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TOEFL Requirements

There is only one key requirement in order to take the TOEFL test: you are able to read, comprehend, write and speak English. It also costs money.

The TOEFL test was designed as a tool to measure a person's – who's first language isn't English – ability to effectively communicate in English, to see how fluent they are. It's a way for universities, colleges and companies to judge if a person is qualified to be one of their students/workers.

If you had to read all your textbooks in English, how much would you understand? A little, some, most or all? The answer needs to be most if not all. Because that's the level you need to be at. In the test you will read or hear passages about topics you may know nothing about, but from the information provided, you should be able to answer all the questions.

So if you're not planning on studying at a university/college where everything is taught in English, or want a career at an English speaking only company, taking the TOEFL test probably isn't right for you. But maybe you like a good challenge.

Before you decide that taking the TOEFL test is something you must do to reach your goals, make sure you are aware of the specific requirements of the institutions or companies you will be applying to are. Although TOEFL scores are the most widely accepted, not all schools use them. UK based schools for example tend to require an IELTS score.

As well, the score that's good enough to get you into one school, may not be enough for another. Take a bit of time to find out what their requirements are. You can usually find the information in the International students section of the Admissions web page.

Here are some undergraduate degree (it can be different if you are applying to do a graduate degree) student TOEFL scores needed by some popular schools:

M.I.T.: PBT: 577 minimum, 600+ recommended. IBT: 90 minimum, 100+ recommended.
Yale University: PBT: 600 minimum. IBT: 100 minimum.
University of Oxford (UK): PBT: 600 and TWE of 5.5 minimum. IBT: 100 minimum.
University of California, Berkeley: PBT: 650 minimum. IBT: 83 minimum.
University of California, Los Angeles: PBT: 650 minimum. IBT: 83 minimum.
Stanford University: No minimum requirement. PBT: 637+ recommended. IBT: 110+ recommended.
Columbia University: PBT: 600 minimum. IBT value not provided.
University of Toronto: PBT: 600 + 5.0 on TWE minimum. IBT: 100 total with 22 in Writing as a minimum.
U.B.C.: PBT: 55 each for Reading, Listening, and 4.0 on TWE minimum. IBT: 90 minimum.
Princeton University: TOEFL required. Necessary score values not provided.
Cornell University: A TOEFL or IELTS score is required. Specific score requirement was not provided.
Harvard University: TOEFL is not a requirement. SAT I and II test scores are required.
University of Cambridge (UK): TOEFL is not used. IELTS or GCSE score or their own proficiency test.

It doesn't matter what your score is to ETS. ETS does have procedure you have to follow before you can take the test though.

  • You need to pick a date and location.
  • You need to register at least 7 days before the test date you picked. You can register up to 3-4 months ahead of time. It's a good idea to register early.
  • You need to pay at the time you register.
  • If you need to cancel, you must do it 3 days before the day of the exam in order to get a refund. And you'll only get half of the fee back.
  • If you need to change the date or location, you must do it 3 days before the day of the exam. It will also cost an extra $60 to reschedule.

In addition, there's some important things to know about the day of your IBT test. You must have your ETS registration number and valid photo ID with your signature. So your passport is perfect identification. Everything and anything else leave at home! You are not allowed to have a watch or cellphone or iPod or food... paper and pencil to make notes is all you will be given. You are also required to arrive at least 30 minutes before the exam is about to start. And always remember to stay calm and try to relax!

To quickly see what the TOEFL IBT format is like, check out our IBT demo. You can get a better understanding of what the TOEFL IBT is like if you take one of TestDEN's free mini TOEFL sample tests. Each month we give away an iPod Shuffle to a top scorer! If you want practice TOEFL tests, check out our TOEFL Test Prep bundle. Alternatively, you can find free testing materials on the Internet. As well, many ESL schools offer TOEFL preparation courses.

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