The United States is home to some of the best universities in the world. This includes the prestigious Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth,Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale University, along with many other private and public universities.

Every year, scores of students from non-English speaking countries apply for graduate programs in US universities. Needless to say, admission requirements are highly competitive in order to select the brightest foreign minds.

Along with GPA, college essay, statement of purpose, etc., non-native speakers must demonstrate their proficiency in the English language. TOEFL iBT is a comprehensive language test designed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for this purpose.

TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the most popular standardised language test in the world. The popularity of TOEFL can be gauged from the fact that more than 130 countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia, accept the test score for admissions purposes.

TOEFL iBT is an internet-based test. However, this was not the case a few years ago. In fact, TOEFL was a paper-based test when it was started in 1964. Since its initial launch, the test has undergone extensive changes. The internet-based test came into force in 2005 and is used throughout the world.

The main difference between TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT is in test sections and scoring scales. In addition, the PBT test has only one essay,while the iBThas two essays.

That being said, the primary purpose of TOEFL iBT and PBT is to measure the academic English language proficiency of non-native speakers.

If you wish to attend an English-speaking college or university, then you will likely have to take the iBT test, even if you have impeccable English speaking or writing skills.

Along with students, non-native speakers seeking professional work in an English-speaking country must also take the TOEFL iBT.

Key TOEFL iBT Information

It is crucial that non-native speakers understand basic information about TOEFL iBT before the day of the test.

Here is some crucial information for beginners to know:

Who creates it?

As mentioned earlier, Educational Testing Service (ETS) creates and administers the test. The ETS is a non-profit educational organization with authorised testing centres everywhere. You will appear for the test in your country’s authorised testing centre.

The ETS manages all aspects of the test, including registration, score submissions, etc.

How can you register for the test?

First off, choose an authorised centre in your location and submit test registration fees. Test fees varies from one country to another and are  subject to change, without notice.

If you have registeredfor the test but decide to cancel later, you will get a partial refund, provided you make a cancellation request within four days of the test.

How long is it?

TOEFL iBT test takes about four hours (minimum: 3 hours, 10 minutes and maximum: 4 hours and 20 minutes) to complete. Each section of the test has its own duration.

What is the test format?

TOEFL iBT comprises four sections: reading (60-80 minutes), listening (60-90 minutes), speaking (20 minutes) and writing (50 minutes).

The reading section measures a candidate’s English reading abilities. Test takers must attempt 3-4 academic reading passages, each 700 words long.

During the listening section, you will listen to an audio recording (conversation, a classroom discussion or a lecture) and then answer 34–51 questions about the audio clips.

The speaking section consists of 6 tasks. Test takers must express an opinion on a topic and speak on questions related to the reading and listening tasks.

Finally, the writing section involves 2 essays. The first task requires a test taker to write an essay pertaining to the reading and listening materials in 20 minutes. The second essay requires candidates to express an opinion on a specific topic in 30 minutes.

What is the test score?

TOEFL iBT is scored from 0 to 120. The score range for each section is between 0 and 30 points. Universities have set their own minimum test score requirements.

The minimum requirement varies among universities, depending on the level of study (undergraduate or graduate), field of study, etc.

Make sure to check the minimum score requirement with universities before applying for admission.

How will you obtain test results?

Test takers receive their score reports online, 15 days after the day of the test. The ETS provides a hard copy to test takers.

The official scores can be sent to up to 4 universities. If you need additional copies of your score report, you will have to pay US $19.00 per copy.

What if you get a low score?

In case of low or expired scores, test takers are allowed toretake the TOEFL iBT multiple times. However, they cannot appear for the test twice in a 12-day period.Your TOEFL iBT score expires within two years.

After understanding the purpose and format of TOEFL iBT, beginners must follow these simple tips for nailing the test:

Practice typing

TOEFL iBT is an online test. All the answers and essays have to be submitted into a computer. If you are not used to working on a QWERTY keyboard, you will get confused on the day of the test.

This is why it is necessary to improve your typing skills. If you do not have a QWERTY keyboard, you can look for typing practice exercises online.

Do not miss any question

Do not leave any question blank. If you are not certain about an answer, make a guess. TOEFL iBT consists of multiple choice questions. There is a small possibility that you might get the right answer.

Be prepared

Prepare everything you will need to take to the testing centre a few days before the test. This includes your passport or identification card. Leave everything else at home.

You will not be allowed to take pencils, notebooks or laptops inside the centre. Most importantly, arrive a bit early to the test centre. You do not want to be stuck in a traffic jam.

Focus on four skills

You need to choose the right time for taking the test. TOEFL tests essential skills, including reading, listening, speaking and writing skills. It is imperative that you practice all these skills to score well on the whole test.

If you do poorly on one section, you might have to retake the entire test.

Make use of practice tests

Another effective tip is to attempt as many practice tests as you can before the test.

Practice tests will give you a feel ofthe TOEFL iBT. In addition to practice tests, you can refer to textbooks and online TOEFL preparation courses.

Look for atutor

Preparing for TOEFL iBT can be daunting. In order to simplify the preparation process, hire a dependable native English tutor.

You will find plenty of TOEFL tutors offering online sessions. Check qualifications, experience and rates before hiring a tutor.

Tutors also provide tips and tricks that you might not find in textbooks.

Master the English language

Last but not least, try your best to master the English language. Aside from TOEFL, knowing English will help you excel in your professional life.

Learning a new language takes time, effort and hard work. Be patient and consistent. Your hard work will pay off soon.

For a complete TOEFL iBT study guide for beginners and advanced level students, check out uMasterExam. The website comprises a list of TOEFL preparation courses, practice tests, tutors and more.

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