TOEFL 2020 iBT: Exam Pattern, Sample Papers, Preparation Tips

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    TOEFL is an exam that measures how well a test takers use English language ability at the university level. Mostly the candidates take TOEFL to pursue higher education in English speaking nations. This exam evaluates the skills of a test taker on basis of reading, listening, speaking and writing. TOEFL is of mainly two patterns- TOEFL iBT (Internet Based Test) and TOEFL PBT (Paper Based Test). Usually test takers write this exam to take admissions in top most US Universities and Canadian Universities. TOEFL score  is scaled out of 120. 

    Who takes TOEFL exam?

    • Mostly who want to attend the best universities of the world take TOEFL as English language proficiency test 
    • Unlike other language testing exams, TOEFL focuses mostly how well test takers use English while writing academic tasks 
    • Vocabulary used in this exam is of higher level as compared to regular English 
    • Scholarships are also there for those test takers who have performed well in TOEFL 
    • Those who want to migrate to English speaking nations also take TOEFL 

    What is TOEFL iBT?

    TOEFL iBT is an online test format taken by test takers at its preferred locations. Every year, test takers can take this exam for around 50 times. Total duration for TOEFL is 3-4 hours. Test takers have to know exam format properly before appearing for TOEFL. Total time duration for TOEFL iBT section is between 200 and 250 minutes. 

    SectionTime DurationTask
    Reading60 – 100 minutes12 – 14 questions each section
    Listening60 – 90 minutes5 – 6 questions each section
    Break10 minutes
    Speaking20 minutes6 questions
    Writing50 minutes2 questions

    TOEFL iBT: New Changes

    Due to difficulty in exam pattern, ETS decided to shorten exam length by giving more time to the test takers to complete the test. Differences between old pattern and new pattern are given vividly

    Exam SectionOld FormatNew Format
    Reading3-4 reading passages; 12-14 questions from each passage; Total time- 60-80 minutes3-4 reading passages; 10 questions from each passage; Total time-54-72 minutes
    Listening4-6 lectures and to answer 6 questions each from these lectures; 2-3 conversations and to answer 5 questions each from these conversations; Total time 60-90 minutes3-4 lectures and to answer 6 questions each from these lectures; 2-3 conversations and to answer 5 questions each from these conversations; Total time 41-57 minutes
    Speaking6 Speaking Tasks in 20 minutes4 Speaking Tasks in 17 minutes

    *There are no such major changes in writing sections in TOEFL. In new format, test takers have to attempt two tasks in 50 minutes. One task is Integrated and another one is Independent. 

    Check TOEFL Registration 2020 

    TOEFL iBT: Reading

    TOEFL iBT: Reading

    The reading section in TOEFL consists of 3-4 reading passages of average word length of 700. Excerpts are taken from different textbooks around academic subjects. Each answer carries 1 raw point. Usually points scored by the test takers are converted to a scale of 0-30. Excerpts are taken from a wide range of topics like social science, economics, history, geography, culture, art, architecture, technology and literature. 

    TOEFL Reading: Types of Questions

    Mostly in this section, test takers have to choose an answer from given multiple choice answers. This answer can be two types. Either there will be only one correct answer chosen from multiple choice or more than one correct answers chosen from MCQ. Mostly question types in these tasks are 

    • Summary Completion
    • Sentence Insertion
    • Vocabulary
    • Table Completion
    • Inference
    • Reference
    • Purpose
    • Details
    • Essential Information
    • Negative Factual Information

    TOEFL Reading: Preparation Tips

    If a student fails to score good marks in reading section due to poor reading speed and strategies. Few preparation tips for Reading section in TOEFL are as follows 

    • Find subject and predicate of the sentence properly
    • Try to find out conjunctions to get an easy overview of sentences
    • Skim and scan a passage is always important for easy findings of answers
    • Always read questions early before reading passages
    • Test takers should read each passages taking 10 minutes each
    • Rest 24 minutes should be utilized to answer 30 questions
    • Try to learn vocabulary for better understanding the passage
    • Never get struck on a particular section
    TOEFL iBT: Listening

    TOEFL iBT: Listening

    In this section, examiners measure skills of listening mainly. In TOEFL iBT Listening section, test takers have to attempt 3 conversations and 4 lectures as audio clips. Conversation present within this section is between 2 people where the lecture is about the delivery speech of professor or a professor indulges in discussing with fellow students. Each audio clip is played once. Test takers have to answer 5 questions each from conversation section and 6 questions each from lecture sections. 

    TOEFL Listening: Types of Question

    After attempting and submitting an answer, test takers can never go back to the previous menu. Therefore, one has to answer every question in a calm and composed manner. Following question types in listening section of TOEFL are as follows 

    • Detail Question
    • Inference Question
    • Attitude Question
    • Function Question
    • Gist Content Question
    • Gist-Purpose Question
    • Connecting
    • Organized Question

    TOEFL Listening: Preparation Tips

    The audio clips for listening section in TOEFL are mostly academic in nature. Many guides will suggest listening to listen English news channels or radio to under accent properly. This section is about how well a test taker listens to a particular audio clip and writes down important notes around it. To score good marks in listening section, test takers should practice sample papers present in listening section. Few preparation tips are as follows 

    • Try to listen same audio clip continuously to understand the content properly
    • If have difficulty in reading any particular section, then try to read it after breaking it into pieces
    • Always take notes after listening to it properly
    • Before listening to audio clips, first read questions present there
    • Focus on voice tonality of the speaker
    • Try to find out the main focus of the audio piece
    • Always find out a connecting theme among the lectures
    • Never take more than 1.5 minutes to write an answer
    TOEFL iBT: Speaking

    TOEFL iBT: Speaking

    Only speaking skills are being measured in TOEFL Speaking section. For test takers, this section appears to be the most difficult section. Least time duration has been allotted for this section. For many test takers, this section appears difficult because no one knows what to study for this section. In TOEFL Speaking section, test takers have to attempt 6 tasks where the first two tasks seem to be independent and last four tasks seem to be integrated. 

    Independent tasks are about giving an individual opinion on a familiar topic. Test taker gets 15 seconds to prepare for response and 45 seconds to answer the question. As compared to the first section, test takers have to speak for 60 seconds in response to audio clips played either for conversation or lecture sections in Listening section. 

    TOEFL Speaking: Types of Questions

    Before appearing for TOEFL, try to look for question types present within speaking section of TOEFL. Question types for this speaking section are as follows 

    • Personal information and introduction
    • Giving Advice
    • Three choices
    • Explaining opinions
    • Agree or disagree questions
    • Preference questions
    • Descriptive or Explanatory Questions
    • Advantage or Disadvantage Questions

    TOEFL Speaking: Preparation Tips

    Many students fail to score good marks in this section due to lack of clear accent, bad pronunciation or lack of logical flow. To improve fluency in speaking section, test takers should follow these preparation tips as mentioned below 

    • Try to speak on any random topic in front of mirror and record it for future usage 
    • Always ask any teacher to find out the areas of improvement 
    • Focus on pronunciation 
    • Proper flow of logical argument is always required for scoring better in speaking section 
    • Always make an outline to note down important things required during speaking 
    • Focus on proper usage of grammar 
    • Never use bad accent to impress examiner 
    • Examiner always measures how well a speaker articulates every point to substantiate the stand 
    • Proper vocabulary usage at correct sections
    TOEFL iBT: Writing

    TOEFL iBT: Writing

    Test takers have to attempt writing section in TOEFL at the end. For this section, one has to attempt two writing tasks within 50 minutes. One is Integrated Writing Task (Task 1) and other one is Independent Writing Task (Task 2). For Task 1, test takers will have to read an academic passage within 3 minutes. One needs to complete this task within 20 minutes in 150-250 words. Whereas for Task 2, test takers get 30 minutes to complete in 300 words. For Task 1, test takers get an opportunity to listen to some academic passages and audio clips on a specific lecture. Therefore test takers have to listen to both these sections properly to articulate logic properly. 

    TOEFL Writing: Types of Questions

    In this section, test takers get an opportunity to articulate logic and rational reasoning through this section. It is necessary to write important points under bullets. This section, test takers have to be very conscious while listening to lecture

    • Contradiction
    • Support each statement with example

    TOEFL Writing: Preparation Tips

    For writing section in TOEFL, test takers should read good essays to improve vocabulary. In academic essays, usage of vocabulary and grammar are so apt that it is necessary to practice those essays for scoring well. Few preparation tips for TOEFL Writing section are as follows 

    • Always write essays with examples to substantiate logic 
    • Try to implicate good ideas for improving writing skills 
    • Should have a clear flow of logic and reasoning in each section 
    • Write each essay with proper introduction and a conclusion 
    • One should think through sentence structure 
    • Always write these sections with a proper flow of logic

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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