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TOEFL: Introduction, format and registration details
Manisha Zaveri
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November 20, 2007

Part II: Preparation tips and scoring

Before you plunge into studying TOEFL for your American university admission, it is important to understand the test, its format and its purpose.

We will look at the following aspects of TOEFL:

~ What is TOEFL and its purpose?
~ What the TOEFL test is structured as?
~ Test Registration procedure
~ Tips on preparing for TOEFL
~ Score Reporting & Cancellation

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL is taken by students as a prerequisite for admission into colleges/universities in USA. The purpose of TOEFL(Test of English as a Foreign Language) test is to measure the ability of nonnative speakers of English to use and understand English as it is spoken, written, and heard in an American college/university.

The TOEFL tests all four language skills that are important for effective communication: reading, listening, speaking and writing. It helps students demonstrate that they have the English skills needed for academic success.
TOEFL format and structure:

The TOEFL is offered in different formats depending on a test taker's location, the latest format being the iBT (Internet Based Test). The iBT format is offered in India in more than 50 cities, with many cities having multiple test taking locations.

This Internet-based test allows speech and score responses to be captured in a standardised manner, and online registration and score reporting is an easy way to book a TOEFL iBT test date and receive your test scores

The TOEFL iBT tests all four language skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing, with a maximum total score of 120. There are four sections of 30 points each and it's a four-hour test. We'll look at a brief description of each section.


The purpose of the Reading section could be to test your ability to find information; test your basic comprehension of a general topic or main idea, facts and details, etc.; or to assess your ability to learn important details and recognise how ideas in the passage connect.

This section measures your ability to understand university-level academic texts and passages. It includes three to five passages with 12 to 14 questions/ passage. Time allotted to this section is 60-100 minutes.


This section measures your ability to understand English as it is used in colleges/universities. It consists of four to six lectures with six questions each that include classroom dialogue, and two to three conversations with five questions each, that include two or more speakers in each. Time allotted to this section is 60-90 minutes.


This section measures your ability to speak English. It consists of six open-ended speaking questions, which require test takers to speak into a microphone. The responses are recorded and scored by human graders. This section is to be completed within 20 minutes.


This section measures your ability to write in a way that is required for college/university course work in USA. The TOEFL iBT contains two essays; one is an independent task and the other an integrated task that requires the use of more than one skill at a time, for eg: read, listen, then speak in response to a question.

The essays are scored on the basis of development, that is, the kind of support (examples, details, reasons) you use to present your idea; organisation, that is, the way you present your paragraphs and mark transition from one idea to another; and language use, that is, your choice of words.

TOEFL Registration

To take the TOEFL Test, you must make prior registration at any of the test centres available, by paying a basic fee of $140 (Rs 5500). Your test scores will be valid for two years, from the date on which test is taken. Make sure you book your date well in advance and test centres and seats are limited.

Test registrations close seven days before your test date and late registration closes three days before the test date, with additional fee of $25 (Rs 975) , so plan ahead of time. If there is no test centre in the city where you are located, choose the nearest location.

Although one can book a TOEFL test date online, over phone or by mail, online registration is the fastest and it's fairly easy too! You can visit for booking a test date.

The online registration is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can pay with a credit/debit card: American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard or Visa. Or, use an electronic check (e-check) if you have a bank account in the United States or its territories.

Part II: Preparation tips and scoring

Manisha Zaveri is joint managing director at Career Mosaic.

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