TOEFL Exam Syllabus

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam is a standardised test designed to evaluate the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers. It assesses various skills including reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The exam is widely recognised by universities, colleges, and institutions worldwide, particularly in English-speaking countries, as a measure of an individual's ability to communicate effectively in English within academic settings.

For non-native English speakers, the TOEFL holds significant importance as it serves as a gateway for admission to educational institutions where English is the primary language of instruction. Many universities and colleges require TOEFL scores as part of their admission process for international students, ensuring that applicants have the necessary language skills to succeed in their academic pursuits. Additionally, some employers also use TOEFL scores as a criterion for hiring or promoting individuals who need strong English language skills for their job roles.

What is TOEFL?

The TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is an assessment designed to measure the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers, particularly those seeking to enrol in English-speaking universities or colleges. Developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the TOEFL is widely recognised by academic institutions and organisations worldwide.

The test evaluates a test-taker's ability to comprehend and use English in an academic context, covering four main language skills: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Each section of the test assesses different aspects of language proficiency. The TOEFL is for individuals looking to demonstrate their English language proficiency for academic or professional purposes in an English-speaking environment.

TOEFL Sections

Reading Section:

The Reading section of the TOEFL exam assesses your ability to comprehend written English materials. It consists of several passages followed by questions. These passages are typically academic, covering topics from various disciplines such as science, social science, arts, and humanities.

Question types in the Reading section may include

  • Multiple Choice Questions: You'll be asked to choose the best answer from several options.

  • Insert Text: You'll need to choose where a sentence fits best within a passage.

  • Reading to Learn Questions: These require you to identify the main idea, supporting details, and logical inferences.

  • Rhetorical Purpose Questions: These ask about the author's intentions, tone, and organisation of the passage.


Listening Section:

The Listening section evaluates your ability to understand spoken English. It includes various audio recordings, such as lectures, conversations, and academic discussions.

Question types in the Listening section may include

  • Multiple Choice Questions: You'll select the best answer from the options provided.

  • Multiple Answer Questions: You'll choose more than one correct answer.

  • Short Answer Questions: You'll provide brief responses based on what you heard.

  • Summarising: You may be asked to summarise the main points or the speaker's opinion.


Speaking Section:

In the Speaking section, you'll demonstrate your ability to express yourself orally in English. This section consists of four tasks, each designed to assess different speaking skills.

Tasks in the Speaking section may include

  • Independent Speaking Task: You'll express your opinion on a familiar topic.

  • Integrated Speaking Tasks: You'll read a passage, listen to a recording, and then respond based on what you read and heard.

  • Integrated Speaking Task (Listening and Speaking): You'll listen to a conversation or lecture and then speak about it.

Assessment criteria for the Speaking section include:

  • Delivery: Fluency, pronunciation, and intonation.

  • Language Use: Vocabulary range, grammatical accuracy, and sentence structure.

  • Content: Relevance of the response to the prompt, coherence, and coherence.


Writing Section:

The Writing section evaluates your ability to write in English. It consists of two tasks, each requiring you to compose a written response.

Tasks in the Writing section may include

  • Integrated Writing Task: You'll read a passage and listen to a lecture, then write a response summarising the main points and their relationship.

  • Independent Writing Task: You'll write an essay expressing your opinion on a specific topic.

Criteria for evaluating the Writing section include

  • Task Response: How well you address the prompt and develop your ideas.

  • Language Use: Vocabulary choice, grammar usage, and sentence structure.

  • Organisation: Coherence and cohesion in your writing, including paragraph structure and transitions.

TOEFL Syllabus in Detail

Reading Section:

  • Content: Two passages, approximately 700 words each

  • Question Format: 10 questions per passage

  • Total Questions: 20

  • Time Allotted: 35 minutes

  • Evaluation: Scores based on correct comprehension responses


Listening Section:

  • Content: Three lectures (3-5 minutes each) with classroom discussions and two conversations (about 3 minutes each)

  • Lecture Questions: 6 questions per lecture

  • Conversation Questions: 5 questions per conversation

  • Total Questions: 28

  • Time Allotted: 36 minutes

  • Note-taking Allowed


Speaking Section:

  • Content: Independent and integrated tasks

  • Independent Task: 1 prompt with 15-30 seconds preparation time and 45 or 60 seconds response time

  • Integrated Tasks: 3 tasks involving reading, listening, and speaking with similar preparation and response times

  • Total Questions: 4

  • Total Time: 16 minutes

  • Evaluation Based on Delivery, Language Use, and Topic Development


Writing Section:

  • Content: Two essay tasks

  • Integrated Task: Reading/Listening/Writing with 20 minutes allotted (3 minutes reading, 2 minutes listening, 15 minutes writing)

  • Academic Discussion Task: Writing task with a 10-minute time limit

  • Total Questions: 2

  • Total Time: 30 minutes

  • Evaluation Based on Organisation, Development, Unity, Coherence, Language Use, and Syntactic Variety

Scoring System in TOEFL

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam is scored based on four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Each section has its score range, and the overall TOEFL score is calculated based on the combined scores of these four sections.


Here's a breakdown of each section and its scoring:

Reading Section: This section evaluates your ability to understand academic texts. It consists of 3 to 4 reading passages, and each passage is followed by multiple-choice questions. The score range for the Reading section is 0 to 30.


Listening Section: This section assesses your ability to understand spoken English in academic settings. It includes lectures, classroom discussions, and conversations. You'll hear each recording only once and then answer questions about them. The score range for the Listening section is also 0 to 30.


Speaking Section: In this section, your ability to speak in English is evaluated. You'll be asked to respond to tasks by recording your spoken responses. These tasks simulate real-life situations such as expressing an opinion, summarizing information, or providing a solution to a problem. The scale for the Speaking section is 0 to 30.


Writing Section: This section measures your ability to write in English. You'll be given tasks such as writing essays based on reading and listening passages, summarizing information, or expressing an opinion. Your essays are scored based on factors such as clarity, coherence, and language use. The score range for the Writing section is 0 to 30.


Once you've completed all four sections, your scores are converted into a total scaled score, which ranges from 0 to 120. This total score is what most institutions use to assess your English proficiency level.

Here's a rough interpretation of the total scores:

  • 0 to 30: Very weak

  • 31 to 60: Weak

  • 61 to 90: Fair

  • 91 to 100: Good

  • 101 to 110: Very good

  • 111 to 120: Excellent


Different institutions have different score requirements, so it's important to check the requirements of the institution or program to which you're applying. Overall, the TOEFL score serves as an indicator of your ability to understand and use English in an academic environment.

Preparation Tips in TOEFL

Preparing effectively for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam requires a structured approach and dedication. The below-mentioned steps help you to prepare:

  • Understand the Format: Familiarise yourself with the format of the TOEFL exam. Understand the sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing) and the types of questions asked in each section.

  • Assess Your Skills: Take a diagnostic test to understand your current level of proficiency in English and identify areas that need improvement to help you formulate your study plan.

  • Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable goals for yourself based on your target score and the time you have available for preparation.

  • Gather Study Materials: Collect study materials such as TOEFL preparation books, online resources, practice tests, and study guides. You can also find numerous resources available online, including practice questions and sample tests.

  • Create a Study Plan: Plan a schedule that allocates adequate time for each section. Include regular practice sessions and review sessions in your plan.

  • Focus on Each Section: Dedicate specific time to each section of the exam. Work on improving your reading comprehension, listening skills, speaking fluency, and writing proficiency.

  • Practice Regularly: Practice is key to success in the TOEFL exam. Engage in regular practice sessions using sample questions, practice tests, and mock exams. This will help you get familiar with the exam format and improve your accuracy and speed.

  • Work on Vocabulary and Grammar: Enhance your vocabulary and grammar skills, as they play a crucial role in all sections of the TOEFL exam. Use flashcards, vocabulary lists, and grammar exercises to expand your knowledge.

  • Improve Listening Skills: Listen to English audio recordings, such as podcasts, news broadcasts, and TED talks, to improve your listening comprehension skills. Pay attention to the main ideas, supporting details, and tone of the speakers.

  • Practice Speaking: Practice speaking English regularly with native speakers or language partners. Record yourself speaking and listen to the recordings to identify areas for improvement. Focus on pronunciation, fluency, and coherence.

  • Write Regularly: Practice writing essays, summaries, and responses to prompts on various topics. Pay attention to structure, organisation, grammar, and vocabulary usage.

  • Review and Analyse Mistakes: After completing practice tests or exercises, review your answers and analyse any mistakes you made. Understand why you got certain questions wrong and learn from them.

  • Simulate Test Conditions: Take practice tests under timed conditions to simulate the real exam experience. This will help you build stamina and improve your time management skills.

  • Stay Confident and Positive: Maintain a positive attitude throughout your preparation. Believe in your abilities and stay confident in your skills.

  • Seek Feedback: If possible, seek feedback from teachers, tutors, or peers on your performance. They can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.


By following these steps and staying committed to your study plan, you can effectively prepare for the TOEFL exam and increase your chances of success.


Recommended Study Resources for TOEFL

Studying for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) requires a combination of understanding the test format, improving English language skills, and practising with sample questions and tests. Here's a list of recommended study resources:



  • "Official Guide to the TOEFL Test" by ETS: This book is published by the creators of the TOEFL and provides comprehensive information about the test format, as well as practice questions and full-length practice tests.

  • "TOEFL iBT Prep Plus 2021-2022" by Kaplan Test Prep: This book offers practice questions, strategies, and online resources to help you prepare for the TOEFL iBT.

  • "Barron's TOEFL iBT" by Pamela J. Sharpe: Barron's TOEFL iBT book includes practice tests, skill-building exercises, and tips for each section of the TOEFL.

  • "Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test" by Jolene Gear and Robert Gear: This book includes a variety of practice tests and audio materials to help improve listening and speaking skills.


Online Resources:

  • ETS TOEFL Website ( The official TOEFL website provides a variety of free resources, including sample questions, practice tests, and test-taking tips.

  • Magoosh TOEFL: Magoosh offers a comprehensive online TOEFL prep course with video lessons, practice questions, and study schedules.

  • Khan Academy: Khan Academy provides free resources for TOEFL preparation, including grammar lessons, reading comprehension practice, and writing tips.

  • Quizlet: Quizlet offers flashcards and study sets for TOEFL vocabulary and grammar practice.


Practice Tests:

  • ETS TOEFL Practice Online: This official practice test resource from ETS provides realistic TOEFL practice tests that simulate the actual testing experience.

  • Cambridge TOEFL Tests: Cambridge offers a series of practice tests that closely resemble the format and difficulty level of the actual TOEFL exam.

  • Manhattan Prep TOEFL: Manhattan Prep offers practice tests and study materials for the TOEFL iBT.

  • Barron's Online TOEFL Practice Tests: Barron provides online practice tests that cover all sections of the TOEFL exam.


Remember to utilise a variety of resources to improve your skills in all areas tested on the TOEFL, including reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Additionally, make sure to take timed practice tests to familiarise yourself with the test format and build your test-taking stamina.


Study Plan for TOEFL


Step 1: Current Level Assessment

Spend a day or two taking practice tests or diagnostic exams to gauge your current proficiency level.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses in each section of the test.


Step 2: Set Clear Goals

Determine your target score and the deadline for achieving it.

Break down your goal into smaller, manageable milestones.


Step 3: Prepare a Study Schedule

Allocate a specific amount of time each day for studying, keeping in mind your other commitments.

Prioritise studying during your most productive hours.

Create a study calendar outlining what topics you'll cover each day leading up to the test date.


Step 4: Gather Study Materials

Collect study guides, textbooks, online resources, and practice tests relevant to your exam.

Consider enrolling in test prep courses or hiring a tutor if needed.


Step 5: Focus on Weak Areas

Devote more time to areas where you're weakest.

Use a variety of study techniques such as reading, watching instructional videos, and practising problems.


Step 6: Practise Regularly

Set aside time for regular practice sessions, including timed practice tests to simulate exam conditions.

Review both correct and incorrect answers to understand your mistakes.


Step 7: Monitor Your Progress

Keep track of your progress by periodically taking practice tests or quizzes.

Adjust your study plan as needed based on your performance.


Step 8: Stay Healthy and Well-Rested

Ensure you're getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Take breaks when needed to prevent burnout.


Step 9: Review and Reinforce

Review key concepts and strategies regularly to reinforce your understanding.

Use flashcards or mnemonic devices to aid memorisation.


Step 10: Final Review and Relaxation

In the days leading up to the test, focus on reviewing key concepts rather than trying to learn new material.

Take time to relax and reduce stress through activities like meditation, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.


Step 11: Test Day Preparation

Familiarise yourself with the test format and any specific instructions provided.

Get a good night's sleep before the test and eat a healthy breakfast.

Arrive at the test centre early to avoid any last-minute stress.


By following this structured study plan, test-takers can effectively prepare for their exams and increase their chances of success. Adjustments can be made based on individual preferences and requirements.

TOEFL Exam Format Changes (if applicable)

Test Sample: Familiarise yourself with the TOEFL iBT through a 40-minute, self-paced sample test.

Streamlined Registration: Enjoy a simplified registration and scheduling process, now offering local payment options in select countries.

Complimentary Practice Resources: Prepare effectively with a comprehensive set of practice materials, including a full-length practice test, tailored study plan, daily exercises, and more.

Reduced Test Duration: Complete the test in under 2 hours.

Instant Score Access: Receive immediate access to your unofficial Reading and Listening scores upon test completion.

Transparent Score Reporting: Know exactly when to expect your official scores, as the reporting date will be provided at the end of your test.

Expedited Score Delivery: Receive your official scores within just 4–8 days after completing the test.

MyBest® Scores: Showcase your top overall performance with MyBest scores, reflecting your highest section scores from the previous 2 years.

Detailed Score Analysis: Gain valuable insights beyond mere scores, with personalised performance feedback and in-depth result analysis.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardised exam designed to assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers. Here are key points and the importance of the TOEFL exam:

  • Global Recognition: The TOEFL is recognised worldwide and accepted by thousands of institutions in over 150 countries, including universities, colleges, and employers. It serves as a common benchmark for English proficiency assessment.

  • Four Sections: The exam consists of four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Each section evaluates different language skills necessary for academic and professional success in an English-speaking environment.

  • Accuracy and Consistency: The TOEFL is carefully designed and regularly updated to ensure accuracy and consistency in assessing English language proficiency. Its standardised format helps ensure fairness and reliability in evaluation.

  • Objective Assessment: Unlike some other language proficiency tests, the TOEFL provides an objective evaluation of English skills. Scores are based on performance in each section, rather than subjective judgments.

  • Academic and Career Opportunities: Many academic institutions require TOEFL scores for admission to undergraduate and graduate programs. Additionally, some employers may require TOEFL scores as part of their hiring process, particularly in multinational companies or roles that involve international communication.

  • Preparation for Academic Success: Achieving a high score on the TOEFL demonstrates readiness for academic study in an English-speaking environment. It indicates proficiency in English language skills necessary for success in coursework, research, and communication with peers and instructors.

  • Personal and Professional Development: Studying for the TOEFL can enhance language skills and proficiency beyond the exam requirements. It provides an opportunity for personal and professional development, improving communication abilities in English and opening doors to new opportunities.


In summary, the TOEFL exam plays a crucial role in assessing English language proficiency for academic and professional purposes. Its global recognition, standardised format, and objective evaluation make it a valuable tool for individuals seeking educational and career opportunities in English-speaking environments.

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