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What is TOEFL?

Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL

If you are not a native speaker of the English language and you intend to study abroad in which medium of instruction and speaking in English, you will be required to go through an English language test. One such test is “TOFEL”. The article will guide through in-depth details of the TOFEL exam.

A concise introduction to TOEFL

TOFEL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language and it is considered a standard exam that evaluates the mastery of the student of the English language. Usually, students with plans to study in English-speaking countries appear in the TOFEL exam. However, anyone required to demonstrate their command over the English language in academia can appear in the exam. The test concentrates on how the English language is used in academia, for the same reason universities around the world use the test scores to admit students. The reading portion of the test uses the academic language with an enhanced vocabulary as compared to the casual English language.

Who needs to appear in TOEFL?

The test is primarily intended for students planning to undertake a degree program abroad in an English speaking region. However, it is not restricted to these students only, others can also take the test, such as
● Students getting enrolled in a high school in any English speaking region.
● People planning to acquire a license or certificate in any specialized field.
● People planning to immigrate and are required to show mastery over the English language.
● Anyone who only wants to test their language skills in any formal setting.

The makers of the TOFEL suggest that students appearing in the test should be at least 17 years old before they attempt the test. The test consists of hard to read passages involving advanced vocabulary, which students under the age of 17 or studying in the grade below 11 are unaware of.

It should be noted that not all the universities ask for TOFEL scores. Mostly they will demand the TOFEL scores if the student is coming from a background where the primary language was not English or if the medium of instruction/education was not English for at least five years.

The students may be exempted from appearing in TOFEL by the university, particularly, if the student has previously appeared in SAT or Act exams and secured a score within a certain percentile for the reading and writing sections of the English language. A student can also be waived off if he has already appeared in the TOFEL exams in the last two years or if he has obtained a degree from a region where the medium of instruction was English.

Why should one appear in the TOEFL?

The language used in academia is not as simple as people use in daily life. It is usually complex and formal, even the people who have been speaking it for years find it difficult to adjust in the academic environment when it comes to the English language. Therefore, universities ask for the TOFEL before they admit you into any academic program. The selection committee for new admission is capable of managing the courses offered in an English-based program. The TOFEL score is then used to judge
English language skills. Although universities do accept other tests, however, TOFEL is the most common assessment test for English language skills.
School Prerequisites
Usually, universities will set a minimum score a student has to achieve in the TOFEL exams to be eligible to apply for the admission. Usually, at least a score of 70 is required to get an unconditional admission in almost all the schools in the United States, however, cutoffs do vary with the school. Some selective universities, with higher academic standards, have a higher level of TOFEL scores cutoff.

Keep note that the TOFEL exam is not the most important parameter to judge your admission application, but your overall application and previous credentials matter the most. So, don’t let TOFEL get over your nerves. If you meet the minimum requirements don’t worry too much about the score and avoid reappearing in the exam to get a better score, instead use the same energy and time to concentrate on the rest of the application material and the scores.

If appearing in the TOFEL test is making you nervous already, change your perspective and think of it as a tool that will aid you to make a choice if the English-based university is a suitable choice for you or not.

If you have time, it’s always better to appear in the TOFEL well before the application submission dates. This will give a chance to reappear in the exam if didn’t do well in the first attempt. There are no limits on the number of attempts for TOFEL. So, if required, you have time to learn from your previous mistakes and be more prepared for your next attempt.

Structure and types of the TOEFL Test

The TOFEL test is not only complicated but long as well. The question is how it works so that you can make a mind to conquer it. There are various tests available with different structures. However, the most common among all of the TOFEL tests is the Internet-Based tests (IBTs) accounting for a hefty 97% of the total TOFEL tests. In an IBT, the student is provided with a computer in the testing center to take the test along with several other test-takers. Whereas, the rest of the 3% TOFEL tests are the paper-based tests (PBTs). The PBT TOFEL tests lack the speaking portion and for this reason, the test creators are gradually phasing out this version of the TOFEL. Also, numerous universities don’t even accept the PBT TOFEL test, therefore, always double-check with the university’s international admissions office if you intend to appear in the PBT. Also, even though there’s no limit to the number of times you can attempt the TOFEL, you cannot reappear if you have already appeared in the TOFEL in last 12 days.

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