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What is the TOEFL ibt and how Total Testing time can help you:

What is the TOEFL ibt?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is an online exam (administered both at test centers or at home while COVID-19 persists) that measures non-native speakers level of English at an academic level.

The TOEFL is the most widely recognized English Language exam at an international Level. Thousands of universities and institutions utilize the TOEFL to assess a candidate’s overall English level. Most people who take the TOEFL exam are planning to study abroad where the classes will be taught in English. Additionally, the TOEFL is used by many governments as part of obtaining a visa and by educational programs to receive scholarships.


What is on the TOEFL ibt exam?

The Total TOEFL Time of the TOEFL ibt exam is approximately 3 hours.

To prepare effectively for the TOEFL, it is critical to understand how the test is structured. The exam is broken down into 4 sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Here is the overall breakdown of the TOEFL exam:


Section Assignment Number of Questions Time Raw Points (per question) Scaled score
Reading 3 – 4 Passages (10 questions each) 30-40

54–72 minutes 

1-4 30

2-3 Conversations (5 questions each)

3-4 Lectures (6 questions each)

34-51 41-57 minutes 1-2 30
BREAK 5-10 minutes
Speaking 1 independent + 3 integrated 4 17 minutes 1-4 30
Writing 1 independent + 1 integrated 2 30 min + 20 mins 1-5 30
Total time/score

Approx. 3 to 3.5 hours



You are allowed to take notes on all 4 sections of the TOEFL exam. If you take the exam at a test center, you will be provided with 3 sheets of scratch paper and pencils.


TOEFL ibt Reading section

On the TOEFL Reading section you will have 3 or 4 passages, depending on exam day. If you have four reading passages, one will be an experimental passage; however, you never know which one of the four is the experimental passage.

If you had 3 TOEFL reading passages you will have 54 minutes to answer 30 questions. If you have 4 TOEFL reading passages you will 72 minutes to answer 40 questions.

The TOEFL reading passages are excerpts from textbooks and can be on a wide variety of subjects such as biology, mathematics, chemistry, and other many other university related subjects. Each reading passage is usually about 700-800 words in length.

You will have 54 or 72 minutes to do the COMPLETE reading section. Therefore, it is important that you manage your time so that you finish the TOEFL reading section within the time constraint.

To practice the TOEFL reading and learn about the different reading questions types click here and practice some of our TOEFL reading questions.

TOEFL Listening

Just like the reading section of the TOEFL test, the listening section also varies in the number of questions that you will have. On the listening section of the TOEFL exam you will listen to 5 to 7 classroom lectures. If you have 5 classroom lectures, you will have 41 minutes to answer 28 questions. If you have 7 classroom lectures, you will have 57 minutes to answer 39 questions.

For each lecture that you listen to it can vary in three to five minutes in length, followed by five to six questions. You only listen to each audio only one time, so be sure to be attentive and take good notes!

You can take notes while you are listening to the lectures and you do not see the questions until after you have listened to one of the lectures.


After you complete the reading and listening sections, you will be given a 10-minute break. It is a good idea that you get up and stretch during the break. This will give you extra energy and allow you to go to the last two sections of the TOEFL exam (Speaking and Writing).

TOEFL Speaking

For the TOEFL speaking section you will have 4 different speaking tasks to do. Each task is different. The entire speaking section takes 17 minutes to complete. It is unique to other English exams in that you speak into a microphone and your responses are recorded.

Question 1 of the speaking requires you to speak about your own personal opinion and experiences on the provided question they give you. For this task, you have 15 seconds to prepares and 45 seconds to respond.

Example of TOEFL Speaking 1

When giving feedback to students, some teachers would like to talk to their students in person, while other teachers would give written comments to students. Which do you prefer and why?

Questions 2 and 3 are called integrated tasks and combine both reading,

listening, and speaking. These tasks prepare you to speak just as if you were in a university classroom.

For Question 2 on the TOEFL speaking you read a campus situation (a notice posted on campus, a letter from a student, etc.) for 45 seconds. After you read the passage, it will disappear and then you listen to one or two students giving their point of view about the reading passage. After the student conversation ends, you will have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to make a speech.

For Question 3 on the TOEFL speaking you read from a university textbook (the topics can be about anything) for 45 seconds. After you read the passage, it will disappear and then you listen to a professor lecture about the textbook passage you just read. He will usually further the textbook explanation through examples. After the classroom lecture ends, you will have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to make a speech.

Finally, for Question 4 on the TOEFL speaking you will listen to a classroom lecture. Like the TOEFL listening section, these lectures can be based on a wide variety of topics. In the lecture, you will listen to a professor define two terms and provide two examples to illustrate the defined terms better. The lectures can last up to three minutes, and then you will have 20 seconds to prepare your speech and 60 seconds to respond.

TOEFL writing

The TOEFL writing section is the final section on the TOEFL exam. It consists of 2 different tasks. For the first writing, you will have to read an academic passage for 3 minutes and then listen to a classroom lecture related to the topic you just read about. You then will have 20 minutes to type your essay.

The second essay is a writing assignment based on a prompt provided by the exam. You will usually have to provide your own personal experience or agree or disagree on a particular issue. For this TOEFL essay, you have 30 minutes to type your response.

Is the TOEFL exam hard?

The actual difficulty of the TOEFL exam depends on each individual and their knowledge of English. It also depends on what score you need. Though one thing is for sure, in order to obtain a good score on the TOEFL exam you need to have a solid foundation in the English Language.

One of the elements that make the TOEFL exam challenging is advanced vocabulary. Having a high level of English vocabulary will not only help you do well in the reading section of the exam, but it was also help you in the other three sections (listening, speaking, and writing) as well. The TOEFL is notorious for giving reading passages on unique topics and also classroom lectures in the listening portion that utilize specific vocabulary.

Building your vocabulary before you take the TOEFL test will most definitely help you improve on the exam. Check out our must know TOEFL vocabulary lists to practice more.

How is the TOEFL exam scored?

The TOEFL ibt is scored from 0 to 120 points. For each of the four sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing), you get a score from 0-30 points.

If you have been practicing the TOEFL for a little while, you may have noticed that there aren’t 30 questions in each TOEFL section and that some questions have more weight than others. The reason why each section is scored out of total 30 points is due to scaled scoring. The TOEFL has both raw and scaled scores.

How the TOEFL Reading and Listening Sections are graded

For the reading and listening sections, you are not penalized for guessing, so if you do not know an answer, it is always best to make a (wise) guess.

The TOEFL ibt Reading and listening have the following conversions:

Scaled Score Raw Reading Score Raw Listening Score
30 45, 44 34
29 43, 42, 41 33
28 40, 39
27 38, 37 32
26 36 31
25 35, 34 30
24 33 29
23 32
22 31 28
21 30
20 29 27
19 28 26
18 27 25
17 26 24
16 25 23
15 24 22
14 23 21
13 22 20
12 19
11 21
10 20 18
9 19 17
8 18 16
7 17 15
6 14
5 16 13
4 15 12
3 14 11
2 13, 12 10
1 11, 10 9
0 9 and below 8 and below


*This is not an exact conversión, but it does provide a general idea of how the scoring system works for both the TOEFL reading and TOEFL listening section. If you have more specific questions contact us.



How the TOEFL Speaking Section is scored:

The speaking section use both AI technology and humans to assess your responses.

On the TOEFL speaking section, you have 4 separate speaking that are each graded on a scale from 0-4; thus, you can get a maximum scaled score of 16 points and this is then converted into your overall TOEFL ibt score. The following table shows the TOEFL speaking conversions.

Raw TOEFL speaking score Scaled TOEFL speaking score
0 0
1 2
2 4
3 6
4 8
5 9
6 11
7 13
8 15
9 17
10 19
11 21
12 23
13 24
14 26
15 28
16 30


How the TOEFL writing section is graded

Like the speaking section, the TOEFL writing section also uses both AI technology and human technology to grade the writing section. In the TOEFL writing, you have 2 writing tasks and each task tasks receives a total raw score. The maximum total raw score is 5, so you can receive a maximum TOEFL writing out of 10. Here is the TOEFL writing conversion:

Raw TOEFL writing score Scaled TOEFL writing score
0 0
0.5 4
1 5
1.5 7
2 8
2.5 10
3 11
3.5 12
4 14
4.5 15
5 17
5.5 18
6 20
6.5 21
7 22
7.5 24
8 25
8.5 27
9 28
9.5 29
10 30


After you have taken the TOEFL ibt exam, you will receive the score within 6 days. The TOEFL score has a validity of 2 years.

What is a Good TOEFL iBT Score?

A good TOEFL score is dependent on each individual candidate and what TOEFL score they need. Each program has its own TOEFL score requirement. However, generally speaking, if you get a 100 or higher on the TOEFL ibt exam, you are in good shape to get into most top university programs. Always aim for the highest score possible.

How can I prepare for the TOEFL exam?

Regardless of your English level, it is always a great idea to plan and prepare for the TOEFL exam. You should familiarize yourself with the exam and feel confident in all four sections of the exam.

There are many different ways to prepare the TOEFL exam, one of which is online with a TOEFL teacher.

At Total Testing Time we have the best teachers and software to help you get your score on the first time.

For more information on our TOEFL courses click here