David Recine

TOEFL 2019 Format Changes: Length, Timing, Scoring, and Preparation

toefl 2019 format changes -magoosh

ETS has just announced some big 2019 TOEFL format changes. This is obviously very important news for anyone who will take the test August 1 of 2019 or later. Magoosh has been keeping a close eye on the situation, and we have a full report on the 2019 ETS TOEFL updates for you. Read on to find out what will change, what will not change, and what resources are available.

Table of Contents

Does Magoosh TOEFL offer Updated TOEFL Prep for the 2019 TOEFL Format Changes?

Yes, we do! Magoosh TOEFL offers practice that matches the new TOEFL format. All of our premium prep lessons, practice questions, and full-length TOEFL practice tests reflect the 2019 TOEFL format changes from ETS.

Can you study for the new TOEFL with old TOEFL materials?

Yes, you can. Beyond the updated prep from Magoosh TOEFL, older popular TOEFL materials can be used to study for the new TOEFL 2019 exam. These older materials will include some of our blog posts too! While we are updating our most important and popular articles, some of the Magoosh TOEFL Blog’s older materials will be kept, with a disclaimer that they are partially out-of-date.

Regardless of source, older TOEFL resources have the same kinds of questions, tasks, passages and audio tracks as the new TOEFL. You should use prep based on the old TOEFL a little differently if you’re taking the new version of the test, though. You’ll need to slightly adjust your pacing in Reading by slowing down a little– you now have more time per TOEFL Reading question! And you’ll want to skip certain questions and tasks in TOEFL Reading, TOEFL Listening, and TOEFL Speaking.

To fully understand how to use your old TOEFL prep materials to study for the 2019 ETS TOEFL changes, you should take a close look at exactly how the TOEFL test has changed. Details on that appear immediately below. After that detailed breakdown of the new TOEFL, you can scroll down to view in-depth instructions on how to use old TOEFL prep for the new TOEFL.

How Has the New TOEFL Changed?

The 2019 TOEFL format changes are just part of the picture. The new TOEFL also comes with a new 2019 TOEFL scoring system. Moreover, the 2019 ETS TOEFL changes include new TOEFL prep materials. Perhaps most importantly, there are many ways is which the 2019 TOEFL hasn’t changed. Many old TOEFL features are still in place.

2019 TOEFL Format Changes to Timing, Pacing, and Content

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the old TOEFL and the new TOEFL, after August 1, 2019. TOEFL changes have been noted in bold.


Section Old TOEFL New TOEFL
TOEFL Reading 3-4 passages (standard length of 3 passages)

12-14 questions per passage

60-80 minutes (standard time of 60 minutes)

Average of 1 min. 40 sec. per question

3-4 passages (standard length of 3 passages)

10 questions per passage

54-72 minutes (standard time of 54 minutes)

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

Average of 1 min. 48 sec. per question

TOEFL Listening 4-6 lectures, 6 questions each (standard length of 4 lectures)

2-3 conversations, 5 questions each (standard length of 3 conversations)

60-90 minutes (standard time of 60 minutes)

Average of 35 sec per question (excluding time spent listening to audio tracks)

3-4 lectures, 6 questions each (standard length of 3 lectures)

2-3 conversations, 5 questions each (standard length of 2 conversations)

41-57 minutes (standard time of 41 minutes)

Average of 35 sec per question (excluding time spent listening to audio tracks)

TOEFL Speaking 6 tasks

2 TOEFL Independent Speaking tasks

4 TOEFL Integrated Speaking tasks

20 minutes

4 tasks

1 TOEFL Independent Speaking task

3 TOEFL Integrated Speaking tasks

17 minutes

TOEFL Writing 2 tasks

50 minutes of response time

2 tasks

50 minutes of response time


Whole test 3.5 hours 3 hours

Speaking Tasks on the New TOEFL: Removed Tasks and Renumbered Tasks

In addition to the 2019 ETS TOEFL updates listed above, the 4 TOEFL Speaking tasks from the old TOEFL that are still in the new TOEFL will be renumbered. The table below provides a detailed look at the way tasks have been removed and renumbered:

TOEFL Speaking Tasks
(old TOEFL)
TOEFL Speaking Tasks
(new TOEFL)
TOEFL Speaking Task 1 (Independent) (removed)
Task 2 (Independent) Task 1 (Independent)
Task 3 (Integrated) Task 2 (Integrated)
Task 4 (Integrated) Task 3 (Integrated)
Task 5 (Integrated) (removed)
Task 6 (Integrated) Task 4 (Integrated)

2019 TOEFL Prep Materials

To accommodate the TOEFL 2019 format changes, ETS will be changing and updating some of its TOEFL prep materials. Here is what we know so far:

  • ETS has added some new free prep that matches the new exam. You can now take a full-length, browser-based TOEFL that has the same number of questions and same format as the 2019 TOEFL.
  • ETS has also added free PDF-based practice sets that match the new exam. Unfortunately, these practice sets do not include audio. The Listening practice material and the Integrated prep for Speaking and Writing are transcript-only.
  • All of the prior free resources that were on the ETS website have now been removed. This includes the software-based TOEFL Interactive Sampler download, the old TOEFL Practice Questions PDF, and TOEFL Quick Prep. The good news here is that Quick Prep is still available through the Web Archive website: https://web.archive.org/web/20190429133302/http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/quick_prep/
  • As part of the 2019 TOEFL ETS updates, the free official TOEFL online class from EdX will soon change so that the video lessons and practice activities reflect that new TOEFL.
  • ETS appears to have updated their paid TOEFL Practice Online tests, although there are no new, updated editions of the practice books just yet.

TOEFL Changes: Scoring

With the 2019 TOEFL updates comes a modification to the TOEFL scoring system. As part of the 2019 ETS TOEFL changes, test-takers who’ve taken the TOEFL more than once will now see two scores on their score report. One will be the score they got on the individual test they took. The other will be a combined “superscore” their TOEFL tests. By this, I mean that their score report will show the best individual section scores across multiple tests, if they’ve taken the TOEFL multiple times. This additional score will show up alongside the individual test score automatically, at no extra charge to the test-taker. TOEFL score reports for tests taken after August 1 will always show the top section scores from across all exam sessions a test-taker has had, along with the individual teting session score.

So how does this affect admissions? At most schools, it doesn’t. The majority of universities sitll treat your individual test score as your “official” score. However, a slowly growing numebr of shcools accept TOEFL MyBEst scores. For a list of schools that accept the new TOEFL “superscore,” see this official ETS document.

What Will NOT Change in the New TOEFL Exam

OK, we’ve already covered some of what won’t change in the sections above. But it’s good to get an overview of what’s remaining the same for the TOEFL. Here is a roundup of all the things that are the same in the old TOEFL and the new!

  • TOEFL Reading will continue to have a standard format of 3 passages, with the possibility of a fourth experimental passage.
  • TOEFL Listening will continue to have 6 questions per lecture or classroom discussion, and 5 questions per conversation.
  • TOEFL Reading and TOEFL Listening will keep all of the same question types. (In other words, there are fewer questions in these sections, but not fewer question types.)
  • Reading times, preparation times, and response times will not change for the TOEFL Speaking tasks that are being kept in the exam.
  • On the four TOEFL Speaking tasks that will remain on the exam, the time limits for preparation and speech have not changed.
  • No TOEFL changes whatsoever in Writing. The TOEFL Writing section will remain exactly as is: the same two tasks, the same task and section time limits.
  • The scaled score system (0-30 per section, 0-120 for the whole test) will stay the same.
  • For people who’ve only taken the test once, however, score calculation and score reporting remains exactly the same.

What We Don’t Know (Yet) about the 2019 TOEFL Format Changes

  • Whether or not the onscreen timer itself will look or work any differently.
  • When ETS will release new, updated official TOEFL Prep books.
  • Exactly when the updated versions of other official TOEFL prep materials will be released.

How to Teach an Old Book New Tricks: Using Older TOEFL Prep for the 2019 TOEFL

As you can see from the changes outlined above, there’s a lot of “old TOEFL” in the new TOEFL, in spite of a number of 2019 ETS TOEFL updates. Let’s look at the best ways you can use old TOEFL materials in light of the 2019 TOEFL format changes.

TOEFL Reading and Listening: Make Some Minor Adjustments for the 2019 TOEFL

TOEFL Listening and TOEFL Reading really have undergone minimal TOEFL changes. In the new August 2019 version of the TOEFL, all of the same question types are there in both sections.

The only changes to test content are that TOEFL Reading now has 10 questions per passage, and TOEFL Listening now has 3 lectures instead of 4. For practice that resembles the new TOEFL Reading section, just skip a few questions in older TOEFL Reading passage/question sets. And to make an older TOEFL Listening practice session more authentic to the new test, skip one of the lectures in the section.

When possible, you should also adjust your pacing in TOEFL Reading. Give yourself 1 minute and 48 seconds per question instead of 1:40. If you are using practice software with a timer that doesn’t allow you to do that, then skip a few questions in each Reading passage set, so that you’re completing 10 questions per set instead of 12-14. But be careful if you need to take this approach! You’ll still want the questions to cover every major part of the passage, so don’t skip two consecutive questions. And always do the final two multiple answer questions for a passage in the older TOEFL prep resources. On the new TOEFL, the last two questions are still multiple answer.

TOEFL Speaking: Ditch Two Tasks in the new TOEFL

For TOEFL Speaking, if you’re using prep materials made before August 2019, you should make some significant changes to your practice. As outlined earlier in this article, the most significant 2019 ETS TOEFL updates have taken place in speaking. Obviously, you’ll need to ignore “old TOEFL” Speaking Task 1, which involved answering a personal question about your life. And you’ll need to ignore the pre-August-2019 TOEFL Speaking Task 5, which required test-takers to listen to a conversation about a solution to a problem.

In a nutshell, if you’re going to use an older TOEFL practice test, you should ignore some questions (TOEFL Reading), lectures (TOEFL Listening) and tasks (TOEFL Speaking). Other than that, old practice materials are perfectly suited for new TOEFL prep.

TOEFL Writing: No Changes Needed!

The TOEFL Writing section has not changed at all on the new test. So any TOEFL Writing task or section from an older TOEFL resource will do just fine. In effect, there is not “new TOEFL” where TOEFL writing is concerned. No TOEFL changes apply to this section!

Where to Go for More Information on the 2019 ETS TOEFL Updates

The best place to go for current, official information about the 2019 TOEFL format changes is ETS’s “Introducing a Better TOEFL iBT Test Experience” page. This page includes a link to an FAQ PDF for the changes, and information on both the page and the PDF are updated as needed.

2019 ETS TOEFL Updates: The Takeaway

These 2019 TOEFL updates really are minimal. With just a few minor adjustments, you can use old TOEFL materials to study for the new TOEFL. If anything, the test has become shorter and easier. So if you get to take the test after these TOEFL changes have been made, consider yourself lucky!


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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