The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL is a standardized test to assess the ability of non-native speakers wishing to enroll in English-speaking schools or universities to follow courses in English. The Us-based nonprofit organization ETS has been administering the test since 1964, date of its creation.

it is considered the most popular English test in the world, along with the IELTS.

It is recognized by more than 9,000 higher education institutions around the world. It is present in more than 130 countries.

  • It costs $250 and is considered valid for two years.
  • It lasts four hours and students are assessed in four skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking.
  • Student is recorded and assessed later, unlike the IELTS which places the candidate in front of an examiner.

It exists in different forms :

  • PBT: Paper based test
  • IBT : Internet-based test
  • iBT: Scores range from 0 to 120.  A score of 79 / 90 is required to pass
  • PBT :  final scores range from 310 to 677 and does not include written exam score.


Since the ETS introduced the TOEFL internet-based Test  in 2005, it has progressively replaced the paper-based Test (PBT) and the computer-based test (CBT). The CBT was discontinued in September 2006 whereas it is still possible to pass paper-based test in limiteds areas.

Minimum scores for admission in colleges and universities

Each university or college sets a minimum score for admission into the school or into a programme. It is not possible to state a minimum score here as each establishment is free to set a different minimum accepted score. To illustrate this, minimum scores for admission can range as low as 61. On the other hand, a university like Oxford requires a score as high as 111 out of 120 for admission.



The TOEIC is the second standardized test here is managed by the US-based ETS. They have been administering it since its creation in 1979 by a Japanese team backed by the Japanese Ministry of Economy.

It is a bit different from most other “certificates” here because it is an enterprise oriented.. As such, it was not originally designed to measure English skills to follow courses in English. It was originally created in 1979.

Quoting the ETS, the Test of English for International Communication, or TOEIC for short, is “an English language test designed specifically to measure the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment.”

However, some schools accept if for admission, for instance in the United States.

The TOEIC listening and reading test

When people refer to the TOEIC, they usually refer to the TOEIC listening and reading test.  As you probably guessed, it only assesses your English comprehension skills.

The TOEIC gives you a score from 10 to 990 (Basic Proficiency to International Professional Proficiency).

The scale corresponds to CEFR levels A1 to C1, which is fairly lower than the level of the TOEFL and the IELTS.  Like those two,  s it is a test – and not a diploma –  so it is not possible to fail it.  However, universities and colleges require a minimum level for admission.

On top of that, schools will often encourage students to take it for recognition of their proficiency after their studies. But most of the time, some schools require it for graduation. For instance, in France, scoring a TOEIC with 785+ is required to validate an engineer’s degree. Some diplomas require 750+. You will need to consult your school’s admission requirements for up-to-date details.

If your school requires it for graduation rather than for admission, you should not take it in advance before the TOEIC scores are supposedly valid for only two years. It means the test centers do not have to retain your data longer than this period of time. However, schools usually accept TOEICs passed one year before admission.

The TOEIC speaking and writing test

Complementary to the listening and reading test, you can also take the TOEIC speaking and writing test, which assesses expression skills. This complementary test is graded from 0 to 400. This one is rarely required by businesses or universities so our advice is to only take it if it is specifically required by your school.  The writing and speaking tests can be taken separately and are graded from 0 to 200.


Of course, the ETS is not alone on the market. The IELTS is the TOEFL’s toughest competitor and there are plenty of other solutions on the market.