The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized academic English test primarily taken by students applying to universities in the United States. The TOEFL is also accepted as proof of English ability by some universities outside the United States. The TOEFL is actually a suite of tests, the most popular of which are the TOEFL iBT and the TOEFL Essentials exam. Other tests in the TOEFL suite are TOEFL ITP (Institutional Testing Program), TOEFL Junior, and TOEFL Primary. These other forms of the TOEFL are only available to students via their schools. The TOEFL PBT (Paper Based Test or Paper-delivered test) was phased out in April 2021.

The TOEFL is composed of four sections – reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The TOEFL iBT is a long and rigorous test (3 hours) designed to assess whether or not students are ready to study in an English-speaking university. Many students spend 3 to 6 months preparing for the TOEFL before taking the exam. The TOEFL Essentials exam was designed to be an easier, cheaper English test with a less academic focus.


A TOEFL score on the iBT version of the test is on a scale of 0 to 120. Scores on the Essentials test are reported in half bands from 1 to 12. Both tests include the best score on each test section in the past 2 years in the official score report. A student may take the TOEFL as many times as he wants, but no more than once every 3 days.


The TOEFL is a product of ETS, an American non-profit organization, which also makes the TOEIC, another standardized English test geared towards a corporate audience.

TOEFL at a glance

Why take this test?University application in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, UK or Canada
PriceUS $100-$320
Length90 minutes (Essentials) or 180 minutes (iBT)
Result report6 to 10 days
Test locationauthorized test centers or online
Score validity2 years
Compare TOEFL to other English tests