The Essential TOEFL Exam Guide for Future International Students

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Deciding to study abroad is an act of courage that shows you are willing to go – quite literally – to great lengths to get the academic and life experience that will transform you into a successful professional (and grown-up).

On the way to applying to a degree programme abroad you will discover that most universities require you to provide English-language test score for admission. While there are several language tests that can prove your English skills, the TOEFL is one of the most common and popular ones. And here is why:

What is the TOEFL all about and who should take the test?

TOEFL, aka Test of English as a Foreign Language is a standardised test provided by ETS which measures your language skills in key areas: reading, speaking, listening, and writing. All these areas focus on academic English. The test takes around 4 ½ hours to complete, including check-in.

There are two versions of the test: Internet-based (TOEFL iBT® test) and paper-based (revised TOEFL® Paper-delivered Test). The IBT is the most popular version.

The TOEFL iBT® test is available to take over 50 times per year in authorised centres worldwide. The paper test is only available in regions where an internet-based test is not available.  Aside from the test, the ETS TOEFL® Program offers you various tools and guides to help you prepare for the test and improve your English-language skills.

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Because it is designed to test your language skills in relation to a university setting, it’s no wonder that over 35 million people from around the world have opted for TOEFL, since the test was first introduced. Here’s how you know if TOEFL is useful for you:

  • You are a student planning to study at a university abroad
  • You want to get admitted to an English-taught Bachelor’s or Master’s
  • You want to apply for a scholarship or a short-course abroad
  • You are a student or worker trying to apply for a visa

Where can I take the TOEFL tests and which universities accept it?

In most cases, you can take the TOEFL iBT® test in your home country. Just check on their official webpage which is the nearest testing centre and choose it when you register.

The TOEFL exam is the most widely accepted English-language test in the world. It is accepted by more than 10,000 colleges, universities and agencies in about 130 countries, including the major English-speaking ones: Australia, Canada, the U.K. and the United States.

In Australia, TOEFL iBT® test scores are accepted for admission to both undergraduate and graduate studies but also for skilled migration and business visas. Here are some universities that accept TOEFL in Australia:

In the UK, TOEFL iBT® test scores can be used for Tier 4 student visas under certain conditions. Here are some British universities that accept TOEFL:

In the United States, all colleges and universities accept TOEFL. Here are some examples of American universities with open admissions right now:

What’s also a huge advantage of the TOEFL test is that you can select three universities to which TOEFL will send your results directly, free of charge. For an extra cost you can add more universities that you want to receive your language test scores.

guide to TOEFL exam

How can I prepare for the TOEFL Test?

There are many ways in which you can prepare for TOEFL exam. You can choose private tutoring with a teacher, you can look for online resources on the Internet, or you can use the free and paid online preparation material offered by ETS. Additionally, you can contact your local TOEFL iBT Resource Center for general in-language information about the TOEFL test and test preparation.

The online resources provided by ETS include:

  • free sample questions
  • practice tests
  • interactive skill-building programs
  • tips and information about the test

Additionally, you can use the TOEFL Go!® Official App  which help you practice the language skills you want, wherever you are.

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What’s the TOEFL registration and exam process?

Taking the TOEFL exam is quite easy in terms of registration and process. Here are the steps you need to take to get your language certificate:

  • Plan to take the TOEFL® test 2 to 3 months before your earliest application deadline.
  • Create an online account and register for the TOEFL® test.
  • Make sure the ID you will bring to the test centre matches the name you use when you register.
  • A couple days before the test, log in to your TOEFL® online account and check your Registration Confirmation, in case a change of time or location was made at your test center.
  • Select, change or delete score recipients in your TOEFL® online account. You may select up to 4 universities or programs for free, and can add, delete or change recipients up until 10 p.m. (local test center time) the night before the test.
  • 10 days after test day, you should receive an email saying your scores are ready. To check your scores, log in to your TOEFL® online account and select View Scores from your Home Page.
  • On the day of the test, remember to arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes before your start time. And be sure to bring your photo ID.

You can retake the test as many times as you want, but you cannot take it more than once in a 12-day period.

The cost of the test varies depending on location. However, in general the fees are somewhere between 160 to 225 USD.

Taking a language proficiency test is useful for both your studies and your future work life. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment that will further motivate you in the university admission process. Don’t postpone it too long! Your future starts now!

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