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TOEFL Exam Pattern: What is the Pattern of TOEFL Exam

Updated on 05 July, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

toefl exam pattern

Knowing about the TOEFL exam pattern is very important if you wish to crack this really important examination. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a proficiency test, designed to evaluate aspirants’ English language skills. This examination is majorly given by those who are non-native speakers of English and wish to study in foreign countries. The TOEFL exam pattern and syllabus are suitably planned and tailored to ensure a more effective assessment of aspirants’ English language abilities. It is vital that candidates get an idea of the examination pattern and the entire syllabus in advance. This will help them plan out their study and practice schedules better, enabling the achievement of their coveted TOEFL scores. 

TOEFL Exam Pattern, Duration, Questions, and More 

Here’s taking a closer look at the TOEFL exam format along with other vital aspects. 

Basic Details Chart

Official Websitehttps://www.ets.org/toefl
Examination ModeInternet-Based and Paper-Delivered Test
Number of Sections4
TOEFL Exam Duration

Approx. 3 hours (Internet-based test)

Approx. 2.5 hours (Paper-delivered test)

Skills Measured/Test SectionsReading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing
Overall Score Range0 – 120
TOEFL Score Validity2 years


Section-Wise Information

SegmentDuration of QuestionsKey Tasks
ReadingQuestions: 30–40 questionsReading 3/4 passages from the academic texts given and answering questions on them likewise.
Duration: 54–72 minutes
ListeningQuestions: 28-38Listening carefully to lectures, classroom discussions, conversations, and discussions before answering questions on the same.
Duration: 41-57 minutes

Break: 10 minutes

SpeakingQuestions: 4 tasksAspirants should express opinions on topics with which they are familiar and also speak on the basis of the listening and reading tasks.
Duration: 17 minutes
WritingQuestions: 2 tasksAspirants should write responses to the essay, based upon the listening and reading tasks along with backing the opinion given in this section.
Duration: 50 minutes

Testing Pattern for TOEFL

This table will give you an idea of the TOEFL exam structure and the range of scores and mean scores for all sections. Candidates get the ETS email after six days of taking the examination. This is when their scores can be checked online. The printed score reports are dispatched via email post 11 days after the test date.

SectionScore RangeMean Scores*
Total Score0–12078

These details will help aspirants get a better idea of the TOEFL exam pattern and help them immensely in their TOEFL preparation

Recommended Reads:

Documents Required for TOEFL ExamTOEFL Accepted Universities in Canada
TOEFL RegistrationTOEFL Exam Eligibility
TOEFL Tips and TricksTOEFL Exam Fee

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What are the Skills measured in every section of TOEFL?

The TOEFL reading section assesses the reading abilities of the candidates and how well they can comprehend the academic materials in English language. It also tests their comprehension, accuracy and interpretation skills for university-level educational text and passages. 

The TOEFL Listening section is curated in a manner that it evaluates the test taker’s comprehension skills and evaluates lectures and conversations in English.

The TOEFL speaking section tests the aspirants’ efficacy in spoken English in academic settings. It consists of tasks that mimic real-life situations faced in the academic, professional and social environment.

The listening abilities are tested for the different parameters which are underlined below: 

  • Basic comprehension
  • Practical understanding
  • Synthesizing information

The TOEFL speaking section is curated to assess the candidates’ efficacy in spoken English in the settings. It comprises tasks that mimic real-life situations faced by an individual in the academic, professional and social environment.

The TOEFL writing section evaluates the candidates on the basis of the presentation and organization of the ideas that are relevant for the  University or college coursework. 

The TOEFL writing section are classified under two broad tasks i.e., Integrated writing task and Independent writing task:  

  • TOEFL Integrated Writing Task: In this task the test-takers read a short passage and listen to a short recording. Then test-takers need to submit their response in writing on the basis of information given in the passage and the lecture. The length for this task is 20 minutes.
  • TOEFL Independent Writing Task: The test takers write an essay on a topic which is based on some opinion or personal experience. The length for this task is 30 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the pattern of the TOEFL exam?

The TOEFL exam pattern comprises four sections namely reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The candidate performs different tasks that combine four English communication skills, namely:

  1. Read, listen and then speak in response to a given question
  2. Listen and then speak in response to a given question
  3. Read, listen and then write in response to a given question

The duration of the test is three hours.

Is the TOEFL exam hard?

The TOEFL exam is not hard. It depends on the preparation on an individual basis. Some people find it difficult while others find it easy. It is imperative to give equal time to each of the sections.

Which part of the TOEFL test is Hardest?

It would be difficult to pinpoint which section of the TOEFL test is the most difficult as it varies with individuals. For some individuals, listening is the hardest part of the TOEFL exam as the pace at which the recording is played is slower than the normal recording. The difficulty of the reading section is attributed to the vocabulary.

How to start preparing for the TOEFL Exam?

You can start preparing for the TOEFL Exam by implementing the following tips:

  1. The most important step before beginning your preparation is to acquaint yourself with the TOEFL exam pattern and syllabus
  2. You need to be a very good listener as the audio clip is played only once and on the basis of that you need to submit your responses. Therefore, it is advisable to improve your focus and listen to each and every word of the recording carefully.
  3. Practice enough Mock tests for the TOEFL exam. Doing this exercise on a daily basis will help you with the SWOT analysis which will further help you in nearing your goal of scoring high in the TOEFL exam.
  4. Reading daily is one of the activities that one should accomplish if his or her aim is to qualify in TOEFL exam with good scores. This will increase your reading speed and improve your comprehension skills.
  5. Listen to different kinds of podcasts and improve your listening skills.

Is TOEFL iBT available at home?

Yes, The TOEFL iBT Home Edition is available in countries except Iran.

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