Accessibility links

Breaking News

Taking the TOEFL

The Test of English as a Foreign Language now measures the ability to communicate, not just knowledge of the language. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

The TOEFL is an important test for non-native English speakers who want to attend an American college or university. TOEFL is the Test of English as a Foreign Language. And it is the subject this week in our Foreign Student Series.

The Educational Testing Service is moving to end the use of the paper-and-pencil version of the TOEFL. And on September thirtieth ETS stopped offering its existing computer test. The new version is called the TOEFL iBT, or Internet-Based Test.

The TOEFL iBT has been used since two thousand five at testing centers in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Puerto Rico. In March of this year, it was expanded to other countries in Europe and to Africa, Eurasia, the Middle East and Latin America.

The charge for the TOEFL iBT is different in each country. Until the TOEFL iBT is offered in a country, the pencil-and-paper test will continue to be used.

The TOEFL measures the ability to read, write and understand English. The new test represents about ten years of work by ETS. The testing service redesigned it to measure not just knowledge of the language, but the ability to communicate in English. The four-hour test now includes a speaking part, in addition to reading, writing and listening.

Each part of the test is worth a possible thirty points. So the highest score on the TOEFL is one hundred twenty points.

Different colleges and universities require different minimum scores on the TOEFL. So be sure to find out the score requirements of the schools that interest you.

Experts say the best way to prepare for the TOEFL is to use English as much as you can. The TOEFL Web site offers advice to help you prepare. The address is

More than six thousand schools and agencies in one hundred ten countries use the TOEFL. But students who have already earned degrees from colleges in English-speaking countries may not be required to take it.

And recently we received an e-mail asking if another English test can be used instead of the TOEFL when applying to American schools. Listen next week for the answer.

And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. This is the tenth week of our Foreign Student Series. You can find the earlier reports, including transcripts and MP3 files, at voaspecialenglish. I'm Steve Ember.


Foreign Student Series: earlier reports