Understand TOEFL iBT Test Pattern & Get Preparation Tips

TOEFL exam date 2022

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is available in different formats depending on location: paper-based testing (PBT) and/or Internet-based Test (iBT). Since only the TOEFL iBT is available in India, let’s focus on understanding the TOEFL Exam Pattern

4 Sections in TOEFL Internet Based Testing (iBT)

The TOEFL iBT will test four basic language skills required for effective communication:

  1. Listening
  2. Speaking
  3. Reading
  4. Writing

TOEFL helps students demonstrate that they have the required English skills considered necessary for success.

  • Listening measures your ability to understand English.
  • Speaking measures your ability to speak English.
  • Reading measures your ability to understand short passages similar in topic and style to academic texts used in English-speaking colleges and universities.
  • Writing measures your ability to write in English on an assigned topic.

TOEFL Exam Duration

The test generally takes between 3 hours 20 mins – 4 hours 20 mins. You’ll get a 10 minute break halfway through the exam (i.e. after Reading & Listening sections.)

TOEFL iBT Test Pattern

The TOEFL iBT follows the following exam pattern as set by the Educational Testing Service (ETS):


Minutes allotted


What you have to do




Read 3-4 academic passages & answer questions




Hear lectures, discussions, conversations & answer questions



6 tasks

Express opinions, read out passages



2 tasks

Listen/ read then write an essay

  • Reading Section:

This section would have 3 – 4 reading passages with 12-14 questions for every passage

  • Listening Section

  • Speaking Section

  • Writing section

TOEFL Scores

All sections are scored between zero and 30, the total TOEFL (Test of English as a foreign language) score is out of 120. A candidate receives scores for each section and a total score.

  • Speaking section tasks are rated between zero and four, and converted to a score between zero and 30.
  • Writing section tasks are rated between zero and five and also converted to a score between zero and 30.

Scores are available about 10 days after the test online, and printed score reports are posted about 13 days after the test. Scores are valid for two years after a test.

In order to get an official score report, you must write at least one essay, answer at least one question in the Listening and Reading sections and complete at least one speaking task.

PBT Pattern


Minutes allotted


Listening Comprehension



Structure and Written Expression



Reading Comprehension



Written English


1 topic

There are no PBT centres in India.

TOEFL Preparation Tips

The best way to prepare for TOEFL is through continuous practice. In fact, ETS itself provides a lot of free TOEFL preparation material as well as official TOEFL preparation & study guide books that can be bought.

Image courtesy: www.facebook.com/TOEFLIndia

1. You can download the “TOEFL iBT® Interactive Sampler” through which you can check out unlimited number of previous years’ TOEFL questions (across all TOEFL sections.) Once you’ve downloaded this “sampler”, you can practice questions from it whenever you want. You can download this free TOEFL sampler at https://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/TOEFL/exe/TOEFL_Sampler_2014.exe

2. ETS has also started a six-week TOEFL® Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that is available through edX. This MOOC began in June, 2016 and covers each of the 4 TOEFL sections every week and in the last 2 weeks gives useful tips for TOEFL exam day. Known as “TOEFL Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide“, this MOOC is available on https://www.edx.org/course/toeflr-test-preparation-insiders-guide-etsx-toeflx.

3.You can also watch useful videos on the official Youtube channel of TOEFL, “TOEFLtv”.

4. You must go through as many TOEFL iBT practice tests as possible to increase your confidence and improve your test-taking speed.

Click here to download a few TOEFL iBT practice test questions

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