The TOEFL iBT is a four-hour test composed of tasks which test the four basic language skills and also tasks which require integrating multiple skills. It consists of four sections:
In this section, you will have to read 3 or 4 passages taken from academic texts and then answer questions based on the passages.
You need an understanding of rhetorical functions such as cause-effect, compare-contrast, and argumentation. The questions that you need to answer are about: main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, rhetorical purpose and overall ideas.
You have to read the timing instructions carefully; the time can vary from 60 minutes to 80 minutes because ETS includes extra unscored experimental questions which are being pilot tested for future use. Since these extra questions are not identifiable, you have to ensure that you put in equal effort for all the questions.
In this section, you will have to listen to examples of English-language speech such as lectures, classroom discussions, and conversations.
You will be able to hear each such example of speech only once. You will then have to answer the given questions. You are allowed to take notes while listening and then refer to your notes while answering the questions.
The questions are designed to measure your ability to understand main ideas, important details, implications, and relationships between ideas, as well as speaker purpose and speaker attitude.
As with the Reading section, the Listening section includes extra unscored experimental questions and the time can vary.
In this section, you will have to perform six tasks – two independent tasks and four integrated tasks.
The two independent tasks require that you speak to express your opinion on familiar topics. You will be evaluated on your ability to speak spontaneously and convey ideas clearly and in a logically ordered manner.
Two of the integrated tasks require you to read a short passage, listen to an academic lecture or a conversation about campus life, and then answer a question by combining relevant information from both the text and the talk.
In the other two integrated tasks, you will need to listen to an academic lecture or a conversation about campus life and then answer a question regarding what you heard.
You are allowed to take notes while you listen and read and you can then use your notes to compose your responses.
In this section, you will have to perform two writing tasks – one integrated task and one independent task.
The integrated task requires that you read a passage on a particular topic and hear a part of a lecture about the same topic. You will then have to write an essay giving a synopsis of the lecture and also an explanation of how the key points in the lecture relate to the key points in the reading passage.
The independent task requires that you write an essay expressing and supporting your opinion on a given topic or issue. You will be evaluated on the basis of: the development of your ideas, the logical order of your ideas, and the quality and preciseness of the language that you use.