The Test of English as a Foreign Language – or TOEFL – is the most widely-accepted English proficiency test for college admissions. If you’re an international student, chances are you’ll be taking the TOEFL.
Where to start? Follow these 5 steps to taking the TOEFL – from test prep to test scores.
Step 1: Choose your test.
The first thing to know when taking the TOEFL is which test format you will be taking. The TOEFL comes in two forms: Interned-Based Test (iBT) and Paper-Based Test (PBT).
The test you take may depend on the format of your test center. Test centers without internet access offer the PBT, while most test centers offer the iBT only. The PBT is currently only offered in a few countries, including Afghanistan, American Samoa, Angola and Aruba. Check with your individual test center.
You will most likely be taking the iBT, which includes a speaking section, as well as testing grammatical strength and written expression.
The cost of the TOEFL varies by country. The iBT can cost up to $185, while the PBT can cost up to $160.
Step 2: Plan ahead.
Once you know which test to take, find out where to take the TOEFL near you. Although the iBT is offered 30 to 40 times a year, each location offers only a few of these TOEFL test dates. The PBT is offered only six times a year, and some test centers observe only one of those test dates.
Start planning for the TOEFL early. Colleges recommend that you submit your test scores in October for early applications and in December for the regular decision deadline.
Many countries also have TOEFL resource centers where you can research and prepare for the test.
Step 3: Register.
Now that you’ve found the right time to take the TOEFL, remember to register for the test date you want! Registration is due one week before the iBT test date, and four weeks before the PBT date.
You can register online or by mail for either test – for the iBT, you can also register by phone, or at TOEFL resource centers around the world. If you register by mail, you’ll receive a confirmation in a few weeks – contact the test center if you’re still waiting.
Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice!
Before the TOEFL, test yourself using previous exams or practice questions. Try to speak in English for a few hours each day. Watch movies or TV shows in English – it’s an easy way to prepare for the test!
Remember to collect all of your materials for the TOEFL the night before the test, get a good night’s sleep and eat breakfast in the morning.
Step 5: Submit your scores.
Now that you’re done with the test, you can lean back, relax and wait for your TOEFL scores. iBT scores take about two weeks to be mailed, while PBT scores take five weeks.
Scores will be sent to your four top schools for free, and you can report your scores to more colleges after the test for a fee.
Your test scores are valid for two years, so you have plenty of time to fill out your applications, write your essays, and find your favorite colleges – without worrying about the TOEFL or test scores!