What Is the TOEFL Test?
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test measures the ability of nonnative speakers of English to use and understand English as it is spoken, written, and heard in college and university settings.
The Internet-based TOEFL Test (iBT) :
The TOEFL® iBT (Internet-based Test) tests all four language skills that are important for effective communication: reading, listening, speaking and writing. The test helps students demonstrate that they have the English skills needed for success.
What Is the Benefit of An Internet-based Test?
The TOEFL iBT emphasizes integrated skills and provides better information to institutions about students' ability to communicate in an academic setting and their readiness for academic coursework. With Internet-based testing, ETS can capture speech and score responses in a standardized manner.
Online registration and online score reporting make it easier for students to register for the TOEFL iBT and receive their test scores.
Why Take the TOEFL Test?
Most people take the TOEFL test as a prerequisite for admission into colleges and universities where English is used or required. In addition, many government, licensing, and certification agencies and exchange and scholarship programs use TOEFL scores to evaluate the English proficiency of people for whom English is not their native language.
Who Should Take the TOEFL Test?
Nonnative English speakers at the 11th-grade level or above should take the TOEFL test to provide evidence of their English proficiency before beginning academic work. The test content is considered too difficult for students below 11th grade.
Many institutions report that they frequently do not require TOEFL test scores of certain kinds of international applicants. These include
- nonnative speakers who hold degrees or diplomas from postsecondary institutions in English-speaking countries (e.g., the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand)
- nonnative speakers who have successfully completed at least a two-year course of study in which English was the language of instruction
- transfer students from institutions in the United States or Canada whose academic course work was favorably evaluated in relation to its demands and duration
- nonnative speakers who have taken the TOEFL test within the past two years
- nonnative speakers who have successfully pursued academic work at schools where English was the language of instruction in an English-speaking country for a specified period, generally two years
Students should contact their prospective institutions directly concerning their specific admission requirements.
Who Accepts TOEFL Scores?
TOEFL scores are accepted by more than 6,000 colleges, universities, and licensing agencies in 110 countries.
What is the difference between TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT?
TOEFL iBT measures reading, listening, speaking and writing skills and takes approximately 4½ hours. It is given on computer 30-40 times a year at test centers throughout the world.
TOEFL PBT measures listening, structure (grammar), reading and writing and takes approximately 3½ hours. It is given using paper and pencil 6 times a year at test centers where TOEFL iBT is not available.
The TOEFL iBT emphasizes integrated skills and measures all four language skills, including speaking. The content on the test is authentic, and the language is consistent with that used in everyday, real academic settings.
The test has four sections
- Reading measures the ability to understand academic reading material.
- Listening measures the ability to understand English as it is used in colleges and universities.
- Speaking measures the ability to speak English in an academic context.
- Writing measures the ability to write in a way that is appropriate for college and university course work.
No. of Questions
Test content is based on a "corpus," or database, of spoken and written language that currently contains more than 2.7 million words, collected from educational institutions throughout the United States.
The spoken language in the database was collected from
- lectures and interactive classes
- office hours
- study groups
- everyday service interactions (for example, at the bookstore or registrar's office).
The written language was collected from sources, such as textbooks and course materials.
Listening and reading texts in the test conform to the characteristics of the language in the database.
What's different about the test?
- The TOEFL iBT has a new Speaking section, which includes independent and integrated tasks.
- There is no longer a Structure section. Grammar is tested on questions and tasks in each section.
- Lectures and conversations in the Listening section are longer, but note-taking is allowed. In fact, note-taking is allowed throughout the entire test.
- The speech in the listening material sounds more natural. Also, there are new questions that measure understanding of a speaker's attitude, degree of certainty, and purpose.
- The Reading section has new questions that ask test takers to categorize information and fill in a chart or complete a summary.
- The Writing section requires typing. There is an integrated task in addition to the current independent task, and the scoring guides (rubrics) used for rating are different from the current test.
Can I take just a specific section of the test?
No, the entire test must be taken to receive a score.
Is the Internet-based test more difficult?
- The TOEFL iBT Reading and Listening sections are not dramatically different from those on the current TOEFL test.
- The integrated tasks on the TOEFL iBT Speaking and Writing sections may be considered more challenging because they are new to test takers. However, to succeed academically in English-speaking colleges and universities, students need to be able to combine their language skills in the classroom.
- The integrated tasks in the new test will help learners build the confidence needed to communicate in the academic environments they plan to enter.
What benefits does the Internet-based test provide?
The inclusion of Speaking, the use of integrated skills, and the emphasis on communicative competence will have great impact on how English is taught in the future. Students and other test takers will develop a higher level of English ability as a result, and will have confidence that they will be able to communicate and succeed.
Admissions officials and faculty at English-speaking colleges and universities, as well as administrators of certification and licensing agencies, will have better information about their applicants' English communication abilities.
How is the Speaking section scored?
- Each of the six tasks is rated from 0 to 4, and the average of these scores is converted to a scaled score of 0 to 30.
- Human scorers rate the responses. They evaluate the test-taker's ability in topic development, delivery, and language use.
How is the Writing section scored?
- The two tasks are rated from 0 to 5, and the average of these scores is converted to a scaled score of 0 to 30.
- Human scorers rate the responses.
- Raters evaluate the integrated writing task on the overall quality of the writing (organization, appropriate and precise use of grammar and vocabulary) and the completeness and accuracy of the content. Scorers rate the independent writing essay on the overall quality of the writing:
- Appropriate and precise use of grammar and vocabulary
Has the TOEFL score scale changed for Internet-based testing?
Yes. The new score scale is shown here.
The total score is the sum of the four skill scores.
How far in advance can I register?
When a particular city is ready to offer the TOEFL iBT, and the centers are added to the TOEFL iBT test center list, you will be able to register for that particular city approximately one month in advance.
How do I register for the test?
Test takers may register:
- Online for the fastest and most convenient service.
- by phone (credit/debit card or e-check required)
- by mail
- Register anytime - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Pay with a credit/debit card.
- Registration closes 7 days before your test date.
- Late registration closes 3 days before your test date and has a late fee of US$25.
- Review the Registration Form (PDF) before you call.
- Inside the U.S., U.S. territories and Canada, call: 1-800-468-6335 or
- All other locations, call your Regional Registration Center (PDF).
- Pay with credit/debit card
- Registration closes 7 days before your test date.
- Late registration closes at 5 p.m. local test center time on the business day before the test and has a late fee of US$25.
- Download and fill out a Registration Form (PDF) available at ETS website.
- See list of payment methods on the form and choose one.
- Send the form with your payment to the address on the form or to your Regional Registration Center (PDF).
- Forms must be received at least 4 weeks before your earliest test date.
- If you do not receive a confirmation, call the location where you mailed your paperwork - at least 3 business days before your deadline.
- In some areas, you can purchase test fee vouchers with local currency and/or register in person at resource centers.
- If you don't want to register at the center, you can use a payment voucher to register online from any computer.
- Registration deadline is 7 days before the test date.
- Late registration closes 3 days before your test date and has a late fee of US$25.
Identification Requirements for Internet-Based Testing
Information for All Test Takers
All test takers must read the following information. Your ID requirements depend upon the country of your citizenship and the country in which you plan to test. You must read the specific information below for acceptable primary and supplemental identification documents.
General ID Information
- You must have acceptable and valid identification (ID) with a signature and photograph to be admitted to a test center. Expired documents are not acceptable. The photograph on your ID document must be recent and recognizable. Original documents must be presented; copies are not acceptable. ID requirements are strictly enforced. It is your responsibility to read and understand the instructions and requirements.
- If you arrive at the test center without the required ID, the test center administrator will not admit you to the test and you will forfeit the test fee.
- When registering, you must use exactly the same name and the same spelling of that name that appears on the primary ID document you will present at the test center. Make sure to provide your entire first (given name) and entire surname (family name). If your ID document contains two surnames, enter the names exactly as presented on your ID document. If you register via the telephone, please ensure that the representative makes your registration in the complete name that appears on your ID document. Do NOT register under a nickname. If the name shown on your primary ID does not match the name you registered under, you will not be permitted to test. When applying to a college or university, use the same name and spelling of your name on your application.
- Check the name on your registration confirmation document. Your name must match the name on your primary ID document. If the name does not match the name on your primary ID document, go to the TOEFL online registration system and update your online profile BEFORE the test date.
- NAME CHANGES WILL NOT BE MADE—only misspellings of your name can be corrected at check-in. If your name has changed for any reason, including marriage, you still must present primary ID in the name under which you registered, or you will not be permitted to test. Marriage certificates and divorce decrees cannot be used to confirm name differences.
- If the test center administrator questions the ID you present, you will be required to present additional proof of identity. If positive confirmation cannot be made, you may be refused admission to the test center and will forfeit your test fee.
- Test center personnel will check your ID before assigning you a seat at the test center and you will be asked to sign the test center log. The test administrator will check your signature to verify that you are the person in your photo identification. The administrator will repeat this procedure before and after all breaks.
- Admittance to the test center does not imply that your form of ID is valid or that your scores will be reported. All reported cases of questionable ID are subject to review and approval by the ETS Office of Testing Integrity.
Acceptable Primary Identification Documents :
Testing in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan
- All test takers in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan MUST use valid passports as their ID documents.
Testing WITHIN Your Country of Citizenship
Only one form of primary ID is needed if your primary ID document contains a photograph and signature . IDs that can be used to meet the photograph and signature requirements are:
- Passport with photograph and signature
- Driver’s license with photograph and signature
- State ID issued by motor vehicle agency with photograph and signature
- National ID with photograph and signature
- Military ID with photograph and signature
If the test administrator has any concerns about the primary ID document, you will be required to present an acceptable supplemental ID from the list of acceptable supplemental ID requirements. If your primary ID does not contain your signature, either sign the document or present an additional ID from the list of supplemental identification documents.
Testing OUTSIDE Your Country of Citizenship
- You must present your passport as your primary identification document (except for citizens of European Union and Schengen Zone countries ). If you do not meet this requirement, ETS may automatically cancel your test scores.
- U.S. military personnel may present their U.S. military ID cards for admission to test centers. If a military ID card does not contain a signature, a supplemental ID document is required.
If your passport is not written in English-language letters, you must also present an additional ID from the list of supplemental identification documents that contains a recent, recognizable photo and is in English.
If your passport does not contain your signature, either sign your passport or present an additional ID from the list of supplemental identification documents .
Testing in European Union/Schengen Zone Countries
If you are taking the test within a European Union or Schengen Zone country outside of your own, you can use your valid national or European identity card if you have one. The card must contain
- a recent, recognizable photograph
- your date of birth
- your signature
If your ID is not in English-language letters and the test administrator cannot read the language in which it is written, you may not be allowed to test. If your official ID does not contain your signature , you must present an additional document from the list of supplemental identification documents that does contain your signature.
Acceptable Supplemental Identification Documents :
If your primary identification is missing either a photograph or a signature , you must present one of the following supplemental IDs in addition to your primary ID. The supplemental ID must contain a recent, recognizable photograph and your signature, and cannot be expired. Supplemental IDs that can be used to meet the photograph and/or signature requirements are:
- a government-issued ID document including, but not limited to, passport, driver's license, state ID cards, national identification, or military identification. (There are exceptions: see Unacceptable Identification Documents .)
- student ID
- confirmation of identity letter from your educational institution. The letter must contain
- your name
- your date of birth
- a recent, recognizable photograph
- your signature
- the name of your school
- the date issued
Your confirmation of identity letter must be typed on the original letterhead of the educational institution you attend(ed), and the signature of the school official and the school seal must overlap your photograph. A letter of identity is valid for only one year after the date issued.
Unacceptable Identification Documents :
- Any expired ID
- International driver's license
- Draft classification card
- International student ID
- Credit/debit card of any kind
- Notary-prepared letter or document
- Social Security card
- Employee ID card
- Learner’s permit or any temporary identification document (e.g., driver's license)
- Photocopy of ID
How do I get my scores?
Your TOEFL test payment entitles you to
- one printed and one online examinee score record
- up to four official score reports that ETS will send directly to the institutions or agencies you designate when registering for the test
Scores are posted online 15 business days after the test date (with a few exceptions) and then mailed to you and your designated score recipients.
How do I order additional score reports?
You can order additional iBT score reports online , by fax, or by mail, and have them sent to institutions you did not identify when you registered to test. You need your registration number to place an order. Credit cards are required for online and fax orders.
You must reschedule or cancel your registration no later than three full days before your test date (not including the day of the test or the day of your request). For example, the deadline to reschedule a Saturday test is Tuesday. If your request is not received at least three full days in advance, your full test fee will be forfeited. Test administrators are not authorized to make schedule changes.
To reschedule, you must provide
- your registration number
- the full name you used to register
The fee for rescheduling is US$50. Payment must be received prior to rescheduling.
If you are testing outside the United States, Canada, or a U.S. Territory*
- Reschedule or cancel online
- Reschedule or cancel by calling the appropriate Regional Registration Center
You cannot reschedule or cancel your registration via mail or e-mail.
In rare instances, technical problems may require late starts and/or rescheduling of your test. If such an event at the test center makes it necessary to cancel your testing session, or if it is later determined that your scores could not be reported, you can choose to retest for free or receive a full refund of the original test fee.
*American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands
Test Fee Refund Policy
A refund equivalent to half of the original test fee is available if you cancel your registration no later than three full days before your test date (not including the day of the test and the day of your request). For example, the deadline to cancel a Saturday test is Tuesday.
Refunds are processed automatically and include taxes as applicable. Refunds will be in U.S. dollars. Cash refunds are not available.
Payment by Credit/Debit Card or E-check
A refund will be credited back to the original credit/debit card or bank account.
Payments by Personal Check
If original payment was drawn on a U.S. domestic bank, allow eight weeks after your cancellation for your refund to be processed. If original payment was made in non-U.S. funds drawn on a bank outside the U.S., allow 12 weeks for your refund to be processed.
- Test center administrators will not honor requests for schedule changes.
- Dress so that you can adapt to any room temperature.
- Friends or relatives are not allowed to wait in the test center or have contact with you during the test. Except for ETS-authorized observers, visitors are not permitted in the testing room while testing is in progress.
The following procedures and regulations apply during the entire test session, which begins at sign-in, ends at sign-out, and includes breaks.
- You are required to write (not print) and sign a confidentiality statement at the test center. If you do not complete and sign the statement, you cannot test and your fees will NOT be refunded.
- Your picture will be taken and reproduced at your testing station and on your score report. Be sure the correct photograph is displayed on your assigned testing station.
- You must answer at least one question in each Reading and Listening section, write at least one essay, and complete at least one Speaking task every time you take the test to receive an official score report.
- A booklet of blank paper (scratch paper) is provided for you to use during the test. All scratch paper must be returned to the test center administrator at the end of the testing session.
- If at any time during the test you have a problem with your computer, or need the test administrator for any reason, raise your hand.
- Testing premises are subject to videotaping.
Verifying Your ID
You must present valid and acceptable identification documents . Your identification will be checked before you are admitted. Identification (ID) verification at the test center may include:
- thumb printing
- other forms of electronic ID confirmation
If you refuse to present ID and/or have your ID verified, you will not be permitted to test and you will forfeit your test fee.
Personal items other than identification documents are not allowed in the testing room. This includes cell phones, PDAs, BlackBerry devices, and any other electronic or photographic devices. You will not have access to your personal items during the test or during breaks. Before the test, you will receive instructions from test center staff regarding where you must deposit personal items. You will be required to follow the procedures set by the test center for storage of your cell phone or any electronic or photographic device you bring to the test center. If you take personal items into the test room, they will be collected by the test center staff. If you fail to follow the directions of the test center staff, you will not be permitted to take the test. Any violation of this procedure during the test or breaks may result in cancellation of your scores, dismissal by the test center staff, or banning from future testing. Test centers and ETS assume no responsibility for personal items or devices that you choose to bring into the test center.
The test administrator will assign you a seat.
- The maximum time allotted for untimed sections before the test is 30 minutes. The purpose of untimed sections before the test is to become familiar with important information that will make your Internet-based testing experience as convenient as possible. The time you spend on untimed sections should not be used for any other purpose. Infractions will be reported to ETS, and the test administrator is authorized to dismiss you from the testing administration site if you fail to follow the test administrator's directions.
- The Reading or Listening section of the test may include some extra questions. However, the available testing time for the entire test is the same for everyone.
- You may pace yourself with your own watch, but the computer is the official timekeeper.
- Watch alarms and clocks on cell phones are not permitted.
- You will not be permitted to continue the test or any part of it beyond the established time limit.
Taking a Break, Leaving Your Seat
- There is a mandatory 10-minute break midway through the testing session. If you exceed the time allotted, you may be dismissed or your score may be canceled.
- To leave your seat at any time other than the break, raise your hand. Timing of the test section will not stop. If you must leave the testing room, you are required to show the administrator your identification document(s) before you leave the room and when you return.
- You cannot have access to your cell phone during the test or during breaks.
Delayed or Rescheduled Tests
On occasion, weather conditions or other circumstances beyond our control may require a delayed start or the rescheduling of your test. If a technical problem at the test center makes it necessary to cancel your test session, or if it is later determined that your scores could not be reported because of such a problem, you can choose to take the test again for free or receive a full refund of the original test fee.
You also may seek reimbursement from ETS for reasonable and documented expenses (for yourself only) associated with traveling to the test center.
To request reimbursement, please contact TOEFL® Services within 30 days of your original test date.
Reimbursement requests must include:
- your name
- your date of birth
- your mailing address
- your daytime telephone number
- your e-mail address
- the original test date
- your registration number
In addition, you must also include:
- a brief description of what occurred at the test center
ETS will determine the appropriateness of the request. Approved reimbursements are made in U.S. dollars.
Irregularities During the Test
Although tests are administered under strict supervision and security measures, testing irregularities may sometimes occur. Please contact us as soon as possible to report any observed behavior that may lead to an invalid score—for example, someone copying from another test taker, taking a test for someone else, having access to test questions before the exam, or using notes or unauthorized aids. All information is held in the strictest confidence.
- Phone: 1-609-406-5430 (all other locations)
- Fax: 1-609-406-9709
- E-mail/Internet: TSReturns@ets.org
Dismissal from a Test Center
A test administrator is authorized to dismiss you from a test session and/or your scores may be canceled for violations such as, but not limited to, the following:
- Attempting to take the test for someone else or having someone take the test for you
- Failing to provide acceptable identification
- Obtaining improper access to the test, part of the test, or information about the test
- Using or having a telephone or cell phone in your possession during the test session or during breaks
- Using any aids in connection with the test, such as mechanical pencils, pens, pagers, beepers, calculators, watch calculators, books, pamphlets, notes, rulers, highlighter pens, stereos or radios with headphones, cell phones, watch alarms, stop watches, dictionaries, translators, PDAs, BlackBerry devices, and any hand-held electronic or photographic devices
- Creating a disturbance (disruptive behavior in any form will not be tolerated; the test administrator has sole discretion in determining what constitutes disruptive behavior)
- Attempting to give or receive assistance. Communication in any form is not permitted during the test administration. Discussion or sharing of test content during the test administration and/or during breaks is prohibited. Discussion or sharing of test content after the test is also prohibited.
- Removing or attempting to remove any test content, scratch paper, or notes relating to the test. Under no circumstances may test content or any part of the test content be removed, reproduced, and/or disclosed by any means (e.g., hard copy, verbally, electronically) to any person or entity.
- Referring to, looking through, or working on any test, or test section, when not authorized to do so, or working after time has been called
- Tampering with the computer
- Leaving the test room or test center vicinity without permission during the test session or during breaks
- Taking a weapon or firearm into the test center
- Taking food, drink, or tobacco into the testing room
- Leaving the test center vicinity during the test session or during breaks
- Taking excessive or extended unscheduled breaks during the test session. Test administrators are required to strictly monitor unscheduled breaks and report test takers who take excessive or extended breaks.
- Failing to follow any of the test administration regulations on this website, given by the test administrator, or specified in any test materials.
ETS reserves the right to take all action—including, but not limited to, barring you from future testing and/or canceling your scores—for failure to comply with test administration regulations or the test administrator’s directions. If your scores are canceled, they will not be reported, and your fees will not be refunded.
Admission to the Test Center
Report to the test center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled time. If you arrive late, you may not be admitted, and your test fee will be forfeited.
You must bring the following to the test center
- The acceptable and valid identification document(s) , with a signature and photograph, that you specified when you registered to test. Your ID will be checked before you are admitted. The name you give when you register must match the name on the identification document(s) you present at the test center.
- Your registration number. You will get this when you register. You will not receive an admission ticket. Return to your online profile and print out your registration confirmation right before the test day. If there is a change in the test center (e.g., a different building than originally scheduled), it will be updated in your profile.
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