While practice might not ever really make perfect, practicing -- and practicing a lot -- for the Test of English as a Foreign Language is your best chance to achieve your best score. Take advantage of the free practice tests at the back of your TOEFL preparation book. You can easily score at least the Reading and Listening sections yourself so you can get an idea of what score you might expect when you take the actual exam. For scoring the Speaking and Writing sections, you will need to employ the assistance of third party.
There are four sections in the TOEFL: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. Some test takers receive more reading tasks to complete, and some receive more listening tasks. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing before you begin the test how many of each task you will receive. There will be four to five passages in the Reading section, four to six lectures and two to three conversations in the Listening section, six tasks to complete in the Speaking section and finally two tasks to complete in the Writing section. Each section, no matter how many questions you answer, will be worth a total of 30 points. The entire test is worth 120 points.
Scoring Chart Questions
Most questions in the Reading and Listening sections are worth one point each. Chart and summary questions, however, will be worth more than one point, and the point value of the question will be mentioned explicitly on the practice test at the end of the question prompt. For example, in the chart questions, a question with three possible matches will be worth one point and a question with seven possible matches will be worth four points. Check on your practice test for the exact point value of the specific task.
Scoring Summary Questions
After the test prompt for a summary question, you will also be explicitly shown the point value for that question. To score a summary question, remember that if there are two possible correct matches, the question is worth one point. If there are three possible matches, the question is worth two. After you've finished scoring the Reading and Listening sections, calculate the percentage score for each section. For example, if you have received 38 points out of a possible 42 points in a section, divide 38 by 42 to get 90 percent.
Scoring the Speaking and Writing Sections
You will need to find a third party, perhaps a friend or a teacher, to score your Speaking and Writing tasks, because it's impossible to be unbiased with your own work. The maximum point value for each Speaking task is four points, and the maximum point value for each Writing task is five points. Your score then gets converted to a score out of 30 possible points for each section. To convert your Listening and Reading scores from a percentage to a converted score out of 30 points, simply take the percentage of 30. For example, if you have calculated a percentage score of 91.6 percent, take 91.6 percent of 30, which is 27.27. That will be your converted score for that section. Add each section's converted scores to get your score out of 120.
- Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test (4th ed.); Jolene Gear and Robert Gear
- Educational Testing Service: Take the TOEFL iBT Tour - Video Transcript
- Educational Testing Service: TOEFL iBT: Test Content
Megan Ritchie has been a writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in a number of journals and newspapers, including "The Daily Targum" (Rutgers University's daily newspaper) and "The Philadelphia Inquirer." She has a Master's degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.