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The TOEFL® Test - Everything You Need to Know

Skip to a section:

  1. What is it?
  2. Why should I take the TOEFL test?
  3. Where is it accepted?
  4. How is it formatted?
  5. Where can I take it?
  6. How much does it cost?
  7. How is it scored?
  8. How can I prepare?
  9. Book a test


1. What is the TOEFL® test?

The TOEFL® test is an internationally recognized test that measures non-native English speakers' abilities to use and understand English at the university level.

If you want to study at an English-speaking university or undertake a program taught in English, most universities and schools require non-native English speakers to present proof as part of their application that their English-language skills will be sufficient to successfully participate in the coursework.

The TOEFL test is one of the most widely accepted ways to prove English proficiency. Learn more about which schools accept TOEFL scores.

2. Why should I take the TOEFL test?

With the TOEFL test, you can gain the TOEFL® Test Advantage — the English-language skill set universities require for admission. You will arrive on campus better prepared than others, knowing that the fair and unbiased TOEFL scoring will provide a true representation of your abilities.

3. Where are TOEFL scores accepted?

TOEFL scores are accepted by 10,000+ universities and higher education institutes in over 150 countries. The TOEFL website has a school and location search that you can use to see if the university you're interested in accepts TOEFL scores and what its score requirements are.

Some statistics according to official ETS Global surveys:

Preferred in the U.S.

9 out of 10 universities in the U.S. prefer the TOEFL test over other English-language tests. Additionally, U.S. universities receive more TOEFL scores than all other English-language tests combined.

More popular in Canada

More than 80% of graduate programs in Canada prefer the TOEFL test over other English-language tests. Canadian universities receive more TOEFL scores than all other English-language tests combined.

100% accepted in Australia and New Zealand

TOEFL scores are accepted by all Australian and New Zealand universities, as well as for all Australian and New Zealand immigration.

More popular in France and Germany

French and German universities prefer the TOEFL test and receive more TOEFL scores than any other English-language test.

Widely accepted in the U.K.

More than 98% of universities in the U.K. accept TOEFL scores, including 100% of the elite Russell Group universities, providing a fair and unbiased alternative.

4. How is the TOEFL test structured?

In most cases, students will take the TOEFL iBT ® test on a computer at a secure, authorized test center in their home country. In situations where computers or the internet are not available, a revised paper-based version of the test is used.

The TOEFL iBT test measures all English-language skills and takes approximately 3.5 hours to complete. The four skills are broken up as follows:

Reading (60 - 80 minutes)

Read passages, then respond to questions

Listening (60 - 90 minutes)

Listen to lectures and conversations, and respond to questions

~ 10-minute break ~

Speaking (20 minutes)

Speak into a microphone about familiar topics and discuss material you read about and listened to

Writing (50 minutes)

Read a passage, listen to a recording, and then type your written response

Testing time will be shortened by 30 minutes for all tests after August 1, 2019. Learn about this and other improvements to the TOEFL test experience.

5. Where can I take the TOEFL test?

The TOEFL test is offered over 50 times a year at secure, ETS-authorized test centers around the world. There are more than 4,000 TOEFL test centers worldwide, and you can use the official TOEFL website to find one near you.

Registration opens 5-6 months before each test date, and, as seats for each test are limited, it is highly recommended that you register early to ensure you get a spot for your desired date and location.

6. How much does the TOEFL test cost?

The test fee varies depending on where you take the test, but typically ranges between USD $180 - 300. This covers your registration fee, your score report, and 4 score reports sent to institutions you select. Additional fees for late registration, rescheduling, and cancelling may occur.

Again, you can use this tool on the official TOEFL website to find locations, dates, and prices.

7. How is the TOEFL test scored?

After taking the test, you will receive a score between 0 and 30 for each section (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), with a total score of 0 to 120 for the entire test.

If you receive a score that doesn't meet the requirements of your school of choice, or you just want to get a better score, you can take the test as many times as you like — there are unlimited retakes (though you can only take the test once every 12 days).

Your TOEFL test scores will be available to you 10 days after taking the test and will be valid for 2 years.

Additionally, as part of your test registration, you have the option to select up to 4 institutions that will automatically be sent your TOEFL test scores. This is particularly useful in situations where the test has been taken close to university application deadlines — it can help speed up the process.

Please note: TOEFL score requirements are set by the individual schools, so always make sure to check the school's website!

8. How can I prepare?

Prep for success with these official resources:

  • The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test: The best-selling, comprehensive all-in-one reference, with 4 complete practice tests and skill-building tips

  • TOEFL® Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide: A free, 6-week self-paced course to build your skills, learn tips and strategies, and interact with other students

  • TOEFL iBT® Free Practice Test: Try out real test questions from all 4 sections

  • TOEFL® Practice Online: Simulates the real TOEFL iBT test, and you get scores and  feedback on all 4 skills within 24-hours

  • Official TOEFL iBT® Tests with Audio: Practice with 5 actual past tests and all audio passages

  • TOEFL Go!® Official App: Practice tests, official tips and more

Get more information at www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare.

Ready to take the test?

Learn more and book your TOEFL® test today!

Book now

This guide has been developed in partnership with ETS, the providers of the TOEFL® test.

About ETS

The TOEFL® test is a product of ETS, a nonprofit organization with more than 60 years of experience helping advance quality and equity in education worldwide. Its mission is to develop and administer tests that give students like you the opportunity to pursue their dreams, anywhere in the world.

Find ETS on social media!

Last update: 26 Aug 2019

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