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Frequently Asked Questions About the TOEFL® Essentials Test

Accepting the 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.
How should the TOEFL Essentials test be used?

The TOEFL Essentials test is designed to provide academic programs and other score users with valid and reliable information about someone's ability to use English, in a relatively brief test-taking time and at an affordable price, using a format that is test-taker friendly and engaging.

The TOEFL Essentials test can be used to:

  • inform decisions about the English-language proficiency of international students who apply for admission into higher education institutions and international high schools
  • inform decisions about students' placement in, progress through and exit from English-language proficiency classes or English pathway programs
  • inform other decisions where an overall indication of English-language proficiency is required
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?

An increasing number of universities and other institutions have confirmed their acceptance of TOEFL Essentials scores as part of their program's English-language requirements, and the list continues to grow daily.

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.

Test Availability

In what countries will the TOEFL Essentials test be available?
The TOEFL Essentials test is offered worldwide in every country except Iran. We are working on the process to be able to offer it in Iran as soon as possible.
Will the TOEFL Essentials test be available in Mainland China?

Comparison to Other Tests

How does the TOEFL Essentials test compare with other English-language tests?

This score comparison table shows how the TOEFL Essentials test compares to other English-language tests. With its innovative test design and expanded insights, the TOEFL Essentials test helps attract more qualified applicants while preserving your institution’s reputation for quality.

Test Design and Format

The TOEFL Essentials test is a multistage adaptive test. What does that mean?
In a multistage adaptive test like TOEFL Essentials, the first part (stage) of a test section will contain tasks of average difficulty. A second part will follow, in which the difficulty level depends on the test taker's performance on the first part. For example, if the student does very well on the first part of the Listening section, the second part of the Listening section will be at a higher level of difficulty. The scoring for the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections takes into consideration the total number of questions answered correctly across the 2 parts, as well as the difficulty level of these parts. By employing the multistage methodology, the TOEFL Essentials test measures language proficiency efficiently by matching test content to the test taker's ability level.
Which sections of the test are adaptive?
The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections use a multistage adaptive methodology. The Speaking section is not adaptive.
Is there a difference between the 5-minute unscored Personal Video Statement and the Virtual Interview task?
Yes. The simulated virtual interview is part of the scored Speaking section. The Personal Video Statement is the test taker's video-recorded response to 2 questions and is not scored.
What is the purpose of the Personal Video Statement?
The Personal Video Statement allows institutions to see and hear the test taker for themselves in a natural setting, to get additional insights about the test taker, and to see their unique personality. It is up to the institution if and how they wish to use the Personal Video Statement.
How do I access an applicant's Personal Video Statement?
Institutions can access the Personal Video Statement via the test taker's TOEFL® Showcase page in the ETS® Data Manager. If your institution does not have access to the ETS Data Manager, you can request access to the ETS Data Manager. If your institution uses Slate®, the TOEFL Showcase feature will also be available to you on the Slate platform.
Will the test still be scored if the test taker doesn't provide a Personal Video Statement?
Yes, the Personal Video Statement is unscored and is provided as supplemental information to the scored portions of the test. Test takers with relevant testing accommodations may be granted a waiver from the Personal Video Statement upon request.

Scores and Score Reporting

Will TOEFL Essentials scores be automatically included in the data files that our institution receives?
Yes, if a test taker requests their scores be sent to your institution using your 4-digit TOEFL® code number, the TOEFL Essentials scores will be included in your data file.
Will score reports for the TOEFL Essentials test include MyBest® scores?
Yes. MyBest scores are the combination of the best section scores from all valid TOEFL Essentials tests in the last 2 years.
If a student took both the TOEFL Essentials and TOEFL iBT tests, would their MyBest scores be a combination of scores from both tests?
No. MyBest scores are separate for the TOEFL iBT test and TOEFL Essentials test. The tests have different score scales and cannot be combined.
Will TOEFL Essentials scores be aligned to Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels? To which levels?
Yes. TOEFL Essentials scores will be aligned to CEFR levels across the entire CEFR range, from A1 to C2.
How do I set scores for the TOEFL Essentials test using my institution’s TOEFL iBT score requirements?

Use the score comparison tables to select a corresponding TOEFL Essentials score based on a TOEFL iBT score within a given range.

Who created the score comparisons and how?

The score comparison tables were created by ETS test developers, psychometricians and researchers. They are based on analysis of responses to test tasks by approximately 5,500 test takers who took the TOEFL Essentials field test in 2021. ETS's goal is to help institutions make the best score-based decisions with objective, research-based information.

For more information about the score comparisons, see the Design Framework for the TOEFL® Essentials Test 2021.

How do the TOEFL Essentials band scores compare to IELTS® band scores?

Currently, there is no direct comparison between the band scores of the 2 tests. Institutions can consult the score comparison tool for the TOEFL iBT test and IELTS Academic test. They can then use the TOEFL iBT test scores to compare TOEFL Essentials scores and IELTS band scores.

Test Security

What safeguards are in place to ensure the security of the TOEFL Essentials test?

ETS is employing multiple best-in-class security measures for at home tests that use both real-time human monitoring and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to see and respond to even the hardest-to-detect incidents:

  • Live proctors will ensure constant vigilance, including confirming the test taker's identity and scanning their home environment before testing begins, flagging any suspicious activity and intervening if necessary.
  • AI technology — such as facial recognition, gaze tracking and video recording of the entire session — will guard against malicious activity. Examples of test taker activities that AI will flag as possible cheating incidents include attempts to open a new browser, run unpermitted software and use unpermitted objects such as a cell phone.
How does the remote proctor confirm the test taker's identity and verify ID documents?

Before the test begins, photos are taken of the information within the ID document and of the test taker. The proctor verifies the identification document is current, valid and acceptable, and then uses facial recognition to compare the ID document with the person sitting at the computer. AI is then used to randomly verify the test taker matches the ID document multiple times throughout the test.

TOEFL® Search Service

Will TOEFL Essentials test takers be included in the TOEFL® Search Service?
Yes, the TOEFL Search Service database will include TOEFL Essentials test takers. Institutions will be able to search by TOEFL Essentials scores.