Writing Scoring Guide

The following scoring guidelines relate to the TOEFL® PBT Test Writing & Structure section.

Score of Six

An essay at this level:

  • shows effective writing skills
  • is well organized and well developed
  • uses details clearly and properly to support a thesis or illustrate ideas
  • displays consistent ability in the use of language
  • demonstrates variety in sentence structure and proper word choice

Score of Five

An essay at this level:

  • may address some parts of the task more effectively than others
  • is generally well organized and developed
  • uses details to support a thesis or illustrate an idea
  • displays ability in the use of the language
  • shows some variety in sentence structure and range of vocabulary

Score of Four

An essay at this level:

  • addresses the writing topic adequately but does not meet all of the goals of the task
  • is adequately organized and developed
  • uses some details to support a thesis or illustrate an idea
  • shows adequate but possibly inconsistent ability with sentence structure
  • may contain some usage errors that make the meaning unclear

Score of Three

An essay at this level may reveal one or more of the following weaknesses:

  • inadequate organization or development
  • poor choice of details or does not provide enough details to support or illustrate generalizations
  • a noticeably improper choice of words or word forms
  • numerous errors in sentence structure and/or usage

Score of Two

An essay at this level is seriously flawed by one or more of the following weaknesses:

  • serious disorganization or underdevelopment
  • little or no detail, or irrelevant specifics
  • serious and frequent errors in sentence structure or usage
  • serious problems with focus

Score of One

An essay at this level:

  • may be incoherent
  • may be undeveloped
  • may contain severe and persistent writing errors

Score of 0

An essay will be rated 0 if it:

  • contains no response
  • merely copies the topic
  • is off-topic, written in a foreign language or consists only of keystroke characters

See also: