TOEFL means Test of English as a Foreign Language. It’s a test which measures the ability of non-native English speakers to use and understand the English language as it is heard, spoken, read and written in the university classroom.
It is taken by students who want to study abroad. This test is accepted by more than 10,000 colleges, universities, and agencies in more than 130 countries; which means it is the most widely recognized English test in the world.
In addition, it is also used by immigration departments to issue residential and work visas while medical and licensing agencies use them for professional certification purposes
Before the Exam
How to Register for TOEFL?
- Create an account in their website.
- Select your testing location and date. (We have 8 testing locations in PH)
- Pay for a TOEFL iBT® test. (It costs $200)
I don’t really have much preparation for TOEFL unlike what I had in IELTS. I started working as an English Proficiency Guide in one of the agencies hiring nurses, medical technicians, and physical therapists.
Good thing, my colleague gave me a software called Official TOEFL iBT which contains past TOEFL tests. It’s quite helpful but to be honest, I got really bored answering it.
Since my testing location is at Ateneo de Manila Salcedo Campus, I’ve decided to have a Staycation at City Garden Grand Hotel. It’s few minutes away from the testing center.
During the Exam
Examiners need to be in the testing center 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time. I left the hotel at around 7 am. (Thank God! They serve the breakfast buffet as early as 6 am.) You must be on time. If you arrive after the reporting time, you may not be admitted into the testing room.
You don’t have to bring a lot of things in the test center. Unlike IELTS where I need to bring some pencils, I only brought my passport. As soon as I got there, we were asked to fill out a form about our personal details, and to deposit all our belongings in a locker. Electronic gadgets are not allowed inside the testing station.
Before entering the testing station, all the candidates underwent strict security measures. We were asked to turn our pockets inside out, and pull our sleeves above our elbows.
The exam has four parts: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing.
- In the reading, we have to read three to four passages from academic texts and answer some questions within 100 minutes.
- In the listening, we have to listen to lectures, classroom discussions, and conversations, then answer some questions within 90 minutes.
- There was a 10 minute break. (Time to drink or go to the restroom.)
- In the speaking, we have to express an opinion a topic, and speak based on reading and listening tasks. We have to answer 6 questions in 20 minutes.
- In the writing, we have to write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks, and support an opinion in writing. We have to write two essays in 50 minutes.
The total length of the exam is 4.5 hours. Imagine how stressful it was!
After the Exam
After only 10 days, I was able to see my scores in their website.
Here’s how they are interpreted:
The results are quite low compared to my IELTS. I only got 6.5 in reading and listening in TOEFL compared to my previous IELTS score which is 8.0 and 8.5. In my opinion, TOEFL is harder than IELTS because you’ll be required to listen to the recordings first before you see the questions. It’s hard to make notes when you don’t know which information you’re really looking for.
For speaking, I got 7.5 in both IELTS and TOEFL. I bet some people would say that TOEFL is better because you’re just going to record your voice, but I still prefer talking to a real person and engaging in a conversation.
For writing, I got 6.5 in both IELTS and TOEFL. I think they are the same in terms of difficulty. Both of them requires two essays. For IELTS, we are required to describe a diagram, and then write an essay about a topic. On the other hand, TOEFL requires examiners to read a passage, and listen to a recording before answering an essay.
While my Overall Band Score in IELTS is 7.5, I only got a band score of 6.5 in TOEFL. It’s not a bad thing. Check out how many universities I am qualified!