Are you thinking of studying abroad, at a higher-education institution that holds its lectures in English—maybe in Europe, America, Australia, or even some colleges in Asia? Are you however, a non-native English speaker? If your answer to these question is yes, then it is highly likely that you will have to submit TOEFL test scores as part of your school application.

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL is an acronym for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is an English proficiency test—developed by an American company, ETS—to measure the reading, speaking, writing, and listening ability in the English language of an individual. TOEFL scores are a requirement for over 900 universities and other institutions in more than 130 countries. There are two methods of taking this test; it can be taken as a Paper Based Test (TOEFL PBT) or an Internet Based Test (TOEFL IBT); TOEFL IBT however, is more popular and has wider access.

You can register and take the TOEFL IBT at designated centres in almost all countries. The test consist of four sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing; each section has 30 questions with a total of 120 questions. Every question is assigned one point; hence the complete test has a total of 120 points. The duration of the IBT is between 3 hours 10 minutes to 4 hours 20 minutes. The exam score is valid to be used in any admission application process for up to two years, after which it becomes invalid and the candidate is required to retake the exam if they intend to pursue any admission process requiring TOEFL.

The IBT is held more than 50 times a year and candidates have the choice to give the exam as many times as they want, provided they leave a gap of at least 12 days before the retest. The IBT costs between USD 160 to USD 250, depending on the country.

Why is TOEFL Important?

TOEFL is very important for prospective non-native English students as it is a prerequisite to gain admission into many English-speaking universities. College’s often check that prospective students meet the minimum TOEFL score requirements—usually 60—even before looking at school grades.

How to Ensure You do Well:

Early Preparation

If you are taking the TOEFL test for the first time, a recommended period of preparation for the exam would be a minimum of six months. This will give you enough time to get acquainted with likely questions and improve your speed in answering the questions in order to finish before the stipulated time.

Get Resources

When preparing for the exam, you can use textbooks and online resources. Additionally, practise answering past exam questions which are available on the ETS website; this will help you understand the nature of the exam and build your confidence to tackle it.

Get Acquainted With Your Keyboard

Take your time to master using your computer keyboard as this will help you increase your typing speed; this will help you finish your exam before or within the stipulated time.

Once you have done everything you can to best prepare for the test, give it your best shot. Bear in mind however, that you neither pass nor fail this test; you are simply graded on your performance and each university has their own specific minimum requirement. However, in order to stand a better chance to gain admission, it will be best if you score high grades – about 20 in each section.

Good luck with your TOEFL exam, and your study abroad ambitions!

You may also find these blogs helpful: US vs. UK : A Comparative Study Guide, 5 (Fun) Reasons to Study Abroad, and Understanding the GPA Grading Scale.

About the Author: Kingsley Chidi holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronic Engineering with concentration in ICT. He is a passionate writer and blogger with many years of experience as a freelance writer, writing for blogs for individuals and companies.