Here we talk all about the TOEFL iBT and how to understand the test scoring system.

Read on for more information on:

  • The TOEFL score range
  • Understanding your score report
  • What makes a good TOEFL score
  • The validity of the TOEFL score
  • Preparing for the test

So, let’s get into it.

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Why Take The Test?

The TOEFL is the Test of English as a Foreign Language and it is known all over the world as one of the most rigorous and reliable tests for certifying a person’s proficiency in English. It is also a highly accessible exam, with the TOEFL iBT available at test centers across the world on 60 test dates per year. If you wish to learn all the details of the registration process, we have written an article for you.

There are many reasons to consider taking the TOEFL and adding an official score to your portfolio.

Maybe you’re a student looking to study abroad in an English-speaking cursus? Maybe you’re a professional looking to clinch a promotion or even secure a job in an international company? Or, maybe you simply want to translate your English level into an official score for your own personal development.

As you probably know, it’s not the only test on the market. So, what sets the TOEFL apart from the other exams out there?

Why Take The Test?

The TOEFL and studying abroad

Firstly, the TOEFL can be an essential part of university applications abroad. If you’re considering applying to an English-speaking university with a scholarship or program of study abroad, it’s highly likely that you will be required to submit proof of your level in English as part of your application.

More than 11,000 universities and educational institutions across the world accept the TOEFL as proof of an applicant’s proficiency in English for academic purposes. A high score in a rigorous test like the TOEFL could make all the difference to your application.

The TOEFL and working abroad

Secondly, many organizations ask for a TOEFL score when hiring new employees for whom English is a second language.

Even though the TOEFL is primarily a measure of a person’s proficiency in academic English, it is also considered a very useful measure for understanding your abilities in English for professional purposes.

The TOEFL and moving abroad

Thirdly, you can submit the TOEFL score as part of a visa or immigration application in English-speaking countries.

If you’re considering immigrating to the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherlands, China, Manila or Brazil, for example, a TOEFL score could open many doors for you, including with the immigration services.

The TOEFL and personal development

If you’ve learned English as a second language, you’ll know that mastery of a language is a hard-earned skill. Whether you have specific goals in mind or not, acquiring official recognition of your skills is never a wasted effort.

By taking the TOEFL test, you can gauge your level of English across the four key skill areas and identify your strengths and weaknesses. This is useful not only for evaluating your skills but also for identifying areas where you could improve to move forward both professionally and personally.

The TOEFL and personal development

What does your score mean?

Fortunately, the TOEFL test is not about passing or failing at your exam. The TOEFL iBT is composed of the four key skill sections – Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking – each representing 25% of your final score. Each skill section has a score range of 0-30 and the test has a maximum score of 120.

The even weighting across the four sections means that it is possible to get a good overall score by compensating for your weaker skills with a higher score in your stronger skills. Your final score will be a combination of your individual scores, though your score report will include the detail of your score breakdown. This is important to bear in mind if you intend on using your score for professional or academic purposes.

You can use the table below to see how the scores for each skill section in the TOEFL iBT fall into different score ranges, corresponding to different proficiency levels:

What does your score mean?


How Is The TOEFL IBT Scored?

If you choose to take the internet-based test, otherwise known as the TOEFL iBT, your test will be scored centrally by a combination of computer and human raters.

For the TOEFL iBT, there is a maximum total score of 120, divided across the four sections as follows:

Skill sectionScore range

Please note that although each section is worth the same number of marks, there are a different number of questions in each section according to the difficulty of the skill being tested.

Understanding Your Paper-Based TOEFL Score

The TOEFL paper-based test (PBT) is structured very differently to the TOEFL iBT and the scoring system works differently too.

Scores are awarded on a scale from 310 to 677 for the first three sections of the test. The Writing section is scored separately, on a scale from 0 to 6, and does not make up part of your final score.

SectionTotal LimitNumber of QuestionsScore Range
Listening Comprehension30-40 minutes5031-68
Structure and written Expression25 minutes4031-68
Reading Comprehension55 minutes5031-67
Total110-120 minutes140310-677
TWE30 minutes1 Topic0-6

To calculate your final TOEFL PBT score, you must do the following:

  1. Add your scores across the three sections together
  2. Multiply the sum by ten
  3. Divide this sum by three

For a test taker with scores of 48 for Listening, 50 for Structure and 53 for Reading, for example, the final score would be 503 out of a total maximum score of 677.

How To Interpret A Good TOEFL Score

The first thing to remember is that a good TOEFL score is the score that you set out to achieve, or the score that you need to fulfil your goals.

If you are taking the TOEFL with a specific goal in mind, such as applying to university or completing a visa application, it is likely that the required score will be specified.

TOEFL score rangeScore Level
100-110Very good

How And When Will I Receive My Score?

Your score for the TOEFL iBT will be available approximately six days after your test date and you will be sent an email when the results are ready.

You can access your score online through your online ETS account or through the TOEFL app and you can print a PDF score report. If you prefer to receive a paper copy of your score report, you will receive your score by mail around 11 days after the test.

If you take the paper-based TOEFL, you will only receive your score by mail.

The following table summarizes how and when you will receive the score report for both types of test:

Type of testType of score reportWhen results become available
Paper-basedPaper score report 3-6 weeks

Paper score report 11 days
Online score report6 days

How long is the test valid for?

Your TOEFL score will remain valid for up to two years before expiring. It’s important to take this into consideration when selecting a test date.

You can request up to four score reports from your TOEFL test that will serve as official proof of your score throughout those two years.

How Can GlobalExam Help You Best Prepare For Your Test?

The TOEFL iBT takes about two hours to complete and tests your English across Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. Preparation for the test is key and to ensure a good TOEFL score, you should focus your preparations on completing TOEFL-style exercises.

GlobalExam offers a whole package of training resources for your preparation designed to help you prepare for the TOEFL. On our learning platform, you can polish areas of English vocabulary and grammar across 390 different grammar and vocabulary study sheets, before applying your knowledge to specific TOEFL training exercises.

As you begin your preparations, take our Assessment Test to evaluate your level in English. This is essential for targeting your training to specific areas of improvement. If you choose our Premium services, you can create custom Study Plans to help guide your preparations towards your goals and timeline. Enjoy as well many tips and sample tests online with answers for your training that we like sharing with you.

As test day comes closer, you can look back on your progress on our Statistics and Corrections module and take up to three graded TOEFL mock exams.

Once you’ve cracked the code of the TOEFL scoring system, there’s nothing stopping you from acing the test and earning a good TOEFL score.

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