The TOEFL and the Master in Management

Published: 13 May 2010 | by Thomas Graf

Do you need the TOEFL for studying a Master in Management program? If English is not your mother tongue the answer most likely is yes. Most of the business schools will ask you to do the TOEFL to prove your English language skills on an academic level. TOEFL is the abbreviation of “Test of English as a foreign language” and is operated by the Educational Testing Service, also known as ETS.

In some cases, schools will waive this requirement. This might be the case if you have already completed a degree in English language, if you have done another language test like IELTS or if they find out during the interviews that your English is good enough. There are also schools which consider the GMAT to be a sufficient proof of your command of the English language. Nevertheless, many schools still ask non-native speakers explicitly for a TOEFL score.

  • Please be aware that sometimes the TOEFL will be needed to receive a study visa for the respective country. You can clarify this at the embassy of your desired study country.

What is the TOEFL about?

Briefly said: English language on an academic level. But since that information alone won’t be very helpful, we will try to give you some more helpful information about the test. Nowadays, the TOEFL is internet based (you will find it as “ib TOEFL”). There might be a few test centers which still use the paper based version while the computer based test does not exist anymore. Since you will most probably be confronted with the internet based TOEFL, the following information is related to this version.

Internet based TOEFL

The internet based TOEFL consists of four parts: reading, listening, speaking and writing. After the first two sections, there is an optional ten-minute break.

1. TOEFL reading section

  • 60-100 minutes time, 3-5 passages, altogether 36-70 questions
  • Each passage consists of approximately 700 words.
  • Academic topics
  • Previous knowledge of the respective topic is not needed.

2. TOEFL listening section

  • 60 to 90 minutes, 6 to 9 passages, altogether 34 to 51 questions
  • 4 to 6 lectures, 2 to 3 conversations
  • After listening to the texts you will have to answer questions about what you have just heard.
  • Retentiveness is important; the questions will go into detail.

3. TOEFL speaking section

  • 20 minutes, 6 tasks
  • 2 independent tasks and 4 integrated tasks
  • You will have a short preparation time and will then need to record your answer.
  • In the independent tasks, you are asked to talk about a certain topic (for example “What was your favorite game as a child?”).
  • The integrated tasks are related to text or listening passages (academic content or student conversation).

4. TOEFL writing section

  • 50 minutes, 2 tasks
  • 1 integrated task and 1 independent task
  • In the integrated task, you first read a short passage, and then you listen to a speaker who talks about the same topic. Afterwards, you will need to summarize the listening passage and explain how it relates to the reading passage.
  • The independent task will ask you to give your opinion on a certain topic. It is not important what your opinion is but that you give strong arguments which support what you are stating.

Be prepared for the special challenge of the TOEFL testing situation

Most of the test takers complain that it was quite loud during the test. Since there are sometimes many people doing the test in the same room, some of them are still working on the listening section while others are already doing the speaking part. That means it can happen that people around you are talking into their microphones while you still try to concentrate on understanding the listening passages.

Therefore it is recommended to practice how to concentrate on what comes out of your earphones and ignore people around you. For the reading and writing sections, it might be helpful to wear earplugs, but there will always be instructions via headphone which makes that a bit difficult.

The TOEFL score

You will receive a score from 0-30 for each section of the TOEFL. This means you can reach a maximum of 120. Many graduate schools require a TOEFL score of 90-100 from their applicants. Some Ivy League schools might ask for 110 but that are just exemptions. Please check with the school’s admissions office, which score they require for your desired study program.

By Thomas Graf