TOEFL® Talks: An Introduction to the TOEFL® Test

On-screen: [ETS® TOEFL®. Go Anywhere From Here. TOEFL® Talks.  An Introduction to the TOEFL® Test.]

Speaker: Timothy Kryaninko, Academic Relations.

Speaker: Timothy Kryaninko - Hello and welcome to this TOEFL® Talk Webinar: An Information Session for the TOEFL iBT® Test.

My name is Timothy Kryaninko and I work in Academic Relations with ETS®. ETS® is the company, the researched based organization that creates the TOEFL iBT® test.

First, first important, what is the TOEFL® test? Is the most widely recognized English-language test for admissions into colleges and universities. It is an academic English-language test. It is also used for some other purposes; immigration, licensing, scholarships, and placement. This test is really looking for your ability to communicate in English at the academic level. Therefore, it is, of course, looking at all four skills; reading, listening, writing, and speaking.

This is just a quick slide on the TOEFL® family of assessments. Today, we're going to be talking about the TOEFL iBT® test, but there are some others that you might see out there including the TOEFL ITP®, that's the institutional test - not accepted by universities for admissions procedures. Then there's the TOEFL Junior® and the TOEFL® Primary™. These are the tests for younger learners.

Some interesting statistics about the TOEFL® test. More than 30 million people have taken the test already, and those people have used the test to gain admissions into 9,000 different institutions in 130 different countries who are accepting the TOEFL® test.

Also, another interesting statistic is that 90% of the students who've taken the TOEFL® test get into their first or second choice university. Those are some pretty good numbers. You can see here that when you take the TOEFL® test, you're working with a very high quality assessment.

TOEFL® scores are welcomed all over the world. In the United States, four out of five admissions officers prefer the TOEFL® test. In Canada, TOEFL® scores are accepted throughout the country. More globally, like I've said, the test is recognized by 9,000, more than 9,000 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries. It really is everywhere.

On-screen: [TOEFL® scores can be used for Tier 4 student visas under certain conditions; see details at http://ets.org/toefl/ibt/about/who_accepts_scores/uk.]

TOEFL® scores are also widely used in the U.K. TOEFL® scores are accepted by the top U.K. universities, including all 24 of the Russell Group institutions. TOEFL® test scores can be used for Tier 4 student visas under certain conditions. You can see this link in order to find out how that works. Of course, EU students don't need a visa to study in the U.K., so this isn't a question for anybody coming from the European Union. Of course, it is always important to check the admissions requirements for your university and, sometimes, for your program to confirm what and which tests they're accepting and what scores they're looking for.

TOEFL® scores are very welcome in Australia. TOEFL® scores are accepted for all student visas and all the universities in Australia accept TOEFL® scores for their English-language entry requirements. Since November 2014, TOEFL® scores are also accepted for skilled migration, post-study work, and permanent resident visas. You can see that scores really are widely accepted in Australia. Professional bodies in accounting, health and engineering fields also accept TOEFL® scores for registration and certification.

This is some information on the TOEFL® test format. Even if you feel like you have a good level of English, it's very important to become familiar with the test format. It's important to remember that the test is taken on a computer, in a test center, not from home. The order of the questions are always like this. We always begin with reading and then listening, a break, speaking, and then writing. The whole test takes a maximum of approximately four hours and you do it at one time.

It's a one half day commitment and then you're done with the test. Other tests can sometimes require that you take a big break between your reading, listening, writing and speaking sections, or sometimes it's necessary to even come in on two different days to take the test, and that can be very stressful. I think it's quite a benefit that the TOEFL® gets everything out of the way at once.

Some more information on the different sections of the test. First here, the test always begins with reading, and you will have three to four passages from academic texts, and 12 to 14 questions per passage. These are multiple choice questions. We have a wide variety of topics that we see here; humanities, life sciences, biology for instance, and these are all texts coming out of real undergraduate textbooks.

The texts are approximately 700 words long, and what we're testing here is your reading comprehension. There is no prior knowledge needed to be able to answer these questions appropriately. What we're really testing is can you understand what you read? Then the test takes ... This portion of the test takes 60 to 80 minutes to complete, and you have the capacity or the ability to get 0 to 30 points in this section.

In the next section, listening, you will use a headset to listen. There are four to six lectures, and not just monologues, but also some with classroom discussions. Maybe a debate, or the teacher asking questions. Then there are two to three conversations. This could be students talking together. Students talking with a professor, or maybe a student talking with someone working at the library. They will all involve university life.

Very important to note here is that you will not only be hearing American accents, but instead, also a variety of other native speaker accents. You might hear British, Australian, New Zealand accents, but only native speakers. You wouldn't hear, for instance, a Chinese person speaking English or a native speaker of Spanish speaking English.

Also, very important for the listening section is that the listening passages are played only one time. That means it's very important to take notes. Of course, notes, note taking is a very important portion of the academic experience. You can see here that the test is indirectly testing your ability to take notes. This section lasts 60 to 90 minutes, and then, again, you have the possibility to get between 0 and 30 points on this section.

Then comes the speaking section. In this section, remember, you're taking the test on the computer, so you'll be speaking the answers into a microphone. They're going to be recorded and then sent away to be rated. I'm going to give you a little bit more information on the rating in the next slide, because the rating is very very important.

In the speaking section you will have two tasks where you give your answer based on your opinion and then you will have four integrated tasks where you give your answer, speak your answer based on what you read or listened to. What you're doing here is you're combining your language skills just like you do in real life. Normally, when you're at university, very often, you're going to read an academic passage at home and then you're going to go to class and you'll listen to the teacher, the professor speaking on that topic and then you'll receive a question and you'll have to give an answer based on what you read and what you heard. You'll see what we're doing here is testing you in a very real academic situation. The time for this section is 20 minutes, and then again, 0 to 30 points in that section.

Finally comes the writing section. You have one integrated task. Again, writing based on what is read and listened to that last 20 minutes, and then one independent task. This is more like the classic essay where you give your answers based on your opinion or your experience. This lasts for 30 minutes. 50 minutes in total, and the final score for this section is 0 to 30 points. The final total score for the TOEFL iBT® test, you have the ability to get between 0 and 120 points. Hopefully, closer to 120.

Another important thing, note taking is allowed in all sections. Of course, I said already, in the listening section, it's very important to take notes. Also, learning how to make notes appropriately for writing, writing an outline before you begin to write your response. These are also very important skills and strategies.

I mentioned that the way that we score the TOEFL iBT® test is a bit different from other tests. I want to tell you a little bit about that just so you can understand it a bit more. Remember, the test is taken on the computer, but it is not scored by the computer. The reading and the listening sections are, because they're a multiple choice questions. The speaking and writing sections are scored by trained ETS® raters. For these individuals we, of course, train them and test them, and then we do a daily calibration so that we get everybody in the right mindset and so that they’re rating accuracy.

In the speaking section, we have ... For both speaking and writing, we have multiple raters. In the speaking section, we have three to six different ETS® raters who will look at your speaking answers. The reason we do this is to try to get the most accurate rating possible with the least possible bias. For the writing responses, we have four raters.

Also, it's important here to know, we record your responses and send them away. The scoring is separate from the testing site to maintain that score integrity. One thing that that does is that raters see and hear responses worldwide so they don't get used to listening to the response of just one nationality. Also, very important is that raters are anonymous. They don't see the test taker and they don't have a chance to build any expectations about the test taker by seeing them. They only hear the response.

When you're looking for a TOEFL® testing location, luckily, we have lots of them all over the world, and the TOEFL® test is administered approximately 50 times per year. Like I said, test centers in almost every country. What's very important to remember is that there are fixed test dates, so they're available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and registration is on a first come first serve basis. It's a very good idea to register early. You can have a look here online at the link to see where tests are being offered.

On-screen: [Finding a TOEFL iBT® Test Center. Go to www.ets.org/toefl/locations.]

This is the website. This is where you can go look for the locations, the dates, and the prices. When you want to go register for the test, when you decide to register, you're going to go to the TOEFL® Go Anywhere Website and you're going to create a profile. That profile is going to allow you to register for your test, but also to confirm the location and the reporting time, and it will allow you to, before your test, add up to four institutions who should receive your scores. You can add these four institutions for free before you take your test.

You can view your test scores approximately 10 days after the test. You can register to take the test again, or to reschedule your testing appointment. You can also order additional score reports if you need additional ones. You can update contact information, review your profile history, et cetera.

On-screen: [Creating a TOEFL iBT® Profile.]

This is what the registration page looks like just to give you an idea. Identification requirements, this is a very important point. You must register for the test using the same name that appears on your primary ID. This is usually your passport. Each country has different ID requirements, so make sure to check those out online. Make sure your name looks exactly like it does on your passport. If you have a second or a third name on your passport, maybe you don't use them, but if they're on your passport, make sure you put them in your profile.

You must also bring acceptable ID to the test center on test day. If you don't bring your ID and if your name is not written correctly, you will not be able to take your test and you will lose your test fee. If you have any questions about identification, you need to submit those in advance to the Office of Testing Integrity, that's tsreturns@ets.org. This is very important for test takers who are refugees. If you are a refugee test taker and you don't have your passport for instance, of course, we can still arrange for you to take the test, but you need to contact us in advance so that we can make those arrangements especially for you. We're very willing to help you, but please contact us in advance.

Here, we have the TOEFL® Search Service. This is an interesting tool that allows universities to get in touch with you if they're interested in your profile. Keep in mind that this is not a required ... You're not required to join the search service. You have to opt in to tell us if you want to join. This can be interesting for a student who maybe isn't decided yet on what he or she wants to study.

What happens here is an institution might be looking for a French student who wants to study business in the United States. They'll search through our directory and if they find you and you have the scores they're looking for, perhaps they'll send you a nice offer.

On-screen: [Test Day Video.  www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/test_day/expect.]

The test day video. This is a really useful video to show you what you can expect on test day. What it's like when you arrive, when you check in, when you take the test, and about reporting and canceling scores, et cetera. I definitely suggest have a look at the testing center so you know what you can expect.

TOEFL® scores are accepted, like I said, by more than 9,000 institutions. You should remember that institutions set their own score requirements. Sometimes the university sets a requirement. Sometimes the individual department sets a requirement, or the program. You need to check this with each school. For the TOEFL iBT®, you will always get a score. There's no passing or failing score, but you need to make sure that that score is enough to be entered, or to be admitted into the university. Again, like I said, scores are available online in approximately 10 days, and you'll receive a notification by e-mail when that score comes in, or check in to your TOEFL® profile. You should see it there after not too long.

On-screen: [Mapping with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).  CEFR level: Reading (0-30), Listening (0-30), Speaking (0-30), Writing (0-30), Total (0-120).  Under ‘CEFR level’: C1 or above, B2, B1, A2. (Across from C1 or above: 24, 22, 25, 24, 95. Across from B2: 18, 17, 20, 20, 17, 72. Across from B1: 4, 9, 16, 13, 42. Across from A2: n/a, n/a, 10, 7, n/a.)]

This is some information about the CEFR, or the Common European Framework of Reference. If you're applying to a university in Europe for instance, you may see that some universities, instead of giving a score number, they might say, "We are looking for a B2 level." You can see from this chart that a B2 level for the total score is a 72 or above. Often times, undergraduate programs will look for a B2. Some graduate level programs will look for a C1 or above, and you can see that that is a 95. This can be a good resource. Of course, always check with the university.

On-screen: [Sample Performance Feedback on Test Taker Examinee Score Report: Speaking Skills, Level, Your Performance; Writing Skills, Level, Your Performance.]

This is a sample performance feedback that you'll find on your test taker score report. Instead of just giving you a number score, we're also telling you what you're doing good at. What are your strengths? You can read more about this on the examinee score report performance feedback.

On-screen: [TOEFL® Go Anywhere Website: www.toeflgoanywhere.org. Website contents include TOEFL® Destination Search, registration information, test preparation tips and resources, and more.]

Now we'll go into some TOEFL® resources. The TOEFL® Go Anywhere Website, this is the source of information for students who want to take the TOEFL iBT®. There's a lot of information on the internet and a lot of it is wrong, so please come to us, the people who've made the TOEFL iBT® test so that we can give you the most accurate, the most up-to-date information.

On-screen: [TOEFL® Destination Search: http://www.toeflgoanywhere.org/search-who-accepts-toefl.]

This is the Destination Search. Again, you can search through the 9,000 plus institutions that accept the TOEFL iBT® test. You can search here by institution name, location, or by score.

On-screen: [TOEFL® Page on Facebook®: www.facebook.com/toefl.]

On-screen: [TOEFL® Page on Instagram®. Launched August 2014. Follow us: @toefl_official.]

On-screen: [TOEFL® Page on LinkedIn®. Connect with us and other test takers; Get updates, information and advice; 66K+ followers (as of September 2016).]

You can join us on Facebook. Here, you'll find different test and skill-building tips, as well as study videos. If you join us on Instagram, you can follow us for some inspirational content as you're getting prepared to take the TOEFL® test. You can also follow us on LinkedIn in order to connect with us and other test takers.

On-screen: [TOEFL® TV Channel on YouTube: www.youtube.com/toefltv. 81,000+ subscribers; Over 4.1 million views (as of September 2016).]

Then we also have the TOEFL® TV Channel on YouTube. This can be a great resource for preparing for the test. It includes video tips from teachers and students, and it also includes this ETS® produced video about the test. These different videos called Inside the TOEFL® Test. It's a video series that gives an in-depth look at the reading, listening, speaking, and writing questions on the test. Including looking at the question structure, the scoring criteria, the skill-building tips and sample responses for speaking and writing. This is a great way to practice your listening skills and to learn more about the test.

Also, around the world, there are a variety of TOEFL iBT® Resource Centers where you can get information about the test and preparation materials from representatives who are in your time zone and who speak your local language. You can find contact details on the website.

On-screen: [TOEFL® Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide: ets.org/toefl/insidersguide.]

Some information about test prep material. The TOEFL® Test Preparation Insider's Guide, this is the TOEFL® MOOC, Massive Open Online Course. It is a free six-week test prep course that's designed by the experts who created the TOEFL iBT®. We'll look at ... There's an introduction, and then we look into reading, listening, speaking, writing, and the test day and beyond.

In the MOOC, in the preparation course, you'll see a mix of text, short video lectures, sample questions from past tests and quizzes. We've had quite a lot of people take this test, or take part in this preparation course by now, and it seems like we've had a lot of great feedback. I think this is a really good resource for helping you get ready for the test.

On-screen: [Free TOEFL iBT® Test Preparation: http://www.toeflgoanywhere.org/toefl-practice.]

In addition to that, we have a lot of other free test prep material. These are all authentic test questions used in the past. The same level of difficulty as you will see on the TOEFL® test. We have the Interactive Sampler. It's a sample test with examples from all sections of the test, and it really shows what the test looks like.

We have the Test Prep Planner. It's an eight-week preparation plan with tips and activities to build each of the four skills. It also shows how we score the speaking and writing section. Then we have the Quick Prep, which is a free practice tool that has questions from past TOEFL iBT® tests with downloadable audio files. That will really help you practice your academic listening skills of course.

Of course, we have a variety of other TOEFL iBT® test prep materials for purchase in case you need some more support getting ready to take your test. I'll go into those in these next slides. We have The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test. This is a really popular one. It is the TOEFL iBT® test prep handbook. It includes TOEFL iBT® sample questions and three full-length practice tests. It also has a lot of scoring information with ETS raters' comments for the speaking and writing section. It's very important to know what are the raters looking for when they're looking at your speaking and writing responses.

There's also the Writer's Handbook for English-language learners, and in certain languages, we have bilingual publications available. There are two formats, an eBook and a paper book with an interactive CD-ROM. Then we have the Official TOEFL iBT® Tests. There are two additions, and each one has five tests inside. That's a total of 10 authentic practice tests. The book of course also includes an interactive DVD-ROM and answer guides, answer keys and scoring guides, and it's available as a paper book or an eBook.

On-screen: [TOEFL® Practice Online: http://toeflpractice.ets.org/.]

This is one that I think is very interesting, the TOEFL® Practice Online. This is the closest thing you can get to the real TOEFL® test. It's a computer software that you use on your own computer which simulates the TOEFL iBT® test. You can take it at home, in a time diversion, or in an untimed diversion. If you take it in the time diversion, you'll also get scores and feedback on all four skills including speaking and writing.

There are also half tests available and a new speaking series that just tests your speaking skill. You can find some more information under the link at the bottom of the screen.

On-screen: [TOEFL® Value Packs. TOEFL® Practice Online: $29 – Save 37%. Prep: $51 – Save 38%; Prep Plus: $71 – Save 33%; Premium: $141 - Save 32%.]

Also, an important thing to note, if you are going to register for the test and you already know that you want to purchase some preparation material, it pays to do it at the same time. Get your preparation material when you register for the test. If you do that, ETS® will give you some nice discounts as you can see here.

Finally, there's also the possibility to use the TOEFL® Online Prep Course. It's an online tutorial with up to 80 hours of content over a six-month subscription, and you'll receive a personalized learning path to help improve the four skills measured on the TOEFL® test. It includes post-tests, timed activities, an interactive grade book. We're using state of the art speech recognition technology to help you improve.

On-screen: [The TOEFL® Test: Advantages that make the journey easier. http://www.toeflgoanywhere.org.]

That concludes the information that I wanted to share with you about the TOEFL iBT® test. With that, I will wish you great luck on your application to university and lots of success in taking the TOEFL iBT®.

End of TOEFL® Talks: An Introduction to the TOEFL® Test video.

Video duration: 25:47