TOEFL Score data for 2020 is available!  As regular readers of the blog will know, this is my favorite day of the year!  You can download your copy from ETS.

Scores are way up this year.  I don’t know why.

The overall mean (average) score is now 87.  That is an increase of four points, which is quite a big jump.  Here’s the history of the average TOEFL score:

  • 2006: 79
  • 2007: 78
  • 2008: 79
  • 2009: 79
  • 2010: 80
  • 2011 (not available)
  • 2012 (not available)
  • 2013: 81
  • 2014: 80
  • 2015: 81
  • 2016: 82
  • 2017: 82
  • 2018: 83 
  • 2019: 83
  • 2020: 87

As you can see, it took thirteen years for the average score to increase from 79 to 83.  That jump was replicated in 2020 alone.

Obviously this year there are also large jumps in the section scores:

  • The mean reading score is now 22.2 (+1.0)
  • The mean listening score is now 22.3 (+1.4)
  • The mean speaking score is now 21.2 (+.6)
  • The mean writing score is now 20.5 (+1.0)

Last year, the section score changes were much smaller. They were (respectively): +.4, +.3, +.1, -.2.

The jumps in 2020 alone are comparable to the jumps I recorded in the nine years from 2010 to 2019.

As you guys know, I like to study geographic trends, particularly those in China, Korea and Japan.  Here’s what I spotted:

  • The mean score in Korea is now 86 (+3)
  • The mean score in China is now 87 (+6) !!!
  • The mean score in Japan is now 73 (+1)
  • The mean score in Taiwan is now 85 (+2)

I must point out that in the thirteen years between 2006 and 2019 the average score in China increased by five points.  In 2020 alone the increase was six points.

Scores in other key markets have increased as well:

  • The mean score in Brazil is now 90 (+3)
  • The mean score in India is now 96 (+1)
  • The mean score in the United States is now 93 (+2)

The top performing country this year is Austria, with an average score of 102 (+2)

It appears that China is driving much of the overall increase.  In case you are curious, the section increases there are: Reading + 2, Listening + 2,  Speaking no change, Writing +2.

I’m going to do some more digging and some more calling in the weeks ahead.  I want to know more about these dramatic changes.

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