The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is used to measure how well students can speak, write, and communicate in English. It is most commonly used by American colleges to determine whether or not students from other countries have sufficient English language skills to succeed in their programs. Currently, the test is accepted by over 6,000 colleges in hundreds of countries, in fact, many colleges even offer a TOEFL testing center right on campus.
The test comes in two formats online and in print depending on the testing agency where the test is taken. During the test, students are expected to complete separate sections on reading, speaking, listening, and writing. This varies from other standardized tests in that most others only judge students on two or three of the four areas. Fortunately though, on the TOEFL, one piece of information may be used on more than one section. For example, a student might be able to read a short story, write a paper on what it was about, and then give a verbal explanation and answer questions from the instructor.
As with all the other common standardized tests, many companies offer prep books and software to help students prepare for the TOEFL. Students may also be able to take TOEFL prep courses or work with private tutors, although these services can be expensive. Fortunately, students who register to take the TOEFL are given access to a free practice test to take before the real thing. The practice exam simulates the different types of questions you’ll encounter on the real test, so you’ll be better prepared for the actual exam.
One thing about the TOEFL test that many students appreciate is the ability to retake the test within seven days if you aren’t happy with your score. The cost to take the test varies in price, depending on your location and testing center, and you may wind up paying extra fees if you need to reschedule or postpone the test. The schedule for testing varies by location as well as some locations offer the test weekly, while others have it available throughout the year. Most testing centers guarantee to offer the test at least 13 times per year.
Many students who have taken the TOEFL say they appreciate what the test can do for them in their collegiate careers. College interviews are tough enough already, but foreign students may find it even more nerve-wracking if they feel they are being judged on the ability to speak properly and communicate effectively. These situations can actually cause some students to stumble in their speech patterns because they are so nervous. With the TOEFL test, students are able to prove they can complete the task at hand and learn effectively in a completely English-speaking environment, even if they botch the interview process.
The test is also used by employers in some cases when they consider using foreign employees or consultants in areas that require English to be spoken. For example, if you’re a non-native speaker looking for work in a customer service based position that requires you to speak English; you may be required to take the TOEFL test. Some companies test foreign employees on their ability to work in English-speaking countries before hiring them, while others test current employees before promotions and transfers.