What is a good TOEFL score?


What is a good TOEFL score?
Each section of TOEFL is scored out of 30, and the highest score is 120.

In a nutshell, any score that gets you into the university of your choice is a good TOEFL score! There is no such thing as “passing” or “failing” TOEFL. A student can only fail to meet the required TOEFL score they need. 

Of course, pharmacists, nurses, and teachers often have minimum requirements they must meet to practice in their field. In addition, although many dental schools accept students at a lower score, I recommend that dental applicants attempt to get OVER the minimum score, since dental school is competitive.

According to an article in US News and World Report, a TOEFL score of 100 is considered a strong, acceptable score for most US Universities. For example, Cornell, a top university in New York, accepts students at 100. You should always double check with the university’s website.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a candidate must score 22 in reading, 21 in listening, 24 in writing and 26 in speaking. These scores must be achieved on the same test. MyBest Scores are not accepted. Students find the speaking and writing the most difficult aspects of the test.
For more about MyBest scores, watch this short video:

Here are a few interesting facts about scores:

  • Not all universities are strict about scores. Some universities may allow admission if you are under the minimum score requirement, if other aspects of your application stand out.
  • Many schools in the United States do not accept IELTS. TOEFL is still the most popular test for American universities. The pharmacy board does NOT accept IELTS scores.
  • TOEFL scores can vary by department and whether or not you are applying to a graduate program. For example, a person entering his first year of study in a Psychology program will need a different score than someone pursuing a Master’s in Engineering at the same university.
  • Some universities have BOTH required AND recommended scores. If this is the case, it’s better to try to get the recommended score. In that case, if there is a lot of competition, you are more likely to get accepted.
  • To find out what score you need for the university of your choice, simply search for the university’s name and type “required TOEFL score” or “TOEFL requirement” into your search engine.

The chart below shows the proficiency level of a student for each section. This is ETS data.

Reading:  24- 30: ADVANCED
                      18-23:  HIGH INTERMEDIATE 
                      1-17: BEGINNER 
Listening :  22-30:  ADVANCED
                         17-21: HIGH INTERMEDIATE 
                         9-16: LOW INTERMEDIATE 
                         1-8:  BEGINNER 
Speaking:   25-30:  ADVANCED 
                         20-24: HIGH INTERMEDIATE 
                         16-19:  LOW INTERMEDIATE 
                         10-15: BASIC 
                         0-9:  LOW BASIC 
Writing:    24-30:  ADVANCED 
                       18-23:  HIGH INTERMEDIATE 
                       13-17:  LOW INTERMEDIATE 
                       7-12:  BASIC 
                        0-6: LOW BASIC 
This brings me to some comments about the speaking section. A lot of my students get stuck at 23 in speaking. They find it difficult to move up to 24, and even more frustrated if they need 26. This is because, as you can see from this chart, there is a difference between a student who gets 23 and 26 – it’s not just a few random points or luck. Someone who gets 25 or 26 is an ADVANCED speaker. The difference between 25 and 26 CAN be luck—both speakers are advanced– but the difference between 23 and 26 is actually quite a gap in quality of speech. This is the same for the writing. It requires a great deal of patience and practice to move from 23- 26, and perhaps some private tutoring or classes at a local ESL school. 

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