Unveiling the Enhanced TOEFL Exam Pattern: A Guide to Success



Updated On 17 June 2023


Read Time 10 minutes

Welcome to the world of TOEFL! Just like the IELTS exam, it’s another odyssey of linguistic adventure. You must be wondering about the difficulty level of TOEFL and IELTS. Being an Indian, you’ll feel for everyone stuck with such tests. You must prove your English language proficiency to them whenever you apply for English universities.


Now the question arises - why it’s necessary? Well, universities abroad check your reading ability, writing skills, grasping the information while listening, and speaking English fluently so that they can make decisions about admissions, scholarships, and hiring.


Release your stress now! Here’s a good news for you - the recent announcement of a new TOEFL exam pattern. Exciting changes are on the horizon for your ease. Have a look at the previous TOEFL test pattern to understand the new changes.


Overview of the Previous TOEFL Exam Pattern

The TOEFL exam has four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. 

  • In TOEFL reading, you’re supposed to answer the questions after reading a comprehensive passage.

  • TOEFL listening evaluated comprehension of spoken English. 

  • TOEFL speaking assessment per your opinions in recorded conversations. 

  • The TOEFL writing needs you to write essays and answer questions. The score for each section combinedly contributed to the overall TOEFL score. 


The main strength of the precious ETS TOEFL Exam pattern was the effective assessment of reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills, providing a comprehensive evaluation of your English proficiency. But there are many areas for improvement noted by previous test takers, such as challenging TOEFL speaking sections due to the limited response time, quick thinking, and organisation under time constraints in TOEFL writing.


Furthermore, multiple-choice questions predominated in the Reading and Listening sections, which may not accurately reflect communication abilities in everyday situations. 


Major Changes in the New TOEFL Exam Pattern

Educational Testing Services (ETS), the official website for the TOEFL test announced that it would take two hours instead of three. The new test changes go into effect on July 26, 2023. That means anyone taking the test on July 25, 2023, will take the current test pattern.


ETS announced a series of exciting TOEFL iBT® enhancements as part of its ongoing efforts to provide you with the best possible experience. Here is a brief comparison of the previous TOEFL exam pattern with recent changes with effect on July 26, 2023.


Previous TOEFL Exam Pattern

New TOEFL Exam Pattern


Independent Writing Task

Replaced with ‘Writing for an Academic Discussion’ task, for which 10 minutes is allocated. No change to the integrated writing task.


30–40 questions based on 3 reading passages. Time allocation: 54–72 minutes

20 questions based on 2 reading passages. Time allocation: 35 minutes


28–39 questions based on 3-4 lecturers and 2-3 conversations. Time allocation: 41–57 minutes

28 questions based on 3 lectures and 2 conversations. Time allocation: 36 minutes 


No change

No change

Structure and Format of the New TOEFL Exam Pattern

The new TOEFL Exam Pattern has enhanced your assessment to use English in an academic setting. Improvements in each section have now become more comprehensive and accurate. To understand the Structure and Format of the New TOEFL Exam Pattern, let’s look at each section individually.


  • Reading - You will have to answer fewer questions related to the reading passages  mentioned in the test.

    According to the previous exam pattern, you have to answer questions based on three reading passages while in new test format, you will answers questions from only two reading passages. This will mean test takers can complete the reading task in about 35 minutes. The current reading task takes up to an hour and ten minutes to complete.

    The main aim behind to change the pattern is to reduce the testing time and make it less daunting for you. However, it may also mean that the test will be less comprehensive in evaluating reading skills across various topics.


  • Listening - In the listening section, the no. of questions you'll respond to will be less than 30, compared to the previous range of 30 to 40. Your task will involve listening to 3 to 4 lectures and 2 to 3 conversations, followed by answering corresponding questions. From July 26 onward, you'll answer questions based on 3 lectures and 2 conversations. This means you can complete the listening task in approximately 35 minutes.

    Reducing the number of lectures and conversations aims to make the test more efficient and less time-consuming. Additionally, this change will allow for a more focused and in-depth evaluation of your listening skills.


  • Speaking - The speaking section will not be altered. You'll still have about 16 minutes to demonstrate your command of the English language. 


  • Writing - The key modification introduced to the TOEFL test in 2023 focuses on the writing task. As part of the writing section, one of the two tasks currently requires you to prepare an independent writing assignment. However, from July 26, 2023, you will undertake a 'Writing for an Academic Discussion' task instead. This updated writing assignment is designed to be more up-to-date and relevant compared to the previous independent writing task.

    Only the independent writing task has been changed. The existing 'Integrated Writing Task' will remain in place and will not be changed.

    With the new writing task, you'll get to practice the language and writing skills you'll most likely need in your academic career.

    For this, you’ll participate in a simulated online class discussion and read a discussion post by a lecturer or professor and other students' responses to a specific topic. And then, compose your response, expressing and defending your point of view.

    The new writing task format should be quicker than the current independent writing task - you'll have ten minutes to write a post of at least 100 words. This new task format allows you to demonstrate your ability to converse in an academic setting. 


The TOEFL test is the most trusted, accurate, credible, and secure option for applicants worldwide because the TOEFL score scale remains unchanged. And now, with these new additions, you can be confident that your experience will be more enjoyable, saving you time and reducing test-day anxiety.  


Tips to Prepare for New TOEFL Pattern

Understanding only new TOEFL test patterns won’t help you. You must practice per recently announced changes. Here are some strategies and tips to follow for performing better after such major transformations:

  • In the reading section, answering 20 questions may seem easy to you, but there’s a possibility that harder types of questions may arise. So it's still important to prepare your vocabulary and all task types. 

  • Listening test period is now 36 minutes, so you must practice completing 3 lectures and 2 conversation recordings on time with every detail involved. 

  • Speaking has no changes, but Writing has many areas to improve in the new TOEFL Exam Pattern. Like carefully read the question from the professor and responses from other students and express your supporting ideas or opinions in contribution to that post.


Many resources and practical exercises are available for both previous and recently changed TOEFL test patterns. These resources include online practice tests, study guides, and tutoring services. It is important to use various resources and tailor your study plan to your individual needs to succeed on the TOEFL exam. 


Benefits and Potential Challenges of the New TOEFL Pattern

The new TOEFL Exam Pattern has several benefits, including a shorter test duration and incorporating more natural language tasks. These changes may better reflect real-life language use and improve your performance. However, potential challenges include adjusting to the new format and ensuring that test preparation materials align with the updated exam structure. Head on to a detailed explanation for the same:



  • Better Relevance: A new TOEFL Exam pattern may be designed to reflect current language usage and academic contexts more accurately, ensuring that the test remains relevant for test takers.

  • Enhanced Authenticity: The new pattern may aim to provide more authentic tasks and materials, simulating real-life academic situations and assessing a test taker's ability to function in an English-speaking academic environment.

  • Faster Skill Evaluation: Changes to the pattern may address any potential imbalance in evaluating specific language skills, resulting in a more comprehensive assessment of reading, listening, speaking, and writing abilities.



  • Adaptation for Test Takers: Test takers may need time to adjust to the new pattern, familiarise themselves with any changes in instructions or formats, and develop strategies accordingly.

  • Preparation Materials: With a new TOEFL exam pattern, developing updated preparation materials and resources may take some time, potentially resulting in a temporary lack of study materials aligned with the revised pattern.



Put your mind at ease. Understand the ETS announced a new TOEFL Exam pattern, which they made for the best possible enhancements. Now, taking the computer-based TOEFL exam is much easier for you to attempt as its structure and format are of shorter test duration. Practising that pattern will be beneficial for you to adapt to new test patterns easily. To study abroad in the world’s top universities, excelling in the changes are crucial for continuous improvement.



Q. What are the new TOEFL test pattern changes?

A. The new TOEFL test pattern includes streamlined instructions and navigation throughout the test, a new, more modern "Writing for an Academic Discussion" task that replaces the previous Independent Writing task, a shorter Reading section, and the elimination of all unscored test questions, all of which result in a different testing experience than the previous pattern.


Q. What effect will the new TOEFL Exam Pattern have on the scoring system?

A. The new TOEFL score scale's scoring system and requirements remain unchanged.


Q. Is the structure or format of the sections in the new TOEFL exam pattern different?

A. Yes, the new TOEFL test pattern may cause changes to the section structure or format. These modifications could include changes to the number or type of questions, time limits, or adding new question types.


Q. Will the new TOEFL Exam Pattern necessitate different preparation strategies than the previous one?

A. Yes, the new TOEFL Exam Pattern may necessitate changes in test preparation strategies.


Q. What resources will be available to test takers to help them prepare for the new TOEFL pattern?

A. The ETS and official TOEFL resources will offer updated study materials, sample questions, and practice tests tailored to the new TOEFL Exam Pattern. These resources will help test takers become acquainted with the changes and prepare effectively.


We hope you got good insights on the changes, the test format, and preparation strategies beforehand. If you wish to know more, contact our expert education counsellors at any Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC) branch. Our counsellors will provide you with guidance throughout the new TOEFL exam pattern. Get help with the application process, SOPs, and filing for a visa. Visit us and get one-to-one counselling or avail yourself of free video counselling via our website. We will be happy to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us at application02@meridean.org or 1800-1230-00011.

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