Test Scores for the Internet-Based TOEFL

Total Scores and Section Scores on the TOEFL iBT

TOEFL iBT scores are validated by official score reports, which are sent by ETS directly to the institutions designated by the test-taker. These official score reports include four sectional scores (0 to 30 each for reading, listening, speaking, and writing) and a total score that is calculated by adding the four sectional scores (0 to 120). The reading and listening sections are entirely multiple choice, and all questions are thus electronically graded as either correct or incorrect. A test-taker's percentage of correct answers is then converted to a scaled score, and this is what is reported from 0 to 30. The speaking and writing sections are assessed by ETS graders on a scale of 0 to 4 and 0 to 5 respectively before being converted to scaled scores of 0 to 30.

Scoring Rubrics for iBT Speaking and Writing

The six tasks on the iBT speaking section are assessed using distinct scoring rubrics for independent and integrated exercises. In both cases, spoken responses that receive the highest score of 4 accomplish the task with only minor problems of delivery, language use, and development. The lowest score of 0 is given to students who offer either a completely irrelevant response or no response at all. Scores of 1 to 3 generally indicate that the listener had some degree of difficulty understanding the responses. There are also separate rubrics for iBT integrated and independent writing. An integrated essay score of 5 indicates that the student correctly inferred the most important information from the reading and listening passages and presented his or her understanding of that information in a well-organized and linguistically correct manner. A score of 5 on the independent writing task is characterized by effectively addressing the topic raised by the prompt with a coherently structured essay that includes strong use of conventional written English. Test-takers who receive lower scores have failed to accomplish some or all of these goals.

TOEFL iBT Scores for Undergraduate Admission

The TOEFL iBT is intended to give institutions the flexibility to use scores in the best ways for their particular programs. Though iBT score ranges have been related to various levels of English-language proficiency, there is no universal "passing" score for the iBT. Minimum score requirements for undergraduate admission can therefore range from a low of 60 to a high of 110, and each school has its own policies and procedures for otherwise qualified students who fail to meet those standards. Oxford is an example of a university with the highest of TOEFL expectations, at 110 for undergraduates. All Oxford undergraduates who are not native English speakers must also receive sectional scores of at least 24 reading, 22 listening, 25 speaking, and 24 writing in addition to the total score of 110. However, Oxford is an outlier, and for the vast majority of undergraduate programs, sectional scores of 25 each and a total score of 100 will be sufficient. Many respected public and private institutions will accept TOEFL scores between 80 and 99. The lowest TOEFL standards are generally found at smaller public universities or private schools that are not highly ranked.

TOEFL iBT Scores for Graduate Admission

It is hard to generalize TOEFL scores at the graduate level. One might expect TOEFL requirements for graduate school to be higher than those that apply to undergraduate admission, but this is sometimes not the case. At Yale University, international undergraduates are expected to produce total scores of at least 100, but graduate applicants to the School of Music need only score an 86. Cornell University's undergraduate minimum is also 100, but the Graduate School only requires a total score of 77 with 22 speaking, 20 reading, 15 listening, and 20 writing (although some graduate degree programs may have higher score mandates). Many universities have the same TOEFL expectations of undergraduates and graduates, such as Columbia (100 for nearly all students). Applicants to some graduate programs may learn that their TOEFL requirements are higher than those of undergraduates. At the Boston University School of Management, the minimum total score of 95 is significantly higher than the general standard for all undergraduates (84).

TOEFL iBT Scores for Visas

Some English-speaking countries use iBT scores for student or immigration visas. In the United Kingdom, the requirements for Tier 4 student visas can be partially fulfilled with iBT total scores of 72 and sectional scores of 18 reading, 17 listening, 17 writing, and 20 speaking. Australia accepts TOEFL scores from applicants for various types of visas, including those for business purposes or skilled migration. The Australian government has classified total iBT scores as vocational (32-59), competent (60-93), proficient (94-109), or superior (110 or above), and these categories are used to determine the applicant's suitability for the stated immigration purpose.