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by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on October 28, 2011
If you’re taking the TOEFL, you’re probably trying to get a specific score. Perhaps the score is part of a college application, or perhaps you need it for professional certification. Whatever your reasons, you have an end goal, a number that indicates your mastery of English, according to TOEFL.
But what does a 30 mean, in daily life? How can you recognize the difference in skills between a 24 and a 27? Understanding the real-world equivalents of TOEFL scores can help you gauge your own performance, and get to the ability level that matches the score you need.
In the following list, which Strictly English developed from its work with students who have a wide range of ability in English, notice that the crucial division is between 24 and 26.
At 24 and below, a student’s ability in English still clearly marks him or her as someone who has learned English as a second language. This could be for any one or more reasons – a strong accent which obscures the speaker’s meaning, frequent errors in basic grammar, poor ability to follow conversations and lectures, and so on.
Scores of 26 or above, on the other hand, signal that the student is on par with native speakers of English. The key difference at this level is in the sophistication of the speaker’s vocabulary, the variety of sentence structures, the skill with developing details.
As you prepare for the TOEFL, keep in mind that the score you’re trying to reach has an equivalent that you can use for comparison with your own skills.
30 : Professional public speaker (for example, Oprah Winfrey)
29 : University professor
28 : Really smart graduate student
27 : Really smart college senior
26 : “Straight – A” high-school senior
24 : “Fluent” ESL
22-23 : Advanced ESL
18-21 : High-Intermediate ESL
14-17 : Intermediate ESL
10 – 13: Low Intermediate ESL
below 10: Beginner ESL