Check out the TOEFL

toeflThis is the time of the year when students who want to study in the U.S. next fall (September) begin to worry about taking the TOEFL.

The TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language – measures students’ ability to use academic English, the kind of English that is used in college and university classes. Almost all international students have to take the TOEFL before they can attend schools in the U.S. or other countries where classes are taught in English. More than one million students take the TOEFL every year.

The Problem

When students talk to me about the TOEFL, I’m often surprised by how little they know about it. They know that there are four sections (parts) – reading, listening, speaking, writing – but not much more.

The Solution

Check out (find information about) the TOEFL as soon as possible, before you begin to prepare for it.

On any test, it’s important for a student to know as much about the test as possible. If you do, you will be a better test taker. You can plan your preparation better, and you will know what to expect when you take the test. As a result, you will be more relaxed and more confident when you actually have to take the test.

Finding the Information

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) is the company that is responsible for the TOEFL. Their web site has a lot of information about the TOEFL and other tests, but it is not an easy site to navigate (to find where you need to go). Here are links to three pages on the ETS site that all students should look at when they begin to prepare for the TOEFL:

1. TOEFL iBT at a Glance – a four-page introduction to the TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test). It briefly describes what’s new about the iBT and how it is different from the older paper-based TOEFL that many students are familiar with. It also contains answers to questions that students frequently ask.

2. The TOEFL iBT Tour – a video tour that introduces you to the TOEFL and shows you examples of each section of the test. Be sure to click on these links: Skills, Read, Listen, Write, Speak.

3. TOEFL iBT Tips – a long document – about 70 pages – that’s full of helpful information. You will find a description of each section of the test, with information about the specific skills (abilities) you need and the kinds of questions you will have to answer. There are also suggestions for how to improve your skills and prepare for the test. Rubrics (instructions for scoring) for speaking and writing will help you understand what you need to do to get good scores on those sections. Screenshots (pictures of the computer screen) show you what you will see when you take the test.

Do it now!

~Warren Ediger – student of many things, but especially language, learning/teaching, and technology; ESL teacher/tutor; musician; husband and father; creator of

P.S. I want to thank Jeff, Lucy, and all of the members of the ESL Podcast family for the warm welcome you gave me after my first post. It’s a privilege and delight to be a part of this great family!

This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Check out the TOEFL

  1. elcomandant says:

    Hi Tania, I’m glad to hear from you.

    I’m fine, thanks. I’m sure you are fine too according your writings. All of them are very fresh. I love read them and I imagine that you must be a very nice young girl and funny too.

    Despite of I don’t write as much as before, I keep studying English by my own. What it happens is that I am very busy since a couple of months.

    However, and speaking about today’s topic, since I am 56 years old I don’t need the TOEFL. I just want to know the English Language well enough to understand and to be understood.

    In fact, nowadays I am speaking by Skype with several natives Americans and Englishes people. Nevertheless, as I told before, I keep studying, listening to Lucy and Jeff, and writing here as you know, once in a while because my English needs to improve much more.


  2. Daniele says:

    Thank you Mr. Warren.

  3. mung says:

    That is great. I want to study in United States later and TOEFL is a big problem for foreign people like me. Thank you for informations.

  4. Lan says:

    My daughter wants to study in a English country. She wants to go to United States, but maybe another country is better? For me a parent, I want her a good experience but something not too expensive? She is in secondary school now and she will go two or three years in future. Is there another country maybe Canada or Australia is better??

  5. Leandro says:

    This is great information. I think IELTS – International English Language Testing System is also accepted in some American universities. I’m wondering if the Cambridge exam can also be used for this purpose …

  6. dongsung says:

    thank you for the good information Warren, Though I don’t have a plan to take TOEFL, it seems to help a lot for the students or people who want to study at university which taught in English. And thank you for the short stoies on your websites. To read low levle of story, it make me feel comfortable. I wish my reading level is go up in future.

  7. Brasil says:

    It is very informative, but not to me, ’cause I want to learn english for others reasons, like bettering and recycling, about a full view about world and to do this is necessary to know a little bit about english, but not formal! But, is not important to me to know correct rules, just comprehension about english and can reading, maybe someday I would talk like a pirates’s parrot, in order, if parrot can talk why couldn’t I, too? ( just joking)
    I saw the photos, are good!
    Sincerely, my best wishes to those who will have TOEFL, good lucky!
    Greetings for all!

  8. Márcio says:

    Thank’s for the information. I would like to study at some college in the USA, but it’s too expensive for me. Some day I will go to the USA to work as engineer or study more.

  9. Warren Ediger says:

    Leandro – Yes, the IELTS is accepted by a growing number of U.S. universities, but very few accept the Cambridge test. If you want to know if a school accepts a particular test (and the score they require), I suggest doing a Google search that includes: the name of the school, the name of the test, and the word “admissions”. Good comment!

  10. Reza says:

    Thank you very much Mr. Ediger for the information. It’s really useful

  11. emiliano says:

    Warren, seeing you here again it´s a great pleasure, that´s for sure. I am too old to have the TOEFL now, but It should be quite good to pass it when I was younger. Even without having the necessity of doing any study in USA.
    What I did was an exam to get the Cambrige Certificate many years ago and yes I passed it being a great and incredible satisfaction for me at that moment.
    In fact I didn´t need it for anything but to me it doesn´t matter, it was just the pleasure of having the Certificate.

    Thank you Warren, I think it´s a very useful information to everyone who wants to study in USA and needs to pass the TOEFL exam.

  12. yasin says:

    to be frank ! Im realy glad to see such diffrent kinds of usefull informations wich are given on free!!
    nowdays most of the people work for mony or something…..
    it has been a long time that I have started to learn 2 languages together but there was not enough improve!!
    your website showed me a better way to continue .

  13. Tania says:

    Hi ! Useful information . Thank you .

    Best wishes ,


  14. Great resource Warren,

    Thank you to advise and congratulation for this post.


  15. Bahador says:

    I have been studying for the TOEFL test for 2 or 3 month. The information above was really useful for me.


Comments are closed.