Dinesh Pandiyan

Updated on 04-05-2023


TOEFL Exam Syllabus 2023

TOEFL Exam Syllabus 2023

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is conducted by ETS, which measures the English language proficiency of the test takers. The TOEFL exam syllabus contains four sections - reading, listening, speaking and writing. The overall TOEFL score ranges from 0 to 120, all four sections combined. TOEFL is one of the most common English assessment examinations accepted by over 160 countries, including the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc. 

The TOEFL exam is offered in three different formats: TOEFL iBT (Internet-based format), TOEFL at Home (home-based TOEFL test), and TOEFL Paper delivered test (held at both the TOEFL test centre and at home. The duration of the TOEFL test is about 3 hours. You will face integrated tasks which combine more than one skill. For example, you will be presented with an audio lecture, and you will be required to answer the questions based on the audio or summarize the lecture audio.  

Table of Contents:

TOEFL Exam Syllabus and Pattern - An Overview

In the table below, you can get information such as the time limit, number of questions, task description, and test score for each section of the TOEFL exam syllabus

Section Time limit No. of. Questions Tasks Test Scores
Reading 54 - 72 minutes 30 - 40 questions Read passages and answer the questions 0 - 30
Listening 41 - 57 minutes 28 - 39 questions

Answer questions about brief lectures or classroom discussions

0 - 30
Break 10 minutes - - -
Speaking 17 minutes 4 tasks Talk about a familiar topic and discuss material you read and listened to 0 - 30
Writing 50 minutes 2 tasks Read a passage, listen to a recording, and type your response 0 - 30

TOEFL Exam Syllabus - Section wise

The TOEFL syllabus contains four sections - reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Each section has a certain number of questions, question types, and challenges. Below, we gave the essential information on all four sections. 

TOEFL Reading

The TOEFL reading section tests your ability to read and understand materials related to the academic environment. You will be given 3 - 4 passages extracted from university-level textbooks. Each passage is approximately 700 words long and has 10 questions per passage. The duration of the reading test is about 54 - 72 minutes. The total number of questions is about 36 to 56. You can answer the questions by using the information provided in the passage.

Question types in TOEFL Reading Section

  • Reading Factual Information: Factual information question structures are focused on recognizing the major ideas, supporting details, and definitions. These questions have phrases such as “According to the paragraph,” or “Paragraph X answers which of the following?”.And, negative factual information questions have four answers, three of the four answers are true and you have to determine which one is false. While you are answering these questions, keep the words ‘NOT’ and ‘EXCEPT’ in mind.
  • Inference and Rhetorical: Inference questions demand you to identify the information or understand an idea that is not explicitly stated in the reading passage. You can identify the inference questions with the words like ‘infer’, ‘imply’ or ‘suggest’. Also, in rhetorical questions, you have to figure out the idea that is not clearly expressed in the passage. It involves answering questions on why the author presented particular information.
  • Reading Vocabulary: In vocabulary questions, you have to discover or figure out the meaning of the words and phrases used in the passage. These questions contain phrases like ‘closest in meaning’ or ‘the author means’.
  • Sentence Simplification: Sentence simplification questions ask you to identify the sentence that has essentially the same meaning as the sentence in the original passage. You have to choose a sentence which states the most important information in a simple manner.
  • Insert Text Question: In Insert text questions, you have to evaluate the logical order of ideas in the passage. In the reading section, every reading passage will have one insert text question. 

TOEFL Listening

The TOEFL Listening section measures your ability to understand English lectures and conversations. You will have 41 to 57 minutes to complete the section. The total number of questions will be about 34 - 51. You will be listening to 3-4 lectures, each lecture has 3-4 minutes of duration and 6 questions per lecture. And, you have to tackle 2-4 conversations, every 3 minutes and 5 questions per conversation. You can take notes while listening to the audio, which can help you to answer related questions. 

Question types in TOEFL Listening Section

  • Gist-content and Gist-purpose: Gist-content questions ask you to find the main topic or idea in the listening conversation or lecture. Gist-purpose questions ask you to figure out the main purpose behind the conversation or lecture.
  • Detail Questions: To answer the detailed questions, you need to remember the specific facts from the lecture you have listened to. These questions will ask about conceptual details, not trivial details.
  • Function Questions: Function questions ask you to identify the specific meaning of the statement in a given context since the meaning of each statement differs depending on the situation.
  • Attitude Questions: Attitude questions are designed to test your ability to understand the speaker’s feelings or attitude towards something.
  • Organization Questions: Organization questions ask to show your understanding of the structure of the lecture.
  • Connecting Content Questions: In Connecting Content Questions, you have to identify the relationships among ideas in the lecture.
  • Inference Questions: Inference questions determine your understanding of the ideas that are not explicitly stated in the lecture. 

TOEFL Speaking

The TOEFL Speaking section consists of four types of questions/tasks, which tests your ability to speak English in academic settings. The questions are designed in a way that resembles the real-life situations which you could encounter in and outside of a classroom. The test duration of the TOEFL speaking section is 17 minutes. The score range is 0 - 30. And, the total number of speaking tasks is 6.

Question types in TOEFL Speaking Section

  • Question 1 - Independent speaking: In this task, you need to present your ideas, opinions, and experiences. You will have 15 seconds to prepare the answer and 45 seconds to speak it.
  • Question 2 - Integrated Speaking: Question two deals with campus-related situations. In this task, you will read a passage about campus-related topics. And, you will listen to the conversation about that topic. Then, you will get 30 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak out your answer.
  • Question 3 - 4 - Integrated Speaking: These questions will be related to the academic courses. In this task, you will read a passage based on the academic subject. And, you will listen to a lecture related to the same subject. You can use 30 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak your answer.  

TOEFL Writing

The TOEFL Writing section is designed to test your English writing in academic settings and your ability to communicate ideas in a clear and organised manner. The duration of the TOEFL writing test is 50 minutes. There are two writing tasks. First, you will read a short passage and listen to a short lecture and write a response based on what you get out of reading and listening. In the second, you need to write an essay based on personal opinion or experience of the given writing topic.

Question types in TOEFL Writing Section

  • Integrated writing task (20 minutes): You need to read a short passage and a short lecture. And, write your response based on what you have read and listened to. There is no maximum length of your response, but, a typically effective response contains 150 - 225 words.
  • Independent writing task (30 minutes): You will be given a question and asked to write an essay based on an issue. There is no maximum length of an essay, but, typically a good response has at least 300 words.

Preparation for the TOEFL Exam

The TOEFL Exam requires you to prepare well to get a good score. In the below, we gave general tips and tips for each test section to score well in the TOEFL exam. 

TOEFL Preparation Tips

There are two ways you can prepare for the TOEFL exam: self-study and attending coaching sessions. It’s completely your choice to choose either of the two modes of preparation. If money is your concern and you have a good level of self-discipline, you can choose to study on your own. If you need professional guidance, we recommend you check out our TOEFL test prep and coaching programs. 

It is important to understand the test format of each section. Gather a good amount of vocabulary and develop the ability to identify the essential information in the passage to perform well in the reading section. Learn idioms and pay attention to the speaker to respond to the listening questions. Practising the phrase and speaking with your friends who know English can help you to deal with the speaking section. Develop your grammar proficiency and critical thinking skills to perform well in the TOEFL writing section. 

Also read: TOEFL Exam Fee

TOEFL Preparation Books

You can choose TOEFL preparation books or other resources to prepare for the TOEFL exam. When you are choosing books to prepare for the TOEFL test, focus on whether it corresponds to the recent test format. Also, buy a book which has practice questions and detailed answer keys. Some good TOEFL preparation books listed below. 

  • Official Guide to the TOEFL Test (ETS)
  • Official TOEFL iBT Tests (ETS)
  • Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL iBT Test (CUP)
  • TOEFL Preparation Course (Macmillan)
  • TOEFL iBT (Barron)
  • TOEFL iBT Prep Plus (Kaplan)
  • The TOEFL iBT Test Prep Planner (ETS)
  • Essential Words for the TOEFL (Barron’s)
  • ETS Official Guide to the TOEFL Test
  • ETS Official TOEFL iBT Tests
  • Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL iBT Test
  • Macmillan TOEFL Preparation Course
  • Barron TOEFL iBT
  • Kaplan TOEFL iBT Prep Plus

TOEFL Exam Day Tips

Knowing what to do and don’t during the exam day determines your performance. Don’t take your personal items inside the test centre which is not allowed. The only important thing that you must carry to the test centre is a valid passport. Make sure your passport meets the following conditions.

  • An original document ( not a photocopy)
  • Valid (need to be up to date)
  • Full name must be mentioned as given in the registration
  • Must have a recent photo
  • Must have your signature 


We believe you understand the TOEFL exam syllabus in detail. It gives you a better understanding of the challenges you could face in the TOEFL test. Make sure you're prepared for all four sections (reading, listening, speaking, writing) well. Use the preparation tips to develop your capacity to answer the questions. 


1. What is the syllabus for TOEFL?

The TOEFL syllabus focuses on four major aspects of the language proficiency exam namely writing, reading, listening, and speaking. You will be given 3 to 4 reading passages for which you have to answer related questions. Also, you are expected to listen to audio clips containing 4-6 short lectures and 2-3 lengthy conversations.

2. Is the TOEFL difficult?

If you have strong English proficiency and possess the ability to practice and prepare well, you can clear the TOEFL exam easily. 

3. Is TOEFL easy for Indian students?

Indian students who come from English medium school or who possess English language skills can crack the TOEFL exam with minimal effort. Make sure to don’t make typographical errors when you are typing out answers. 

4. What is the TOEFL passing score?

Actually, there are no passing or failing marks in the TOEFL exam. Each institution or university has its own requirements. You can contact the agency or an institution to know about the requirements.

5. What are TOEFL fees in India?

As per current data, the TOEFL iBT test fee in India is US$195 or INR 16,125.72. And, the exam cost of TOEFL Essentials is US$120 or INR 9928.62. 

6. What is TOEFL exam eligibility?

Candidates who have passed the 10/ +2 level of education from any recognized institution are eligible to write the TOEFL exam. 

7. How many times can I take TOEFL?

You can take the TOEFL test as many times as you want. However, the TOEFL retest policy sets the condition that there must be a gap of at least 12 days for each of the TOEFL test dates.

8. What is a good TOEFL score?

An average TOEFL score is about 90. Any score above 100 is considered to be a good TOEFL score. 

9. What is the validity of the TOEFL score?

TOEFL scores are valid for ‘2 years’. You can either download or print a PDF copy of the score report.


About Author Dinesh Pandiyan

Dinesh is a highly experienced content writer who specializes in language proficiency tests like IELTS, GRE, PTE, TOEFL, and study abroad. He provides valuable insights and tips to students on various modules of these tests, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening. His articles are well-researched, informative, and engaging, offering practical guidance to students looking to succeed in their academic pursuits. Additionally, Dinesh has coordinated with IELTS trainers to prepare test preparation materials, guides, practice tests, and mock tests, and worked closely with counsellors for study abroad consultancy, providing guidance on choosing the right institution, preparing for interviews, and writing effective statements of purpose (SOP) and letters of recommendation (LOR). Students can benefit from Dinesh's comprehensive knowledge and experience by checking out his articles.

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Kanan International is an IRCC-certified study abroad consultancy that offers reliable services, products, and solutions for students and education institutions. We support students throughout their study abroad journey, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Our expertise and commitment to excellence make us the go-to partner for expanding global horizons. The company provides coaching for IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT exams and services like visa consultation, accommodation, scholarship assistance, and education loans.

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