Admission to the MBA program –

What is the TOEFL?

Admission requirements for the MBA program at WHU

The Master of Business Administration: 130 colleges, universities, and academies across Germany offer 256 different MBA programs. Many prospective students wonder about the difference between the individual study paths and degree programs. Which one should they choose? And the choice of university is also an important decision. Besides the cost and the format, admission requirements for MBA programs are also a crucial factor. Most universities offering MBA programs have selection criteria that include a statement of purpose, professional experience, a personal interview, or even an admissions exam. Almost all universities have the GMAT and TOEFL or the GRE and IELTS as admission requirements. And so does WHU. So, what are these acronyms all about?

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

General facts about the TOEFL

The TOEFL has a long tradition as an English-language assessment test. It is considered a global standard in this field of testing – and not just for MBA programs. The test-taking process has been web-based since 2005. There are four different variants of the test, but only the TOEFL ITP assessment level is relevant for admission into an MBA program. ITP stands for Institutional Testing Program and is an assessment level geared toward students of secondary schools, colleges, and universities. The assessment is particularly beneficial for the Master of Business Administration, since, due to international standards, almost all module content is in English – also at WHU.

Compared to the GMAT, the TOEFL is relatively affordable, priced at €89 per exam sitting. The cost for the test with a certificate is €103, and €125 if the test results are needed immediately. Also, practice materials and preparatory courses are not nearly as expensive as those for the GMAT. Testing appointments can be scheduled flexibly and individually with the testing centers, which can be found in many cities.

What does the test assess?

Essentially, the TOEFL maps all of the language levels defined by the CEFR* and assesses the test taker within the scope of these language levels. The good news: You cannot really “fail” the test; instead, you’re classified in one of the levels from A2 to C1, based on the CEFR.

The test itself is divided into four sections:

  1. Reading: The first section contains three to five texts and 36 to 70 questions.
  2. Listening: In this section, you listen to two or three conversations and four to six lectures, and answer 34 to 51 questions about what you’ve heard.
  3. Speaking: The third section involves six exercises and the corresponding questions.
  4. Writing: This section includes two exercises with one question each. One of the exercises involves writing an essay on a specified topic. You should take at least 30 minutes for this.

How is the test conducted?

Over the course of three hours, you can achieve a score of up to 120 points. Each section is worth up to 30 points. Besides the exercises that allow for a freer type of response, the test also consists of 140 multiple-choice questions. The multiple-choice questions also form a part of the listening and reading comprehension sections. Besides an assessment of your language proficiency level, the test evaluation includes an analysis of individual strengths and weaknesses. The TOEFL test used to take 3.5 hours. In August 2019, this was reduced by a half hour. The time allotted to the reading, listening, and speaking sections was reduced, but the total possible score remained the same. This change is probably attributable to growing competition, with similar tests requiring less time to complete. For instance, the IELTS test can be taken in two hours and 45 minutes, and the Duolingo English Test takes only 45 minutes. 

How can you prepare for the test?

Besides traditional workbooks and preparation books with sample questions and answers, test software and online courses are now also available. The online courses have grown increasingly popular, since they also offer the chance to have your preparatory work evaluated along the way. Traditional preparation materials haven’t previously offered this possibility for degree program candidates. Such online courses also can be more costly, however, since the evaluation is carried out by an instructor. Still, the courses are far from the price range of the GMAT or GRE preparatory courses.

Depending on your level of knowledge, 60 to 80 hours of preparation are generally considered appropriate.

For most business schools, including WHU, you should aim for a test score of at least 100 points.

*What is the CEFR?

The abbreviation stands for Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It serves as the basis for developing uniform curricula, textbooks, and language assessments. This framework of reference also defines the levels of language proficiency, from A2 (very basic) to C1 (proficient). The assessment of a TOEFL test, in turn, is based on your language level. If you have taken the Abitur in Germany, your English proficiency level is estimated to be at level B2 of the CEFR reference scale.