Scoring well on your TOEFL is an essential part of getting into your favorite higher education institutes, especially if you’re an international student. The TOEFL tests your English language skills across four categories and then compiles your raw results into a scaled score. The score is determined from a total of 120 points; 30 each for Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. But what exactly is a ‘good’ TOEFL score? Let’s talk a little more about how each of the components is scored before we discuss ‘good’ scores any further.

TOEFL Automated and Manual Scoring

As far as TOEFL scoring goes, it is done either through an automated process or by people. Scores for the Reading and Listening portions are calculated automatically since they only have one correct answer. For both of these tests, you have to answer either single-answer questions or those with multiple choices. You can score one point for the right answer in single-answer questions and two to three points in multiple-choice questions.

For the Speaking and Writing sections of TOEFL, the scores are determined by people rather than by a computer. For the Speaking test, your voice is recorded and whatever you say is then evaluated by multiple people. They each rate your speaking skills and the resulting average is your raw score for the Speaking test. The Writing section, on the other hand, is scored by both humans and a machine. In this test, your grammar, vocabulary, and organization are evaluated to give you a raw score.

Must Know Facts About TOEFL Scores

So, What’s a Good TOEFL Score?

The best and simplest way to determine a good TOEFL score is to check the requirements of your particular study program. Many universities have very specific minimum scores mentioned that you need to get in order to be eligible to study there. You can look up these minimum scores, take a practice test or two, and see where you stand. This makes it quite a bit easier to prepare for your TOEFL as you can estimate how much you need to improve to get the score you need.

As stated, you get scored out of a possible 120 points for your TOEFL. Many universities will require a score between as low as 70 and as high as 110 for you to be eligible to study there. The score required depends on the university and the program you’re interested in. If you’re applying to just one school, you can obviously just target the minimum score that the school needs. But if you want to keep your options open, you should aim to score as high as possible to allow yourself to apply to multiple universities.

Does It Help To Get a Higher Score Than Needed?

Now, the big question is whether you need to get a higher score than what your university requires or if you can make do with the minimum. In other words, do you need to retake the test as you would in SAT or GRE to get a higher score even if you meet the minimum requirement? In most cases, you don’t need to because your TOEFL score doesn’t hold any further value in your application process than simply showing the university that you possess the required language skills to study there. So, if you couldn’t perform as well as you could on your TOEFL due to any reason and you scored an 80 knowing that you could have easily gotten a 90 if you were at your best, you don’t need to retake the test if your university requires a score of 70. Instead of worrying about that, it’s better to work on the rest of your application that will hold more meaning to the admissions department.

However, in some cases, you actually might need a higher TOEFL score not for your program of choice but rather for some other things. Maybe your university offers on-campus job positions that have their own TOEFL requirements like a higher speaking or writing score than what you have. In such instances, it’s important to check with your university if there are some opportunities like this for which you might need to improve your score.

What’s a Good TOEFL Score According to ETS Performance Levels

On your report card, you will see ETS TOEFL performance levels. These are helpful in assessing where you stand with your language skills but are ultimately not as important as knowing what your university requires. A ‘High’ or ‘Good’ range in the ETS chart is as follows:

TOEFL Section Points
Reading 22-30
Listening: 22-30
Speaking: 26-30
Writing: 24-30

If you want to find out what these numbers mean in terms of a candidate’s language skills, you can take a look at this chart.

How Long Is a TOEFL Score Valid For?

Your TOEFL score will remain valid for two years. It is, therefore, vital that you take the test at a suitable time in your academic life in order to avoid having to retake it. For example, if you’ve just graduated from college and now want to enroll in a university that requires TOEFL as proof of English proficiency, then only take the test if you’re sure that you will be applying to the university right away or at least within the next year. If you are unsure of your financial conditions or any other factors that may have an impact on your ability to start your studies, it’s better to hold off on the test until you’re sure you’re ready to apply. With that said, two years is still a fairly good period to apply to various schools so it shouldn’t be that big of an issue.


So, now that you are quite aware of how your TOEFL will be scored and how much you need to score in order to apply to your favorite universities, book a test date for yourself, build your vocabulary, take some practice tests, and get the test over with so that you can focus on the rest of your application.


We hope that this article on the TOEFL score was helpful. Make sure to also check out our Scholarships Page for different information on scholarships and universities across the globe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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