Ok, so this will be a long post, as in here we will attempt to answer the most common questions I have had from my students and found online. This post will be updated as more of you guys ask me more questions, so make sure to leave a comment and check in periodically for new updates.
What is the TOEFL?
It is a test that measures the proficiency of non-English speakers through the four main skills, Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing in an academic setting. It is one of the most renowned tests of its category.
What is TOEFL-iBT®?
It is the new form on which most of you will be taking the test. The iBT stands for Internet-based test, which means that you will be taking this test on a computer. Previously there was the TOEFL-pBT which was a paper-based test. Though it still exists, it is losing ground heavily against its iBT format.
How can I find the test and when can I take it?
Simple, go to the official ETS website and sign in. Click on Register for a test and you can find the available dates near you.
How can I create n account in ETS?
Go to ETS.org and click on My account. Click on Create user and follow the instructions. Click here to see our illustrated post on creating an account.
How can I register in the ETS platform?
Go to the ETS website and create an account. Once signed in, click on register for a test and follow the instructions. Click here to check out our post about how to register for a test.
Do I need to know anything before registration?
Yes, the most important details, are space and time.
As this test can be taken in many countries, and usually students who take it are traveling to English speaking countries, then you have to prepare your plans to know if you will take this test in your native country or your host country.
Something that can help you determine this is the deadline for when you need to submit your documents and the current date, as you will need to study beforehand as well. Though you must be wary of the test center`s availability which you can check when you try to register for a test.
In addition, you will need a valid ID to take the test. So, maybe your home country ID won’t be valid in your host country, but a Passport is, so if you are taking the test in your host country and you are fresh in that place, then maybe you only have a passport.
In your home country, a standard, ID, or driver’s license is ok. Just make sure that it has a clear photo and that your ID number and information can be read clearly.
How long till I can register?
My recommendation is with at least 2 months of anticipation. Ideally 3 or 4. That will give you plenty of time to study and prepare for the test. Seats are taken pretty quickly, so last-minute registration can mean, extra fees, not finding a seat in your city and having to travel to take the test, adding extra stress on the test date. So, think ahead. And plan for it.
Also, keep in mind that you can send your score automatically to any Educational institution, such as Colleges, and Universities, so if you are planning on submitting to one of them, look the ID of that college so that you can send them your scores for free once your score is ready. You can choose up to 4 institutions to send your scores for free. Every additional institution you mark will have a cost of US $20.
How can I pay for the TOEFL-iBT registration and the other services offered by ETS?
Paypal, Check Voucher and Credit Card.
Paying with a voucher is very slow and stressful. I would strongly recommend with Paypal or Credit Card. Just make sure that your Credit Card is open for international commerce.
How long is the test?
Starting from Agust 1st 2019, the test is about 3.5 hours long, but you must always add about 30 extra minutes for the checking process. Besides, sometimes some sections of the test can take 20 or 30 minutes longer when you get the Long Format of the test. There is no knowing if you will get this format or not until you start the test. It is completely random.
What if I don’t get the score I want?
The most common reason for this is lack of preparation or insufficient English proficiency. If this occurs to you, then I would recommend taking some time to prepare better and then you retake the test in a few months.
Can I take the test again?
Yes, you can take the test as many times as you want. But there is a period between tests that you won’t be allowed to do so. This has a minimum of 12 days. But as I said before, if you didn’t get the score you want, then you should probably take some time to study and prepare better. Also, if you are planning on taking the test with 12 days apart, you have to register for both tests with at least 2 months of anticipation and cross your fingers that you will find a spot.
How often can I take the test in a year?
Almost all the times that you want. You have to register beforehand to all the tests you wish to. The usual days are Saturday morning, though some centers also offer Friday mornings and afternoons. Although you can take the test as many times as you want, I wouldn’t recommend it at all. The test is expensive and you can really hurt your finances there. Taking and retaking the test every week won’t improve your score. If it does, then the margin will be minimal. The best way to score higher is by preparing well with a few months of anticipation.
How much does the TOEFL-iBT cost?
It’s not that cheap. Though prices are different depending on location, they have a relatively fixed range.
For tests in the US, the prices will normally be around US$160 while if you are taking the test abroad the cost will increase to about US$260. It is very important you verify what the exact cost will be for you as it will depend on which country you are in.
That cost includes the test itself, a paper score report, and they can send that report to up to 4 schools once the results are in.
Can I get additional score reports?
Yes, absolutely. Though not common, students can have their scores sent to as many institutions as they’d like. But bare in mind that each additional score report will have a cost of US$20. This is cash that you can save by just downloading your score report for free as many times as you would like and personally sending it to the schools you would like to. Normally students will apply to 2 or 3 schools. So they offer more than enough.
When is the best time to prepare for the TOEFL-iBT?
The best time will depend on a few factors.
Make sure you have the correct level of English with regard to the score you are looking for. You can click here to read more about it.
If the above item is Okay, then make sure you have enough time to prepare. I would recommend about 3 months.
Make sure these deadlines are accommodated concerning your application plans. For example, if you are planning on submitting your documents for the university in August, then be sure you have more than enough time to take the TOEFL at least twice before starting. So, you would start to prepare for the TOEFL test in April, about 4 months before.
Where is the TOEFL-iBT accepted?
It is accepted as an admission document in more thousands of colleges, universities and academic institutions all around the world.
Is the TOEFL-iBT only accepted as an academic admission certification?
Not at all. It is also accepted as a certificate for Visa requirements in most English speaking countries. Additionally, it is accepted in a vast number of transnational companies where English is the company language no matter where the company HQ is.
How should I best prepare for the TOEFL-iBT?
By far the best way is exposing yourself to the language as much as you can, and familiarizing yourself with the content of the test and the structures within. You can read our post on this topic by clicking here.
Where can I get the best material to practice with?
You can get free and paid material. My recommendation is to go straight to the source and buy the ETS The Official TOEFL guide. It has the most realistic sample tests, though the quantity of material is low. To help you with the rest, I would recommend a tutor or an experienced friend.
You can also check out our posts to ream more about the TOEFL-iBT or general English to practice and prepare.
What’s the TOEFL Go App? And is it good?
It’s the app from the folks at ETS. it’s pretty incomplete in my opinion, as it works with the same content as the book. However, ETS is currently modernizing their whole digital infrastructure, so I hope that in a few months the app is improved with a lot more content and practice material.
What is the TOEFL Practice Online?
It’s one of the paid services offered by ETS for prepping for the TOEFL-iBT. The cool thing about it is that you can get feedback from your performance within 24 hours. It’s like having a tutor.
Is all the material from ETS paid?
No, there is a good amount of free material out there. However, if you are aiming at a very high score, you will run out of material pretty quick. So you may want to either buy a book and study by yourself or get a tutor or an experienced friend to help you out. Tutors will have a surplus of material, including that which is offered by ETS.
What’s in the test?
The test will be divided into four sections that will test your four basic skills respectively. The Reading Section, The Listening Section, The Speaking Section, and The Writing Section. Keep in mind that some sections may have an additional part for you to complete. This is called the Long Format.
Which sections have the Long Format?
This format will only apply to:
The Reading Section, where it will have an extra Reading passage along with its questions and you will be given extra time to complete it.
The Listening section, where you will be given 2 additional audios to listen to along with the corresponding questions. You will be allotted extra minutes to complete this part.
What is the Long Format?
It is an experimental plan that ETS has made in order to test out styles of texts and audios for future tests.
How can the long format affect my score?
It will barely affect your score, as the only drawback it will have is making the already long test a little longer. But supposing you get the Long Format on your test, this extra part won’t be graded, however, you don’t know which reading or audio will be graded so, you have to aim at your best in every part of the TOEFL test.
Can I get the Long Format in both The Reading Section and The Listening Section?
No, if you get the Long Format at all, it will be either in The Reading Section or The Listening Section. Not both.
What will I find in The Reading Section?
Here you will find 3 to 4 passages, each followed by 10 multiple-choice questions. You will be given 54 to 72 minutes to complete. The number of passages will vary in if you received the Short Format or the Long Format of the test.
The styles of texts that you will find will revolve on university-level textbooks and the topics will focus on a majority towards the sciences. You don’t need to know the topics beforehand as they will be introductory texts. You will need to be able to read and synthesize information effectively and understand and infer content.
What will I find in The Listening Section?
Here you will find a series of conversations, lectures, and classes that will include the same academic topics through the whole test. The audios will normally be from American or Canadian speakers with a very natural flow of speech.
This will consist of 4 to 6 lectures, classes and conversations and each will be followed by 5 to 6 multiple-choice questions. Audios will range between 3 to 5 minutes in length, though some may go up to 6 minutes. In total, you will have 41 to 57 minutes for this section.
What will I find in The Speaking Section?
This section will be approximately 17 minutes in length and will consist of 4 questions to which you will have to record your answers through a microphone that is provided.
Some questions will ask your opinion about a familiar topic and others will ask you to compare, contrast and summarize information that will be provided either by text, audio or both.
What will I find in The Writing Section?
This section will consist of 2 essays that will need to be planned, written and revised within 50 minutes. The whole section will last about 60 minutes while you receive information and instructions and complete the essays.
Here you will have to write an essay that will ask that you compare and contrast the information from a text and the answer from a lecture.
In the next essay, you will have to develop on a familiar topic from a prompt question.
How is The Speaking Section scored?
Your recordings are shared with 3 to 6 human raters that are certified by ETS. these will be responsible for holistically scoring your answers. They correct each question on a scale from 0-4 and then the scores are averaged out. Afterward, that score is transformed to a 0-30 scale for the final score.
Bear in mind that we all make mistakes every once in a while, so your answers are not expected to be perfect answers. Your accent mustn’t be that of a native English speaker either. What is important is that the question is responded correctly with good support and that you speak well enough to be understood with little to no effort.
Click here to check the scoring rubric from ETS
How is The Writing Section scored?
Your essays are sent to ETS where human raters scale your score on a scale from 0-5. Then the average score on your 2 tasks is converted on a scale from 0-30.
Similarly to the previous section, you are not expected to give a perfect answer as we all make mistakes. These essays are not considered the final publishing, but rather a draft, so a few misspelling may be forgiven.
Click here to check out the scoring rubric from ETS
How is my overall score shown in the TOEFL-iBT Score Report?
The score will be divided into 4 sections of 30 points each and a total score of all sections added.
Can I cancel my score reports?
Yes, you can but they must be done so, the same day of the test, as that next day, they are sent. There is no refund for any Score Reports canceled.
What is provided in the test center?
Firstly there is the PC and area where you will be taking the test. They will also provide you with paper and a pencil for you to take your notes. A set of headphones with a microphone will also be provided for you to listen to the audios and to speak in The Speaking Section.
What should I take on test day?
There are a few essentials:
Valid ID, that is not expired, with a clear photo of you and where your name and ID details can be read clearly.
Your test confirmation ticket (though not mandatory, it can be helpful if there is any issue with logistic on test day, so it’s better to be safe than sorry).
Water. Halfway through the test, you will be given a 10-minute break where you must get hydrated as you have been sitting down for almost 2 hours at this point.
Snack. It is fundamental that you take this. Your energy reserves will have been almost drained at this point, so it is important to recover.
Where can I store my belonging?
Most test centers will have a special room for the participants to store their personal belongings as not all materials are allowed in the test rooms. Some centers have lockers and the test takers will have the keys to such lockers.
What can’t I take into the test room?
There are some things you can take to the test center but not the testing room? Many of them are obvious, such as cell phones, mp3s, electronic recording devices, paper, notebooks, etc.
Is there a break during the test?
Yes. after you have completed The Reading Section and Listening Section, you will be allowed to have a 10-minute break. Here you will have access to your water and snack as well as a bathroom break and some time to walk.
What should I do during the break?
During this test you should take advantage of your time. Clear your thoughts on what occurred before in The Reading and Listening Sections and focus on the sections to come: The Speaking and the Writing Sections.
It’s good to walk around a bit to get your blood flowing and oxygenate your brain as you have been sitting down for almost 2,5 hours. You must eat your snack and drink plenty of water. Just to be ready for the next half of the test.
What type of snack should I take and why?
The best snacks I recommend are energy bars, mainly because one can consume all the energy from them in a quick period, but rather we do so through a few hours. Try avoiding fatty snacks. Here is a link to a post that will go deeper into the snacks for your test.
I don’t really need to go to the bathroom, what to do?
Try to concentrate on going. Just that simple. You must try and do your best to do so here and not having the need to do so while in the rest of the test. Remember, you still have about 1,5 hours of test left. So you may be distracted by your bodily needs during this time. If you want to know more on the best tips for the break in your TOEFL-iBT, then click here to read our post about it.
What if I want more insight on my results?
You can have your answers reviewed. To be fair, this only applies to The Speaking and The Writing sections, which are rated by humans. The Reading and The Listening sections are composed of multiple-choice questions where only one option is correct.
If you want to review your score from The Speaking Section and The Writing Section, then you would have to request it at the latest 30 days after you do your test. After the 30 days, it won’t be possible.
Does the Review service have a cost or is it included in the price of the TOEFL-iBT?
It has an additional cost of US $80 per section. Or US $160 for both sections to be reviewed.
What if i need to reschedule my test after I register?
The test can be rescheduled and you can also change your test location if needed. To do so, you must log in your ETS account and select your current scheduled test and then modify the date or location.
This does have a cost, like most services offered by ETS, of US $60. So try to make sure that you register for the correct date in the first try.
Can ETS reschedule my test?
Yes, there are several factors why they would do so, like if the test center is suffering some technical issues, natural disasters or emergencies. These are unlikely scenarios, but they have occurred in the past. These will of course not be charged as rescheduling.
What if I have technical problems on test day?
Not common, but may happen. These will usually trigger two scenarios:
The test will be delayed: causing the student some stress on test day.
Suspension of the test: in this case, you will be eligible for rescheduling the test date or for a full refund of the test and score reports purchased, but not any material that you may have bought, such as books or online classes.
If I have a disability, does the test center provide accommodations?
es. most test centers have a range of accommodations to suit people with certain disabilities. They may also rule out some enforcements to accommodate the specific needs.
How can I request special accommodations if I have a disability?
Once registering for a test, you will be asked if you require specific accommodation. From there you can solicit them for the location and date you require.
Additionally, you can contact ETS directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.