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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

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. 

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What is a passing score? 

That depends on the school you’re applying to. As mentioned, each college and university sets their own passing score for the TOEFL. 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: 6 days after your test date
  • TOEFL Home Edition: 6 – 10 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 on this page on their site.

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 consult this list to see which ones do. 

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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!