Changes in TOEFL Exam from August 1st, 2019

Are you a prospective TOEFL applicant?

Do you want to know in-depth about the TOEFL exam?

Are you aware of the new changes in TOEFL that have been incorporated?

If you are unsure of any of the above questions, then you’ve landed in the right place. Here, we will take you through what the TOEFL really is, who conducts it, why it is important, and what you can do to best prepare for it. Moreover, since the 1st of August 2019, there have been some changes in TOEFL exam, and we will guide you through those as well!


What is the TOEFL?

Devised and conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language’ – or TOEFL as it is commonly known – is a very popular exam that tests students’ proficiency in the English language. Accepted by American universities, this test forms a mandatory pre-requisite for most schools abroad. 

The ETS states that “the TOEFL tests an international student’s usage and understanding of English as it is spoken, written and heard in college and university surroundings”. The sole proprietary of this exam rests with the ETS, and thus the responsibility for setting the TOEFL questionnaire, its conduction, and correction is in their hands. 

The TOEFL is a year-round exam, which means that students are given the freedom to choose from multiple TOEFL Test Dates across the span of a year, and can even select their preferred test centres to appear in for their Exam. This test can also be attempted as many times as the candidate chooses, but to take a re-test the student must wait for a 12-day period after their previous attempt. There are two kinds of TOEFL exams – Internet-based (TOEFL iBT) and Paper-based. Both are priced at US$180. 

The scoring ranges are as follows:

  • Reading: 0–30
  • Listening: 0–30
  • Speaking: 0–30
  • Writing: 0–30

What are the changes in TOEFL exam?

Earlier in the year, the governing body ETS announced that from the 1st of August 2019 there will be significant changes in the format and pattern of this exam. These major changes will be in the reading, listening as well as speaking sections. The table below shows the comparison between the 2018 format and the updated 2019 format:

Other Changes

The primary reason behind these changes is to help reduce fatigue and lower stress levels in students, invariably helping them to achieve higher scores overall.

The table above shows the major changes in the Listening, Reading and Speaking sections, while the Writing Section remains majorly untouched. Candidates will still have to complete two writing tasks in 50 minutes or under One integrated and one independent.

However, one other aspect that the ETS has decided to change is their scoring policies! That’s right. The TOEFL exam 2019 (and henceforth) will contain a separate section in your score reports referred to as “MyBest Scores“.  

This section will combine the best result from each section over all the attempts you have given in the last two years. The IBT MyBest™ score works similar to the SAT scoring system. ETS will automatically pick your best sections (from your previous 2 years) and then combine them to create your highest score possible. So, if you had a wonderful TOEFL exam, but your overall scored was hampered due to one bad section- this will have you covered! 

Let’s look at an example. Imagine you gave your TOEFL 4 times in the last 2 years. Hence:

Scores for several Attempts
Scores for several Attempts
Final Score compiled
Final Score compiled

Using this scoring system, your overall changes a dramatic 12 points! This has been put in place by the ETS to help candidates achieve their target scores and reduce the damaging effects of one bad section that could have otherwise cost you your admission into your program of choice.

To Summarize the Changes

To quickly summarize, there are seven major changes to keep in mind for your TOEFL 2019 exam. They are:

  1. Independent writing questions are slightly longer.
  2. Students will also now find a warning that renders “used memorized examples” null and void for the independent writing section.
  3. In multiple-choice questions, candidates can now pick more than one option per question.
  4. The speaking questions are slightly longer than before
  5. It is now possible to score 25 points in the speaking section.
  6. The “MyBest Score” section is added from August 2019.

How to Prepare for the New TOEFL Format?

Well, since there are all these changes – the most common question that arises is:

“What do I do to prepare for the changes in TOEFL?”

The simple answer is nothing!

This is because of the systematic and comprehensive way in which the ETS has conducted these changes to augment the test-taking experience. Since no question types are being pulled from the reading and listening sections, your preparations will continue unhampered. Your question types all remain the same, and the difficulty, as well as weightage, aren’t doctored. In fact, your overall time of the exam has decreased by 30 minutes, so that it’s easier to build up the stamina for this exam! 

These changes are great for everyone and will help you score higher as well!

We hope this article helps you in your preparation for your TOEFL. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. For more information, you can contact us directly at GREedge.com

Good day and good luck!

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