ETS has announced some pretty major changes to the TOEFL® iBT exam, starting on August 1st 2019!

While changes to a test like the TOEFL® may seem drastic, don’t fret – we at EduSynch will be updating our TOEFL® training platform to reflect the changes and help you every step of the way. Also, the updates will actually be making the test easier!

As ETS says in the announcement, “TOEFL® iBT test time will be shortened by 30 minutes, to just 3 hours, with no changes to the overall test format or question types. In other words, it’s the same fair, reliable, preferred test, just with fewer questions in the Reading, Listening and Speaking sections. You can still finish the test in half a day with no need to return for a second day.”

While the ETS announcement has all the news, we’ve prepared a little summary for you below describing the different versions of the test so make it very easy to see what has changed:


Test Section Before August 1, 2019 (Longer Version) After August 1, 2019 (Shorter Version)
Reading 3–4 reading passages
12–14 questions each
60–80 minutes
3–4 reading passages
10 questions each
54–72 minutesLess questions per passage means fewer questions overall, but be wary of the clock…NO CHANGES TO QUESTION TYPES
Listening 4–6 lectures, 6 questions each
2–3 conversations, 5 questions each
60–90 minutes
3–4 lectures, 6 questions each
2–3 conversations, 5 questions each
41–57 minutesThere is less time than before per question but you have to listen to fewer audio clips , giving you additional brainpower for the Speaking and Writing sections, but the reduced amount of lectures will help you stay focused during the speaking and writing sections.NO CHANGES TO QUESTION TYPES
Speaking 6 speaking tasks, 20 minutes

– Speaking Independent Task 1
– Speaking Independent Task 2
– Speaking integrated Task 3
– Speaking integrated Task 4
– Speaking integrated Task 5
– Speaking integrated Task 6

4 speaking tasks, 17 minutes

– Speaking Independent Task 1
– Speaking Independent Task 2
– Speaking integrated Task 3
– Speaking integrated Task 4
– Speaking integrated Task 5
– Speaking integrated Task 6

The 4 remaining tasks will be renumbered 1-4, accordingly.

Writing 2 tasks, 50 minutes
– Writing Integrated Task
– Writing Independent Task
2 tasks, 50 minutes
– Writing Integrated Task
– Writing Independent Task

How do I prepare for the new test?

Because ETS has just shortened the test length but not made any changes to the actual structure of the exam, you can continue studying the same way!

What about scoring? What’s the new scoring system like?

The new TOEFL® Scoring methodology is actually designed to help you!

The IBT MyBest™ score works like this: They select the best scores from each TOEFL section from your previous 2 years and combines them to create your best score possible. This way, even if you take the test multiple times, only your best scores are the ones that you send to university (or whatever organization you are using the TOEFL® for).

New TOEFL® Format for Independent Speaking Questions

Before we get into the new TOEFL® speaking changes, be aware that they’re small changes, but it’s something you need to look out for. The good news is you’ll still answer them like we teach in our TOEFL® speaking lessons.

TOEFL® Speaking Change #1: More words in multiple choice questions

This may not seem like much, but having longer questions means more time reading and less time preparing. It also means more chance of misreading the question.

Let’s have a look at both TOEFL® format versions, before and after the most recent TOEFL® speaking changes.

Older TOEFL® Speaking Multiple Choice Question Format

“Your degree requires that you should choose a history course. Which of the following courses would you prefer?

  • Art history

  • Twentieth-century world history

  • Science history

Include details and examples to support your answer.”

New TOEFL® Speaking Multiple Choice Question Format

“Which of the following courses would you prefer?

  • A course about Art History, the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts.

  • A course about Twentieth-century World History, the study critical understanding of major political developments.

  • A course about Science History, the study of the development of science and scientific knowledge.

Include details and examples to support your choice.”

Again, answering these questions is the same, so don’t worry too much. What’s important here is to get used to reading a longer question. Understanding them shouldn’t be too difficult, if you want, you can practice a Newly Formatted TOEFL Speaking 1 Practice Question Now or continue reading on to the next TOEFL® speaking change.

TOEFL® Speaking Change #2: Advantages/Disadvantages questions will TRY TO TRICK YOU!

Before, you would be given a simple scenario like:

“What are the advantages and disadvantages of a standing desk?”

Now let’s see how they could deceive you. The question might mention two scenarios, but specifically ask you about only one of them. If not careful, you could end up answering the wrong scenario. Let’s add the TOEFL® speaking changes to the previous standing desk question.

“Some people prefer standing desks, while others prefer sitting at their desk. Talk about the advantages and disadvantages of standing desks. Use details and examples in your answer.”


Well…maybe not, but you can see there is more room for error with this new format. It’s not 100% guaranteed you’ll even get the new TOEFL® format, but going in unprepared is why many people do not achieve their target TOEFL® score. The good news is, preparing for the new format is a simple matter of practicing it, and that’s it!

The TOEFL® speaking changes are not the only changes that were made. There were also changes to the TOEFL® independent writing section.

New TOEFL® Format for the Independent Writing Questions

There is only one change to the writing section and it’s similar to TOEFL® Speaking Change #2; The new independent writing question format is longer and more confusing.

Let’s have a look at a writing question with the change applied:

“Often we are asked to collaborate in team projects at events, school, and even work. Sometimes we are required to work with a group of people who share our opinions and ideas. However, sometimes we need to work with groups of people who have entirely different opinions then us.

Which do you prefer? Use reasons and examples to support your answer. Do not use memorized examples.”

The previous format was much simpler.

“Would you prefer to work with people who share similar opinions or people with different opinions?”

This new TOEFL® format for the independent writing section adds in a lot of redundancy to force you to read more. 

There isn’t much you can do about that except read it slowly to try and understand it the first time. Practice is the only preparation you need for this change. You simply need to get used to it.

Final Thoughts on the New TOEFL® Formats

As is with all our TOEFL® prep suggestions, practice is key to preparing yourself for these new TOEFL® speaking changes and TOEFL® writing changes. You can practice them right now on EduSynch! Get started for FREE today…and if you made it this far, use the code JUNE to get a 30% discount on any of our packages 🙂

As seen previously on BestMyTest