Choosing Schools Before Your TOEFL: Sending Scores for Free
When you register for the TOEFL, you have the option to choose four schools to send your scores for free. You don’t have to choose the schools immediately, though. You have until the day before your TOEFL to add schools to the list or to take schools off the list.
But here is an important detail. After 10 p.m. the day before your test, any schools you chose on the ETS website will definitely get your TOEFL scores. You don’t have any control after the test is finished. Imagine if you got 95 on the TOEFL, but you needed 100. You might not want to send that score to all the schools you’re applying to, because you might want to retake the test and only send higher scores.
Usually, this doesn’t matter too much. If you get a higher score on a later test, schools only care about that score. But what if you take the test a second time, and actually score lower, only a 90? This is not common, but it happens. Then, if you selected four schools to send scores to for free, you would again send them that lower score. After you take the test, you cannot cancel the scores you choose or change which schools you send them to.
Choosing Schools After Your TOEFL: $19 per report
Imagine that same situation, except you didn’t choose any schools to send scores to for free. Let’s imagine you scored the 95 in May and the 90 in June. Then, in July, you are going to choose schools that will get your scores. In that case, you can choose to send only the scores from your May test date, the 95. The universities you apply to will not see the lower score from June.
This sounds like a good idea, right? For many students, it is, but it can be expensive. You have to pay $19 for every score report you send after you have taken the test. So this choice gives you more control, but you have to pay more money.
So if you are very unsure of what your TOEFL scores will be, and you don’t mind paying extra money, I recommend not choosing schools for free score reports before your test. You can wait to see your score, and then pay to send the scores only if they are high enough.
But again, if you cannot spend the extra money, don’t worry: usually, students who take the test twice or more times score higher on the later tests. And schools care more about more recent, higher scores than they do about earlier scores. After all, students’ English can improve over time!