A Complete Guide To
Revised TOEFL Pattern July 2023
ETS has recently decided to make significant changes to its TOEFL iBT exam. In an attempt to improve the testing experience for test takers, it has shortened the time taken to complete the TOEFL test while also making some other significant content changes. Moreover, ETS has improved the test’s registration procedure and platform navigation to help make it more straightforward. In this article, we will look into what the new TOEFL changes are, when they will be applied, what this means for test takers and other important details.
Note: These changes only apply to the TOEFL internet-based test that can be taken on a computer at either a test center or at home. There are no changes to the paper-delivered TOEFL test. Furthermore, the new changes will be in effect only from July 26, 2023.
What are the changes to the test?
#1: Shorter Test Time
The current TOEFL exam takes about 3 hours to complete. Now with the new revised pattern, the TOEFL can be completed in just under 2 hours. This would make it the shortest among the three primary English language tests since the IELTS exam lasts for about 2 hours and 45 minutes, and the TOEIC exam for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
#2: Removal Of Unscored Questions
In the current internet-based TOEFL exam (TOEFL iBT), there is the possibility of encountering extra questions on the Reading or Listening sections that do not count towards the final score but are used by ETS for research purposes. However, with the newly revised format, all such unscored questions will be removed. Every question on the revised test will count towards the final score, making it a much more efficient system for test takers. Those who attempt the test will no longer have to spend time attempting questions for which they would not receive points.
#3: Shorter Reading Section
This is the main reason why the TOEFL has become a much shorter exam. The Reading section, which has so far had about 3–4 passages, each with 10 corresponding questions, has been reduced to half its length. Thus, according to the new pattern, test takers will encounter only 2 passages in the Reading section, each with 10 questions. The section that used to take 54–72 minutes will only take 35 minutes to complete since test takers have to answer only 20 questions instead of 30–40 questions.
#4: New Writing Task
The Independent Writing task is being removed and replaced by a new Academic Discussion task. In “Writing for an Academic Discussion”, test takers will still have to give their opinion on a specific topic. While this is the same idea on which the Independent task is based, the Academic Discussion task will present the question in the form of a hypothetical academic discussion forum.
- There will be a prompt provided by a professor accompanied by two responses from different students. The test taker must provide their own response after carefully studying the question and the other students’ responses. A good response would:
- State and support a specific opinion regarding the prompt
- contribute something valuable to the discussion without repeating any of the points mentioned by the other students and
- be concise but effective.
- There will be 10 minutes to respond to this task, and there is a minimum word count of 100 words. Hence, it is important to think quickly and write precisely!
- Since the Integrated task would take around 20 minutes to complete, in total, the entire Writing section will last for roughly about 29 minutes.
- This is what the new Academic Discussion task will look like:
What are the changes to the registration process?
According to ETS, the ‘enhancements’ to the TOEFL test will also extend to the registration process, which would:
- make the scheduling process simpler and clearer
- provide intuitive navigation, making the user experience more logical and efficient
- enhance the usability of their platform
- adapt the design to function just as seamlessly on mobile devices
- offer additional local payment options
Apart from this, ETS has stated that test takers will be able to see when they will receive their scores once they complete the test. Test takers can also track any changes to their score status using their ETS account.
What is NOT changing on the test?
- The Speaking and Listening sections remain unchanged. The format, question types, and the number of questions for these two sections being followed in the current TOEFL will be continued in the revised test as well.
- The question types in the Reading section have also not been changed. While the number of passage sets and, thus, the overall number of questions have been reduced, the types of questions accompanying each passage will stay the same.
- The Integrated Writing task will remain the same as well. It is only the Independent task that is being removed and replaced with the Academic Discussion task.
- There are no changes to the score scale. The total score will be the same as it is now, which also means that the score requirements of universities need not change.
- No changes have been made to the process of receiving scores either.
When will these changes be implemented?
The TOEFL iBT will be updated according to these new changes starting from July 26, 2023. Any TOEFL iBT tests scheduled for or after July 26th will conform to the content changes listed above.
In light of these new revisions, if one wishes to reschedule their TOEFL test, they can do so for free on the ETS platform until April 30th, 2023. Note that rescheduling fees are waived only up to this date. Those who wish to reschedule must also ensure they do so before 11:59 pm (local test location time) the day before their exam.
What does this mean for test takers?
- These changes only apply to those taking the internet-based TOEFL test. Those taking the paper-based TOEFL test will follow the existing pattern without any new revisions.
- Since the only new question is the Academic Discussion Writing task, test takers can still use the prep material they have been using thus far for all the other sections. None of the other question types have been changed, and hence, the old material is still valid.
- Practice test questions for the new Academic Discussion Writing task have been uploaded on the ETS platform. ETS has also revised its practice tests to reflect the new revisions.
- The shorter test time would mean that test takers would be able to take the test more comfortably. It would reduce fatigue, allowing test takers to focus, and help increase their accuracy on the test.
- The new modifications to the user interface of the ETS platform should make the process of registering or rescheduling one’s TOEFL exam much easier. In addition, since one can also track their score status, it would also help in planning how to meet college application deadlines.
Overall, it seems that the new changes are for the better. The enhanced TOEFL iBT should provide a smoother, faster, and more comfortable experience for test takers while still retaining the same standard of academic complexity.