What is TOEFL exam used for? Best uses explained 2022

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  • This blog talks about the purpose of the TOEFL test.
  • In addition, it explains the importance of this test from the student’s perspective.
  • It also sheds light on TOEFL test types, structure, and test content.
  • Further, it provides some tips for scoring high on the TOEFL test. 

Pursuing higher studies in a foreign university is the dream of several students. While embarking on a journey to fulfill this dream, students learn about various types of examinations, and one such is the TOEFL test. 

Individuals wondering what is TOEFL exam is used for must know that it is one of the most widely accepted English proficiency tests used for admission purposes in more than 150 countries globally. 

This blog explains the TOEFL test, its purpose, types, exam pattern, and everything related to it. 

what is toefl exam used for

What is TOEFL Exam used for?

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardised test that assesses university applicants’ English language skills who primarily speak other languages. 

The sole purpose of this TOEFL test is to evaluate the proficiency of English in individuals whose native language is not the same. In short, the scores are used to measure international students’ ability to use English as a communicative language in an academic setting. 

Why Should Students Take TOEFL Exam?

Students who are willing to attend a university or graduate school in English-speaking countries must take the TOEFL test. The scores form an important part of the university application process in a foreign country. 

ETS (Educational Testing Services) is responsible for arranging the TOEFL test and delivering the score report.

When students take the TOEFL test, they become eligible for obtaining different scholarships. In addition, this test assists candidates in the visa application process, especially those who are willing to take up employment abroad.

The TOEFL test has acceptance in more than 11000 universities and institutions, including Canada, Australia, the United States, the UK, New Zealand, Asia, and Europe. 

To appear for the TOEFL test, students must complete the registration process (via online method, phone or through the mail, or in-person via an authorised agent), which is open 24×7. Please note that the online registration window closes 7 days before the examination, and late registration closes 4 days before the test. 

To be precise, the TOEFL exam uses are enormous. Individuals can take this test for study, work and immigration purposes. Therefore, students willing to take the TOEFL test must know the types or mode of tests available, structure and scores, etc.  

TOEFL Writing Templates 2022: TOEFL Essays Simplified

Types of TOEFL Tests

The types or modes of TOEFL tests that candidates can choose from are discussed below. 

TOEFL Test Types  Highlights
TOEFL Internet-based Test (iBT) -It is the online version of the TOEFL examination.
-More than 98% of students take this mode of TOEFL test.
-Candidates have to take this test at authorised test centres across the country. 
TOEFL Paper-delivered Test (PBT) -ETS has relaunched this TOEFL iBT paper-based test in certain countries. 
It has 2 examination sessions.
-The Reading, Listening and Writing tests will occur at test centres, and the candidates have to take this test on paper. 
-The Speaking test will occur at the candidate’s home at the computer, which a human proctor will monitor. 
-Candidates have to take the test within 3 days of the written test. 
-Test takers must have proper equipment and environment before registering for this test.
TOEFL Home Edition -ETS launched TOEFL home edition test during the pandemic.
-It is similar to that of the TOEFL iBT test.
Candidates can take it everywhere the TOEFL iBT test is available.
-Test takers must have the proper equipment and environment before registering for this test.

If you’re wondering which TOEFL test should I take?, you can go through the table above and select a mode as per suitability. 

Section Number of Tasks Testing Time  Score Scale
Reading 30 - 40 questions  54 - 72 minutes  0 - 30
Listening  28 - 39 questions  41 - 57 minutes  0 - 30
 Break 10 minutes
Speaking  4 tasks  17 minutes  0 - 30
Writing  2 tasks  50 minutes  0 - 30
Total Time Approximately 3 hours 0 - 120

What is the Test Structure?

Along with the different types of TOEFL, students must also learn about the exam structure and scoring before registering for this test.

Students wondering about the questions or tasks asked in these 4 sections can go through the following sections to learn more in detail.

TOEFL Test Contents Comprise 

As stated in the previous table, there are 4 sections in the TOEFL task, namely reading, listening, speaking and writing. These are discussed elaborately here:

TOEFL Reading Section

  • Candidates must read 3 – 4 passes of 700 words (approximately).
  • They have to answer 10 questions from each passage.

TOEFL Listening Section

  • Candidates have to listen to 3 or 4 lectures about various academic areas. Each passage is 5 minutes long.
  • In addition, applicants must listen to 2 or 3 conversations that focus on usual campus interactions with different personals.
  • Every listening passage comes with a set of questions.      

TOEFL Speaking Section

This section comprises 4 tasks. 1 task is Independent, and 3 tasks are Integrated. 

TOEFL Speaking Independent task

  • The Independent task requires candidates to answer questions from their personal experiences or opinion.

TOEFL Speaking Independent task

Integrated Task (First Part – Campus Situation)
  • While taking this test, students have to read a short passage describing the usual campus situation or policy. 
  • Next, they have to listen to a short conversation where a speaker talks about his/her opinion. 
  • After that, they have to frame a summary and present it verbally. 
  • To give a complete response, candidates have to combine their understanding and important ideas from both the reading and listening sections.
Integrated Task (Second Part – Academic Course Topic)
  • While taking this test, candidates must read a passage that thoroughly defines a process, idea or term related to an academic subject. 
  • Next, they have to listen to a lecture on a particular example that further describes the process, idea or term related to an academic subject. 
  • At last, candidates are required to demonstrate how this lecture backs the concept hiding in the reading passage. 
  • To prepare a complete response, aspirants have to combine their understanding and important ideas from both the reading and listening input.
Integrated Task (Third Part – Academic Course Topic)
  • While taking this third test, students have to listen to an excerpt from a lecture on a certain concept or term containing proper examples. 
  • Next, candidates have to explain their understanding of the concept with a short oral summary of the provided lecture as well as an example.

TOEFL Writing Section

The TOEFL writing section includes 2 tasks: an Integrated writing test and an Independent writing test.

Integrated Writing Test
  • In the Integrated writing test, candidates first have to read a short passage related to academic study.
  • The next step requires students to listen to a portion of a lecture. The lecture typically analyses the details or arguments stuffed in the reading passage.  
  • At last, candidates need to write a summary that must include key points presented in the lecture. In addition, they must explain and connect points mentioned in the reading passage.  
Independent Writing Test

Test takers have to write a short essay from their personal experience regarding a specific issue during this examination.  

If individuals have decided to take the TOEFL test in 2022, they must follow certain tips to secure maximum marks. These are discussed in the next section.

TOEFL writing task 2

Tips to Follow while Preparing for the TOEFL Test  

Here is a list of tips that TOEFL applicants can follow to get higher scores. 

  • Decide the type of TOEFL test (TOEFL internet-based, paper-based or home edition) individuals are willing to take. Next, find out if the test is available in the applicant’s country and prepare accordingly.
  • Learn about the TOEFL score requirement in schools or universities.
  • Spend time to absorb the test format, i.e. reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
  • Find a reliable study guide. There are a wide variety of books available on the TOEFL test. 
  • Create a study routine and focus on each test section or two or three of it as per the suitability and stick to it. 
  • Read academic passages or other study materials.
  • Listen to lectures in English and try to remember key points and explain them in English.
  • Build the habit of taking notes in English while reading passages or listening to recorded lectures.
  • Work on time management, meaning try to finish writing essays by a strict deadline and specific word limit.      
  • Focus on enhancing vocabulary. Spend more time learning synonyms.
  • Practice writing with a QWERTY keyboard if applicants are willing to take TOEFL internet-based test or TOEFL Home Edition test.   

what is toefl exam used for


The sections mentioned above clearly answer what is TOEFL exam used for. TOEFL is one of the preferred tests for securing admission to the universities of English speaking countries. The test allows students to send their score reports to different designated recipients, i.e., universities. 

The global acceptance of the TOEFL iBT test gives students the confidence to stand out from other candidates and establish their English proficiency in handling academic environments and other challenges.  

1. What is the purpose of conducting the TOEFL reading test?

The questions of the TOEFL reading test are framed in such a way to measure a candidate’s capacity to decipher factual information, extract information from passages, and figure out the vocabulary as well as the author’s intention. Thus, this test helps assess a candidate’s ability to understand the university level academic text.

2. What is the purpose of conducting the TOEFL listening test?

The questions of the TOEFL listening test are designed to test a candidate’s skill to comprehend key ideas and details, understand the speaker’s function, source of information, the relation between ideas included and the connection between them. Overall, the TOEFL listening section evaluates the aspirant’s ability to understand spoken English in an academic environment.

3. Is TOEFL compulsory for Indian students?

English is not the native language of Indians. Hence, Indian students who are willing to pursue higher studies in English speaking countries must take this type of test. However, students must check official websites and eligibility requirements while selecting universities.  

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An International Higher Ed professional with 7+ years of experience studying, working, and living across three geographies, currently on a mission to share his journey as an International Student.