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How the TOEFL is Scored
Let’s look at how the total 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 is a subsection score for each of these. So this is just an example of what your results might look like. What is a good score then? Well, there’s no single easy answer for this question. It depends on you and the schools that you are applying to.
Different schools need different scores. But in general, the scores from 80 and higher are considered like 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 or programs’s website 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, many universities. So if you search Magoosh TOEFL scores, you will find that image that infographic and that can give you a little bit of context.
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 or 27 or higher on the speaking section, specifically. So, you might get a very high total of 100 or 105 of 110. But if you’re 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 a bit 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.
But so let’s say, you have 45 raw points in a reading sections, that’s not the same as the scaled score of a maximum of 30. So they’re not exactly the same, you have to convert from raw to scaled. If you do 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. But again, those are raw points and the reading and listening, in particular, for these multiple answer questions.
Speaking and writing are a little different, because they’re not multiple choice. Each answer you give in speaking, the raw score is totaled from zero to four. Zero is if you don’t answer or you don’t use English, or you memorize your answer. Four points is the maximum. So that means, because there are 6 speaking tasks, then the total raw possibility is 24 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 bit more difficult, it might be a higher score. So, here’s an example.
Maybe you get 42 raw points in a reading section, maybe that is 29 points after the scaling. You can’t do this 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 score. And note here that this shows that it’s possible to get a perfect score.
Let’s say, you had 43 out of 45 raw points. It’s possible to get a 30 that is a perfect score, that’s because raw and scaled are not the same. So even if you miss two, it’s possible that the scaling brings it up to a perfect score after the scaling process. Sometimes it brings it up, sometimes it brings it down.
It varies by the test. So you need to have something that tells you how to convert a scaled score of 43 or 42 or 41, a raw score. How to convert that to scaled? 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.
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