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    What is a Good TOEFL Score?

    By Zach Skillings

    Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: November 28th, 2023
    What is a Good TOEFL Score?

    For international students hoping to attend college in an English speaking country, passing the TOEFL test is an important part of the process. TOEFL is the acronym for “Test of English as a Foreign Language.” In order to gain admission to many institutions, students must pass this English-language test. 

    If you’re wondering “what is a good TOEFL score,” the answer is simple. A good score is one that will get you accepted to the colleges you’re applying to. Since each school sets their own passing score for the TOEFL, it’s important to know the score requirements of the colleges you’re considering. Keep reading to learn more about TOEFL scoring and what it takes to earn a passing grade. 

    Also see: Scholarships for international students

    Which TOEFL test should you take?

    There are two main types of TOEFL test, the TOEFL Essentials and the TOEFL iBT. The Essentials version is about an hour and a half, and you can take it at home. The iBT version is a three-hour exam and only one section can be taken at home.

    Most colleges accept the iBT version, so this article focuses specifically on that test. 

    How is the TOEFL test scored? 

    Each section of the TOEFL test is worth 30 points, with the highest possible score being 120. The reading and listening sections are scored exclusively by computer assessment. The speaking and writing sections are scored by a combination of computer assessment and human evaluation. 

    Don’t miss: How to reduce test anxiety

    What is a passing score? 

    That depends on the school you’re applying to since there is no passing or failing the TOEFL test. As mentioned, each college and university set their own passing score for the test. 

    Minimum score requirements range between 40 and 100, but the average is around 80. Generally speaking, you can expect to see higher TOEFL score requirements at more competitive colleges. 

    Schools also vary in the way they assess TOEFL scores. Some institutions require students to simply earn a minimum total score, while others have score requirements for each section

    For instance, the University of Iowa requires that no individual section score is lower than 17. They also require a minimum total score of 80. Be sure to check the scoring policies of the specific schools you’re applying to. 

    Although score requirements vary between colleges, ETS provides some information on proficiency levels for each section of the test. See the following chart for context: 

    Skill Level
    Reading Advanced (24–30)

    High-Intermediate (18–23)

    Low-Intermediate (4–17)

    Below Low-Intermediate (0–3)

    Listening Advanced (22–30)

    High-Intermediate (17–21)

    Low-Intermediate (9–16)

    Below Low-Intermediate (0–8)

    Speaking Advanced (25–30)

    High-Intermediate (20–24)

    Low-Intermediate (16–19)

    Basic (10–15)

    Below Basic (0–9)

    Writing Advanced (24–30)

    High-Intermediate (17–23)

    Low-Intermediate (13–16)

    Basic (7–12)

    Below Basic (0–6)

    Source — Educational Testing Service (ETS)

    Based on this chart, a total score of 95 or above would be considered advanced by ETS. But again, the most important scoring standards are the ones listed by the schools you’re applying to. Check with institutions directly to confirm their TOEFL score requirements. 

    When can I view my scores? 

    Unofficial scores of the reading and listening sections are available immediately after finishing the exam. However, students must wait 6 – 13 business days for the rest of their scores. The exact time frame depends on which version of the test you took: 

    • Taken at a test center: 4 – 8 days after your test date
    • TOEFL Home Edition: 4 – 8 days after your test date
    • TOEFL Paper Edition: 11 – 13 business days after your test date

    You’ll receive an email when your scores are available. You can then access them online through your ETS account. For more information on how to get your TOEFL scores, go to this page on their site

    Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

    How do I send my scores? 

    When you register for the TOEFL, you’ll be prompted to select up to 4 schools where you’d like your scores to be sent. The cost of sending score reports to the first 4 schools is included in your registration fee. 

    ETS charges a fee of $20 USD for each additional score report. Score delivery times vary based on how your designated schools receive scores. Learn more about sending your scores their website.

    Related: FAFSA guide for international students

    Can I retake the TOEFL test? 

    Yes. If you didn’t get the score you needed the first time, you’re allowed to take the TOEFL again. You can actually take the TOEFL as many times as you wish, but you’ll have to pay the registration fee every time. The required waiting period between tests is 3 days. 

    If you’re retaking the TOEFL, you may be able to take advantage of the MyBest Scores system. MyBest Scores allows students to combine their highest section scores from all TOEFL tests they’ve taken in the past 2 years. Not all colleges accept MyBest Scores, so be sure to check  to see which ones do. 

    Don’t miss: How to find the best test prep tutor

    How do I earn a good score on the TOEFL? 

    The key to success is preparation. Fortunately, ETS offers a variety of resources to help students prepare for the exam. Many of these resources are free, which we’ve listed below: 

    • Full-length practice tests: These tests include all 4 sections and feature real questions from previous TOEFL exams, making them a great way to prepare for the actual test. 
    • Individual practice sets: If you’d like to hone your skills in a specific area, you can complete practice sets for reading, listening, speaking, or writing. 
    • TOEFL test preparation course: This online course features videos, short quizzes, and tips from instructors to help students achieve the best score possible. 
    • TOEFL Talk seminars and webinars: Offered both online and in-person, TOEFL Talks provide key information about the TOEFL such as registration, test preparation, and more. 

    With enough study and preparation, you can earn a passing TOEFL score and get accepted to college. Good luck! 

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • TOEFL stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language”, which can be taken by international students applying for a college in an English speaking country
    • There are two main types of TOEFL for college students, the TOEFL iBT and the TOEFL Essentials. Your college will likely require the iBT version of the exam 
    • There is no official passing score for the TOEFL, so it depends on your school what the passing score is
    • There are four sections on the exam, and each is worth 30 points each for a total of 120 possible points
    • The usual school requirements range between 40 to 100, with an average of 80 
    • You can likely view your scores within a week of taking the test!
    • Your scores can be sent to up to four schools before an additional fee is charged
    • If you don’t do as well as you’d like the first time, you can take the TOEFL as many times as you want to get the best possible score 

    Frequently asked questions about what a good TOEFL score is 

    What’s the difference between the TOEFL iBT and Essentials?

    The TOEFL Essentials is a shorter exam that can be taken completely from the comfort of your own home. It’s also graded on a scale of 1-12 and has five sections instead of four.

    The TOEFL iBT is usually taken at a testing center and the highest grade is 120, excluding one section of the test, and it takes almost double the amount of time as the Essentials version. Most schools will ask for the iBT version.

    Can I take the TOEFL at home?

    Oftentimes, yes, you can take the TOEFL at home. However, not every school accepts the home edition of the test or the Essentials version. It’s important to check with your school of choice to make sure which version of the test you should take.

    How much is the TOEFL test?

    The cost of the TOEFL depends on the country that you take it. In the U.S., the TOEFL costs $225, which allows you to take the test and send your scores to four different schools before a $25 fee applies for each additional school.

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