The TOEFL English Language test explained.
TOEFL is an abbreviation for Test of English as a Foreign Language and it is standardised test of English language aptitude for non-native English speakers. The test is a trademark of ETS (Educational Testing Service), a private, non-profit organisation which design and administers the tests and is the most widely recognised and respected English test in world. As the test is most commonly used by non-native English speaking students wishing to enrol abroad, the fact that it is recognised by more than 9000 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States makes it rather appealing.
The way in which the test is recognised by institutions is similar to ways in which UCAS scores are recognised (in the UK) when applying to university. Each candidate that passes the test receives a TOEFL score; the maximum score being 120 with no score constituting a fail, leaving the institutions to state their own entry requirements. For example, if you wish to study in the United States, to be accepted into Harvard you would need a minimum of 109 points, 100 for Yale and Stanford, and 87 to be admitted into UCLA Anderson School of Management. With so many prestigious institutions of higher education, it is no wonder the test is so successful with more than 27 million people from all over world having taken it to demonstrate their English language proficiency.
TOEFL is one of two major English-language tests in the world, the other being IELTS (International English Language Testing System). In terms of validity, both are divided into four sections of reading, testing, writing and speaking comprehension and aptitude and, once taken, both test scores remain valid for only two years. However, in terms of accessibility, it would seem that TOEFL is the best choice of tests with 4500 test centres in 165 countries in comparison to the 900 test centres in over 130 countries belonging to IELTS. What makes the TOEFL test the most accessible, though, is not its strength in centre numbers: unlike the IELTS, the TOEFL test can be taken either on paper or online, giving more people the chance to take the test from different locations and making it easier to adapt their daily routine to accommodate learning the language. Of course, such convenience comes at a cost, ranging between US$160 and US$250 depending on the country in which the test is taken. Despite this range in cost, TOEFL still maintain their advantageous status by charging US$5 less for their test than IELTS, at US$160.
For more information about studying for, applying to take and differentiating between various English Language Tests.