TOEFL Syllabus 2021

Updated by: Subhashri Roy on Aug. 23, 2021, 4:02 p.m.

  • Mode


TOEFL Syllabus 2021

The Educational Testing Services, the conducting body of TOEFL, is in charge of prescribing the TOEFL 2021 syllabus. Overall, 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, all of which take around 3 hours to complete.

Even before registering for the test, all candidates should have a thorough understanding of both, the exam pattern and the syllabus for TOEFL. Every section on the TOEFL involves essential particulars that a candidate should be familiar with in order to score well.

TOEFL is attempted by thousands of candidates aspiring to get into leading universities in more than 150 countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the UK, and across Europe and Asia. Some of these universities include Suffolk University, Auburn University, Chester University, Dublin City UniversityWolverhampton University, among others.

Want to Know How to Get a High Score on TOEFL?

Also Read:

Over 11,000 Universities, Organisations Accept TOEFL iBT Home Edition Test: ETS IELTS or TOEFL? Which Exam Should You Take?
When is the Right Time to Start Planning Higher Education Abroad? Top 10 Books to Enhance Your English Language Skills

TOEFL Syllabus At a Glance

Take a quick look at the TOEFL syllabus 2021 and the tasks that candidates will be required to attempt in each section:




Read passages and respond appropriately to questions


Answer questions related to concise lectures or classroom discussions


Speak about a topic and discuss material you have read and listened to


Read a passage, listen to a recording that will be played, type your answer

Section-wise Syllabus of the TOEFL Test

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

TOEFL Reading Section

The reading section in TOEFL is designed to evaluate the reading skills of a candidate and how well they can comprehend written material in an academic environment. It would primarily comprise 3 to 4 reading passages, each of which will be around 700 words long, with 10 questions per passage. To attempt all the questions in this section, each candidate will be given 54 to 72 minutes. 

Passages added to the section would primarily be excerpts from university-level textbooks and will be used to introduce a topic or discipline. It could be based on any subject, but candidates would not have to worry if they are familiar with the same. 

Additionally, a glossary feature will be provided for candidates to find definitions of words they do not know if they require.

Need Expert Guidance on TOEFL Preparation?

TOEFL Listening Section

The Listening section in TOEFL 2021 emphasizes assessing the capability of a candidate to understand English content that they may listen to. During the TOEFL 2021 listening section, candidates will be required to:

  • Understanding the speaker's attitude and degree of certainty along with connecting and combining the information

  • Have basic comprehension

The section will be based on two scenarios, i.e. lectures and conversations, both of which use campus-based language.

  • 2 to 3 conversations with 2 speakers, each 3 minutes long, with 5 questions per conversation.

  • 3 to 4 lectures, each 3 to 5 minutes long, with 6 questions per lecture.

During the test, candidates can take notes on any audio item in order to answer questions. They will be given 41 to 57 minutes to answer the questions in this section.


TOEFL’s Listening section would include native-English accents from the UK, North America, New Zealand or Australia to find out if the candidate is well-acquainted with them.

Extra Questions

The TOEFL 2021 sections may include extra questions in the Reading or Listening sections that would not be counted towards the final score but would help examiners make the scores comparable across administrations and explore how such questions work under real testing conditions.

TOEFL Speaking Section

The speaking section in a TOEFL test is designed to assess a candidate’s ability to speak in English in an academic setting. It comprises four tasks that deal with real-life situations that students may encounter inside or outside the classroom.

  • Question 1 is known as the “independent speaking task” as it demands the candidate to base his/her answer entirely on their own opinions, ideas and experiences.

  • Questions 2 to 4 are known as “integrated speaking tasks” as they require candidates to combine all the English language skills such as listening, reading and speaking or just listening and speaking skills, just as one would in and outside the classroom.

During the test, a test-taker would get 15 to 30 seconds to prepare for their response for each question, which should be 45 or 60 seconds long.

To respond, candidates should speak into the microphone on their headset, which will be recorded and sent to the ETS. The same will be scored by a panel of certified human and AI evaluators to ensure quality and fairness.

A total of 17 minutes would be allocated to complete the TOEFL 2021 Speaking section.


TOEFL’s Speaking section would include native-English accents from the UK, North America, New Zealand or Australia to find out if the candidate is well-acquainted with them. However, only the first of the four items would include accented speech.

TOEFL Writing Section

The writing section of a TOEFL 2021 test would measure a candidate’s ability to write in English at a university level, in which they are expected to present ideas in a well-organised manner.

The section includes two tasks:

  • Independent Writing Task (30 minutes) - Writing an essay on the basis of personal experience or opinion in response to the given topic.

  • Integrated Writing Task (20 minutes) - Reading a short passage and listening to a short lecture, in response to which candidates will be asked to write.

All responses should be typed on a computer, which will be sent to ETS to be evaluated by AI and certified human evaluators. All candidates will have 50 minutes to complete the TOEFL Writing section.

TOEFL Syllabus FAQs

1. What is the syllabus for the TOEFL Reading Section?

The Reading section of TOEFL covers 3-4 paragraphs based on which the MCQs are asked.

2. What is the syllabus for the TOEFL Listening Section?

The listening section of TOEFL 2021 covers 2 to 3 conversations which include 5 questions per conversation. Meanwhile, there are 3 to 4 lectures based on which 6 questions are asked.

3. What topics are asked in the TOEFL Speaking Section?

The first part of the TOEFL 2021 Speaking Section is an independent speaking task and the second part includes integrated speaking tasks.

4. What skills sets are required for TOEFL 2021?

TOEFL measures the English proficiency skills of a candidate through four sections listening, reading, writing and speaking. The test also assesses the ability of the candidate to meet the academic proficiency of an institute for higher studies. Therefore, candidates should possess the required skills to qualify the four sections, while, also displaying a certain level of academic proficiency, appropriate for higher education abroad.

5. What topics are asked in the TOEFL Writing Section?

The TOEFL 2021 Writing section covers independent writing tasks and integrated writing tasks. In case of the independent writing task, candidates will have to write an essay on a specific topic, while, in the second part he/she will have to read a short passage or lecture and subsequently answer questions related to the given passage/lecture.

6. What should I focus on when preparing for TOEFL 2021?

TOEFL is divided into four sections: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening. You must focus on your English grammar, vocabulary and sentence formation and structure.

7. Is there any change in the TOEFL 2021 Syllabus?

No. Currently, the ETS has not brought abour any changes in the syllabus for TOEFL 2021.

8. What topics should I prepare for the TOEFL Speaking Section?

For the TOEFL 2021 Speaking Section, some areas that you should work on include preparing a good introduction about yourself and work on your pronunciation, accent and fluency in spoken English.

9. What topics should I prepare for the TOEFL Writing Section?

There are no specific topics defined for the TOEFL Writing Section. If you are looking to prepare this section, you improve your written English Language, enhance your understanding of the English grammar, tenses and sentence formation.

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

The total time alloted to complete the TOEFL 2021 Writing Section is 50 minutes. Candidates need to complete the Independent writing task in 30 minutes while the Integrated writing task should be completed in 20 minutes.

Have Further Queries About TOEFL Syllabus?

Admission 2021

Preparing for TOEFL?

Contact Us

We’re here to help!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.

Interested in Studying Overseas?

Connect with us and kickstart your learning journey for a rewarding experience!

  • +91

By proceeding ahead you expressly agree to the CollegeDekho terms of use & privacy policy.