Overview of the TOEFL Test

Start your TOEFL preparation with an overview of each part of the test: reading, listening, speaking and writing.

Table of contents

Reading

Here are some key points about reading in the TOEFL test:

  • There are 3 or 4 reading passages.
  • Each passage is approximately 700 words in length and has 10 questions.
  • The reading section takes 54–72 minutes in total.
  • The passages are taken from university-level textbooks. They’re the sort you might expect to find in an introduction to a discipline or topic.
  • A glossary feature is available to help you understand words that aren’t commonly used.

A variety of question types are used:

  • Factual information
  • Negative factual information
  • Inference
  • Rhetorical purpose
  • Vocabulary
  • Reference
  • Sentence simplification
  • Insert text
  • Prose summary
  • Fill in a table

Listening

Here are some key points about listening in the TOEFL test:

  • There are 2 types of listening material used: lectures and conversations.
  • The listening section takes 41–57 minutes in total.
  • You hear each listening passage once only.
  • Pictures are used with each recording to help you understand the setting.
  • You can take notes throughout the listening section.

Here’s an overview of the 2 types of listening material used:

Type Length Number of questions
Lecture (3–4 per test) 3–5 minutes 6 per lecture
Conversation (2–3 per test) 3 minutes 5 per conversation

A variety of question types are used:

  • Gist-content
  • Gist-purpose
  • Detail
  • Function
  • Attitude
  • Organization
  • Connecting content
  • Inference

Speaking

Here are some key points about speaking in the TOEFL test:

  • There are 4 tasks: 1 independent speaking task and 3 integrated speaking tasks.
  • You record your speaking responses using a microphone – there’s no human examiner present.
  • AI scoring and certified human raters are both used to score your responses.
  • You have 17 minutes to complete the speaking tasks.

Here’s an overview of the various tasks:

Task Type Input material Preparation time Speaking time
1 Independent Question prompt 15 seconds 45 seconds
2 Integrated Read a passage and listen to a conversation (campus-related topic) 30 seconds 60 seconds
3 Integrated Read a passage and listen to part of a lecture (academic subject) 30 seconds 60 seconds
4 Integrated Listen to part of a lecture (academic subject) 20 seconds 60 seconds

Assessment criteria:

  • Delivery
  • Language use
  • Topic development

Writing

Here are some key points about writing in the TOEFL test:

  • There are 2 tasks: an integrated writing task and an independent writing task.
  • AI scoring and certified human raters are both used to score your responses.
  • You have 50 minutes to complete the writing tasks.

Here’s an overview of Task 1:

Type Input material Writing time Recommended length
Integrated Read a passage and listen to a short lecture 20 minutes 150–225 words

Assessment criteria:

  • Accurate development
  • Organization
  • Language use

Here’s an overview of Task 2:

Type Input material Writing time Recommended length
Independent Question prompt 30 minutes At least 300 words

Assessment criteria:

  • Development
  • Organization
  • Language use