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How is the TOEFL Scored?

The TOEFL iBT is scored on a scale of 0-120. The Reading and Listening sections, in which every question has exactly one correct answer, are scored by computer. The Writing and Speaking sections, on the other hand, have to be scored by hand. Each of the four sections of the TOEFL is worth 30 points total, but exactly how your score is calculated depends on the section.

Scoring the Reading and Listening Sections

The Reading and Listening sections are the easiest to score. A computer will determine the number of points you received, and then your score will be calculated on a scale of 0-30 for each section. It’s that simple. (Magoosh does the same thing for our online practice TOEFLs.)

Scoring the Writing and Speaking Sections

The writing and speaking sections are a little more involved. Each response will be reviewed by at least two trained ETS graders, who will independently score your response on a scale of 0-4. If their scores differ by more than one point (i.e. if one of them gives you a 3 and the other a 1, for example), then a third grader will review your test. All the graders’ scores are averaged together to give you one score from 0-4, which is then converted to the standardized 30-point scale.

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What’s up with this 30-point system?

The scoring system that ETS uses may seem unnecessarily complicated, but it’s designed the way it is because there are so many versions of the TOEFL. The number of points possible on one test may differ slightly from those on another test. The first step that ETS has to do to give you a standardized score is to scale these scores by converting each possible score to a standardized score. On the TOEFL, of course, all scores are converted to a scale of 0-120.

There’s one more problem with scoring the test: although ETS does a pretty good job of writing tests that are fairly similar in difficulty, they can’t do this perfectly. Your raw score, or the mere number of points you receive on the test, would be perfectly fine if everyone in the world took the exact same test you took. But since your version of the test may have been harder or easier than other people’s, ETS equates the score, or converts it to a new score that compensates for these differences. I can’t tell you exactly how this happens, but we have to trust ETS that they know what they’re doing.

ETS is constantly doing research to be sure that their scaling and equating algorithms create fair scores. It’s partly due to this that the TOEFL contains experimental sections, or sections of the test that are not scored, but are administered for research purposes and to test out new questions and eliminate problems in them.

Getting your Score Report

Score reports are available online about ten days after you take the test, and the official score reports your institution probably requires are mailed a little bit later, about 13 days after you take the test. So in all, it will be about three weeks after you take the test when your institution actually receives your score report. You can read more about how to send your scores to universities in this post.

Wondering if your TOEFL score is good enough? This infographic can help.

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36 Responses to How is the TOEFL Scored?

  1. yolanda niell September 30, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I am teaching the TOEFL course at a university.
    I need to have a score conversion chart for exams with 70 questions…Could you give me any idea on where to find it?
    Thanks
    Yolanda

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas October 6, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Hi Yolanda,

      Because the TOEFL is standardized, different versions of the test scale differently from raw to scaled scores (because some tests are slightly harder than others). This blog post will give you a rough guideline for estimating scores based on percentage, but for a specific, concrete score, you would need a conversion chart for the specific practice test you’re referencing. By the way, the TOEFL reading section has no more than 56 questions and the listening section no more than 51, so I’m a bit skeptical about any test that has 70 questions within a section. You might want to be sure the quality of the material is good enough.

  2. Kim October 27, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    Hi,
    I have a question here. Sample “high level response” were offered in the ETS Toefl Official guide practice test reading section, and if you are to grade it, how much would you give it out of 30, in accordance to the standard grading toefl grading system?
    Thx!

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas October 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      You may be referring to either the speaking section or the writing section—not the reading section—but I think it’s probably the speaking section you’re talking about, because the writing samples are all labelled by their scores (from 1 to 5). Speaking responses are graded from 0 to 4, individually. In order to get the score from 0 to 30, you would need responses from all 6 tasks and a conversion table. The high-level responses from the OG are all 4-point responses. If you gave answers on that level for every question, you would receive a score of 28-30 points (theoretically, just 30, but there is some variance in scorers’ reactions to responses, so a lower score is possible).

  3. David Oyewole October 31, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    My son scores total 91 in his TOEFL result. Reading 24, Listening 24, Spaeking 20 and writing 23. I am asked to provide his grade in 4.0 scale for a scholarship scheme. What is his GPA to a 4.0 scale.?

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas November 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      GPA is unrelated to the TOEFL—it is a measurement of grades from school, not from the test. I’m not sure what grading system your country uses, but you will want to look for a conversion from your son’s average grades in school to the GPA scale.

  4. Mustafa May 4, 2015 at 4:20 am #

    Useful blog. Thank you.

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas May 4, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

      I’m glad we’ve been able to help!

  5. Diannah Anne Zendon June 23, 2015 at 2:04 am #

    Sir sir! I took my TOEFL exam last June 13,2015 Cebu City, Philippines. 26/30 is the passing grade. only got 24/30 in the speaking category, however my indivual scores were good (task 1 & 2); fair (3 & 5) & good (4 & 6). How is that even possible?

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas Fink June 23, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      It sounds like your scores were probably something like this:
      – tasks 1 and 2: 3 & 4
      – tasks 3 and 5: 2 & 3
      – tasks 4 and 6: 3 & 4

      Each score is from 0 to 4.

      That makes the average for tasks 1 and 2 a score of 3.5, which is “good” in ETS’s grading. Similarly, the average for tasks 3 and 5 is a score of 2.5 (a “fair” score), and the average for 4 and 6 is a score of 3.5 (a “good” score).

      At the same time, those scores make a total of 3 + 4 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 = 19, and the overall average score 19/6 = 3.17. And that, when put in the scale to 30, is a score of 24. You can see the conversion from average score to scaled score here: http://www.etweb.fju.edu.tw/elite/ETS%20-%20ibt%20TOEFL%20Converting_Rubric.pdf

      Bear in mind that 24 is actually a good score! Your goal may be a bit higher, but 24 is a sign that you are already a skilled English speaker. And you can improve more to reach that 26! Keep practicing and learning. 🙂

      • fady October 25, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

        hi
        is it possible by rescoring 24 could be increased to 26 especially when detailed score is good, good, fair

        i need your help

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 25, 2016 at 3:29 pm #

          A rescore just might be able to boost your score by a couple of points in a section. But there’s no guarantee, of course. If you give a rescore a try, be prepared to possibly do a retake if need be.

  6. Rohan Patel October 6, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    Hello

    If I want a score of 27/30 in reading section and assuming I get 39 questions how many questions out of 39 do I have to answer correctly ?

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas Fink October 12, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

      That’s a good question, but the answer isn’t very simple. Because the TOEFL is a standardized test, different versions of it have different score conversions. So answering 36/39 correction on one test might give you the same score as 34/39 on another test, depending on how difficult the different tests were. Also, keep in mind that some questions are worth more points than others. There will be a total of 45 raw points on a TOEFL. To get a 27, you would probably have to get 36-39 of those raw points. You can estimate a rough score here. 🙂

  7. Ale December 5, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Hi there,

    I took my TOEFL exam last week and would very much appreciate your help.
    I wish to know what is the impact of my being cut in the middle of a sentence on a speaking section. I believe I did pretty well, however, I would get interrupted in the middle of a sentence. It is to be said that my answers were quite good prior to “beeps”.

    Thanks

    • David Recine
      David Recine December 8, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

      Hi Ale,

      If your answer was pretty much complete when you got interrupted, the effect on your score is usually fairly fairly small. Sometimes it’s even possible to be cut off mid-sentence and still get full points, if your answer was excellent overall.

      Of course, there’s no way to know exactly how the TOEFL scorers will react to your running out of time mid-sentence until you see your actual score report. This can be stressful I know. While you wait, though, think carefully about how you did overall, and look at the official TOEFL Speaking Score Rubrics: https://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/TOEFL/pdf/Speaking_Rubrics.pdf . This can help you get a feel for how you probably did.

  8. Jacques Atangana January 25, 2016 at 3:09 am #

    Dear Lucas,
    the unversity I applied for requests a minimum TOEFL score of 505. I am puzzled, since the overall score is supposed to be 120. I look forward to reading from you:
    Best regards.
    Jacques

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel Wisuri January 25, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

      Hi Jacques!

      That university might be referencing TOEFL PBT (not iBT) scores (https://www.ets.org/toefl/pbt/scores/understand/). The PBT is scored out of 677 points. I’d suggest emailing the university directly to get more information!

  9. armando February 23, 2016 at 5:19 am #

    Hi, my name is Armando and I got 150 total score and Essay Rating 3.5. I did it in 2000. Was it a good score. Is it already expired, so I have to do it again?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 30, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

      Hi Armando,

      I’m sorry this reply has come so late! I hope it can help you, or other students like you. 🙂

      TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date, so unfortunately you will have to do it again. The TOEFL iBT, which most students are required to take now, was launched in 2005, so your test from 2000 isn’t even the most current method of testing.

      I hope you were able to prepare and do well on a new TOEFL! 🙂

  10. Mauri April 5, 2016 at 5:45 am #

    Hi, I had a low score, 41, but it seems a bit strange to me the different scores I had: reading 11, listening 2, speaking 12 and writing 16…I can’t believe about my listening score…2… Do you suggest something to me? Could I ask for a new rescore also for my listening section? How can I do that? Thanks for your answer

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 5, 2016 at 10:39 am #

      Hi Mauri. Reading and listening can’t be re-scored, because those sections are multiple choice and machine graded. Multiple choice grading errors are very rare, but such a thing is not impossible. If you think there may have been a mistake, check with TOEFL customer service to see if your Listening score can be double-checked for computer error.

      Another possibility is that you may have made some errors in multiple choice strategy– often when I talk to students who expected a much higher score in Reading and Listening, their techniques for selecting the right answer were in error. This is especially likely to happen if you happen to get a set of Listening tracks and questions that are trickier than the ones you did in practice.

  11. milad April 29, 2016 at 2:00 am #

    Hi, I want to ask about listening and reading scores. Although I know these scores are measured by computer but I wanna know whit how many correct answers I can recieve score 21 in listening and 23 in reading

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 30, 2016 at 9:27 am #

      As Kate mentioned, your raw score on TOEFL Reading and Listening will be adjusted based on the difficulty of the unique mix of questions you get. So there’s no way to be 100% sure of what score you’d get on the real exam, just based on self-scoring. The good news is that your raw score is usually very close to the scaled score ETS would give you on the actual test.

      To convert your raw score into the 30 point scale, you need to look at the percentage of answers you got right. 21/30 = 70%, so if you get at least 70% of the answers right in TOEFL Listening, you’ll have the score you need. And 23/30 = roughly 77%– so in Reading you need to get 77% or more of the answers right to reach/go over your minimum target score.

  12. saroj lakai June 16, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

    Actually i am confused about my speaking and writing as in speaking i spoke simply and not much vocabullary and for one question i din’t get time to give conclusion. In writing i do well and used a good vocabulary and in one word there is douled spaced and in second question its alittle bit out of question…..i want you to simply guess my score in these. thankyou

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 18, 2016 at 3:18 am #

      Hi Saroj,

      Unfortunately, there is not a good way to estimate a score for you based on this. I would encourage you to look at the TOEFL writing rubrics and speaking rubrics. You can use these to better assess the overall quality of your speaking and writing. 🙂

      Using simple language and not concluding your speaking or writing can be detrimental to your score, but how detrimental it is depends on the organization of the language and the contents, both of which I cannot assess here for you but you definitely know about! The double spacing in a word is no problem, but not properly answering the exact question in the writing section (or the speaking section) is definitely problematic.

      I hope that helps a little! 🙂

  13. Jovana June 22, 2016 at 6:56 am #

    Hello,

    I took the TOEFL test few weeks ago and I received my scores today. I am not satisfied with my scores at all (total 63; reading 3; listening 21; speaking 22; writing 17). I am really surprised with my reading score since I am pretty sure I did good on most of the questions. Though, I ran out of time not so soon after I read the second text which leaves me with at least 15 questions unanswered. I remember turning back and seeing the others having at least 20 minutes left. Is this a computer error or what? And I am planning to retake the test few days fro now, what should I do to improve my reading skills?
    Looking forward to hearing from you 🙂

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 23, 2016 at 1:49 am #

      Hi Jovana,

      If you check out the TOEFL Test Content page you can see that the reading section is anywhere from 60–80 minutes and 36–56 questions, so if we assume the people around you who had 20 minutes left had a longer test section than you, that explains it. If you are really sure something wasn’t right with your test, you can contact ETS and ask if there are any testing irregularities, though this is the type of complaint you would have been better off raising at the test center that day if you suspected something.

      Now, let’s talk about your reading score. If you did not answer an entire passage’s worth of questions, I am not surprised that your reading score ended up so low. If we assume you answered half of the questions and got all of them correct, we would expect your score to be around 9-10. If there are any mistakes in the answers you provided, then it progresses down from there, unfortunately.

      I am not sure whether you ran out of time on the reading section because of reading skills or something else–I can’t quite tell from your message. Can you share a bit more about what part of reading you find difficult? There’s a large range of advice possible to give you and I don’t want to give you the wrong advice! 🙂

      • Jovana June 23, 2016 at 9:22 am #

        Basically I am not that fluent in English since it’s not my native language. The hardest part for me was to find the right answer to the question.

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 29, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

          It can be frustrating when your English fluency isn’t where you need it to be. And fluency can definitely affect your TOEFL performance. But finding the right answers in TOEFL Reading and Listening is also a matter of test strategy. And often, if you can improve your test strategy, you can really boost your TOEFL score, even if your fluency doesn’t dramatically improve by test day. I’d suggest looking at your strategies while you also work to improve your English. Figure out ways to eliminate wrong answer choices. Work to understand how the TOEFL is structured, work on you pacing skills, and so on. These test-specific skills can be just as important as language ability!

  14. Sanjay Vermani August 15, 2016 at 10:06 am #

    i have given toefl and my scores are as follows
    Reading 26
    Listening 26
    Speaking 26
    Writing 24
    total 102

    please guide me if it is a good score ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 16, 2016 at 4:04 am #

      Hi Sanjay! This is a great score! 🙂 Congratulations! The ultimate deciding factor should be the scores expected by the universities you want to attend, but a 102 with quite even distribution on points overall should be a great start. 🙂

  15. Sweetha November 29, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Hi Magoosh GRE & TOEFL Team,
    I recently gave my GRE & TOEFL. I scored decently in GRE (310)& Toefl (105).I really want to thank you for all the blog posts about the exams because they played a major role in my preparation. When ever I had any question about these exams, I found my answers in your blogs. Unfortunately, I could not sign up for the classes in Magoosh, as I couldn’t afford it right now. I did self-study with only ETS books,some public library books and magoosh free resources. So I consider my preparation a success , and your website has been a tremendous help ! Thank you again.

    -Sweetha S

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 29, 2016 at 9:52 am #

      Hi Sweetha,

      What a great story! (And what impressive scores! 🙂 ) One of the reasons we have the blogs is that we like to provide a good range of free resources along with our priced ones. It always does my heart good to hear that a student is able to use our free blog content to keep their prep affordable. Congratulations on your TOEFL/GRE prep experience. And thank you so much for making Magoosh a part of your success. 🙂

  16. camila December 2, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

    Hello, I have a problem, I need a minimum of 18 (reading) 17 (listening) 20 (speaking) 17 (writing) I took the exam today, and I was wondering how many questions should I have correctly in the reading and listening sections to reach these scores? I had 56 questions in reading, how many questions approximately should I have answered correctly to score the 18 in reading? I know that the scores aren’t always the same but approximately how would be the score? Thanks

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 3, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      The maximum score you can get in the TOEFL Reading section is 30. 18 is 60% of 30. This means you need to get 60% of your 56 questions right. In other words, you need to answer at least 34 questions correctly.

      To make these calculations yourself for the Listening section, just follow the logic I showed you for calculating your TOEFL Reading target score. If you need a little bit more explanation on how the math here works, check out our post “How to Predict Your TOEFL Score: The Math.”


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