About TOEFL®

TOEFL® is an internet based Test and it measures what colleges and universities need to know: a prospective student's ability to use English in an academic setting.

Use of Internet-based testing (iBT)?

Internet-based testing makes it possible to capture and score test-taker speech in the most efficient, standardized, and objective manner. Internet-based testing will also make it possible to greatly increase the number of test centers, which is good for test takers. 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, and one lecture may use a British or Australian accent. Also, there are new questions that measure understanding of a speaker's attitude, degree of certainty, and purpose.


The new TOEFL®differs is important ways from previous versions of the test, for example...

  • It tests all four language skills that are important for effective communication: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.
  • It will be delivered via the Internet in secure test centers around the world.
  • Some tasks require test takers to combine more than one skill

Integrated questions or “tasks” in the new test help learners build confidence needed to communicate in the academic environments they plan to enter the new integrated tasks ask test takers to

  • read, listen and then speak in response to a question.
  • listen and then speak in response to a question.
  • read, listen and then write in response to a question

TOEFL® Reading

The TOEFL® Reading section includes 3 to 5 reading passages, each approximately 700 words long. There are 12 to 14 questions per passage. You have from 60 to 100 minutes to answer all questions in the section.

Passages – are excerpts from college level text books that would be used in introduction to a discipline topic. The excerpts are changed as little as possible because the goal of the TOEFL®is to assess how well students can read the kind of writing that is used in an academic environment.

TOEFL® Reading Question types

Basic information and Inferencing questions 11 to 13 questions per set)

  • Factual information questions
  • Negative factual information questions
  • Inference questions
  • Rhetorical purpose questions
  • Vocabulary questions
  • Reference questions
  • Sentence simplification questions

Reading to learn questions

  • Prose summary
  • Fill in a table

The passages are mainly expository. In other words, they explain something. However, some passages may be narrative (telling the story of an event or a person) or persuasive (arguing in favor of or against some point or issue). Passages may employ various patterns of organization and development: cause and effect, com­parison and contrast, definition, classification, and analysis.

The vocabulary used in the Reading Section is sophisticated but not unrealistically difficult. Some specialized vocabulary is "glossed"—in other words, it is marked with a blue underline, and you can get a definition by clicking on the word or phrase. If there are words that you don't know that are not glossed, sometimes you can guess the meaning from the context of the sentence. And remember that it is not necessary to understand every word in the passage in order to answer the questions correctly.


Multiple-Choice Questions

Most of the questions in the Reading Section are multiple-choice questions. There are eight main types as shown in the following chart. The chart also shows you in which lesson in The Guide you will find more information and practice for this question type.

Standard Multiple-Choice Reading Questions

Type of question Explanation Example Probable No. per test

Factual questions (detail questions)

These ask you to locate and identify specific information in the passage.

According to the information in paragraph ________, where did ... According to the passage, why did... Which of the following is true, according to the author?

7 to 10
Negative factual questions These ask which of the answer choices is not true, according to information in the passage, or is not mentioned in the passage. According to the information in paragraph ________, which of the following is NOT ... The author mentions all of the following in the passage EXCEPT . .. 1 to 4
Vocabulary questions These ask you to identify the meaning of a word or phrase used in the passage. The word_____in the passage is closest in meaning to .... 6 to 10
Inference questions These ask you to draw conclusions based on information in the passage. From the information in paragraph______, it can be inferred that. . . In paragraph_______, the author suggests that… 3 to 6
Questions about the author's purpose These ask you why the author uses a certain word, detail, or example in a passage. Why does the author mention_________in paragraph________? Why does the author give details about________? 2 to 3
Questions about the author's methods These ask you to describe how the author explains or accomplishes something in the passage. How does the author explain the concept of ___________in paragraph_________? 2 to 3
Questions about the author's attitude These ask you how the author feels about a certain issue, idea, or person that is mentioned in the passage. What is the author's opinion of________? Which of the following most accurately reflects the author's opinion of___________? 1 to 2
Sentence restatement/ simplification questions These ask which choice best restates and summarizes the information in a sentence from the passage. Which of the following sentences best expresses the essential information in the sentence below? (Incorrect answer choices omit important information or change the meaning of the original sentence in an important way.) 2 to 3
Reference questions These ask what word a pronoun or other reference word refers to. The word _______in the….. passage refers to ... 3 to 4

TOEFL® - Listening

In the TOEFL®Listening section you will listen to four to six lectures and two to three conversations. There will be six questions per lecture and five questions per conversation, you will have a total of 60 to 90 minutes to answer all of the listening questions.


There are two types of listening materials on the TOEFL® conversation and lectures. Both are based on the actual speech that is used in North American colleges and universities.


There are two types of conversations in TOEFL iBT

  • Office hours
  • Service encounters


The content of the lectures reflects the content that is presented in introductory level academic settings. Topics cover a brand range of subjects. In general these topics are divided into four major categories

  • Arts
  • Life science
  • Physical science
  • Social science

TOEFL® - Listening Question Types

  • Basic comprehension questions
  • Pragmatic understanding questions
  • Connecting information questions

Sentence fragments


William Blake. A great poet. At least in my opinion.

Most of the speakers will have standard American accents. However, some speakers may have a regional U.S. accent (southern U.S. or New England, for example) or an accent from another English-speaking country (the U.K., Canada, Australia, India, or New Zealand, for example).

The Questions

The chart below shows you the kinds of questions that are typically asked about the conversations and the lectures. The chart also shows you in which lesson in The Guide you will find more information and practice for this type of question.

Standard Multiple-Choice Listening Questions

Type of question Explanation Example Probable No. per test
Main-Topic Questions These ask you what subject the conversation or lecture is generally about. What is the main topic of this conversation? What is the primary topic of this lecture? 1 or 2
Main-Purpose Questions These ask you why, in general, the speakers are having the conversation or why the lecture is being given. Why is the man/woman talking to the professor? What is the main point of this lecture? 1 or 2
Factual Questions These ask you about supporting ideas or details mentioned in the conversation or lecture. What does the speaker say about ________? According to the professor, where does ________? According to the lecture why does_______? 12 to 18
Negative Factual Questions These ask which of the answer choices is not true, according to information given in the conversation or lecture, or what information is not mentioned in the passage. According to the lecture, which of the following is NOT true? Which of the following is NOT mentioned in the lecture? 2 to 4
Inference Questions These ask you to draw conclusions based on information given in the conversations or lectures. What does the man/woman imply about_________? What can be inferred about_______from the lecture? 3 to 5
Purpose Questions These ask you why a speaker mentions some point in the conversation or lecture. Why does the professor mention________? 2 to 4
Method Questions These ask you to explain how the speaker explains or accomplishes something in the passage. How does the speaker explain the concept of__________? How does the professor introduce the idea of________? 1 to 2
Attitude Questions These ask you how the speaker feels or thinks about a certain issue, idea, or person. What does the speaker say about_______? What is the professor's opinion of_______? 1 to 2

To answer standard multiple-choice questions, you simply click on the oval next to the answer choice that you believe is correct, or on the choice itself. This will make the oval appear dark. You then click OK, followed by Next.

Other Types of Listening Questions

Some Listening questions have special directions.

TOEFL® - Speaking

The TOEFL® speaking section is designed to evaluate the English speaking proficiency of students like you whose native language is not English but who want to pursue undergraduate or graduate study in an English speaking context. Like all other sections of the TOEFL® , the speaking section is delivered via computer.

In the speaking section you will be asked to speak on a variety of topics that draw on personal experience, campus-based situations, and academic type content material. There are six questions. The first two questions are called independent speaking tasks because they require you to draw entirely on your own ideas, opinions, and experiences when responding. The other four questions are integrated speaking tasks. In these tasks you will listen to a conversation or to an excerpt from a lecture, or read a passage and then listen to a brief discussion or lecture excerpt, before you are asked the question. These questions are called integrated tasks because they require that you integrate your English language skills-listening and speaking, or listening, reading, and speaking. In responding to these questions, you will be asked to base your spoken response on the listening passage or on both the listening passage and the reading passage together.


Task Description Example Timing
Task 1: Personal Preference Involves a single prompt (question) that asks you to express a personal choice from a category that is given in the prompt. "Describe the most important day in your life and explain why it was important to you. Include details and examples to support your explanation." Preparation time: 15 seconds Response time: 45 seconds
Task 2: Paired Choice Involves a single prompt that asks you to express a personal preference from two choices that are given in the prompt. "Some people prefer to work for a company and receive a salary. Other people prefer to own their own business. Which of these do you prefer, and why? Include details and examples in your explanation." Preparation time: 15 seconds Response time: 45 seconds

TOEFL® - Writing

There are two tasks in the writing section of the TOEFL® an integrated writing task and an independent writing task.

The integrated writing task

You will read a passage about an academic topic for three minutes, and then you will hear a lecture related to the topic. Then you will be asked to summarize the points in the listening passage and explain how they relate to specific points in the reading passage.

The independent writing task

This second task in the writing section of TOEFL® is the independent writing task. You are presented with a question, and you have 30 minutes to write an essay in response. The question asks you to give your opinion on an issue.


The fourth section of the TOEFL® tests your ability to produce clear, well-organized academic writing. This section contains two writing tasks: an Integrated Writing Task and an Independent Writing Task.

Writing Section

Task Based on Type of Task Timing Recommended Length
Integrated Writing Task Reading passage and related lecture Summarize and compare lecture and passage. Reading: 3 minutes
Lecture: 2 minutes
Writing: 20 minutes
200 words
Independent Writing Task Your own knowledge and experience Give your opinion of an issue or express your personal preference Reading: 3 minutes
Lecture: 2 minutes
30 minutes
300 words

Integrated versus Independent Tasks

For the Integrated Writing Task, you read a short passage, then listen to a short lec­ture on the same topic. You then write an essay summarizing the lecture and the reading passage and showing the relationship between them. You may take notes on both the reading passage and the lecture. The Integrated Task asks you only to summarize and paraphrase the information that you read and hear. You should not express your own opinion of the issues and you should not bring in any informa­tion from outside the passage and the lecture (just as in the Integrated Speaking Tasks).

The Independent Writing Task requires you to read a prompt (a topic) and express your opinion in your response. Your response is based entirely on your own knowledge and experience (just as in the Independent Speaking Tasks).

entering and editing the writing tasks on the computer

This is the only part of the test in which you will primarily use the keyboard rather than the mouse. You must type your responses on the computer. If you do not have much typing experience, or you are not used to typing in English, you will need to practice as much as possible. You can also download typing lessons from the Internet. Type "free typing tutorial" into your browser and take your pick.