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New TOEFL Format in 2019: Easier TOEFL Scores, TOEFL Speaking Changes, and TOEFL Writing Changes

Ron Ross June 15th, 2019

The TOEFL format is changing...A LOT! Some changes will make it much easier, while others will open more room for error. In this article, you'll learn about several new TOEFL format changes. A couple of them are quite significant in that it's making TOEFL significantly easier to achieve your target TOEFL score! Having said that, the other changes, introduced recently, makes the TOEFL only slightly more difficult.

The first section of this article's research was found directly from ets TOEFL and TOEFL FAQ shorter version

New TOEFL Format Starting August 1st Will Make TOEFL Easier

We have exciting news for you! TOEFL is becoming easier and it starts August  1st, 2019. Over the last few years, TOEFL has seen a decline in the total number of tests taken per year and it was concluded that TOEFL was TOO difficult.

So how did ets make TOEFL easier?

The solution was simple. Shorten the test and give test takers more time to complete questions. The following is an excerpt taken directly from ets TOEFL, which indicates exactly what they are changing starting August 1st, 2019.

"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."

And here is a break down of the TOEFL changes before and after the August update

Test Section Before August 1, 2019 (Longer Version) After August 1, 2019 (Shorter Version)


3–4 reading passages 
12–14 questions each 
60–80 minutes


80/14*4 = 1.4 min per question

3–4 reading passages 
10 questions each 
54–72 minutes


72/10*4 = 1.8 min per question


Therefore, you have about 40 more seconds per question, which is an extra 16 minutes to answer all the questions in the reading section :)




4–6 lectures, 6 questions each 
2–3 conversations, 5 questions each 
60–90 minutes


90/(36+15) = 1.8 min per question

3–4 lectures, 6 questions each 
2–3 conversations, 5 questions each 
41–57 minutes


57/(24+15) = 1.5 min per question


There is less time than before per question, but the reduced amount of lectures will help you stay focused during the speaking and writing sections.




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.

There are no major changes to the writing section. You will still complete two writing tasks in 50 minutes: One integrated and one independent.

The above changes will help reduce fatigue and lower stress, helping you achieve higher scores in most sections.

How to Prepare for the New TOEFL Format?

The most asked question so far has been: "What do I need to do to practice for these changes coming August 1st?". The simple answer is NOTHING! No seriously, you don't have to do anything. Because no question types are being removed from reading and listening sections, you MUST continue practicing all question types to prepare for what ever 10 question types you'll be given during your test.

But what about the TOEFL speaking changes?

The great news is speaking task 1 is almost identical to speaking task 2 and speaking task 5 is basically the same as speaking task 3, except you don't read a notice before listening to the conversation. Therefore, practicing with speaking task 1 and speaking task 5 WILL help you prepare for speaking task 2 and speaking task 3. Because of this, you don't need to do anything differently. In fact, preparing with the longer version will help you more than preparing with the shorter version due to managing your fatigue and time. If you can do well on the longer version, you will be able to perform even better on the shorter version.

These changes are great for everyone and will help you score higher, but what if you make a mistake significantly lowering your score in a single section? Well with the new score report improvements, this situation is no longer as devastating as it once was.

New TOEFL Score Reports Helping You Get ACCEPTED!

To help you achieve your target score and forget about a single bad section that's costing you your admission into your program of choice, ets TOEFL has altered their score report to include an IBT MyBest™ score in the report.

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.

For example, let's say you took the TOEFL 4 times in the last 2 years.

Reading Listening Speaking Writing Total
19 20 15 20 74
29 22 18 22 91
27 27 23 20 97
19 25 26 25 95

Now, on the score report, your program would see the following:

Report Reading Listening Speaking Writing Total
Most Recent 19 25 26 25 95
IBT MyBest™ 29 27 26 25 107

Many universities have requested this, but please be aware, it is not guaranteed your program will accept it, so you’ll need to contact them and ask if they do.

The final section of this article was discovered by an exceptional TOEFL teacher named Michael Goodine. He has his own YouTube channel where you can find a ton of great information about TOEFL, including a video on the new TOEFL changes in 2018 & 2019 found here: TOEFLresources YouTube

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 here at BestMyTest, some are even FREE!


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