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Linking TOEFL iBT Scores to IELTS Scores - A Research Report TOEFL iBT IELTS ESL

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Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Internet Based Testing (iBT), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Score Linking, English as a Second Language (ESL)


TOEFL test scores have been widely accepted as evidenced of nonnative English speakers’ proficiency in the use of English. The TOEFL test measures test takers’ ability to communicate in English-medium colleges and universities. The TOEFL iBT test measures a candidate’s ability to combine listening, reading, speaking and writing skills with authentic and innovative integrated tasks, making it the most comprehensive English-language proficiency test. Accepted by over 7,500 score users in more than 130 countries, the TOEFL test is the most widely recognized English-language test in the world. Recently, ETS conducted score comparison research between the TOEFL iBT test and an alternative test, IELTS (International English Language Testing System). For the research, ETS obtained a sample of 1,153 students who had both IELTS and TOEFL iBT scores. Using equipercentile linking, the corresponding TOEFL iBT score that would pass the same percentage of test takers for each IELTS scores was obtained. The score comparison results for each section (Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing) and the total test showed that most of the students scored in the middle to mid-high score ranges on both tests. Limitations of the research and suggestions for future research are also discussed.

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