Understand The TOEFL Scoring Scheme

How Can you Compare the Scores of TOEFL with Those of Other Tests

Why is TOEFL Score Comparison Needed?

Primarily, the task of score comparison belongs to the personnel who handle the admission process. Admission officers should carefully analyze scores to ensure that skilled candidates are selected. A candidate's total score does not reveal the overall picture of his or her language proficiency skills. For example, a candidate's total score might be high because of his or her good performance in the writing and speaking sections; his or her scores might be low in the reading and the listening sections. So, what if this sort of candidate is selected by the admission personnel? He or she may struggle to cope with academic writing and he or she may find it difficult to participate in class discussions and academic debates. Hence, admission personnel also carefully look at candidates sub scores.

Since comparing scores is the job of admission officers, why should test-takers care about it? The answer is simple: candidates should care about the score comparison to improve their performance in all the tested skills. In other words, candidates should try to score as high as possible in all the sections of the test.

TOEFL Formats

If test-takers look through the official website (www.ets.org), they find that TOEFL was available in three formats: Internet-based Test (iBT), Paper-based Test (PBT), and Computer-based Test (CBT). Currently, the TOEFL iBT has replaced the TOEFL CBT. The testing format of the TOEFL iBT and the TOEFL PBT formats differ. The paper-based test does not test the speaking skill. The testing of writing skill differs significantly between the two formats. Hence, the score comparison becomes difficult. In spite of this, ETS provides comparison tables for the tests. Links have been provided to the appropriate webpages at the end of this article.


IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is another popular standardized test for testing English-language proficiency. More than 6000 institutions accept these scores. Some institutions may accept both TOEFL and IELTS scores. In such circumstances, institutions need guidelines to do score comparison between the two tests . They can be compared because both test a candidate's proficiency in speaking, reading, listening and writing in English language. Guidelines are required because both tests follow a different testing format and scoring process. Hence, ETS has conducted research in this field and has prepared research reports. ETS has also developed a score comparison tool for the benefit of the academic institutions. This tool converts a test-taker's IELTS scores to TOEFL scores. Note that there are two versions of the IELTS: the academic version and the general training version; ETS's score comparison tool merely considers the scores of the IELTS academic version. Note also that the tool does not convert the scores of the TOEFL PBT. ETS (Educational Testing Service) is responsible for creating and administering TOEFL. By conducting research and by developing a conversion tool it is persuading those institutions that accept IELTS scores to rely on TOEFL as well.

IELTS follows band score method. In the IELTS academic version, a candidate can obtain the highest score of 9; this would be equal to 120 which is the highest score that a candidate can obtain in the TOEFL iBT. If a test-taker's IELTS score is 6.5, his or her TOEFL iBT score falls within the range of 79-93; if he or she scores 7 on IELTS, his or her TOEFL scores can be calculated between 94-101.

Useful Links

Use the links given below to refer to the comparison charts and the comparison tables.

TOEFL score comparison tool: http://www.ets.org/toefl/institutions/scores/compare

Frequently asked questions about the score comparison: http://www.ets.org/toefl/institutions/scores/compare/faq