TOEFL Primary Banner
General Information

 

The TOEFL Primary® tests are designed to assess the English-language proficiency of young students in reading, listening and speaking. The tests provide support for teaching and learning with information about your students’ abilities; engaging, age-appropriate content; and feedback that helps keep young learners motivated. 

The TOEFL Primary tests can be used to measure language proficiency and developing skills of students as young as 8 years old who have been learning English for about a year or more, though the tests may be appropriate for other students as well. Decisions about the appropriateness of the tests should be based on the English-language proficiency of the students. 

The TOEFL Primary tests are not based on or limited to any specific curriculum. All TOEFL Primary tests assess students’ knowledge, skills, and abilities for fulfilling core communication goals in English. These communication goals are shared across curricula worldwide.

 

Benefits of the TOEFL Primary® tests include:

 

  • Assessment of multiple proficiency levels so you can confidently measure all your students’ skills
  • Performance feedback and recommendations about next steps to help guide student learning
  • Scores mapped to CEFR levels, for comparison of your students’ abilities in relation to international benchmarks
  • Reading scores that are linked to Lexile® Reading measures, making it easier to find the books and articles that best match students’ English reading levels and their interests, which will then help improve their reading ability
  • Easy-to-understand score reports and achievement certificates to illustrate student progress for parents

 

Ways you can use scores:
  • Identify student strengths and weaknesses
  • Place students in groups appropriate for their ability levels 
  • Guide teaching goals and plan future lessons to match student needs
  • Obtain accurate and reliable information about student abilities 
  • Determine instructional plans 
  • Monitor student progress
  • Shape communication with parents about student learning

 

Based on the rich heritage of the TOEFL® test, the TOEFL Primary tests uphold ETS’s high standards for developing valid and reliable tests that support educational purposes and reflect the latest research innovations.

TOEFL Primary Tests at a Glance
TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening Tests Overview

The TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening tests are offered in 2 levels: Step 1 and Step 2. Both tests measure young learners’ abilities to understand written and spoken English that they are learning in their classrooms and that is relevant to their daily lives. Test tasks require students to read or listen to information, instructions, or stories that reflect their experiences at school, home, and other age appropriate contexts. Test tasks are designed to assess abilities for fulfilling particular communication goals central to young students’ English-language proficiency development.

Test Structure
TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening Tests - Step 1

The Reading and Listening Test — Step 1 is intended for students in the earlier stages of English learning and covers:

  • Familiar contexts (school, home, playground)
  • Basic formulaic expressions
  • Basic vocabulary and phrases related to common objects and people
  • Short and simple requests and directions
  • Short and simple text relevant to everyday experiences

The table below summarizes the structure of the Reading and Listening—Step 1 tests.

TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening Tests - Step 2

The Reading and Listening test — Step 2 is intended for students who have acquired some communicative English skills and covers:

  • Basic expressions, requests, phrases and directions
  • Simple short stories and conversations on topics beyond everyday experiences
  • Unfamiliar words given sufficient amount of contextual clues
  • Simple content-based texts

The table below summarizes the structure of the Reading and Listening—Step 2 tests.

TOEFL Primary Speaking Test Overview

The TOEFL Primary Speaking test measures young learners’ ability to communicate orally in routine social situations related to their daily lives. The TOEFL Primary Speaking test is only available as a digitally delivered test. Student responses are recorded through a headset with microphone via computer or tablet. The recorded responses are scored by trained raters at ETS. 

Test Structure

The TOEFL Primary Speaking test has between 7 and 10 questions, and it takes about 20 minutes to complete.

The test covers: 

  • Giving simple descriptions 
  • Expressing basic emotions, feelings, and opinions 
  • Making simple requests 
  • Asking questions 
  • Giving directions 
  • Explaining and sequencing simple events 

 

The Speaking test starts by asking students some basic questions about themselves to make sure their headsets work properly. Then, students are introduced to a storyline and characters who guide them through the test questions. The first prompt is an unscored practice question that gives students a chance to become more comfortable with the computer setup and the format of the test. Test prompts include audio, picture, and video elements. Each question has a time limit, and the time limit varies by question type. The longest amount of time allotted for a response is 30 seconds. 

Students can practice sample questions for the Speaking test online at TOEFL Primary Speaking Sample Test.

How to Get Ready for the TOEFL Primary Tests

The TOEFL Primary tests are not based on any particular curriculum, textbook, or method of study. Because the tests are used to help teachers and parents understand student abilities and what students can learn next, learning for the purpose of performing well on the tests is discouraged. Instead, we encourage having students take the tests at different times during their early English language learning to monitor progress and make appropriate decisions for their future learning. 

The TOEFL Primary tests are not “pass/fail” tests. Students are not expected to answer all of the questions correctly. The texts on the Reading and Listening tests (Step 1 and Step 2) cover a range of complexity, with less complex and middle level texts on Step 1, and middle level and more complex texts on Step 2. 

Before taking a TOEFL Primary test, it is helpful if students are familiar with the types of questions on the test, especially if this will be their first test-taking experience. To ensure that taking the TOEFL Primary tests is a rewarding and motivating experience, we encourage teachers, parents and students to review the sample questions and handbooks below to familiarize themselves with the test format and content.

Resources
TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening Test Scoring and Score Reports

Each TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening (Step 1 and Step 2) score report provides: 

  • A level for each skill (Reading and Listening) that includes descriptors of student ability and recommended next steps that students can take to improve their English  
  • Scale scores that help show progress within a level when students take the test again 
  • Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels that show student ability in comparison to a widely used international tool for describing language proficiency 
  • A Lexile® measure to help select books at appropriate reading levels

 

CEFR Levels 

The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is a widely used tool for understanding different stages of language development and proficiency. The CEFR provides descriptors of language performance across a broad range of tasks. TOEFL Primary® scores are mapped to CEFR levels, using CEFR descriptors that were modified to reflect the developing language skills and cognitive abilities of young learners. The CEFR levels are included in the score report so you will know about your students’ abilities in relation to a widely accepted international standard. 

 

Lexile® Measures 

The TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening score reports provide a Lexile measure to help identify books at the appropriate reading level for the student. The Lexile Framework for Reading developed by Metametrics® is a scientific approach that places both the reader and text on the same developmental scale, making it easy to identify books that match your child’s reading ability. More than 100 million books, articles and websites have received Lexile text measures. The online service for matching Lexile measures with books is free and easy to use. For more information, visit www.lexile.com/toeflprimary.

For more information, download Understanding TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening Score Reports.

TOEFL Primary Speaking Test Scoring and Score Reports

Each TOEFL Primary Speaking score report provides: 

  • A level, shown as ribbons (maximum of 5) 
  • Descriptors of student ability and recommended next steps that students can take to improve their English speaking skills 
  • Scores that help show progress within a level when students take the test again (the score range is 0–27) 
  • Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels that show student ability in comparison to a widely used tool for describing language proficiency 

How the Speaking Tests Are Scored

The TOEFL Primary Speaking test contains questions that ask students to respond in spoken English. Responses are scored by ETS raters using standardized scoring rules. Speaking score quality is maintained through multiple rigorous measures that include trying out new questions, requiring raters to pass demanding assessments before they can score any Speaking responses, the monitoring of scoring quality throughout live scoring sessions by expert scoring leaders, and analyzing the performance of the raters. The score range is from 0 to 27 and levels are shown as ribbons. Detailed information about the scoring of speaking responses can be found at Primary Speaking Scoring and Reporting

For more information, download Understanding TOEFL Primary Speaking Score Reports.

What are the TOEFL Primary® Tests?

The TOEFL Primary tests are assessments from ETS that help you shape young students’ English-language instruction in a way you never could before. They are designed for students ages 8+ and measure the English skills that provide a foundation for students’ future success.

How are TOEFL Primary scores used?

The TOEFL Primary tests are designed to:

  • Guide your teaching goals
  • Monitor student progress
  • Identify students’ individual strengths and weaknesses
  • Determine instructional plans
  • Inform placement decisions, if appropriate
  • Focus your work with both individual students and groups
  • Shape your communication with parents about student learning

Who uses the TOEFL Primary Tests?

The TOEFL Primary tests can be used to monitor student progress over time and, if appropriate, to place students in levels of English instruction. They are designed for:

  • English-language programs
  • Local schools that teach English as part of the curriculum

What is the format of the tests?

  • Reading and Listening test — Step 1: paper or digitally delivered
  • Reading and Listening test — Step 2: paper or digitally delivered
  • Speaking test: digitally delivered
  • Available on the following digital platforms: Windows® PC, Mac®, iPad® and Chromebook™

What skills do the TOEFL Primary tests measure?

The TOEFL Primary program offers 3 tests that measure a range of skills. The Reading and Listening tests (Step 1 and Step 2) assess students’ knowledge, skills and abilities to fulfill core communication goals in English. The Speaking test measures English-language speaking proficiency.

Learn more about test content.

How are the TOEFL Primary tests administered?

The TOEFL Primary® tests offer institutional testing so that schools can administer the tests to their own students.

Contact us directly to learn more.

How do I know which TOEFL Primary test is right for my students?

For help deciding which test is right for your students, learn more about the test content.

How are the TOEFL Primary tests scored?

Both TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening tests are scored locally by ETS Preferred Network offices and feature fast turnaround times. The TOEFL Primary Speaking test is scored at ETS by ETS-trained raters.

TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening test — Step 1 scores are determined by the number of questions a student has answered correctly. There is no penalty for wrong answers. The number of correct responses in each section is converted to a level of 1–4 Stars and a scale score of 101–109.

TOEFL Primary Reading and Listening test — Step 2 scores are determined by the number of questions a student has answered correctly. There is no penalty for wrong answers. The number of correct responses in each section is converted to a level of 1–5 Badges and a scale score of 104–115. Some students may receive 1 badge and a scale score of 100, and these students are recommended to take the Step 1 test for better information about their proficiencies in English reading and listening.

The TOEFL Primary Speaking test is scored by ETS-trained raters. On the TOEFL Primary Speaking test, students can earn levels of 1–5 Ribbons. Scores of 0–27 are also reported to show progress within a level.

What research is in progress on the TOEFL Primary tests?

Like all tests in the TOEFL® Family of Assessments, the TOEFL Primary tests are based on thorough research to ensure their validity and reliability, and they reflect best practices in language testing. Learn more about ongoing TOEFL Primary research (PDF).

Contact Us / Order Now

If you would like to order the tests or learn more, please email Goal Testing at info@goaltesting.com