TOEFL Exam - A Complete Overview


TOEFL Exam - A Complete Overview

What is TOEFL Exam?

For numerous international students aiming to enrol in universities where English is the medium of instruction, the process usually starts with comprehending the TOEFL examination. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) serves as a pivotal standard for assessing English language proficiency, covering crucial academic capabilities: reading, speaking, listening, and writing. These fundamental skills are vital for engaging in academic programs taught in English. Recognized by over 11,000 universities and institutions in more than 190 countries, the TOEFL test demonstrates its widespread acceptance worldwide.

The TOEFL's reputation is further enhanced by its management under the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a non-profit organization. ETS not only develops the test but also maintains its credibility by providing official score reports. These reports, valid for two years, often represent the initial step for students aspiring to study abroad. Continue reading for a comprehensive guide and overview of the TOEFL exam, designed to simplify understanding the intricacies of the test.

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 establishment of the TOEFL is attributed to the National Council on the Testing of English as a Foreign Language, a distinguished group formed in 1962 that included educators and key figures in educational policy. Their goal was to create a uniform test of English proficiency for foreign students wanting to study in the United States. Responsibility for overseeing the TOEFL was taken over in 1964 by the Modern Language Association, an organization dedicated to the study of language and literature since 1883.

Originally, the TOEFL employed the prevalent method of language instruction, which involved analyzing each aspect of language separately. Today, the TOEFL is recognized by academic and official institutions in 190 countries, making its recognition highly valuable. This is particularly important as many educational programs require a certain TOEFL score for admission, typically ranging from 61 to 100, depending on the specific institution and program.

Who Should Take the TOEFL Exam?

The TOEFL test primarily serves those preparing to study abroad or seeking enrollment in international universities or graduate programs. It's also crucial for those applying for overseas scholarships, as TOEFL scores are often a key part of the application. Beyond educational goals, the TOEFL is relevant for a wide range of people, including:

  • Individuals interested in participating in exchange programs in countries where English is predominant.
  • Those applying for visas in English-speaking countries.
  • Professionals looking for job opportunities abroad, especially in positions requiring communication with English-speaking clients.
  • People whose native language is not English.
  • Individuals who haven't been exposed to an English-speaking educational setting for at least five years.
  • And finally, anyone interested in formally assessing their English language skills.

Ultimately, the TOEFL acts as a universal measure for assessing English language proficiency in various situations.


Types of TOEFL Exam

The TOEFL exam is available in three formats: 
  • TOEFL iBT - This version of the TOEFL is an internet-based, computer-delivered test consisting of four segments: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. It is the preferred choice for most candidates. Participants are required to read on a screen, listen using headphones, speak into a microphone, and type their responses, eliminating the need for pen and paper.
  • TOEFL PBT - The TOEFL PBT is a paper-based test, offered in regions with limited internet access. It comprises three parts - reading, listening, and writing, but does not include a speaking component. The test duration is roughly 2.5 hours, shorter than the iBT's 3.5 to 4 hours.
  • TOEFL iTP - The TOEFL iTP is designed for a variety of settings to evaluate English language proficiency in reading, listening, structure and written expression, and speaking. It primarily functions as a tool for assessment and diagnosis.

TOEFL Exam Other Types

The TOEFL exam also includes 

  • TOEFL Essentials: Introduced in 2021, the TOEFL Essentials test is a shorter alternative to the TOEFL iBT, lasting approximately 90 minutes. This test evaluates general English skills, unlike the iBT which focuses on academic English, and features passages from everyday contexts. Recognized by over 500 institutions worldwide, candidates are advised to regularly check and confirm the accepting institutions and their specific requirements for the Essentials test.
  • TOEFL Junior: Available in two versions, the TOEFL Junior Test measures English proficiency and provides scores corresponding to the CEFR levels. The Standard Test, lasting two hours, assesses Listening Comprehension, Language Form and Meaning, and Reading Comprehension. Its scores are linked to the MetaMetrics® Lexile® framework, helping educators select appropriate reading materials for students. The TOEFL Junior Speaking Test, a brief 18-minute evaluation, focuses exclusively on assessing students' spoken English skills.
  • TOEFL Primary Tests: Designed for young learners aged 8 and older, the TOEFL Primary Tests are crucial tools for educators in identifying students' English strengths, areas for improvement, and overall progress. These one-hour tests comprehensively evaluate listening, reading, and speaking skills, providing a foundation for customized learning plans.

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 Indonesians?

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

  1. Begin your registration via your ETS account.
  2. Make sure the name and birth date on your ETS account align with those on your ID for test day. Mismatches can result in being barred from the test without a refund.
  3. Select a TOEFL test date keeping in mind the deadlines for your application submissions.
  4. It's recommended to schedule the TOEFL iBT approximately 2 to 3 months prior to the deadline of your application.
  5. To prepare adequately, initiate your TOEFL registration around 4 months before the test.
  6. At the very least, sign up a week ahead of the test date.
  7. Registrations close two days before the exam, but late sign-ups are accepted with extra charges.

TOEFL Exam Fees

For Indonesian 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 Indonesia

For Indonesian students preparing to take the TOEFL exam, selecting a convenient TOEFL exam centre is crucial. Here's a list of cities where TOEFL exam centres are available :

  • Bandung
  • Batam
  • Denpasar
  • Jakarta
  • Kelapa Gading
  • Makassar
  • Malang
  • Medan
  • Pekanbaru
  • Penjarignan
  • Semarang
  • Surabaya
  • Yogyakarta

TOEFL exam stands as a critical milestone for Indonesian students aiming to pursue education in English-speaking countries and it opens doors to global academic opportunities. The TOEFL exam is carefully crafted to assess your proficiency in academic English. A thorough and committed strategy can greatly improve your performance in the TOEFL. It's important to be aware of the exam's format, the associated costs, and the test centers available in the Philippines for efficient preparation and smooth registration. Keep in mind that taking the TOEFL is not just about passing a test; it's a significant step in fulfilling your global educational goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the TOEFL Exam?
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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