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The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) was designed to assess English language proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The TOEFL test is considered a priority for North American countries and tests knowledge of American English. However, in 2013, the test became truly international as it included British and Australian English variations and was used as a basis for issuing visas to the UK and Australia.
Passing the test is required for studying abroad for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, for immigration, and for employment in international companies. Government and non-governmental organizations, scholarship funds, and migration services also require these test results.
It is worth noting that the results of the official TOEFL test are accepted by external organizations for up to 2 years. If you are required to prove your language proficiency after this period, you will have to retake the test.
Preparation for different formats of the TOEFL test
In 2005, the developers of the TOEFL test (www.ets.org) introduced a new, modern version of the test that is conducted over the internet. This test type replaced the computer-based version of TOEFL and practically eliminated paper-based TOEFL testing. Its features include the elimination of a grammar section. Now, grammar is evaluated across all four sections of the test. In addition, a speaking section was introduced. The undeniable advantage of the new version is that the test assesses not just mastery of individual areas, but a complex set of skills and the ability to apply them to solving everyday communication and information gathering problems.
Reading section (reading skills)
The test taker is offered to read 3-4 lengthy texts on scientific topics. After reading, they must answer questions regarding the content of the text, the main idea, some details, and understanding the meaning of individual words. They may also be asked to indicate where to insert sentences in the text or compile a summary text from the proposed sentences.
Listening section (listening skills)
The test taker must listen to 4-6 audio recordings, which are lectures, student and teacher discussions, academic debates, and so on. Then they must answer questions by choosing one of the proposed options regarding the content of what they heard.
The test taker must complete six tasks. Two of them are simpler, requiring an audio response to a question within 1 minute. The other two tasks are combined: first, they must read a text on a certain topic, then listen to an audio recording on the same topic, and finally answer a question that combines information obtained from both sources. The last two tasks involve first listening to information and then summarizing it in an oral response.
In this section, the test taker must write two essays of different difficulty levels. A simple essay involves a written response to a question. Within this essay, they must express their opinion, illustrating it with examples. The more complex task is a combined essay. Before writing it, they must read a text on a certain topic and listen to information on the same topic.
In the listening and reading sections, there may be additional experimental questions that do not affect the test results.