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TOEFL Tuesday: What’s a good TOEFL score for you?

Announcement! As of August 1, 2019, the TOEFL Reading, Listening and Speaking sections will be shortened. The TOEFL will also make changes to its prep materials and scoring system. Because of this, some of the info in our blog posts may not yet reflect the new exam format. We cover all the changes here.

Happy Tuesday! Enjoy this week’s video post. 🙂

What’s a good TOEFL score?

This question is both very common and very difficult to answer simply. But let’s consider it anyway!

The short answer is, “It varies.” The scores you need depend heavily on which schools you are applying to. That means you’ll have to do some research on the schools you’re interested in and find out what they recommend or require (most programs advertise this on their admissions websites). The most commonly required scores for graduate school are 80+, 90+, and 100+ out of the possible 120-point maximum. But there are also sub-section requirements at many schools: a school might require, for example, a 23 (out of 30) in the reading, a 24 in the listening, etc. So a lopsided score of 100 that includes a 30 on the reading and a 19 on the listening might not be a good score, because the listening might be below the requirement.

That’s especially true of the speaking section. Even if admissions does not depend on an extremely high speaking score, many schools require that applicants for a teaching assistantship (TA) position have a speaking section of 25+, 26+, or even 28+. So be careful when looking at the requirements to find if there’s any reason you need to hit a specific speaking score!

But there is one important caveat to all of this. At some programs, you might be offered conditional acceptance even with a TOEFL score that’s lower than the recommendation. “Conditional acceptance” means that the school accepts you with the condition that you take extra English classes, pass another English test by a certain date, or possible prove your English skills in a different way. This is not extremely common, but it does happen, so investigate the possibility if your TOEFL scores are lower than what’s required.

If the school you’d like to attend doesn’t offer conditional acceptance, and your TOEFL scores don’t meet the school’s requirements, you should consider taking the test again. This article can help you decide whether it’s worth it for you to retake the TOEFL. If you do decide to take it again, make sure you do before you take it!

And on one final note, if you have already scored above the required or recommended scores for the programs that you’re applying to, then don’t worry about getting a still higher score! There are more important parts of your application. A higher TOEFL score can help you, but mostly, schools just want to know that you’re capable enough of communicating. Once you pass the minimum scores, you’ll need to prove yourself with the other parts of your application, such as GRE/GMAT/SAT scores, academic history, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, etc. That said, a higher TOEFL score is always a benefit. But you have to decide what part of your application is more important.

Happy Tuesday!


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