TOEFL iBT: What You Need to Know

If you are a non-native English speaker looking to enter a college or university where English is the primary language, there are some things that you need to especially prepare for. You’ll have to jump through several hurdles, one of the most important being a language proficiency exam. One test you can take is the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) iBT (internet-Based Test).

In this TOEFL iBT overview, we’ll help you familiarize yourself with the test to help improve your odds of achieving a much higher grade.

TOEFL iBT Overview

Worldwide, various universities accept TOEFL results. Many colleges, for example, find the TOEFL as an accurate way to measure the language skills of their applicants. They use the result of the test to help determine if they will accept a student or not. 

The idea is that one needs to understand and use the language well so that one can communicate and work efficiently with the community they want to join and be a successful student. 

Many universities in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK prefer TOEFL scores as a requirement for school admission.

The TOEFL has four sections: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Each section varies in length and time duration. They can also contain items in different test types.

TOEFL iBT Format

You can take TOEFL iBT on a computer at a test center or online at the convenience of your home. It is meant to check your comprehension and ability to use the language properly in an academic setting. It has the following parts:


In the reading section, test-takers will read three to four passages and answer questions about them afterward. The section passages are around 700 words with 10 corresponding questions. Around 54-72 minutes is given for you to answer all items.


In the listening section, you will hear lectures or conversations in the school context. All are around 3 minutes in duration. Each lecture or conversation has a corresponding 5-6 questions. It is best to take notes while listening to the audio so that you can properly answer the items.


In the speaking section, you will be asked 4 questions. The first question expects you to communicate your opinions and experiences. The next three questions expect you to showcase your ability to read, listen, and speak, simulating a classroom setting. You only have 17 minutes to complete the entire section.


In the writing section, you will do two writing tasks. First is the independent writing task, which takes 20 minutes. You will have to read a passage and listen to a short audio. Then, you will have to write your response. Second is the integrated writing task, which takes 30 minutes. In this part, you will be required to write an essay.

TOEFL iBT Registration and Schedule

To register and schedule for a TOEFL test, you need to register at the official site of the Educational Testing Center (ETS). Simply follow the instructions provided. The schedule depends on the chosen facility, and you should receive a confirmation upon registering. If you opt to take the test at home, make sure to fulfill the equipment and testing space requirements first. 

Remember that if you need to reschedule your exams, there may be fees associated with rescheduling or canceling the TOEFL.

TOEFL iBT Preparation Tips

There’s no denying that TOEFL is a thorough exam that fully measures your English proficiency. As such, the best thing to do is to prepare as soon as possible. A few tips include:

  • Reading English books whenever possible to brush up on your vocabulary
  • Consuming English-based media like podcasts, movies, and TV shows
  • Brushing up on spoken English by practicing with friends and family
  • Using flashcards and other study techniques to help improve retention
  • Studying through official or reputable review sites
  • Balancing out your studies with leisure to avoid burnout

Aside from heading to various TOEFL review sites, there are also practice tests you can take to see how well you might do on the real thing. As taking the TOEFL costs money, it’s best to prepare as much as possible while still focusing on your wellness.

TOEFL iBT Scoring

The TOEFL iBT is scored on an overall scale of 0-120. Each section is scored between 0-30, with no raw score. As such, you add the four subsections to get the final score.

As far as what constitutes a “passing grade”, it depends on the requirement of your chosen program or college. However, a score of 100 or above is typically considered good for many universities.

Retaking the TOEFL

The good news is there is no limit on how many times you can retake the TOEFL. All you have to do is register and schedule a new test to start the process. But, of course, you will have to pay any fees associated with retaking the test.

Keep in mind that there is a waiting period between taking tests. While there is no limit, there is a 12-day gap between the exams. Make sure to review your previous TOEFL scores to see where things went wrong, and study hard to overcome your weaknesses. Pace yourself, and take your time if you’re having trouble.

With Understanding Comes a High Score

It’s important that you familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the TOEFL iBT so that you will know what to expect and how to prepare for it. While the test can seem overwhelming, with the right plan and preparation, you will obtain your desired scores to enter your dream institution.