Have you been preparing for the TOEFL and finally decided to register for the exam? Or maybe you’re planning to take the test after July 26? Well, guess what? There are some new changes you need to know about. So, grab a cup of coffee and read this article to avoid any surprises.
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is an international exam for English language proficiency that’s often required for admission to foreign universities or jobs abroad. It consists of four sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The test duration is three hours. But that’s about to change in a month.
Changes in the exam from July 26
According to official information from ETS (the organization that administers the exam), starting from July 26, 2023, the TOEFL iBT® exam will undergo several enhancements:
- Easier registration process and more payment options, making it super convenient for everyone interested in taking the exam.
- You’ll now see your official results as soon as you finish the test. No more checking your account every day hoping to see those much-awaited scores. They’ll notify you about any result updates.
- The test duration is getting shorter, under two hours. Who wouldn’t love that, right?
Please note that these changes apply only to computer-based tests at testing centers and the TOEFL iBT Home Edition. The TOEFL iBT Paper Edition will remain unchanged.
Now let’s talk more about the changes to the test duration:
- They’ve simplified instructions and navigation, so you’ll spend less time reading task instructions. Hallelujah!
- The “Writing” section’s second task is getting a makeover. Instead of the Independent Writing task, you’ll now have Writing for an Academic Discussion. It’s gonna be more engaging, trust me!
- The “Reading” section will be shorter, with two passages and 10 questions each instead of three to four passages. Phew, that’s some relief!
- They’ve removed the 10-minute break in the middle of the test. No more waiting around twiddling your thumbs.
- Here’s another cool change—they’re eliminating questions that don’t contribute to your score. In the past, you might have come across some “experimental” questions in the test, which were not scored. Well, starting from July 26, everyone will get the same number of questions. Fair and square!
The scoring system remains the same, with a maximum of 30 points for each section and 120 points for the entire TOEFL iBT.
New Writing Task
Beginning July 26, only one type of question in the Writing section will change. Instead of the Independent Writing task, there will be Writing for an Academic Discussion. Here’s what it will look like:
You’ll read a question from a professor and responses from other students. Your job is to express your opinion on the given topic in the form of an online discussion. The task will be shorter, so you’ll have 10 minutes to plan and write your response.
Preparing for the new task type
To prepare for this new task type, here’s what you gotta do:
- Get familiar with different types of questions.
When you see the task, take a look at the subject of the discussion, skim through the intro, and carefully read the question. The topics usually relate to everyday life, so no need to write about complex stuff like the structure of the universe or human anatomy, phew!
Check out these examples of questions:
- Sociology class: What do you think is the most significant effect that watching television has on people? Why do you think television has this effect?
- Political science: If you were a policymaker, which issue would you argue is more important – education or environmental protections? Why?
- Economics: What scientific discovery or technological invention from the last two hundred years – other than computers and cellphones – would you choose as being important? Why?
- Psychology: What are some strategies that people can use to manage stress in their daily lives?
- Political Science: What are some ways that individuals and governments can work to reduce air pollution?
- History: But what about the impact of ancient civilizations on science and technology? How did these civilizations contribute to our modern understanding of science and technology?
If nothing pops into your mind right away, no worries! The other students’ answers will help you come up with ideas. You don’t have to quote or extensively discuss their words since it’s not an Integrated task. They’re just there as sample answers. BTW, when you’re prepping for the exam, study those examples carefully. They’re from the ETS lab and would totally score high.
- Write an essay using the template.
This type of task is easy to accomplish if you know the structure of a strong essay. Since it’s an online discussion, there’s no need to write a lengthy general introduction and conclusion.
Use this handy template:
- Introduction: Start with a general statement about the topic of discussion. Like,
The topic of… has generated much discussion in recent years.
- Body: Share your opinion on the topic. Agree or disagree with other students and explain why. No need to go all out quoting or writing extensively about their ideas. Just write,
My personal belief is that… For example… I understand… concerns over…, but I believe she/he misses another critical point.
- Conclusion: Wrap it up with a summary of your viewpoint. And hey, if you’ve already expressed your perspective well and you’re running out of words, you can skip the conclusion.
- Improve your time management skills.
Oh, and let’s talk about time management. We recommend spending a couple of minutes getting acquainted with the task and planning your response. You don’t have to read every single word carefully. Just give it a quick scan, or else you’ll run out of time to write. Allocate a max of five minutes for writing the essay, and make sure to set aside at least a minute to proofread and fix any typos or errors.
Here’s a pro tip: Every time you practice, use a computer to learn how to type quickly. And remember to turn off that pesky automatic spell check. You got this!
For preparation materials, head over to the official website and download the updated TOEFL iBT materials. They’ve got free practice tests, reading and listening practice sets (PDF and audio tracks), speaking practice sets, and writing practice sets (with sample answers and explanations of scores).
TOEFL iBT Free Practice Test
TOEFL iBT Practice Sets
- TOEFL iBT Reading Practice Sets (PDF)
- Download TOEFL iBT Listening Practice Sets with audio tracks (zip)
- TOEFL iBT Speaking Practice Sets (PDF)
- TOEFL iBT Writing Practice Sets (PDF) with sample answers and explanations of scores.
With the changes coming to the TOEFL iBT exam soon, it’s essential to stay informed and prepared. With dedication and practice, you can pass the TOEFL iBT with flying colors and achieve your goals. Good luck!