TOEFL Test Format and Scores- Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. iBT test is a TOEFL Test Format which is administered in English via the Internet. The test is heavily based on American English accents. There are four sections of this TOEFL Test Format namely, listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The entire test takes about four and a half hours to complete, including the check-in time. In contrast, the TOEFL PBT test is administered in a paper-based format and takes about three and one-half hours to finish. The primary goal of the TOEFL program is to provide an overview of a candidate’s English proficiency.

Differences Between iBT and PBT TOEFL Test Format:

Paper Based Test (PBT) Internet-Based Test (iBT)
Duration: 3 ½ hours Duration: 4 ½ hours
Cost: US$ 140 Cost differs based on the country but ranges from US$ 140 and US$ 185
Score scale is between 310 to 677 points Score scale is between 0 to 120 points
Score sheet is mailed to the test takers 5 weeks after the test Score sheet is mailed to the test takers in 15 working days after the test
No speaking section Speaking section is included

Breakdown of various Test sections:

Sections Time Limit (mins) Questions Tasks
Reading 60–80 36–56 Read 3-4 passages from academic texts and answer questions based on these.
Listening 60–90 34–51 Listen to lectures, discussions and conversations, and then answer questions.
Break 10
Speaking 20 6 tasks Express an opinion on a familiar topic; Speak based on reading and listening tasks.
Writing 50 2 tasks Write essay responses based on reading and listening task; Support an opinion in writing.

Test Scores- TOEFL Score Scale:

The scores of tests are valid for 2 years and are sent to four universities for free. Candidates need to pay if they want scores to be sent to more than four. As the internet version is a popular TOEFL Test Format, this section will focus on the interpretation of scores derived from the iBT format.

Sections Score Range Proficiency Level (Interpretation)
Reading 0–30 Low (0–14)
Intermediate (15–21)
High (22–30)
Listening 0–30 Low (0–14)
Intermediate (15–21)
High (22–30)
Speaking 0–4 points converted to 0–30 score scale Weak (0–9)
Limited (10–17)
Fair (18–25)
Good (26–30)
Writing 0–5 points converted to 0–30 score scale Limited (1–16)

TOEFL Score Analysis:

  • Fair (17–23)
  • Good (24–30)

Universities require non-native speakers of English to earn a minimum TOEFL score although there is no passing or failing grade on the test itself. Consult the following table for a brief overview:

Minimum Score for iBT PBT
University of California, Los Angeles (Graduate Division) 87 560
Brown University (Department of Physics) 61 500
University of Wisconsin 61 500
University of Missouri 61 500

Linking TOEFL iBT Score Ranges to IELTS Scores

There is a recent trend of linking and comparing scores across the two major tests as Universities accept both TOEFL and IELTS scores.

IELTS Scores TOEFL Scores Interpretation
9 118-120 Expert User
8.5 115-117 Very Good User
8 110-114
7.5 102-109 Good User
7 94-101
6.5 79-93 Competent User
6 60-78
5.5 42-59 Modest User
5 35-41
4.5 32-34 Limited User
0-4 0-31 Extremely Limited or Non-User