Given how hard you prepare to take your TOEFL, you may rightfully ask yourself, “what happens if you fail the test?” Of course, you should always plan for success, but it would be foolish not to have a backup plan in case of failure.
Here, we’ll look at what happens if your TOEFL iBT score isn’t as high as you expect, what recourse you may have in case you notice an anomaly in your score, and how to work on preparing for the TOEFL iBT to ensure your score is always as great as you can earn it.
This article will help you form your backup plan and guide you on steps to take to meet your TOEFL iBT goals. Do you speak English?
What does it mean to fail the TOEFL?
This is a fair question; as you’re preparing to take the TOEFL iBT, you may naturally wonder about the possibility of “failing” the test. First, keep in mind that you can’t actually “fail” the TOEFL. The TOEFL isn’t a certificate or diploma – there is no passing or failing score set by ETS Global. Indeed, the TOEFL is designed to measure your English proficiency level, meaning that you simply get a score to quantify your level of English, and you then report this score to various universities and schools.
Instead, it is therefore more useful to focus on the TOEFL score requirement set by your future school. If you fall short of meeting this score requirement, you’ve “failed” your TOEFL goal. Remember that the TOEFL assigns scores of 1-120, and some highly prestigious schools will deny admission if you “fail” to get a TOEFL score under 100, or even 110. Other schools may only require a score of 70 or 65 to be considered for admission.
You need to understand the score you’re aiming for individually depending on your future school especially of you apply for a scholarship . This can put the notion of “failing” into better perspective and make the test easier to plan for.
I failed to get my target TOEFL score because I think it was graded incorrectly – Can I appeal my score?
The short answer to this question is “yes”! ETS Global allows you to petition for a TOEFL score review, which is described on the TOEFL Scoring Services website. However, keep in mind that there are some strict rules and considerable expenses involved in the TOEFL score appeal process.
Here is a breakdown of the different sections of the TOEFL iBT and how they are scored. Remember that the TOEFL iBT includes four sections: Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking. The Reading and Listening portions are administered by selecting multiple-choice answers, meaning that all the answers are determined beforehand. Therefore, it is not possible to dispute these answers. In other words, your TOEFL Reading and Listening scores are final.
On the other hand, the Writing and Speaking portions reflect your ability to express yourself proficiently in English and these portions of the test are evaluated by human raters. And humans do make mistakes occasionally! ETS Global does make it possible to appeal your Writing and Speaking sections, where they will be reassessed by another human grader.
What’s next if you appeal your TOEFL score?
Remember, there is no guarantee that your score will be higher! In fact, when ETS Global has your Writing and Speaking sections of the test reviewed by another grader, it may be determined that your scores were justified the first time so they will not be changed. Furthermore, the second reviewer may decide that your original scores were too high, in which case your final scores will be lowered!
Not only will you risk having your score lowered or unchanged, there is a financial burden to keep in mind as well. ETS Global charges $80 per section to be reviewed, i.e. $160 for both the Writing and Speaking sections. This price may be worth earning a few (or a lot of) extra points, but weigh this cost carefully when deciding if you want to risk the appeals process put into place.
Can I retake the TOEFL iBT if I fail to reach my target score?
Of course! You are allowed to retake the TOEFL iBT as long as three days have passed since your previous test, and you may retake it as many times as you want. However, since school applications apply deadlines, be sure to allow for plenty of time to set the test, have your results processed and reported, and then sent to your school.
If you do decide to take the TOEFL iBT more than once, ETS Global offers the MyBest Score feature. This is a report of your TOEFL scores with only the best score from each section from every time you take the TOEFL, which are then averaged to produce the highest overall score possible. This can be a great advantage if you take the TOEFL multiple times but perhaps didn’t do so well on one section one time. However, note that only some school admission offices will accept MyBest Score reports, so be sure to verify with your requesting institution beforehand.
How do I best prepare for the TOEFL iBT to get my target score?
As you’ve seen, there are multiple factors to be taken into consideration when deciding on whether to appeal your TOEFL scores in case of an anomaly, or simply retake the TOEFL altogether, all within the application deadline of your school’s application process. It goes without saying that your primary objective should be to earn the highest score you can the first time by preparing for your TOEFL iBT well in advance.
GlobalExam is an online platform providing in-depth training for the TOEFL iBT. You’ll get grammar and vocabulary exercises help boost your English proficiency overall, but the best part is that you’ll also get thorough exercises specific to the TOEFL so you can have a clear picture of the TOEFL iBT format, timing, different sections, and strategies to maximize your chances of success on your test day.
GlobalExam also offers multiple full mock TOEFL tests you can try out for free so you’ll be ready to be able to measure your performance and earn your top score the first time… or the second, or the third…!