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TOEFL Scores

Good TOEFL scores for top universities

If you must take the TOEFL as part of your application for admission, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I know if my TOEFL score is good enough for my dream program?”

The answer? It depends. A good TOEFL score is the score that meets (or exceeds) the minimum requirements for the program you want to attend. Each university has a different required or recommended TOEFL score range for each of their programs. Finding out what your dream university considers a top TOEFL score is important both for planning your TOEFL prep and setting your TOEFL score goal.

TOEFL scores infographic

Find out what score you need to get on the TOEFL by consulting our helpful new infographic! This new resource provides the minimum required and/or recommended TOEFL scores for some of the top universities. Check it out!

(Click infographic to open in new page)

toefl_scores_700x4200_1.1


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Did you find your university? If not, you can research a university’s minimum required TOEFL score by visiting their website or contacting their admissions office. :) Also, continue reading for more info about TOEFL score reports!

TOEFL scoring basics

The TOEFL iBT test is broken into four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Each section is worth a maximum of 30 points, for a possible combined score of 120.

The TOEFL is a standardized exam, which means that ETS uses a specific (and secret) calculation to generate your final score. This process of equating scores compensates for the fact that some versions of the TOEFL exam are more difficult than other versions, ultimately making all TOEFL scores directly comparable.

TOEFL score ranking

As you can see from the infographic, different universities – and even different programs within universities – require different scores. This makes ranking TOEFL scores extra challenging.

The important thing to note is that there isn’t one good TOEFL score. Instead, each program has a preferred TOEFL score range. Knowing your program’s preferences can help you plan your TOEFL preparation and allow you to set a personal TOEFL score goal.

And before you go …

Let us know how you like our infographic by leaving a comment below and sharing with your friends! :)

 

About the Author

Rita Kreig has a Master's Degree from UCSD, and has helped students achieve their highest potential on the SAT, ACT, and GRE since 2009. She works as Inbound Marketer at Magoosh, where she loves to analyze spreadsheets. After work, she practices vinyasa yoga and bakes cookies. Follow Rita on Google+ and on Twitter @Rita Kreig!

42 Responses to TOEFL Scores

  1. marius July 12, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Dear Magoosh instructors,
    I am grateful for this infographic and the clarity it contains. I am a French native and recently I’ve taken my first TOEFL test and got my score: 95 (R: 20, L:27, S:23, W: 25).
    Even if I am happy with such a performance, I will have to sit for the test again because I need a score of 100 minimum. I often read your post and like your objective views and tips about the TOEFL. Thanks and keep it up=

    • Rita Kreig
      Rita Kreig July 13, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

      Hello Marius,

      I am so happy to hear that you found the infographic useful, and that you enjoy our blog posts. :) Thank you so much for following the TOEFL blog. Congratulations on your wonderful TOEFL score … you are so close to your goal. Bon courage!

      Rita

  2. Mauricio July 21, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Hello,

    How come Berkeley asks for a 68 on the TOEFL, while other universities are in 100 pts.

    Much regards

    • Rita Kreig
      Rita Kreig July 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Hi Mauricio,

      I was surprised too! :)

      This answer is that it’s difficult to know for sure why Berkeley’s minimum required TOEFL score for graduate admissions is so low compared to other equally impressive universities. But here are some thoughts:

      1) This minimum required TOEFL score is a general one for all graduate admissions at UC Berkeley. I would guess that different programs within UC Berkeley have different preferences, which are likely higher than this general score.

      2) Each university has a different interpretation of a good TOEFL score, which is to say that each university has a different interpretation of the level of English a student would need in order to do well in a class in their program. Some universities put more faith in the TOEFL’s ability to test English skills than other universities do. In fact, a lot of universities (especially in the UK) don’t require TOEFL scores at all, and use other methods of determining whether international students are fluent enough in English to attend.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if I can help answer any other questions you make have.

      Rita

      • Fatemeh September 30, 2014 at 11:23 am #

        Hello

        The minimum TOEFL score required by Berkeley has been increased to 90 points.

        reference: http://grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/requirements/

        Bests

        • Lucas
          Lucas October 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

          Hi Fatemeh,

          You’re right! We’re going to update the infographic as soon as we can. Thanks!

  3. Muhammad Khurram Qureshi July 26, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    Hello. I did gave TOEFL back in 2011 and got 108. I scored well in all the sections except the speaking section where I got a 23. Now I have to retake the TOEFL exam but I definitely want to improve my TOEFL speaking score. The two problems that I faced in the speaking section were as follows:
    1. I am not a natural fluent speaker.
    2. There was too much noise in the test center (Other people were also speaking at the same time).
    Can you please give me some advice on how I could improve my speaking score?
    Many Thanks.

    • Rita Kreig
      Rita Kreig July 28, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Hi Muhammad,

      Thanks for your question! :)

      Many students find the speaking section of the TOEFL to be the most difficult part of the test. It can definitely be a challenge to practice speaking a foreign language on your own. In terms of the two problems you mentioned, there are definitely things you can do to overcome them a bit:

      1) You are not a natural fluent speaker: The TOEFL doesn’t expect you to speak like you are fluent in English. However, the scorers must be able to understand you. This post on Improving your pronunciation for the TOEFL gives you tips for identifying the parts of your English pronunciation that need the most work, as well as strategies for improving your pronunciation. I definitely recommend giving it a read!

      2) The test center was noisy: This is a definite challenge of the TOEFL. Everyone taking the test at the same time is speaking at the same time! It makes it difficult to concentrate. I’d recommend that you play music or have the TV on when you practice TOEFL speaking, so that you get used to ignoring distracting noises. Practice staying focused on your own thoughts, and even write down some notes on paper as you speak so that you remember what you were planning to say, and don’t get thrown off by distracting noises around you. Here is a list of topics you’ll talk about on the TOEFL, to help guide your practice.

      Here are two other blog posts that you might find useful: How to Practice TOEFL Speaking and TOEFL Speaking Practice.

      I hope that you find this advice useful! Good luck retaking the TOEFL. :)
      Rita

  4. alex July 27, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    I did like the infographic , but next time hopefully u guys post a good methods to pass the test successfully

    • Rita Kreig
      Rita Kreig July 28, 2014 at 11:15 am #

      Hi Alex,

      I’m glad you like the infographic, and thanks for the suggestion! :)

      If you’d like some more strategies for passing the TOEFL, please explore some of the other posts on our TOEFL Blog – we write a lot about TOEFL exam strategies each week. We divide the strategies by the different sections of the TOEFL exam: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. If you look at the top menu bar of the blog, you can click on the links and easily navigate to posts that’ll help you learn to pass each section of the test successfully. :)

      Happy Studying!
      Rita

  5. Ciccio August 1, 2014 at 5:17 am #

    Hi guys,
    thanks for the infographic! Very useful!

    Do you have any experiences of people getting their scores before the 10-days? I took the toefl on the 26th of july, and now I’m waiting… but waiting is hard! Will I get an email stating that my scores are ready to consult?

    Thanks!

    • Lucas
      Lucas August 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

      You’re welcome! It generally takes the full 10 days, I’m afraid—sometimes a couple days more. But you will get an email, yes. :-)

    • Maria Denisse August 1, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

      Hey Ciccio,

      I took the test the same day as you did, and I just got my results a couple o hours ago! :)

      Try checking your email

      • kapil August 23, 2014 at 9:09 am #

        What? Did u get your result in 5days ?

  6. Robin Renardi August 10, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Hello, i hope you can help me to give me some important information.
    I want to apply to both UC Berkeley and Stanford.This is what i’m worrying about, actually, Stanford and UC. Berkeley stated that they need 90 in TOEFL IBT as the minimum requirement. However, i got only 91 and right now i’m confused to retake it or not. And from your opinion, is TOEFL a test that need to be scored as high as possible or just fulfill the requirement? But the way, the graph is really helping.

    • Lucas
      Lucas August 11, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Hi Robin. First, congrats on that 91! From my experience, you only need to meet the minimum for most, if not all, schools. Once that minimum is reached, it’s time to focus on other parts of the application. Schools only use the TOEFL to see whether you’ll be able to communicate in English well enough. It’s not a measure of your academic capability, like the rest of your application. So don’t worry about it if you’re a bit close to the minimum! That should be enough. :-) If you want to be certain, though, I recommend emailing the admissions offices at Stanford and Berkeley to see if they value higher TOEFL score in applicants. And I’m glad you like the infographic!

  7. kapil August 22, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

    So you got your results in 5 days ? :O

  8. Frenci September 9, 2014 at 2:43 am #

    Hello,

    What if I get 108 points and the school requires 110 points?

    Do I need to retake the test?

    Thanks

    • Lucas
      Lucas September 12, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      That depends on the program you’re applying to. Email them to ask if the information isn’t on their site. Good luck!

  9. francis September 12, 2014 at 1:11 am #

    Pls am a little bit confuse here, I thought when you reach the minimum score of what the university you applied required you have automatically qualify for the admission to study in your dream school you applied for.

    • Lucas
      Lucas September 12, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      The TOEFL is just a test of your English ability, nothing more. If you reach the minimum score, then a school will consider the other parts of your application. That includes other test scores (like the GRE), your academic history, your recommendations, and your statement of purpose (application essay). An application includes many pieces! But keep in mind that some schools don’t have minimum scores. Some schools look at your TOEFL scores next to the rest of your application, so they have recommended scores but will also value other parts of your application.

  10. Visaradha September 25, 2014 at 2:54 am #

    Hi, My husband has written Ielts for 4 times till now for the migration purpose to Australia, but unfortunately he could not get the required band 7 score….Later when he heard about the news that the Australian people will accept Toefl scores for skilled migration from November 2014, he gave an attempt this month and he received his scores today…R-28, L-30,W-24,S-29…but everything in the score is ok as compared to band 7 ielts but when it came to writing part it is 24 where it is not equal to band 7 Ielts…..now my question is that can my husband take an other exam next month and produce those scores or after giving another attempt if the scores are less than the previous scores, can he give produce the previous scores to australian government as the scores are valid till 2 years…
    Does any one of you have any idea of confirmation acceptance of Toefl scores for skilled migration from November 2014.

    Thanks in advance

    • Lucas
      Lucas September 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear it’s been so tough to get past the IELTS requirement! I don’t know much about Australian immigration policy, but I do know how ETS sends scores. When you take the TOEFL, you have the opportunity to choose four institutions to send scores to. Those are free. The institution will only receive the scores from that test date. You can order score reports later, too, but it costs 19 dollars. And yes, you can choose which date’s scores to send.

      So if your husband takes the test again, he can choose which test date to send the scores of, but only if he orders the reports later, not with the free reports on test day. However, I think the Australian government will only consider the test date with the highest scores (you cannot choose individual sections from different dates, though). If that’s the case, then he should just send his scores for free every time he takes the test. I’m not sure about their policies, though, since I’m not an expert on immigration, so you should research that to be sure.

  11. Harsh October 4, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    I want to know how is the scoring for reading and listening sections based. Is it based on the percentile system. For example, if I am 100 percentile so my score is 30/30, if I’m 95 percentile so my score can be 29/30 etc.
    Or is the score based on the number of correct questions. Like if I marked 21/42 correct so proportionally I get 15/30.
    Thank you.

    • Lucas
      Lucas October 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      The TOEFL is a standardized test, which means that the scoring is standardized across versions of the test. So if you take the TOEFL in November and another TOEFL in December, you will see two different tests. It’s possible that one test was slightly more difficult or slightly easier than the other test. So the scores are not perfectly correlated from raw to scaled. 75% correct on one test might give a different score than 75% on another test. Percentiles are a better way to compare, but they’re also not correlated so simply. The only way to get a scaled test score is to use a conversion table that is specific to the practice test. There is no way to convert perfectly for ALL versions of the test.

      You can get a rough idea from this blog post, though. Just keep in mind it is only for estimation.

  12. M October 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    Hello, Lucas. I’m worrying about my TOEFL scores, hope you can help me. Last December I got 97 /120 (R25 L25 S23 W24) but some schools require 100/120. So I retook the test last month and ordered ETS to send score to my targeted school because I didn’t think that my score would get lower and I didn’t want to pay additional $19/school later. Unfortunately, my score has dropped to 90/120 (R22 L21 S22 W25). So I’m worrying that even I send my 97/120 score to these school, will they think that my score decreases? Or they’ll just consider only my best score?
    Finally, if my score is slightly less than 100, will I have any chance for conditional offer? Retaking is so exhaustive, and expensive. Thanks!

    • Lucas
      Lucas October 13, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      I know what you mean about retaking being exhaustive. Studying again, paying again, and taking the test again is not something you want to take lightly. How schools view your scores varies by the program and department, so I can’t say for certain how they will judge your two scores that you sent. From my experience, they usually look only at the higher score, as long as it’s still valid (yours is, since it’s from fairly recently). But you should email them to check if you’re not sure.

      As for conditional acceptance, that depends entirely on the school. Some will offer it, some will not. Again, you’ll have to email them to find out for certain.

  13. pushkar patil October 24, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Hello, sir/mam,

    I am graduate student from University Of Pune India in Engg. Stream. Recently, i gave toefl exam and i got 73 marks. I am seeking for study in germany for M.S. So, is this valid score for application? And what is minimum criteria for application? Or Should i repeat the toefl exam?
    And if my marks drops then can i apply on basis of old marks?

    Thanking you

    • Lucas
      Lucas October 28, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      I wish I could be of more help, but that’s a question for the programs that you’re applying to! Contact them if you’re unsure of their requirements. I can tell you, though, that you can choose to send any specific set of scores to schools. You can choose before you take the test for free, or after you see the score for a price. Good luck!

  14. Sarah October 27, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    Hi Lucas, do you know what is the average TOEFL score for students studying in Washington University in St. Louis? I got a 99 (R23 L27 S24 W25) for the 10/17 test and I am worried that the score is too low for applying to the school. Thank you!

    • Lucas
      Lucas October 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      I’m afraid I don’t, but a 99 is a very good score and is enough for many schools! If you can’t find the information on Washington University’s website, try emailing them. :-)

  15. Rohan October 28, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    Dear instructor,
    Thank you for the wonderful infographic.it was really helpful. I gave my first toefl recently and scored 95(r:20,l:28,s:23,w:24).your blog has helped me a lot.I wanted to ask that is this score decent or should I retake the test.

    • Lucas
      Lucas November 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      That depends on where you’re applying to! Some schools require 100 or higher—if you’re applying to a school with a high minimum like that, you might need to retake the test. But some only require 80 or even less. Look into the programs that you’re interested in to find out. :-)

  16. Gabo November 2, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    Hello Lucas! I would like to ask you about a doubt that I have. I took the TOEFL test two times and I had two different results: in one I have 95 (21R 28L 22S 24W) and in the other 102 (29R 29L 18S 26W). By the total score, I could choose the second option; however I am very worry about the 18S, because I’m interested in apply for a TA fellowship. Because of this, what should I choose?

    Great post! Thanks for all!

    • Lucas
      Lucas November 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      Email the school to check their requirements for TA positions, first. Check if they have a minimum speaking score. Most likely, you will want to submit both scores so the school knows you’re capable of getting that higher speaking score.

  17. Big B November 18, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    Hey, I just wanted to note that it’s not entirely accurate to say that Princeton requires a 28 in the speaking section for graduates. What they say is that if you don’t score 28 you’ll have to take a placement test, and if you don’t pass it you’ll have to take English classes.

    In fact, Princeton doesn’t have a minimum score for graduate studies at all! It’s rather each department which is in charge of setting their minimum score bars. So, for instance, your department might be willing to take you in with an 18 speaking score. All that means is that you’ll be forced to take the classes.

    I’m applying for a PhD in Philosophy in the US, and no department has asked me a score higher than 100. Hoewever, most ask for a 23 in speaking.

    Yet, there is an explanation for Princeton’s 28 mark: In every university I’m applying for if you want to get a teaching assitantship you have to score 28 in the speaking section or else enrol in speaking classes, regardless of the department’s minimum. This is a legal requirement. So Princeton’s benchmark is simply the standard one everyone uses for the purposes of teaching assistantships, and it’s better to understand it as such rather than as a blanket minimum.

    (And I did get a 28 in speaking. And a 118 overall. Without tutoring and only 3 days of preparation with ETS’s book! But then again, I’ve been in the UK for 4 years, and I’ve been learning English for 16 years…)

    • Lucas
      Lucas November 18, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      Thanks for your input! You’re right that there is no minimum for Princeton—that’s why the picture next to the score is a thumbs-up sign, which is meant to show that the score is recommended, but not required. On an old version of Princeton’s site, they said this:

      “To provide guidance the following information may be useful. Over the last two admission seasons the average iBT TOEFL combined score for admitted students was 108, with the following average sub-scores: Listening 28, Reading 29, Speaking 24, and Writing 27. Furthermore, data from the University’s English Language Program indicates that of newly enrolling internationals students, those who score below 20 on the Speaking subsection of iBT TOEFL are virtually certain to have to take an English language course during their first year of graduate study to bring their spoken proficiency up to a minimum standard.”

      An average score is definitely not a requirement, but it establishes a clear goal for students who are applying, so we thought it was useful. :-) And you’re right about conditional enrollment. That is true for many schools with “recommended” scores in the list, but there is not always clear information on conditional enrollment and the details vary greatly between schools, so it was hard to include in the list.

      As for the speaking requirement, you’re right that it refers to a T.A. requirement. That should not be listed as a recommendation in general, because T.A. requirements are not listed in this chart. We’ll fix that as soon as we can! But by the way, to my knowledge, a speaking score of 28 is not a legal requirement for T.A. funding. Many schools ask for lower scores. (I usually hear 24 or 26, to be honest, so I was surprised that so many schools you’ve applied to required 28! That’s good to know.)

      And of course, I should say congratulations on that extremely high score! I’m sure that will make the admissions process much easier for you. Even if you have been in the UK for a few years, that’s an accomplishment that you should absolutely be proud of. :-)

      Thanks again for chiming in!

      • Big B November 19, 2014 at 1:52 am #

        Oh yes, silly me. I didn’t notice the distinction between recommended scores and required scores in your chart.

        Whoa, the average for Princeton is pretty, pretty high. Particularly in the reading section, so I expect most international applicants will also have a high verbal GRE.

        And have you checked Columbia’s graduate school of journalism’s recommended score? They want you to have at least a 114!

        I’m not entilrely sure whether the 28 is a legal requirement, but I guess that by setting the score within that range they’re guaranteeing that they’re indeed fulfilling the requirement.

        Well, I wish it were the kind of thing to help my application! I also got a perfect score in the verbal GRE and a 5.5 in the writing section (and no one in Philosophy cares about maths unless you did horrendously bad or you want to do mathematical logic.) Of course, this is a good thing. But Philosophy departments are very wary of standardised tests. And it’s not unusual for Philosophy majors to score above the 90th percentile.

        The most a good score will do for you is to get them to read your writing sample carefully, but the decisive factor is by far the sample, followed in importance by your recommendations and then your grades.

        However, I do hope that they look positively on the fact that I got those scores despite being a non-native speakers, and one thing they do help with a lot is if you want to get university fellowships.

        • Lucas
          Lucas November 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

          A perfect score on GRE verbal! That’s impressive. Congrats on that.

          You’re right that Princeton’s expectations are extremely high. They can afford to be picky, because they’re such a highly regarded school (as is true of Columbia). But of course, it all depends on what you’re studying—I suspect the journalism department at Columbia has higher expectations than do other programs at the same university, simply because journalism requires a near-native command of English.

          I agree that academic history and recommendations are, particularly in your case, more important than the TOEFL score, but for some students it’s the other way around, since low enough TOEFL scores can preclude the possibility of admission to many programs. In any case, I’m certain those high scores will help you along the way. :-) You’re in a great position! Good luck in your applications.

  18. B. December 2, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Hi,what if our on line score is not received by the institute on the date we indicated? It’s not exactly a deadline. Do they normally consider this delay ,as it is not our fault because the test centre gives us approximately 2 weeks to send our score to the selected recipients? Now how shall one decide on the approximate date to indicate?

    • Lucas
      Lucas December 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      Ideally, you will take the test more than two weeks before your application deadline to avoid this issue. If you have to take the test so close to the deadline, then after taking it, reach out to the admissions offices at the programs you’re applying to and let them know that you expect the test results will be there before the deadline, but you are afraid of a delay caused by ETS. Most schools are forgiving if a test score is a day late, but sometimes they are not. Communicating with them just a little bit is a good idea.


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