TOEFL Exam Pattern 2023 - Marking Scheme, Duration, Section-wise Test Pattern

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Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Aug 02, 2023 5:06 PM IST

TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is used to assess applicants' English language proficiency. The large majority of students who take this test are non-native English speakers looking to study or work in a foreign country.

The TOEFL exam pattern has been meticulously constructed and homogenised to provide a more accurate assessment of applicants' English language proficiency. Before taking the exam, candidates must comprehend the TOEFL exam pattern and the different sorts of question formats. As ETS introduced the new version of the test, TOEFL iBT has become the shortest English language proficiency test worldwide that only lasts approx. 116 minutes. Check below how the updated/new TOEFL pattern provides students with an easier and quicker testing experience.

TOEFL Exam Pattern 2023

Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL is recognised by over 11,000 universities and other organisations in 190 countries as proof of English language ability. You will learn more about the exam format for the ETS-recommended TOEFL test as you read further on this page.

The Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections of the TOEFL exam are used to evaluate candidates' proficiency with academic English at the university level. Each of these four tasks, which make use of the four primary English communication skills, must be completed in three hours, plus an additional thirty minutes for check-in.

Candidates must have a thorough comprehension of all the sections of the exams, the exam pattern, and the TOEFL syllabus in order to prepare well for the test and succeed in their desire of enrolling in a prestigious university abroad.

Ever rose a thought - why you should take the TOEFL exam when there are other English proficiency tests like the IELTS exam, PTE exam, and Duolingo English Test (DET)? Know your reasons by reviewing these links:

Why TOEFL May be a Better Option Than IELTS

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo - Which Exam to Take for Study Abroad?

US Universities Accepting TOEFL Scores

TOEFL Accepted Universities in UK

Learn About Foreign Universities Accepting 100+ on TOEFL?

Highlights of TOEFL 2023 Exam Pattern

The TOEFL full form is the Test of English as a Foreign Language and the exam is of two types - iBT and PBT. The TOEFL pattern 2023 highlights outlined in the table below will provide the candidates with a detailed knowledge of the test:

TOEFL Exam Characteristics

Old TOEFL Pattern

New TOEFL Pattern

TOEFL Exam Duration

3 hours

116 minutes

Total Number of Sections

4: Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing

4: Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing

Total Number of Questions

64 to 85

48 questions + 6 tasks

Number of Breaks

1 break (10 minutes)

1 break (10 minutes)

TOEFL Exam Flow



Mode of TOEFL Exam



Integrated Tasks



Negative Marking



Note Taking Allowed



TOEFL Exam Pattern of Reading Section

The TOEFL exam begins with the Reading section. The primary goal of this section of the test is to evaluate the candidate's ability to interpret English. It assesses comprehension abilities and includes excerpts from high school textbooks about everyday issues. There are 3-4 paragraphs with 6-7 questions each. After reading each text, the applicant must respond to a series of questions based on his comprehension of the content. Here are the highlights of the Reading section in the TOEFL exam:

TOEFL Reading Characteristics


TOEFL Reading Duration

35 minutes

Number of Questions


Types of Questions

Passage based questions

TOEFL Reading Tasks

Read passages and answer according to question-wise instructions

TOEFL Exam Pattern of Listening Section

The TOEFL exam Listening section assesses the candidate's ability to understand the English language and the many accents used throughout the world. It assesses a candidate's ability to understand audio and appropriately summarise information. The listening section consists of three to four audio lectures and two to three audio conversations, followed by questions based on the audio clips. The audio might be from a speech, a general conversation, or a dispute resolution session. The Listening section of the TOEFL exam can be summarised as follows:

TOEFL Listening Characteristics


TOEFL Listening Duration

36 minutes

Number of Questions


Types of Questions

Lectures based questions

Conversation based questions

TOEFL Listening Tasks

Answer questions based on information

TOEFL Exam Pattern of Speaking Section

The TOEFL exam Speaking section assesses the candidate's ability to communicate in English fluently. This component requires applicants to convey their points of view on a certain issue. The speaking component assesses how well the candidate articulates and speaks about their ideas. It is regarded as the most challenging component of the TOEFL exam. A human and an AI-based rater analyse this test. The exam pattern of TOEFL Speaking 2023 has been mentioned below:

TOEFL Speaking Characteristics


TOEFL Speaking Duration

16 minutes;

less than 1 minute to answer

0.5 minutes to prepare

Number of Tasks


Types of Questions

1 Opinion-based task

3 Integrated tasks

TOEFL Speaking Tasks

Speak on a topic

Answer or express what is heard or read

TOEFL Exam Pattern of Writing Section

The TOEFL exam Writing section assesses the candidate's ability to communicate thoughts and perspectives through writing in English. It focuses on assessing a candidate's writing abilities through an essay and comparable cross-functional activities such as integrated writing. The exam pattern of TOEFL Writing has been mentioned below:

TOEFL Writing Characteristics


TOEFL Writing Duration

29 minutes

Number of Tasks


Types of Questions

1 Integrated task

1 Opinion-based task

TOEFL Writing Tasks

Type and express what is read or heard

Express opinions on a topic

How Many Universities Accept TOEFL Exam Scores?

TOEFL exam scores are recognised by over 130 countries and 11,000 foreign universities, colleges, and educational organisations throughout the world. TOEFL results are recognised by educational institutions in key international education destinations like the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK. Applicants can quickly register for the TOEFL exam and make appointments at TOEFL Test Centers.

9 out of 10 American institutions prefer the TOEFL exam. In addition, more TOEFL results are received by American institutions than all other English-language examinations combined. The higher-level TOEFL iBT test has helped millions of students get admission to American colleges. Furthermore, the TOEFL exam is entirely focused on academic English - the language used in American schools.

How Is the TOEFL Test Scored?

Highlighted in the table below are the score ranges that have been assigned to each of the four sections in the TOEFL 2023 test:

TOEFL Exam Sections

Score Range

Mean Scores













Total Score



Related Reads:

Why TOEFL May be a Better Option Than IELTS

US Universities Accepting TOEFL Scores

TOEFL Accepted Universities in UK

Entrance Exams to Study in the USA

How is the TOEFL iBT Administered?

The TOEFL iBT is administered at 187 recognised test centres in nations and territories throughout the world. TOEFL test centres are often located in or close to major cities, and the test is typically offered on Fridays or Saturdays. Applicants can look for TOEFL availability country-wise and city-wise on the website of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which posts available exam locations and dates several months in advance. To register for the TOEFL, students can sign up online, over the phone, or by mail. The TOEFL 2023 is administered with the following pointers mentioned:

  • Administered online using a computer in a secure testing facility and a reliable internet connection.

  • For the listening section of the TOEFL exam, candidates are given noise-cancelling headphones.

  • Candidates receive a microphone to record their oral communication or answers.

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FAQs on TOEFL Exam Pattern

What is the total duration of the TOEFL exam?

As per the updated/ new TOEFL version, the total duration of the exam is approximately 116 minutes as per set forth by the ETS. However, administrating authority advises applicants to schedule a total of two and a half hours since it takes a long time to settle in and complete the individual check-in process at each recognised TOEFL test centre in India.

How much time is allocated for the TOEFL Writing Section?

A total of 29 minutes of time is allocated for the TOEFL Writing section to test takers to attempt various questions. In these 29 minutes, candidates will have to complete two tasks, one of which requires them to offer an opinion-based response, and the other of which is an integrated task that requires them to give responses based on what they have listened to and read.

Is there any change in the TOEFL exam pattern in 2023?

Yes, ETS has made notable changes in the TOEFL exam pattern in 2023 with the intention to provide students with an easy test-taking environment. From July 26, 2023, TOEFL iBT has become the shortest and quickest English Language Proficiency test in the world. Here is the new TOEFL pattern: TOEFL Reading section- 35 minutes; 20 questions, TOEFL Listening section- 36 minutes; 28 questions, TOEFL Speaking section- 16 minutes; 4 tasks, and TOEFL Writing section- 29 minutes; 2 tasks. In case any changes have been made to the exam pattern, the same will be published on the official website for TOEFL.

How many questions will be asked in the TOEFL Exam?

There is no specific answer to the number of questions that might be asked in the TOEFL exam. The ETS provides a different set of questions for each test, which results in an uneven distribution of questions in TOEFL iBT Tests. In a TOEFL iBT test, however, test-takers can anticipate answering nearly 48 questions along with 4 Speaking tasks and 2 Writing tasks, with each adding up to a total score of 120 points.

Is the TOEFL iBT test tough for Indian students?

No, the TOEFL iBT test is not tough for Indian students if they have the fundamental knowledge of grammar rules and spoken English. The TOEFL is a relatively simple exam to master when compared to other English standardised tests or any other entrance exams for studying abroad. However, if students are not adequately prepared for the test, even TOEFL will become challenging to clear.

What are the maximum marks I can score in TOEFL?

The maximum mark an applicant can score in the TOEFL exam is 120, taking into account each section's individual score. In total, there are four sections in the TOEFL exam, with a total of 30 marks in each section, resulting in a maximum score of 120.

Is the TOEFL exam pattern the same for the centre and at-home edition?

Yes, the TOEFL exam pattern is the same for the centre and the at-home edition (TOEFL iBT Home Edition). The administrating authority has done this to keep the test's uniformity and validity throughout all of the options accessible, allowing students to keep enrolling in their desired universities and programmes worldwide.

How is the TOEFL Speaking section evaluated?

The TOEFL Speaking section is evaluated or graded or scored between 0 to 30 marks. An applicant will be evaluated by the TOEFL examiner based on their spoken English fluency and their capacity to comprehend and provide compelling responses during the examination. There are four speaking tasks in the TOEFL iBT speaking section, where applicants must talk about a subject and content they either read or listened to.

Is there any negative marking in the TOEFL exam pattern?

No, there is no negative marking in the TOEFL exam pattern. Incorrect or incomplete answers on TOEFL iBT tests will not result in a test taker receiving a lower score. As a result, even if you are unsure of the answers, it is always advisable to provide a response to every question. You still have a chance of accurately answering every question by using the elimination process and other commonly used strategies.

How many sections does TOEFL iBT have?

The TOEFL iBT has a total of four sections. There are four sections in total on the TOEFL iBT: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Each of these sections will include a variety of question formats, including those based on passages, lectures, conversations, autonomous and integrated projects, and opinion-based assessments. The four sections will carry 30 marks each, which will total around 120.

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