Frequently Asked Questions About the TOEFL® Essentials Test

Why has the TOEFL® Essentials test been introduced? Why should my institution accept it?
Institutions have many choices for English-language testing. It is important that they use high-quality tests across the range of their applicants. The TOEFL Essentials test provides valid, reliable and accurate scores for test takers and institutions. It balances quality with convenience, affordability and access to measure the skills of applicants who might not be inclined to take the TOEFL iBT® test, and who might otherwise consider taking a low-quality, unreliable English test to meet application requirements.
Should I accept TOEFL Essentials scores instead of TOEFL iBT scores for some programs?
You don't have to choose! Either test can be used to meet English-language requirements for admission or other program requirements. Together, the 2 tests provide high-quality options for a wide range of applicants, expanding your applicant pool.
Do I need to require applicants to take both the TOEFL iBT test and the TOEFL Essentials test?
No. These tests are designed so that either one would fulfill your program’s English-language proficiency requirement.
Will the TOEFL Essentials test replace the TOEFL iBT test?
No. The TOEFL iBT test (including the TOEFL iBT® Home Edition) will always be offered as the flagship, gold-standard English-language test in the TOEFL® Family of Assessments. The TOEFL Essentials test provides an additional option for test takers for whom it is a better fit to demonstrate their English proficiency.
What are institutions saying about the TOEFL Essentials test?

A survey of nearly 250 institutions in the United States, Canada and the U.K. showed that:

  • 90% of institutions/programs would likely accept TOEFL Essentials scores for admissions use for classes enrolling in 2022, with 71% likely to accept it for full or conditional admission
  • 95% of surveyed institutions saw the TOEFL Essentials test as beneficial in attracting quality applicants, with over 70% seeing it as highly or very beneficial
What are test takers saying about the TOEFL Essentials test?
Surveys of test takers around the world show that TOEFL Essentials could be a popular choice based on its convenience and affordability, and it has the potential to become one of the top English-language proficiency tests in the market.
How does the TOEFL Essentials test compare with the Duolingo English Test?

When compared to the Duolingo English Test, the TOEFL Essentials test is comparable in convenience and access, and superior in test quality. The research-based test design and meticulous item testing help ensure that the test can effectively distinguish between proficiency levels. Here is a comparison of key features.

TOEFL Essentials TestDuolingo English Test
Affordable, reasonable cost Yes Yes
Convenient and easy to access Yes Yes
Taken at home Yes Yes
Measures foundational English proficiency for communication, beyond basic language knowledge¹ Yes No
Measures and reports section scores for the 4 core English proficiency skills² Yes No
Items are written and pre-qualified by human assessment experts rather than auto-generated by computers Yes No
Items are pre-tested with human test takers in the field to ensure accuracy, reliability and fairness for diverse, global populations Yes No
Responses are scored by human raters assisted by AI technology, rather than machine scoring alone Yes No
Test security includes live, human proctoring for 100% of the test, in addition to AI security measures. Yes No

The TOEFL Essentials test is the better choice for institutions that need valid, reliable and secure English-language test scores from a test with a level of rigor suitable for high-stakes admissions decisions.

1 — The Duolingo English Test does not contain extended reading or listening comprehension tasks.

2 — Duolingo English Test subscores are called Literacy, Comprehension, Conversation and Production, which do not correspond to the skills most institutions use when setting skill requirements. (Source:

Duolingo is a trademark of Duolingo, which does not endorse or approve this comparison.