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When you apply to college in an English-speaking country such as the U.S., the U.K. or Australia, you may have to prove that you speak English well enough to keep up with coursework. Taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a great way to do that. But– what is the TOEFL and what’s a good TOEFL score?

What is the TOEFL?

The TOEFL iBT (internet based test) tests English proficiency through listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The entire test takes about 4 1/2 hours to complete.

What is the score range?

TOEFL iBT scores range from 0 to 120.
There are four sections (listening, reading, speaking, and writing) and you can score up to 30 in each.

What is a good TOEFL score?

Last year, 52% of English-language school applicants scored an 80 or above on the TOEFL iBT. Only 15% scored over 100. Therefore, if you can get over an 80 then you are doing pretty well. If you can get over 100, well, that’s excellent.

Of course, a good TOEFL score is one that will get you into your school of choice. American University requires a 90 on the TOEFL iBT. In contrast, Auburn University only requires a score of 79.

What if my score is really low?

Some schools offer “conditional acceptance,” which allows you to take intensive English lessons before starting regular university classes. For example, the ACCESS Program at George Mason University “allows first-year students to develop their academic English language skills while taking a full-time academic course load toward a bachelor’s degree.” A list of colleges that accept students with low TOEFL scores can be found here.

In general, acceptance to these kinds of programs requires a TOEFL score of at least 60, although some programs exist for scores as low as 45. Thankfully, only about 6% of applicants scored at or below 45 in 2015, and only 18% scored at or below 60.

How often can I take it?

You can take the TOEFL once every 12 days. Beyond that, you can take it as many time as you’d like– keeping in mind how often it’s offered in your area.

How much does it cost and where do I register?

The registration fee depends on your country. In Singapore, the price is $235. In Malaysia, it costs $185. Find out how much it costs in another country and/or register for the test here.


Maija Wallace is a freelance writer for college admissions blogs. Her website is located at

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