Skip to Main Content

How the TOEFL is Scored


Let's look at how the TOEFL is scored. It's not a typical test because the scoring goes up to 120, so this isn't a percentage. A score of 80 is not 80%. It's a bit different. You get 30 points per section maximum.

Remember, there's reading, listening, speaking, and writing. And each of those can be up to 30 points. This is a pretty high score at 96 total and there's a subsection score for each of these. So this is just an example of what your results might look like. What's a good score then?

Well, there's no single easy answer for this question. It depends on on you and the schools you're applying to. Different schools need different scores. But in general, the scores from 80 and higher are considered the good scores. Often schools require 90 or 100, sometimes more, sometimes less. And in some cases, a program might only require 60 or 70.

So again, find out what you need. It's important that you go to the university's programs website to find out the minimum score for them, in particular. We at Magoosh also have a nice image that shows the minimum scores at many colleges and many universities. So if you search Magoosh TOEFL scores, you will find that image in the infographic and you can get a little bit of context about it.

Be careful about the subsection scores because sometimes you might need a speaking score in particular that's over a certain number. Sometimes you need 26 or higher, maybe 27 in the speaking section. So you might get a very high total of 100 or 105 or 10. But if the speaking score is too low, that can cause problems. So search for what your minimum scores on each section are.

Now when you talk about TOEFL scores, many students want to know how to find their score from a test. But that's difficult because there are raw scores and scaled scores. A raw score is similar to the number of questions you get correct. It's like a percentage basically. So let's say you have 35 raw points in a reading section.

That's not the same as a scaled score of a maximum of 30. So they're not exactly the same, you have to convert from raw to scaled. And if you have a multiple answer question in the reading section or the listening section, it's worth more than one point. So if you have a question that has just one answer and you select the correct answer, that might be one raw point for a correct answer.

If you have a question with many answers and you get them correct, it might be two points to have it correct. Again, those are raw points in the reading and listening, and in particular for those multiple answer questions. Speaking and writing are a little bit different, because they're not multiple choice.

Each answer you give in speaking, the raw score is totaled from 0 to 4. Zero is if you don't answer or you don't use English, or if you memorize your answer. Four points is the maximum, so that means because there are four speaking tasks, then the total raw possibility is 16 max. Writing is very similar, except the max score is ten, because you get five points per essay and then those convert to the scaled scores.

Scaling scores is not easy, it depends on the test. So in some cases, for example, you have a slightly easier TOEFL. In that case, getting more answers correct is not so good. It's not so impressive because many people will get more correct. In that case, the higher number in the raw score might be a slightly lower version of the scaled score.

Similarly, if the test is a little more difficult, it might end up with a higher score. So here's an example. Maybe you get 38 raw points in a reading section. And maybe that is 29 points after scaling. You can't do the scaling the same for every version of the TOEFL.

You need to know what specific scale you're going to use and that's why you need a key that shows you what points convert to what scaled scores. And note here that this shows that it's possible to get a perfect score. Let's say you get 39 out of 40 raw points. It's possible to get 30, that is a perfect score. That's because raw and scaled are not the same.

So even if you miss one or two, it is possible that scaling brings it up to a perfect score after the scaling process. Sometimes it brings it up, sometimes it brings it down. It really varies by the test. So you need to have something that tells you how to convert a raw score to a scaled score.

You cannot figure this out yourself. So that's all for TOEFL scoring and we'll talk more about how to hit those high scaled scores in future lessons.

Read full transcript