). The CBT was officially retired in September of 2006 and so the main two formats that are now used are IBT and PBT (Paper-Based Testing). The PBT however is rarely used and the most common format is the IBT.

The IBT format has been rolled out over a series of phases, with the USA, Canada, France, Germany and Italy as the first to get the new format and then the rest of the world was moved over in 2006. Demand for the TOEFL IBT test is often very high and it is advisable to book a few months in advance to make sure you get the date you want.

The IBT consists of a 4 hour test in 4 sections which covers:

  1. Reading - students are given a reading passage and then posed questions about the content they have just read
  2. Listening - students are given a passage to listen only once and are asked questions about the conversation
  3. Speaking - students read passages and answer questions on a variety of subjects. These replies are digitally recorded and sent to exam judges to be tested.
  4. Writing - students are given a passage and then asked to write a passage in response to the text

The TOEFL can take up to 4 hours to complete, and students are given optional 10 minute breaks.


There are many TOEFL study books that teach students about the test and potential questions. These books provide an introduction to the exam, and go section by section to assist students in every facet of the exam. Because the exam is new to a lot of students, the books do a good job of giving potential test takers a solid look at what they can expect to see on test day.

TOEFL Courses

In addition to test books, there are many different courses available for students taking the test. These courses are taught by certified instructors who know exactly how to take the test, teach students extra tips, and are able to give personal time and acknowledgment.

Many of these TOEFL courses can be found at English language centers, and they are designed to prepare students for successfully taking the TOEFL exam. Programs typically vary in length although a typical TOEFL preparation course lasts 4-12 weeks. Many programs offer curriculums that simulate the TEOFL exam, provide in-classroom discussion, offer test taking skills, and more. 


Taking the Test

If you would like information on taking the TOEFL, please visit the TOEFL website as the cost and type of test you need to take will vary depending on your country. You can also register online and book your test in via this website so please visit here for more information about that.

Night before the Exam

After the exam day itself, the most important time for a test-taker is the right before the exam. It may sound counterproductive, but the day before the test should not be used for studying or refreshing. Students should try not to think too much about the TOEFL. Relax and try to clear your mind instead. Students often stress themselves out unnecessarily right before an exam.

Make sure all of your testing materials are ready and you have your directions to the testing center and your testing registration printed out the night before. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before, but try not to deviate from your daily routine too much.

Remember to eat a good meal before you head to the testing center. This will help you concentrate, reduce stress, and make sure your mind is clear and prepared during the exam. It is always a good idea to leave a little early to ensure that you make it to the testing center in plenty of time. Check the TOEFL restrictions and requirements to make certain you are not bringing any prohibited items and that you will have the right materials to gain access to the test.


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