Tips on TOEFL: Score Requirements

When applying to universities, schools will almost always ask for international students to supply a TOEFL score. Your TOEFL score is proof you are sufficient in English to the point where you can function properly in an academic environment, listen and comprehend all necessary material, as well as work in the realm of business as an English speaker. Many universities provide a TOEFL minimum score on their website; if not, it is advisable for all international students to inquire to the admissions office what their minimum score might be.

Minimum TOEFL Scores by University

ETS has generously released some universities’ minimum TOEFL scores on their website, which are seen through the following Undergraduate examples:

Boston University – College of General Studies, School of Management

  • READING: 25
  • LISTENING: 21
  • SPEAKING: 23
  • WRITING: 22

Columbia International University

  • TOTAL SCORE: 80

Oregon State University

  • TOTAL SCORE: 80, with a minimum of 16 for each section

Syracuse University

  • TOTAL SCORE: 80

University Of Toronto

  • TOTAL SCORE: 100, with a 22 minimum on the WRITING section

You might be surprised to see schools require specific minimums on certain sections. Often times, the speaking and writing sections will have these minimums, as colleges and universities consider both speaking and writing critical to success in their programs. How do you begin to tackle your TOEFL preparation, knowing you might need specific scores on all four sections?

Preparing for the TOEFL

Here is some TOEFL prep advice so you don’t feel too overwhelmed.

Know the Grading System

As you study, keep in mind what the raters are looking for in terms of a good essay and speaking response. What makes an independent essay get the high score of a 5? What can I do in order to make my integrated speaking responses gain the high score of a 4? The better you know how they grade you, the better you will do on test day.

Learn the Point System

In addition to knowing the rating system of speaking and writing responses, get to know what questions are worth their particular number of points. For example, in the reading or listening section, if you are answering a categorizing question where you are asked to place particular words or phrases into a category – how would they grade your answer if you got three out of four categorizations wrong? These are important things to know so you have no surprises on test day.

Study the TOEFL on a Section-by-Section Basis

Occasionally, when you have the time, it’s a great idea to practice all four skills (reading, listening, speaking & writing) all in the same day; however, it’s in your best interest to focus on each of the skills one at a time. For example, take two days in a row and just work on your speaking. Warm up with independent speaking tasks and then move on to the more challenging integrated tasks.

Remember, progress on the TOEFL takes time, so be patient with yourself.

Overall, the first step in your admissions process is to find out your TOEFL score requirement, then plan your studies accordingly.

 
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