TOEFL® Test Format

  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing


Section 1: Reading Comprehension

  • Timing: 60-80 minutes
  • Number of questions: 36-56
  • Testing Format: Computerised
  • Task expectations:

    The first section of the TOEFL exam is the reading comprehension section, which is used to measure your aptitude to read and understand short passages in written English.

    You will be required to answer a number of questions based on the content in each passage. The TOEFL reading section does not test your memory or knowledge of the reading material, it only tests how well you comprehend the words on the page. In other words, you do not need to study for the topics within the TOEFL reading section - you only need to ensure your English is good enough to understand what you are reading so that you will be able to answer the questions correctly.


    The reading section of the TOEFL exam contains between 3-4 passages with 12-14 questions per passage, making a total of between 36-56 questions. The test is 60-80 minutes in length. This section includes two main question types: Multiple Choice and Drag & Drop. Test takers answer questions based on information that is stated or implied in each passage.

    TIP: Visualize the material as you read it! The best way to comprehend a prompt is to picture what you are reading - this will make it easier to answer the questions correctly when you come to the end of the prompt.



Section 2: Listening

  • Timing: 60-90 minutes
  • Number of questions: 34-51
  • Testing Format: Computerized
  • The TOEFL listening section tests how well you can understand spoken English. You will be tested on both short and long conversations that resemble what you might hear if you were with a group of people in an English-speaking environment.


    There are between 6 and 9 total listening passages in this section of the TOEFL exam. The passages are either lectures or conversations.

    • Lectures - Passages used to resemble a classroom lecture. Each lecture is 3-5 minutes in length and involves either just the professor speaking or a discussion between both the professor and students. There are anywhere from 4-6 lectures in this section followed by 6 questions per passage.

    • Conversations - Passages used to resemble conversations you might have in an English-speaking environment. There are 2-3 conversations in this section of the exam that last about 3 minutes each and are followed by 5 questions.

    TIP: The most important strategy you can utilize during the TOEFL listening section is to TAKE NOTES! This will enable you to go back on what you've heard and more confidently answer the questions after the audio has finished playing.

    Question Types

    • Listening for Comprehension: Examines whether you can comprehend basic information from the passage
    • Listening for Attitude: Tests whether you are able to understand how the speaker feels about the subject matter
    • Listening for Connections: Tests how well you are able to connect different parts of the passage to draw conclusions


Section 3: Speaking

  • Timing: 20 minutes
  • Tasks: 6 speaking exercises
  • Testing Format: Computerized
  • The speaking section of the TOEFL exam measures how well you are able to speak English in an academic environment. For each of the six speaking tasks, you will be required to record yourself speaking in response to a prompt. The speaking section evaluates your delivery, use of language and topic development.


    There are a total of six questions in this section. Two of the spoken responses will be independent tasks, while the remaining four will be integrated tasks.

    • Independent task - There is NO reading or listening involved in this task. Instead you will record your own opinions on a certain subject matter; therefore there is NO wrong answer - you will be scored on how well you can argue your opinion using the correct English.

    • Integrated task - You will be required to record a response after reading and listening to certain passages. You will have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak after each question.

    TIP: Choose a side of the argument during your first 15 seconds of brainstorming and identify one or two supporting statements to back up your position. PACE is key! Practice speaking in a slow, deliberate and enunciated manner before the exam..



Section 4: Writing

  • Timing: 50 minutes
  • Tasks: Two writing exercises
  • Testing Format: Computerized
  • The writing section is the last section of the TOEFL exam and takes about an hour to complete. This section tests your written ability in order to measure how well you would perform in an English-speaking environment. The writing section is computerized - therefore you will be typing rather than writing with pen and paper.


    The writing section includes two parts: an integrated task and an independent task.

    • Integrated task - You will be required to read a passage and listen to a speaker on the same subject matter; you must then write about that topic. This section takes about 20 minutes. There is no limit to how much students can write, but most average between 150 and 225 words.

      Tip: Look for three main points that are related and base your answer around these points.

    • Indepedent task - You must take a position on an issue and support it with evidence and reasons. This section takes about 30 minutes and does not require reading or listening. There is no limit to how much students can write, although the average word count is around 300.

      TIP: Use examples and reasons to back up your opinion and proofread to ensure your spelling and punctuation is correct!

    You will not need specific knowledge around any of the writing section topics - these are subject matters that anyone can answer. This section of the exam only tests how well you can write in English.