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TOEFL Syllabus

Written by  Rachit Agrawal

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava

Published: Mon, September 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  Updated: Mon, September 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  9 mins read

TOEFL Syllabus

Written by  Rachit Agrawal

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava

Published: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  Updated: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  9 mins read


The TOEFL exam syllabus includes reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The TOEFL Reading and Listening sessions contain Multiple choice questions, with a total of 58-79 marks in these two sections. In addition, The TOEFL writing part has descriptive exercises. Moreover, Candidates must deliver brief to longer answers to the questions asked in the speaking session. The TOEFL exam lasts about three hours in total. TOEFL syllabus and exam designed to assess a candidate's ability to communicate in English by combining four distinct language skills:

  • Reading the given passage, or listening to a recording/lecture, and answering the specific question by speaking.
  • Listening to a recording/lecture and replying to a specific question by writing the answer;
  • Reading the given passage, or listening to a recording/lecture provided, and answering a specific question in a written form.

However, the TOEFL PBT exam has only 3 sessions namely, Reading, writing, and listening. As it is paper-based there is no speaking session for PBT exam takers.


TOEFL reading syllabus and exam session assess a candidate's ability to read and comprehend a passage as well as answer questions regarding academic areas. Candidates who want to do higher education abroad must be proficient in the TOEFL reading section to make sure about academic understanding in institutions or companies.

In this session, candidates are given 3-4 passages to read and answer in either written or speaking form. And all these passages are given from test books from universities. Moreover, as per the ETS authority, candidates do not need to panic about the answers because they are available in the passages. 

Important points to be noted about the reading session:

  • The duration of the reading session is 54-72 minutes in the whole exam.
  • Normally they give 3 passages but sometimes they give the 4th passage too for candidates in the exam.
  • Moreover, all the passages combined consist of 30-40 questions which means each passage consists of utmost 9-10 questions in the exam.
  • The syllabus consists of various fields like humanities, science, profession-oriented, social science, etc.


One of the most important skills for living abroad is the ability to understand not only the English language but also the various accents used around the world, TOEFL listening syllabus and exam session focuses on evaluating the aspirant's ability to understand various accents in the English language used throughout the world. 

However, Universities will have lectures, and workplaces will demand ongoing communication for this, the TOEFL listening syllabus and exam help the candidates to assess their listening and understanding skills through the exam.

Recently, the TOEFL listening session is designed in two categories namely, lecture and conversations.

  • In the lecture session, they give 3-4 lectures with 5 minutes time span accompanied with 6 questions to answer based on the lectures.
  • And in the conversation session, they provide 2-3 conversations with 2 speakers in  3 minutes of time spam along with 5 questions based on each conversation.

Important points to be noted about the listening session:

  • The total duration of the listening session is 41-57 minutes.
  • In this session, test seekers or the candidates can listen to different accents of the English language in audio clips by different speakers.
  • The test seekers are able to see the speakers in the audio clip on the screen while the audio is playing.
  • There are specific terms written on the screen which are related to the audio clips and the test seekers can easily find them on the screen.


Speaking in English becomes the most important ability whether attending a lecture, asking about a topic, or presenting a PPT, and the TOEFL speaking syllabus and test assess the necessary abilities to ensure fluency. The TOEFL speaking pattern's main goal is to determine how comfortable a candidate is speaking English in educational situations. To understand the question format, experts advise getting a hold of TOEFL Speaking Topics from recent times.

  • There are two different tasks included in the speaking session in the TOEFL exam namely, the Independent task and the Integrated task.
  • In the Independent task, candidates are provided with one question while based on speaking about their own thoughts, expressing their views, etc,
  • And in the integrated task, the test seekers are given 2-4 questions where they need to use all other skills like listening, writing, and reading along with seeking based n the question pattern.

Important points to note about the speaking session:

  • The total duration of the TOEFL speaking session is about 20 minutes.
  • For the independent task, test seekers or the candidates are given 45 seconds time to speak or express their opinions on the specified topic.
  • And in the integrated task, candidates are provided with 60 seconds of time to read the passage or listen to the audio clip for attending to the answers.
  • However, the speaking session mainly focuses on and measures the score of candidates based on how they express their opinion or their views with examples and specified reasons related to the situations.
  • Usually, a score above 22 is considered a good score in speaking sessions for candidates.


TOEFL writing syllabus and test pattern focuses on not only essay testing but also related cross-functional activities such as integrated writing.Writing a proper answer or report is needed to succeed in the university or a job. English-speaking countries are also extremely demanding when it comes to English writing. 

Even in this  TOEFL writing session too, there are 2 catergoriers candidates need to answer namely, Independent task and Integrated task. 

  • In the integrated task, test seekers need to understand, read or listen to the audio clip carefully and later write the answers to questions given to them. 
  • And in the independent task, the test seekers need to present their opinions, views, thoughts on specified topics given to them in written form.

Important points to be noted for the writing session:

  • The total duration of the writing exam is 50 minutes.
  • Candidates are given 20 minutes for 1st task and 30 minutes for 2nd task.
  • In the case of the integrated task, the test seekers are provided with 3 minutes time to read the given academic-related passage with 300 words.
  • Along with that, they have given 2 minutes of audio clips or lectures for the next question.
  • To complete the 1st tasks candidates are allowed to write the passage within 150-225  words in 20 minutes time span.
  • And in the independent task, candidates are given a passage recording to listen and later they need to express views and options on it.
  • Moreover, 2nd task is to be completed by candidates within 30 minutes and within the 300 wors range.
  • Usually, a score of 25 or above is considered a good score.
  • However, while writing the answers for tasks candidates can view the related passage on the side.


✅ what is the total duration of the TOEFL exam?

Ans :  It takes 3 hours to finish the TOEFL Internet-based test. A test taker should allow 3 and a half hours for the exam, including 30 minutes for check-in. And The TOEFL Paper-delivered test takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

✅ What are the different types of question patterns in the TOEFL exam?

Ans : Every area includes a variety of questions. The most frequent type of question is a Many Choice Question, in which you must choose one response, multiple answers, the proper column in a table for each option, or match the answers.

✅ What can I do to prepare for the TOEFL exam?

Ans : Candidates can prepare for the TOEFL using the following books: ETS books, Cambridge Preparation for TOEFL, Kaplan TOEFL Preparation book, Barron's Book, and so on. The TOEFL practice books allow applicants to prepare for the test in a standardized manner. These publications assist students in learning how to ask questions at various levels, from basic to advanced.

✅ How many times can the TOEFL exam be taken?

Ans : Students are not limited to a certain number of attempts on the TOEFL exam. The exam is given 50 times a year, and students are allowed to take it as many times as they desire. There aren't any restrictions. Students can take the exam as many times as they like until they earn the score they need to get into their favorite school. Candidates, on the other hand, are not permitted to retake the exam within 12 days of their previous try.

✅ How much time does it take to get the results of the TOEFL exam?

Ans : The test results of the TOEFL exam will be given Between 6 and 10 days after the exam date, candidates can receive their results electronically. And  Within 11 days, the candidates will receive their physical reports.

About the Author & Expert


Rachit Agrawal

author • MBA • 2 years

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.