Changes to the TOEFL test

Kings Boston teacher Barry talks through the recent updates to the TOEFL test.

The TOEFL test underwent some changes on 1 August 2019. Our expert TOEFL teachers at Kings are following these changes closely and are ready to prepare you for them!

The most apparent change is that the overall length of the test is shorter by about half an hour, so it should now take only 3 hours rather than 3.5.

All four sections of the TOEFL iBT have changes in them, and there is a change in the score report as well.


Each reading passage will now have only 10 questions, instead of 12 – 14. The types of questions will not change. You may still get an extra reading passage that will not count.

The reading section is expected to last 52 – 74 minutes, instead of the current 60 or 80 minutes. The change gives you relatively more time to answer each question.


One or two of the academic listenings (discussion or lecture) will be taken out, so the total number of questions will change. As with the readings, the types of questions will not change.

A normal listening section will now have 2 conversations and 3 academic listenings, while a section with extra listening will have 3 conversations and 4 academic listenings. Each conversation will still have 5 questions, while each academic listening will still have 6 questions.

The listening section is now expected to last 41 to 57 minutes, instead of the current 60 to 90 minutes.


Two of the six speaking tasks are being eliminated — the first independent speaking, which asks you to make a choice about something (like a favorite room in your home) and describe why you chose it; and the fifth speaking task, in which you then have to describe a given problem and explain your chosen solution.

The remaining independent speaking option is getting longer and more involved. The options are often long sentences rather than the brief phrases they are now. You may also have more than two choices to choose from.

There are now more questions asking about the advantages/ disadvantages of something, but you may be asked to speak about the advantages or disadvantages of only one of the choices.

The speaking section will be slightly shorter, taking 17 minutes rather than 20.


No official changes are being made, but the prompts for the independent writing assignment are getting more involved. They are longer and often have more than one choice to make.

You are now explicitly told on some multiple-choice questions you can choose more than one choice to write about. Furthermore, there are now explicit warnings about NOT using memorized examples to support your reasons.

Nothing seems to be changing for the integrated writing section.

Score reports

The TOEFL score report will now have a separate line reporting your 'Best Score' involving any TOEFL tests you have taken over the past two years. This means that your scores for the four sections may come from different tests in this time frame.

The scoring on the speaking section has also changed slightly, in that you can now get some scores (like 25 or 16) that were mathematically impossible to get before.


Read more about out TOEFL preparation courses in the US with Kings at the below links: