Information about TOEFL Scoring

Understanding the TOEFL iBT Scoring System

Because the TOEFL iBT is very different from other versions of the test it has a very different scoring system. The good news is the TOEFL iBT scoring system is very straight-forward. Each of the four TOEFL iBT sections is scored on a scale of zero to 30. The total score for the test is on a scale of zero to 120 and is composed of the sum of the scores of the four sections.

For the Reading and Listening sections, ETS considers scores of 22 or higher to demonstrate a high level of English proficiency. The Speaking and Writing section scores are more complicated as they are scored by trained raters. The scoring for those sections is explained below.

Understanding the TOEFL iBT Speaking Section Score

The digitally recorded answers to the six TOEFL iBT Speaking Section questions are sent to ETS's Online Scoring Network where they are scored by certified raters. Each test is scored by three to six different trained and certified raters. The responses to each of the six questions are scored on a scale of zero to four and then averaged together. ETS considers a score of 3.5 or higher to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in spoken English. An average score of 3.5 would equal a scaled score of 27, and a 3.83 would equal a 29.

The certified raters evaluate the Speaking Section responses based on delivery, language and content. In terms of delivery, raters review responses based on how fluid and clear the speaking is and whether there is a natural sense of pacing and intonation. Language is evaluated based on whether speakers use accurate grammar and a sophisticated vocabulary. The content is assessed based on whether the speakers answered the question clearly and coherently, whether they remained on point and completed the requested tasks (such as summarizing and synthesizing information if that was required), and whether their transition from one detail to the next was clear and easy to follow.

ETS says raters are not looking for perfection and insists that even tests with top scores might have a few minor errors. Instead, raters are looking for solid command of spoken English and the ability to use English to communicate ideas effectively.

Understanding the TOEFL iBT Writing Section Score

The typed essay responses to the two TOEFL iBT Writing Section essay questions are also sent to ETS's Online Scoring Network. Each test is scored by two to four certified raters. The essays are scored on a scale of zero to five and their scores are averaged together. ETS considers a score of 4.0 to be highly proficient in written English. A score of 4.0 equals a scaled score of 25 for this section A score of 4.5 equals a scaled score of 28.

The Integrated Writing essays are scored based on grammar, vocabulary, and how accurately and thoroughly writers use details from the reading and listening passages to effectively argue their point. The Independent Writing essay is scored based on the composition and organizational structure of the essay and on command of grammar and vocabulary.

ETS advises test takers that raters are aware that this is a timed exercise and that writers only have a short time to become familiar with the information. As a result, essays can receive top scores even with minor omissions and errors.

TOEFL IBT Score Reports

The TOEFL iBT scores can be viewed online 15 days after the test was taken, free of charge. Schools that test takers have chosen to receive scores can also view the scores online at that time. Paper score reports will be mailed shortly after scores are posted online. The score reports include the four scaled scores as well as the total score. The reports also list whether the score for each section falls into a high, intermediate or low proficiency category. A detailed explanation of the proficiency category is also provided, including lists of tasks that someone who scored in that category has mastered.