TOEFL Exam - A Complete Overview


TOEFL Exam - A Complete Overview

What is TOEFL Exam?

For many international students aspiring to study in English-speaking universities, the journey often begins with understanding the TOEFL exam. TOEFL, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language, stands as a beacon of evaluation for English proficiency, encompassing essential academic skills: reading, speaking, listening, and writing. These foundational abilities are imperative for academic pursuits where the curriculum is delivered in English. Serving as a benchmark for over 11,000 universities and institutions across more than 190 countries, the TOEFL exam showcases its global acceptance.

Competing with other renowned English-language tests, TOEFL’s credibility is further cemented by its administration by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). This non-profit organisation not only curates the test but also ensures its integrity by issuing official score reports. Valid for two years, these reports are often the first step in a student's dream of pursuing higher education abroad. Read on for our TOEFL exam overview and detailed guide that makes navigating the nuances of the test a seamless experience.

Key Aspect Details
Exam Types TOEFL iBT (Internet-Based Test), TOEFL PBT (Paper-Based Test)
Content Sections Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing (iBT); Reading, Listening, Writing (PBT)
Duration Approx. 3 hours 30 minutes (iBT); Approx. 2 hours 25 minutes (PBT)
Scoring 0 to 120 (iBT); 310 to 677 (PBT)
Test Format Computer-based for iBT; Paper-based for PBT
Purpose University admissions, scholarships, and visas
Global Recognition Accepted by over 11,000 institutions in more than 150 countries
Validity Score reports are valid for 2 years

History of TOEFL

The TOEFL’s creation is credited to the National Council on the Testing of English as a Foreign Language, a respected group established in 1962 comprising educators and prominent individuals in education policy. They aimed to develop a standardised English proficiency test for international students seeking to study in the United States. In 1964, the Modern Language Association, founded in 1883 to promote language and literature studies, took over the TOEFL’s supervision.

In its initial phase, the TOEFL adopted the current language instruction method, which entailed a separate analysis of each language component. Presently, the TOEFL is acknowledged by educational institutions and official entities in 190 countries. This acknowledgement is extremely useful since many academic programs necessitate a specific TOEFL score, usually between 61 and 100, contingent on the institution and program.

Who Should Take the TOEFL Exam?

The TOEFL exam is primarily designed for those preparing for educational opportunities abroad or seeking entry into international universities or graduate schools. It’s also crucial for those applying for Study abroad scholarships, as TOEFL scores are often a key part of the application. But the exam’s reach goes beyond just educational goals. The TOEFL caters to a wide range of candidates, including:

  • Those looking to participate in exchange programs in countries where English is the dominant language.
  • Individuals applying for visas in countries where English is the main language.
  • Professionals seeking job opportunities abroad, especially in roles that require interaction with English-speaking clients.
  • People whose first language isn’t English.
  • Individuals who haven’t been in an English-medium instruction environment for five years or more.
  • And finally, those interested in formally assessing their English language skills.

In short, the TOEFL Exam is a standardised measure to confirm a person’s English proficiency in various situations.

Types of TOEFL Exam

The TOEFL exam is available in three formats: 

  • TOEFL iBT - The TOEFL iBT is an online, computer-based test with four sections(reading, listening, speaking, and writing) and is the most chosen option. The test is computer-based, requiring candidates to read from a screen, listen through headphones, voice their responses into a microphone, and type their answers, negating the need for traditional pen and paper.
  • TOEFL PBT - The TOEFL PBT is paper-based, available in areas with limited internet, and includes three sections - reading, listening, and writing, but no speaking section. With a total duration of approximately 2.5 hours, in contrast to the iBT's 3.5 to 4 hours.
  • TOEFL iTP - The TOEFL iTP is used across various environments to assess English proficiency in reading, listening, structure and written expression, and speaking, and serves mainly as a diagnostic tool.

TOEFL Exam Other Types

The TOEFL exam also includes 

TOEFL Essentials: Debuted in 2021 TOEFL Essentials test is shorter than the TOEFL iBT, taking about 90 minutes. Unlike the iBT’s focus on academic English, the Essentials test assesses general English proficiency. The test includes passages based on everyday scenarios. Over 500 global institutions recognize the Essentials test. Candidates should check the updated list of institutions that accept the Essentials test and verify the test requirements with their chosen institution.

TOEFL Junior: The TOEFL Junior Test is presented in two distinct versions. These tests offer insights into English proficiency, churning out scores aligned with CEFR levels. The TOEFL Junior Standard Test, spanning two hours, delves into Listening Comprehension, Language Form and Meaning, and Reading Comprehension. Scores from this test align with the MetaMetrics® Lexile® framework, aiding educators in curating reading material tailored to students' proficiencies. In contrast, the TOEFL Junior Speaking Test, concise at 18 minutes, sharpens its focus on gauging students' oral expression capabilities.

TOEFL Primary tests: Specially curated for younger learners aged 8 and above, the TOEFL Primary Tests play a pivotal role for educators. These assessments unravel students' strengths, areas of improvement, and overall progress in English. In just about an hour, these tests offer comprehensive insights into students' listening, reading, and speaking proficiencies, laying down a roadmap for tailored learning trajectories.

Difference Between TOEFL PBT and TOEFL iBT

For Filipino students planning to study abroad, understanding the key differences between TOEFL PBT (Paper-Based Test) and TOEFL iBT (Internet-Based Test) is essential. Here's a concise comparison for  a quick grasp:




Test Format




Limited, mostly in areas without internet access

Widely available, preferred globally


Reading, Listening, Writing

Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing


Total score up to 677

Total score ranges from 0 to 120


Approximately 2.5 hours

About 3 hours

Speaking Test

Not included



Less accessible

More accessible, especially in urban areas

Difference Between TOEFL iBT and TOEFL ITP

Students often encounter two main types of TOEFL exams: TOEFL iBT (Internet-Based Test) and TOEFL ITP (Institutional Testing Program). Understanding their differences is key to making an informed decision. Here's a brief comparison in table format: exam.




Test Format




Primarily for university admissions abroad

Used for institutional assessment and placement


Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing

Reading, Listening, Grammar (Structure and Written Expression)


Scored on a scale of 0 to 120

Scored on a scale of 310 to 677

Test Environment

Official test centres or at home (TOEFL iBT Home Edition)

Conducted within institutions (schools, universities)

Global Recognition

Widely recognized by universities worldwide

Recognized primarily by the administering institution

Speaking Test


Not included

How to Register for the TOEFL Exam for Filipinos?

Registering for the TOEFL exam in the Philippines is a straightforward process. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth TOEFL registration experience.

  1. Students can start the registration through their ETS account.
  2. It’s crucial for students to ensure that the name and birth date on their ETS account match the details on their ID used on the test day. Any discrepancies can lead to disqualification without a refund.
  3. When choosing a TOEFL exam date, consider the application submission deadlines.
  4. Ideally, take the TOEFL iBT test about 2 to 3 months before your application’s final date.
  5. For the best preparation, start the TOEFL registration about 4 months in advance.
  6. At a minimum, register a week before the test.
  7. Late registrations are allowed up to two days before the exam, but they come with additional fees.

TOEFL Exam Fees

For Filipino students planning to take the TOEFL exam, understanding the TOEFL exam fees is essential. Check the various costs involved in the TOEFL iBT test, helping you prepare financially for your study abroad journey.

Fee Type


TOEFL iBT Test Registration Fee


Late Registration




Reinstatement of Canceled Scores


Additional Score Reports (each)


Speaking or Writing Section Score Review


Speaking and Writing Section Score Review


Returned Payment


TOEFL Exam Duration

While the entire TOEFL iBT test is expected to be completed in just under 3  hours, it would be prudent to set aside 3.5 hours in total, incorporating an extra 30 minutes for the check-in procedure. Whereas, the TOEFL PBT test takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete.

TOEFL Format





55 minutes


30-40 minutes

Writing (TWE)

30 minutes

Total Duration

Approx. 2 hours and 25 minutes



60-80 minutes


60-90 minutes


20 minutes


50 minutes

Total Duration

Approx. 3 hours and 30 minutes


TOEFL Exam Centres in the Philippines

For Filipino students preparing to take the TOEFL exam, selecting a convenient TOEFL exam centre is crucial. Here's a list of available TOEFL Exam Centres in the Philippines:

  • Angeles City
  • Baguio City
  • Cebu City
  • Las Piñas City
  • Davao
  • Iloilo  
  • Ligao City
  • Makati
  • Mandaluyong
  • Bacolod 
  • Pasig City
  • Quezon City
  • General Santos
  • Sta. Rosa Laguna

TOEFL exam stands as a critical milestone for Filipino students aiming to pursue education in English-speaking countries and it opens doors to global academic opportunities. TOEFL test is meticulously designed to scale your academic English proficiency. A well-planned and dedicated approach can significantly enhance your overall TOEFL performance. Understanding the exam structure, fees, and available test centers in the Philippines is crucial for effective preparation and successful registration. As a part of your journey, remember that the TOEFL exam is more than a test; it's a step towards realizing your international academic aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions

The TOEFL exam is a standardised test that assesses the English proficiency of non-native speakers aiming to study or work in English-speaking countries.
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