TOEFL Syllabus 2022: Overview, Section-wise

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Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Sep 30, 2022 2:35 PM IST

Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, is an evaluation of a candidate's comprehension, understanding, and communication skills in the English language. It measures a candidate’s English proficiency across four academic skills, namely, Listening, Writing, Reading and Speaking. The overall range of TOEFL scores is from 0 to 120. The most popular version of TOEFL is the TOEFL iBt, an internet-based test.

The TOEFL syllabus remains the same every year with only minor changes (if any). The TOEFL syllabus for examinations administered on paper does not include a Speaking section. The TOEFL syllabus is designed by trained experts with extensive expertise.

TOEFL Syllabus 2022

Before knowing about the syllabus, let us first see what is the TOEFL full form. The TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. The conducting body of the TOEFL test is the Educational Testing Services, also known as ETS, and it is in charge of setting the TOEFL 2022 syllabus.

The test comprises a total of four sections aimed at testing the English language skills of the test-taker. These include Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. The exam duration is of three hours.

It is recommended that all test takers have a solid understanding of both the TOEFL exam pattern and the TOEFL 2022 syllabus before registering for the exam. Every TOEFL section comprises crucial specifics that applicants should be familiar with in order to perform well. 

Thousands of applicants who want to attend prestigious colleges in more than 190 countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, and all of Europe and Asia, take the TOEFL test. Suffolk University, Auburn University, Chester University, Dublin City University, and Wolverhampton University are a few of the institutions that recognise the TOEFL.

Interested to know why you should take the TOEFL exam to study at your desired university abroad? The following links are worth checking out to make yourself more acquainted with the test before attempting it:

Documents Required for TOEFL

IELTS or TOEFL? Which Exam Should You Take to Study Abroad?

Why TOEFL May be a Better Option Than IELTS

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo - Which Exam to Take for Study Abroad?

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TOEFL Syllabus At a Glance

Now that you are aware of what the TOEFL syllabus consists of and that a few universities accept the TOEFL scores as valid proof of English language proficiency, let us take a quick glance at the TOEFL exam syllabus. We will also discuss the different types of tasks that candidates will be required to perform in each section of TOEFL:

TOEFL Sections

Tasks to be Performed by the Test Taker

TOEFL Listening

Respond or answer to questions related to in-class conversations or brief lectures 

TOEFL Writing

Read the given passage, listen to the audio recording that will be played and then type your response

TOEFL Reading

Read the given passages carefully, then answer the questions accordingly

TOEFL Speaking

Discuss about a subject or a topic, what you have read in the passages or heard in the audio recordings

Section-wise Syllabus of TOEFL

Mentioned below is the syllabus and types of questions that will be asked in each section under the TOEFL 2022 test.

TOEFL Reading Syllabus

TOEFL's Reading section measures an applicant’s ability to comprehend textual material in an academic context, especially complex written texts. The section would primarily consist of three to four reading paragraphs or sections, each with ten questions and approximately 700 words in length. For this section, test takers will get 54 to 72 minutes to answer or respond to the questions asked. 

Mostly, the passages in this section will be extracts from college textbooks which will be used to illustrate a particular subject or profession. The knowledge of the subject matters in this section, and would not pose a problem to candidates if they are already aware of the topic.

Additionally, a glossary feature will be provided for candidates to find definitions of words they do not know if they require. Take a look at the TOEFL Reading Section to get deeper insights into how to crack the actual exam. 

TOEFL Reading Question Types

Negative Factual Information & Factual Information: The Factual Information question structure focuses on the key concepts, interpretation, supporting information, and terminology. As the key difference, finding the single incorrect response from a list of four options distinguishes factual information questions from negative factual information questions. Do not forget to use the words like 'Neither', 'Not', and 'Expect' when responding to questions requiring negative factual information.

Rhetorical & Inference: The inference questions on the TOEFL reading syllabus are meant to clarify and point out the unclear statements in the passage. Inference questions can be recognised by the use of words like 'Implies', 'Inferred', and 'Suggested'. Rhetorical purpose questions are mostly identical to inference questions. However, here is an exception of responding to the question 'Why', which indicates the intent of the passage.

Sentence Explanation: For these questions in the TOEFL reading pattern, applicants must distinguish between two extremely similar sentences and pick the one that has a clearer explanation.

Identifying Vocabulary: Probably the simplest questions to respond to, vocabulary questions on the TOEFL's most recent reading pattern ask applicants to determine the definitions of specific words that have been highlighted in the given passage.

Prose Summary: In these questions from the TOEFL reading question pattern, candidates must recognise the key ideas and significance of the given passage.

Insert Text: The purpose of this type of reading question is to assess the logical flow of ideas within a particular reading text. There is one insert text question in each reading section.

TOEFL Listening Syllabus

The Listening section in TOEFL 2022 emphasizes assessing the capability of a candidate to understand English content that they may listen to. When attempting the TOEFL 2022 listening section, candidates will be required to:

  • Recognising the speaker's attitude and level of conviction, as well as connecting and merging the data

  • Have a basic understanding because the TOEFL Listening section will be based on two scenarios: lectures and discussions, both of which will use campus-based language.

  • Two to three discussions or conversations with two speakers, each lasting three minutes and including five questions.

  • Three to four lectures, each lasting three to five minutes and including six questions.

It must be noted that candidates may take notes on any audio component during the test in order to answer questions. They will have 41 to 57 minutes to respond to the questions asked.

TOEFL Listening Question Types

You must convey the central idea of the audio recording you just listened to for the gist content. On the contrary, the gist purpose requires you to specify the primary goal of the recording. Terms like ‘Mainly discussing’, ‘Mainly regarding’, ‘what is the main objective’, ‘Why does the student’, etc. serve as indicators of this TOEFL Listening question type.

Section 1:

Part 1- Personal Preference

Part 2- Select the option of your choice. You will have a little window of time to think before speaking.

Section 2:

Part 1- Campus conversation: reading, listening, and speaking It will be necessary for you to read a brief text, hear a dialogue between two persons about it, and then speak.

Part 2- Academic Lecture: You will need to read a brief paragraph about a certain subject, hear a monologue relevant to it, and then either speak about it or summarise what you listened to and read.

Section 3:

Part 1- Speaking and Listening (Campus conversation):  You will be required to listen to a discussion, respond by speaking about the issue raised and express your viewpoint.

Part 2- Academic Lecture: You will need to pay attention to and summarise an academic lecture.


The Listening section of TOEFL would feature native-English accents from the United Kingdom, North America, New Zealand, or Australia to determine whether the candidate is familiar with them or not.

Extra Questions

The TOEFL 2022 sections may feature additional questions in the Reading and Listening sections that are not included in the final score but enable examiners to compare scores over iterations and investigate how such questions operate under real-world testing situations.

TOEFL Speaking Syllabus

The objective of the TOEFL speaking section is to evaluate a candidate's proficiency to speak English in an academic environment. There are four tasks in this section, and they each deal with a predicament that students might face in or out of the classroom.

Independent speaking task: The first question is classified as the independent speaking task since the candidate must completely rely on their thoughts, suggestions, and experiences to provide a solution to the situation posed. 

Integrated speaking task: Questions two to four are referred to as integrated speaking tasks since they call on applicants to use all aspects of the English language, such as listening, speaking, reading, or just speaking and listening.

A test-taker would have between 15 to 30 seconds to reckon during the test before responding to each question, which should last between 45 to 60 seconds.

Candidates should speak via their headset microphone, which will record the audio. This audio will be then forwarded to the ETS for further evaluation. A group of qualified human and artificial intelligence (AI) assessors will evaluate the same to guarantee quality and fairness during the test. The TOEFL 2022 Speaking section will have a total time allotment of 17 minutes.

TOEFL Speaking Question Types

The following are the two types of tasks candidates will be required to perform in the TOEFL Speaking section:

Task 1: In task 1, candidates will need to read a passage based on a certain subject, hear a lecture on the subject read, and then write an essay summarising the passage's and the lecture's key points. 

Task 2: In task 2, candidates will be required to express their opinions or come up with a response on what is needed for a particular topic or subject.

Following TOEFL the reading and listening sections, candidates will get a 10-minute break. As per a certain modification made in March 2013, the TOEFL iBT's Speaking and Listening parts now include native English speakers with accents other than those from North America.

Since there is no set TOEFL exam syllabus, test takers should concentrate on honing the skills necessary to effectively complete the modules and sections.


The TOEFL Speaking section will test a candidate's familiarity with native English accents from North America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.

You can get a better understanding of how to crack the actual TOEFL Speaking Section by studying it.

TOEFL Writing Syllabus

An applicant's ability to write in English at a university level, where they are expected to communicate ideas in a structured or coherent manner, would be evaluated in the TOEFL Writing section. The TOEFL Writing section includes two tasks: 

  • Independent Writing Task (30 minutes): 

  • In response to the assigned topic, candidates must write an essay based on their personal experience or opinion.

  • Integrated Writing Task (20 minutes): In response to reading a short passage and listening to a short lecture, candidates are required to write an essay.

Each response must be typed into a computer, which will then send it to ETS for evaluation by human and artificial intelligence (AI) examiners. The TOEFL Writing section will last 50 minutes in total to record the responses.

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FAQs on TOEFL Syllabus

What are the important topics in TOEFL iBT?

As such there are no important topics in TOEFL iBT that are specified by the ETS. Since the TOEFL iBT is an English proficiency test, there are no particular topics on which test-takers need to concentrate on. If you are eager to learn about the important topics that should be mastered for the TOEFL exam, avail of our test-prep services and learn from our highly qualified TOEFL faculties to achieve a high TOEFL score.

Has ETS introduced any new changes to the TOEFL exam syllabus this year?

No, ETS has not introduced any new changes to the TOEFL exam syllabus this year. The TOEFL iBT syllabus has not changed in the past several years. The only modification made to the TOEFL by ETS is the addition of the TOEFL iBT test at home option as one of the year-round alternatives available to test takers worldwide. However, no changes have been made to the syllabus for TOEFL.

How much time is allotted to complete the TOEFL Writing Section?

The total time allotted to complete the TOEFL Writing section is 50 minutes. Test takers will have 30 minutes to complete the Independent writing task in this section, in which they will be required to write about their own opinions or experiences. Furthermore, test takers will get 20 minutes to complete the Integrated writing task, in which they will be required to read a brief passage and respond appropriately.

What topics are covered in the TOEFL Writing Section?

There are no specific topics that are covered in the TOEFL Writing section. However, both the test taker's sentence-building and comprehensive abilities will be put to the test in this section. One of the tasks in this section will be based on your personal experience/opinion, while the other tasks will be based on audio or passages.

What is the syllabus for TOEFL speaking section?

The syllabus for the TOEFL speaking section has not been defined by the ETS, similar to the writing section of TOEFL iBT. As per experts, it is preferable for a test taker to plan their studies well in advance and practise things like how to structure a strong self-introduction, how to pronounce English words clearly and fluently, etc.

What skills sets are required for TOEFL?

The TOEFL iBT evaluates a candidate’s reading, listening, speaking and writing skills from an academic point of view, therefore, the skills needed for TOEFL iBT include skills associated with comprehension, sentence formation, critical thinking, confidence, time management among other skills. Connect with our experienced TOEFL faculty if you wish to enhance these skills to ace the test.

What is the difference in syllabus for TOEFL iBT differ from TOEFL Essentials?

The difference in syllabus for TOEFL iBT and Essentials is not much, however, TOEFL Essentials does cover basic general knowledge of the English language, unlike TOEFL iBT which assesses the academic aspects of the English language. Being shorter in length, the TOEFL Essentials will only skim over the different skills of the English language, as compared to TOEFL iBT.

What does the TOEFL speaking section evaluate?

Through its integrated and independent tasks, the ETS has designed the TOEFL speaking section to evaluate your ability to speak effectively in an academic setting. The first question in the section will require you to devise answers through your own opinions and experiences, while questions 2-4 will require you to combine all English language skills to form an appropriate answer.

What topics are covered in the TOEFL listening section?

The listening section of TOEFL iBT covers lectures and conversations heard and witnessed in an academic setting like university campuses. The TOEFL iBT listening section has been designed to assess the candidate’s ability to undertake basic comprehension and pragmatic understanding of what is being said in an academic environment through a number of questions.

What topics are included in the TOEFL reading section?

The TOEFL reading section involves all such topics that can be covered in an academic setting and is primarily designed to evaluate a candidate’s ability to read and comprehend academic materials found normally in universities and colleges. The section will evaluate the reading and comprehension skills through 3-4 passages, which should be answered within 54-72 minutes.

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