TOEFL Exam Pattern & Syllabus 2021: Find Out the Latest TOEFL Exam Pattern & Syllabus

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Yocket Editorial Team

Updated on Sep 23, 2021

Exams Know-how | 7 min read
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TOEFL is a test of English language proficiency majorly taken by the students who are non-native English speakers aspiring to study abroad.

The TOEFL exam pattern and syllabus is planned and designed in a way to effectively assess the overall English language skills of the candidates.

It is utmost important for the test takers to understand the pattern and syllabus well before they start to prepare for the exam. This will help them plan their preparation strategy well and achieve their desired overall TOEFL test score.

This article will help the test-takers get familiar with the TOEFL exam syllabus and pattern, and learn about the topics covered under each section of the TOEFL exam.

 

Overview of TOEFL Exam 2021

Before proceeding with the TOEFL pattern and syllabus, let us take an overview of the exam. The following table provides the details on the essential aspects of the TOEFL exam:

Particulars

Details

Official Website

https://www.ets.org/toefl

Examination Mode

Internet-Based Test and Paper-Delivered Test

Number of Sections

4

TOEFL Exam Duration

Approx. 3 hours (Internet-based test)

Approx. 2.5 hours (Paper-delivered test)

Skills Measured/Test Sections

Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing

Overall Score Range

0 - 120

TOEFL Score Validity

2 years

 

TOEFL Exam Pattern 2021       

The TOEFL pattern is designed by ETS keeping in consideration its goal of effectively evaluating the test takers’ fluency and command over English language.

It majorly tests their strengths and weaknesses in the 4 key areas of English language: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.      

Overview of TOEFL Exam Pattern 2021  

Sections

Number of Questions      

Time Duration

Reading

30-40 questions

54-72 minutes

Listening

28-39 questions

41-57 minutes

Break

-

10 minutes

Speaking

4 tasks

17 minutes

Writing

2 tasks 

50 minutes

The sections are sequenced in the TOEFL exam as mentioned in the table above i.e., Reading > Listening > Speaking > Writing.

The overall TOEFL score range is 0 to 120, and the score range for each individual exam section is 0 to 30.

A mandatory 10-minute break is provided after the first 2 sections of the exam. During the break, the test takers can leave the exam room to walk around, stretch, eat snacks or drink beverages.

 

TOEFL Exam Syllabus 2021

The TOEFL exam syllabus is planned in a way keeping in consideration the goal of effectively assessing the English language communication skills of the test taker. The questions and tasks are prepared to measure the test taker’s proficiency across all the four skill areas: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.

Following is a section-wise explanation of the TOEFL Exam Syllabus: 

 

TOEFL Reading Section  

Section Duration: 54 - 72 minutes

Number of Questions: 30 - 40 questions

The reading section includes 3 or 4 reading comprehension passages that are followed by a set of 10 questions per passage. Each passage is about 700 words long.

What are the Skills Measured?

The reading section tests the English language reading abilities of the candidates and how well they can peruse and examine the academic materials. It also tests their ability to understand and interpret university-level educational text and passages, and respond accurately to them. The contained reading passages include a variety of different question types.

Following are the question types that appear in the Reading Section:

  1. Factual Information and Negative Factual Information

  2. Inference and Rhetorical

  3. Reading Vocabulary

  4. Sentence Simplification

  5. Insert Text

  6. Prose Summary

 

TOEFL Listening Section  

Section Duration: 41 - 57 minutes

Number of Questions: 28 - 39 questions

What are the Skills Measured?

Listening section is designed in a way that it measures the test taker’s ability to understand and evaluate lectures and conversations in English.

The listening abilities are tested along the following lines: 

  • Listening for basic comprehension

  • Listening for pragmatic understanding

  • Listening for synthesizing information

Test takers will come across recorded English lectures and conversations in this section, thus it becomes essential to understand its components, which are as follows:

TOELF Listening Lectures

Number of Lectures: 3 - 4 lectures

Lecture Duration: 3 - 5 minutes

Number of Questions: 6 questions per lecture

TOELF Listening Conversations

Number of Conversations: 2 - 3 conversations

Conversation Duration: About 3 minutes long

Number of Questions: 5 questions per conversation

 

TOEFL Speaking Section

Section Duration: 17 minutes

Number of Tasks: 4 tasks

What are the Skills Measured?

The speaking section is designed to test the aspirants’ efficiency in spoken English in the academic settings. It comprises tasks that mirror real-life situations encountered in the academic, professional or social environment.

The 4 speaking tasks in the section are divided into the following Question Sets:

Question 1: The question is an Independent Speaking Task. Here, the candidates are required to speak and express their personal opinions on a familiar topic.

Questions 2 to 4: This set of questions consist of Integrated Speaking Tasks. These questions are related to campus situation and academic course topics.

Under this section, the candidates are tested for a combination of English language skills: reading, listening and speaking.    

The test takers get 15 to 30 seconds of preparation time before they start to record each response. Their responses can be 45 to 60 seconds long.

 

TOEFL Writing Section        

Section Duration: 50 minutes

Number of Questions: 2 questions   

What are the Skills Measured?

The writing section tests the candidates’ capabilities to present and write their ideas in a well-planned manner that is appropriate for College or University course work. 

There are 2 broad tasks in the writing section which are explained hereunder:  

  1. Integrated Writing Task: In this task the test takers are required to read a short passage and listen a short lecture recording. Then test-takers have to write their response on the basis of information presented in the passage and the lecture. Time duration for this task is 20 minutes.

  2. Independent Writing Task: The test takers are required to write an essay on a given topic based on their personal opinion or experience. Time duration for this task is 30 minutes.

 

In a nutshell, TOEFL Exam Pattern and Syllabus are well planned and structured in order to measure the overall English language proficiency level of the candidate. Moreover, the responses submitted by the test takers are scored using the combination of AI scoring and certified human raters. Thus, the test scores can be relied upon to be fair and accurate.          

Also, before making preparation plans, it is advisable that the test taker thoroughly goes through the TOEFL pattern and syllabus. In this way, they will be able to effectively manage their time and organize test prep materials. We suggest that students keep practicing and improving their basic English language skills, and they will be well set to achieve their desired score.

 

Frequently Asked Questions on TOEFL Exam Syllabus and Pattern:

Q1.  What does the TOEFL test consist of?

Ans. The TOEFL test consists of four Sections - Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. You are required to perform tasks based on these 4 English communication skills.

Every section consists of a set of questions that you will have to answer either through writing or speaking (audio clip recording).

Q2. What types of questions are on the TOEFL test?

Ans. There are various types of questions in every section. Mainly, there are Multiple Choice Questions, out of these you might have to select one answer, more than one answer, choose the correct column in a table for each option or match the answers.

Q3. How much time does the TOEFL exam take?

Ans. The TOEFL Internet-based test takes a total of 3 hours to complete. A test taker must plan for 3 and a half hours, allowing 30 minutes for the check-in. Whereas, TOEFL Paper-delivered test takes approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.