Any foreign student who wishes to attend an English-speaking college or university must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language, also known as the TOEFL. Getting a good score on the TOEFL will help you get into the college of your choice. A good score will also ensure that you have the skills to function in a university setting.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language is designed to test your fluency in the English language. While true fluency can take years of study to achieve, this test helps colleges and universities ensure that any foreign student who is admitted has the ability to both comprehend English and express themselves using English at a college level.

Sections of the Test of English as a Foreign Language

The Test of English as a Foreign Language consists of four specific sections. Let’s look at them.

Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension section of the text is designed to make sure that students have the ability to read and understand academic English.

The internet-based version of the test, the IBT, consists of four to six passages of academic writing. You will be expected to read each passage and then answer a series of questions about it. The questions are designed to demonstrate that you understand what you read and can process that information.

Listening Comprehension

Students who attend college must be able to attend and understand lectures. They also need to be able to communicate clearly with professors, administrators, and their fellow students. The listening section of the Test of English as a Foreign Language is designed to test a student’s ability to understand spoken English.

This section of the test involves listening to excerpts from academic lectures, typical classroom interactions, and conversations such as those that might occur between students on campus. Your job is to listen to each selection and then answer a series of multiple choice questions to demonstrate your understanding of them.



Just as important as the ability to understand spoken English is the ability to speak it and communicate your thoughts and opinions clearly. The spoken section of the Test of English as a Foreign Language is designed to test your fluency when it comes to speaking English.

In this section, you will be asked to read or listen to several academic passages. In at least one case, you will have to express an opinion about what you heard and support your opinion with facts and arguments. Other passages may require a more conversational response.



The fourth and final section of the Test of English as a Foreign Language is the written section. Here, you will have to read or listen to passages of academic English and write a response. Your written response must be academic and persuasive.

This section of the test requires you to write two short passages. The key is to write English that is academic and logical. You should support any assertions you make with facts.


Tips to Prepare for the Test of English as a Foreign Language

Because the Test of English as a Foreign Language is designed to test your fluency, it is important to spend as much time as possible preparing for it. The most important tip we can give you is that you should make sure you don’t leave this website without having gone through all the key articles in the menu bar up top.

Here are some things you may want to consider:

  1. Look for online test preparation materials. The ETS website is a good place to start. ETS is the non-profit company that designs and administers the TOEFL. On their website, you can find full practice tests, an online practice course, a free test prep schedule, and other materials to help you get ready. You can also find a test location near you and register to take the rest.
  2. Other online test preparation courses and materials are available, too. You may want to check out Magoosh, Kaplan International, and other online courses. Some of them have detailed videos, practice tests, and even vocabulary lists and guides to help you.
  3. Invest in a good English dictionary and use it as much as possible. Building vocabulary is an important part of preparing for the Test of English as a Foreign Language.
  4. Buy or borrow English-language books to read. The passages included on the TOEFL are mostly academic in nature, so concentrate on reading that type of literature. It can help improve your vocabulary and fluency.
  5. Watch and listen to English videos and recordings/podcasts. When you listen to English every day, it becomes comparatively easy to pick out new words and understand a variety of accents.
  6. Look for opportunities to speak English. If you can find an English-language practice group in your area, that’s the best option. If not, look for online resources. You may also want to record yourself speaking or reading English to figure out how to improve your pronunciation and accent.

Preparing for the Test of English as a Foreign Language is a challenge, but these tips and this article will help you find the right materials to help you – and get the best possible score when you take the test.

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