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TOEFL: The Complete Guide to Know Everything

TOEFL The Complete Guide to Know Everything

Are you thinking of studying at a university in the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand? Would you like to move to Australia? The TOEFL English certification is for you!

The TOEFL exam (acronym of Test of English as a Foreign Language) is one of the most popular English certifications in the world, because through specific tests, written and oral, it is able to test the real knowledge of the candidate.

The TOEF L English certification differs from other standardized English tests because the candidate always receives a certificate showing the score achieved; this is an important element to consider because it is not applicable to all language certifications, an example is the Cambridge ESOL English exams, for which a certificate is issued only if the test is passed.

For this reason the TOEFL is widely used not only for study reasons, but is also accepted for immigration purposes (in particular in Australia) or as an additional element on the CV

THE TOEFL EXAM (International English Language Testing System)

In this article we will cover everything about the TOEFL certification: we will talk about the ways to recognize the TOEFL, the various versions available, the scores and levels of the TOEFL, the prices and much more!

What is the TOEFL for?

If you dream of studying in universities located in the United States (but also in Canada, Australia and New Zealand) , TOEFL is a must for you : to prove that you will be able to follow lessons like your classmates, you will be required to work alongside a language certificate to your application.

However, the opportunity to take advantage of this certificate is not only binding on the countries mentioned above, in fact there are hundreds of universities (including Italian ones) that accept TOEFL as a requirement for admission or exemption from any courses and English exams included in the study plan.

But not only that, the TOEFL certification is also highly appreciated by companies , which pay a lot of attention to the linguistic preparation of their employees.

Would you like to move to Australia? II TOEFL is one of the linguistic certificates used by the local government to evaluate the language skills necessary for obtaining the following visas:

  • Skilled Migration
  • Post-study Work
  • Business
  • Permanent Residence
  • Work and Holiday
  • Temporary Graduate

TOEFL certification: what it consists of

Being the most widespread version, and probably the one you will support, in this article we will analyze the individual sections of the TOEFL iBT®.

The exam is quite long, in fact it lasts about 4 hours, but, unlike the Cambridge ESOL and IELTS certifications, everything takes place in a single day.

Let’s see in detail the 4 sections of the TOEFL: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing:

  • Reading | 3-4 steps, with 12–14 questions each. Time: 60–80 minutes
  • Listening | 6-9 registrations, with 5–6 questions each. Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Pause | Time: 10 minutes
  • Speaking | 6 exercises. Time: 20 minutes
  • Writing | 2 exercises. Time: 50 minutes
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The structure of the TOEFL

READING (60-80 minutes)

The reading section consists of 3 or 4 texts of about 700 words each; after reading each song, you will have to answer 12-14 questions, for a total of 36-56 questions. Depending on the number of texts and questions, you will have 60 to 80 minutes to complete the test.

All extracts are academic (taken from texts or exhibitions) and are divided into 3 genres: scientific, historical and philosophical.

As anticipated, following the reading of each text you will have to answer 12-14 questions, where you can be asked to:

  • Define a word
  • Identify an idea
  • Identify the false information between the proposed statements

LISTENING (60-90 minutes)

The TOEFL oral comprehension section consists of 6 recordings, each followed by questions related to it.

Attention: you can listen to each recording only once and you will not be allowed to advance or retreat during the test.

You will hear two types of recordings:

  • Excerpts from academic lessons: this is the majority of the recordings, each between 3 and 5 minutes; after listening to each audio you will need to answer 6 questions.
  • Excerpts of conversations between students and teachers: these are shorter recordings (between 2 and 3 minutes) in a more informal environment; after listening to each audio you will need to answer 5 questions.

TIP: although most of the actors in the recordings will have an American accent, the dialogues of at least one clip will have a British, Australian or New Zealand accent, therefore trained to recognize different types of accent!

SPEAKING (20 minutes)

The peculiarity of the TOEFL Speaking is that there will not be an examiner in front of you to ask questions and listen to your answers, but you will record your answer thanks to a microphone and it will be heard, later, by the examiner during the correction of the test.

The oral expression section includes 6 exercises divided into:

  • Independent Speaking: 2 exercises in which you will be asked to talk about two topics of daily interest based on a question. You will have 15 seconds to prepare the answer and 45 seconds to expose it.
  • Integrated Speaking: 4 exercises in which, following the reading of a short text or listening to a recording, you will have to answer a question. You will be given 30 seconds to prepare your answer and up to a minute to expose it.

WRITING (50 minutes)

The TOEFL Writing section is divided into two parts:

  • Integrated writing (20 minutes)
  • Independent Writing (30 minutes)

In the part of Integrated Writing you will have to elaborate an argumentative text, after reading an extract or listening to a recording, in which to express your opinion and support your thesis with examples.

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In the Independent Writing section, as for the Independent Speaking exercise, you will have to present your opinion on a topic of daily interest.

TIP: You will not only be assessed on language skills, but your writing skills (organization of ideas, consistency and development) will also be considered; We therefore advise you to take notes and organize the text in a lineup before you start writing, so you will have in mind what you need to talk about and you won’t lose even a minute!

TOEFL: results, scores and levels

After how much will I receive the results of my TOEFL exam? How long will my diploma last? These are very common questions among candidates, so it is good to know that:

  • The results will be available online about 10 days after taking the test.
  • The TOEFL certification is valid for 2 years, so after this date, at the discretion of the institutions that request it, it will no longer be accepted.

After taking the test, you will receive a diploma attesting to the level you achieved in the test, based on a score from 0 to 120. Each section of the exam (Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing) will receive a maximum of 30 points.

TOEFL preparation: how to best deal with it

Getting to know English is fundamental, especially if you wish to study in an American, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand university. For this reason, they are thousands of students that during the Superiors annually decide to leave for a quarter, semester or school year abroad!

Immerse yourself in the local culture and take part in a High School Program will change your life forever: you will learn English perfectly naturally, you will become more confident and create memories that will remain with you forever.

With this type of training program, you choose the destination country, whether you stay at a very warm Host Family or have a campus life experience in a beautiful Boarding School with many other students.

At the end of your experience, you will have a vast cultural background and a level of English that will allow you to reach a very high TOEFL score with minimal effort, giving you many points ahead of the other candidates.

Moreover, you will never be alone because the CastleHill Global staff will be with you in every moment of your experience, with a reference Personal Tutor and a Support Team available 24/7 365 days a year.

If you are over 18, you can instead attend a language course abroad that focuses on the TOEFL exam preparation. Thanks to the TOEFL preparation language course, you can attend a group language course at an English language school. You can choose from many destinations around the world and the period that best suits your needs!

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TOEFL: costs, dates and exam locations

You can take the TOEFL iBT exam in almost all Italian regions, in some regions (such as Lombardy and Lazio) there are up to two sessions each month.

The cost of the TOEFL exam, at the time this content is written, is $ 255 (check the actual updated cost).

Remember to register early as places are limited for each session.

Practical tips for passing the TOEFL exam


The day of the exam you could be agitated: take a deep breath, concentrate and give your best! Make the most of your potential and demonstrate your skills. If it doesn’t go as you expected, don’t worry, you can take the test as many times as you want!


Supporting a computer language certification could be new to you, the good news is that during the exam you can take all the notes you want and return the sheets used and not at the end of the exam.

In particular, we advise you to take notes during the Speaking and writing section, organizing your ideas is important!


Good preparation is the key to everything, being a standardized test the type of exercise will always be the same, so the more you practice the more you are ready to take the exam. ETS (the American body that takes care of the TOEFL) has official material for the preparation of the test, it is a series of manuals and an application for mobile devices that will help you in the preparation.

If you want to prepare yourself for your TOEFL exam and are over 18, as mentioned above there is nothing to replace the full immersion preparation of a Language Course abroad!

This type of training program is highly flexible and can be built at your discretion based on your personal needs and requirements, you will be the one to choose the destination, duration, type of accommodation and type of course.

The courses are aimed at the objectives and the level of English of the participant who, usually, carries out a language test on the first day of school, and is inserted in a class corresponding to his previous linguistic level.

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