English certification: 6 things to know about the TOEFL

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized English test created in 1964 and adapted to a common academic curriculum. It is intended for people whose native language is not English.

Like the TOEIC®, the TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS); the test is used by more than 11,000 higher education establishments and is recognized in about 150 countries. It is the most widely recognized test by universities in the United States and Canada. In total, more than 35 million people worldwide have taken the TOEFL.

Why take the test?

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized English test designed to assess language knowledge in a university context. It is mainly aimed at students who take it in the context of university exchanges at English-speaking universities. Note that in some countries, a TOEFL certification can also be useful when applying for a scholarship or a student visa.

The test is aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and assesses a candidate’s level of English on this scale ranging from B1 (intermediate) to C1 (proficiency).

What does the test involve?

It should be noted that there are not one, but two TOEFL tests, namely the iBT (or Internet-Based TOEFL), which is taken online, and the PBT (or Paper-Based TOEFL). The vast majority of tests are taken on a computer.

The TOEFL consists of four sections: reading comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression and oral expression. Candidates can score from 0 to 30 points in each section.

  • Reading comprehension (Reading): this section assesses the level of understanding of passages from university books with 10 questions per passage.
  • Oral comprehension (Listening): this test assesses selected reading and discussion in a university context.
  • Written expression (Writing): this test assesses a candidate’s ability to develop ideas in writing and to structure a text. The candidate must also be able to write a short essay.
  • Oral expression (Speaking): this test assesses the candidate’s ability to answer 4 questions orally.

How long does the test take?

The TOEFL takes about 4 hours. There is a ten-minute break between the comprehension and expression tests.

The reading section takes 54 to 72 minutes, the listening section 41 to 57 minutes, the speaking section 17 minutes and the writing section 50 minutes.

What levels does the TOEFL test assess?

TOEFL is intended for intermediate and advanced levels, and is not suitable for beginner levels (A1 and A2).

Note: the TOEFL is not a diploma, it is a test that measures your level at a given time, and so is only valid for two years.

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What grading system does the TOEFL test use?

The TOEFL iBT is graded on 120 points and is valid for two years, like many standardized English tests.

Candidates can score from 0 to 30 on each test; the total constitutes your final score. The scores are added together to give a total score between 0 and 120.

How to interpret your final score:

  • Between 57 and 86 points: level B1
  • Between 87 and 109: level B2
  • Between 110 and 120: level C1

Did you know? You cannot fail the TOEFL test; your final score establishes a certain level of English.

How much does the test cost? Where can you take it?

The TOEFL costs about €200, though the price may vary depending on the test center. To take the TOEFL, candidates can choose from a large number of ETS GLOBAL-approved test centers and training organizations all over France. The test is offered more than 60 times every year.

Note: you cannot take the TOEFL on an open basis, you must be registered at a university in order to take the test.

TOEFL at a glance

PublisherETS GlobalGymglish
Name of certificate / diplomaTOEFLGymglish learning report, professional English
Validity periodTwo yearsDoes not expire
Skills testedReading comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression, oral expressionReading, listening, writing (business and professional English)
Target level(s)From level B1 to C1All levels, except true beginners (A2 to C2)
Price€ 200From € 14 /month
Duration4 hoursTraining + learning report: 6 months
Face-to-face / RemoteAt a test center   Remote / online

The TOEFL is not the only option for English certification. At the end of our English language training, we also provide a personalized learning report.

See our section on English language tests and diplomas

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