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Predict Your TOEFL® Score

It is normal to wonder how you have done after you taking TOEFL. You would like to predict your score or ask somebody to predict it for you. However, did you know that it is difficult or almost impossible to predict an exact score for your TOEFL? Are you surprised? Here, let me tell you why this is the case.

 

Why can't you predict your score?

First, TOEFL is a standardized test. That means besides your ability and performance that day, your score also depends on the form of test you take that day. The TOEFL graders use a system called equating when grading your TOEFL scores. The equating process is the process when you use an algorithm that can account for the fact that some tests are a little bit more difficult or easier than others. In order for a standardized test to be fair, the equating system will fill out the gap between the easier and more difficult tests. Since we don't know what the algorithm is, we can't calculate or predict how well you will score even if you know how many questions you think you got right.

Second, your results during your practice test cannot always correctly predict your results for the real test. Even the most authentic practice test cannot account for all the unpredictable factors that happen during the real test, like unexpected distractions, a bad night's sleep, feeling unwell, or having many questions that happen to be in your strength or weakness areas. Even though TOEFL is a standardized test, we all know that no test can 100% correctly justify one's academic ability, so if you want to rely on your previous performance on your practice tests to guess your real results, go ahead. It is still a good anchor; however, remember that it won't be 100% correct.

Third, the academic English in the TOEFL test is very different from normal conversational English, so your ability to speak English on a regular basis and thrive in social situations is not a good enough indicator for your success in the TOEFL.

 

What you CAN do?

Since the TOEFL is a standardized test, focusing on the total number of correct answers does not really indicate your final score on a real test. So instead, while taking a practice test, aim for progress and improvement instead of total number of correct answers.

You should take at least three or more full simulated practice tests during the process of studying for the TOEFL. Take one full practice test at the beginning of your TOEFL preparation. This test will give you a baseline score and serve as the beginning line for your studying.

Then later, about a month or two before your real test take another full practice test to see if you are ready. The result of this test, when compared with the first full practice test you took at the beginning of your study, will provide you an idea of how much have you improved.

Finally, take your third practice test about a week or two before your actual TOEFL test. Not only will it help you see even more progression, but will allow you to become more confident and experienced taking TOEFL.

Do not worry about the scores of the three tests, especially the third one. For example, if your goal is 96 and you only scored 94 on your third practice test, do not worry about it. There are many other factors involved while taking the test that may or may not by present on the day you take the real test and these factors can affect you more than you think. Do not worry about the score, but about your performance and progress.

Instead of aiming for a numeric score, try to be a realist and aim for a non-numeric goal. Having a goal that focuses more on your progress will help you have more productive study sessions and feel more motivated. Every progress you make will be counted as a victory for a non-numeric goal. While with a numeric goal, every step you'll make is a failure of not meeting the goal yet.

Find yourself useful an adaptive online learning tool that can calculate and give you a range of scores based on your strengths, weaknesses, and performance. Using such a tool will give you a much better indication on where you stand, so you can make a good decision before taking the TOEFL. If you are far away from your target score consider postponing the test for a later date. The TOEFL can be costly and postponing the test could help you get the score you need on your first attempt.

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