Overview of the TOEFL Test

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

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Table of contents

Note: If you’re planning to take the Paper Edition, consult the TOEFL website to learn about the format.

Reading

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

  • There are 2 reading passages and 20 questions in total (10 per passage).
  • Each passage is approximately 700 words in length.
  • The reading section takes approximately 35 minutes to complete.
  • 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.

Reading question types
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.
  • You’ll answer 28 questions in total.
  • The listening section takes approximately 36 minutes to complete.
  • 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 per test) 4–5 minutes per lecture 6 per lecture
Conversation (2 per test) approx. 3 minutes per conversation 5 per conversation

A variety of question types are used.

Listening question types
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.
  • The speaking section takes approximately 16 minutes to complete.
  • 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.

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: the Integrated writing task and the Writing for an academic discussion task.
  • The writing section takes approximately 29 minutes to complete not including reading and listening time.
  • AI scoring and certified human raters are both used to score your responses.

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

Here’s an overview of Task 2.

Type Input material Writing time Recommended length
Online academic discussion Discussion board with a question from a professor and responses from other students 10 minutes At least 100 words