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Overview of the TOEFL
Hello and welcome to the very first Magoosh lesson on the TOEFL. Today, we’re going to talk about a very general overview of the test. We won’t talk about any specific details. First, what is the TOEFL? What does TOEFL mean, and what does iBT mean? TOEFL stands for the Test of English as a Foreign Language, iBT stands for the Internet-Based Test.
This is important because there are also two other tests, the PBT and the CBT. The CBT is gone. It is dead. The PBT, though, does still exist. The iBT is the most common form of the test. It’s what you will take in most countries.
In the United States, it is the only test. But the PBT, the Paper-Based Test, does still exist in some countries. If you don’t have access to the Internet, then you can take the PBT instead of the iBT. But, the PBT is a very different test. It has different sections, different strategies, and studying for the PBT is a little bit different from studying for the iBT.
We’re going to focus on the iBT because it’s the most common form. It’s more important and most students will take the iBT. We will not talk about the PBT in these lessons. Why do you take the TOEFL? You might already know this. If you’re applying for colleges or universities, they usually require the TOEFL, or another similar test, when English isn’t your first language.
Sometimes, it’s not required. Sometimes you can take a different test, or if you have some experience with English education, maybe you went to high school at an English-speaking school. Or a college at an English-speaking college, then you might not need the test. Some universities, some programs have their own separate, different English test, and they don’t want you to take the TOEFL.
So, check with your programs first before you sign up for the TOEFL. Now, there are other tests for applying to American universities, especially. The GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, SAT, SA, ACT, these are all tests that include verbal sections. These include reading and writing, and other English sections. But they are not for foreign speakers, they are for native speakers of English.
So, these are actually very difficult. The GRE, if you are studying for it, has some very difficult vocabulary. The GMAT, if you’re studying for that, has some very difficult grammar. The SAT and the ACT are tests for colleges, for undergraduate programs, for 18 to 22 years old. These are for high school students going to college.
Those also, the SAT, has a lot of vocabulary and grammar that’s difficult for non-native speakers. So you take the TOEFL because these tests are too difficult. You take the TOEFL to show that you can communicate in English. Even if GRE vocabulary is too difficult and GMAT grammar is too difficult, you can speak English and you can write in English, and you can understand English.
That’s what the TOEFL is for. It’s about communication. If you do take one of these other tests, then the scores from those tests might be enough. You might not need to take the TOEFL. If you have a good GRE score, or a good SAT score, or a good GMAT score, then that shows that you already understand English well, and many schools don’t require the TOEFL.
So again, check with your schools, check with the programs that you want to apply to, and find out if you need to take the TOEFL. Who makes the TOEFL? The TOEFL is made by ETS. That’s the same company that makes the GRE and the SAT. It actually looks very similar to the GRE.
The SAT looks a little bit different because it’s made by a company within ETS, called College Board. And the format is a little bit different. And, in general, it’s just a different kind of test. But the TOEFL and the GRE have a lot in common. They are both Internet-based tests, they have a lot of similar formatting, a lot of similar styles.
The TOEFL is given at very special, specific locations. You can’t take the test anywhere. In many countries, there is only one or two places that you can take the TOEFL. You can find out where to take the test at this website. There’s a list that shows which locations are available in each country, and in each state within America.
What does the TOEFL test? This is just a very, very general idea. The TOEFL is about English in use, that is actually communicating with English, listening, speaking, writing, reading. It’s not about memorization. It’s not about learning vocabulary words from a dictionary.
It’s not about memorizing grammar rules. It’s not about classroom English. It’s about real-world English. There are four skills there, reading, listening, speaking, and writing. As I said, these are communication skills. There’s no grammar section and it’s all academic English.
So, this means that you need to know how to communicate at a school, at a university, at a college. You don’t need to know how to take a grammar test, or how to take a vocabulary test. That’s very different from the TOEFL. In fact, these four skills are the four sections of the TOEFL.
There is a reading section, a listening section, a speaking section, and a writing section. We’ll go, we’ll talk about those four sections more in the next introduction videos, but that’s all for this lesson.
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