TOEFL Raw to Scaled Scores: An Explanation

In the TOEFL reading section you must answer 30 questions, worth a maximum of 33 points.  This is your raw reading score.  It is converted to a score from 1 to 30 points (displayed on your score report) which is your scaled reading score.

In the TOEFL listening section you must answer 28 questions, worth a maximum of 28 points.  This is your raw listening score.  It is converted to a score from 1 to 30 points (displayed on your score report) which is your scaled listening score.

Note that you might be given an extra set of ten additional reading questions, or a set of 11 additional listening questions.  These will not be scored.  Note that the extra set could appear at the beginning, middle or end of the section.   You will never know which set is “extra.”

The “Official” Reading Conversion

Here is the raw to scaled conversion chart from the latest Official Guide to the TOEFL (August, 2020):

TOEFL Reading Raw to Scaled

You can see that the raw scores convert to a range of scaled scores.  For instance, if you get 27 points on the actual test, you might get a final score of 25, 26, 27 or 28 points. This reflects the fact that the conversion is different for every single test!  Based on this chart we might assume that you can always get a perfect score with only 32 points… but don’t take this chart as a guarantee.  It is just a general guideline.

The “Official” Listening Conversion

Here is the raw to scaled conversion chart from the latest Official Guide to the TOEFL (August, 2020):

TOEFL Listening Raw to Scaled Score

Once again, the raw scores convert only to a range of scaled scores.  Every test is different.

The Actual Raw to Scaled Conversion Method is a Secret

The actual raw to scaled conversion method is a secret.  As indicated, every test has a different conversion.  This means that sometimes you need to answer every single question correctly to get a perfect score, but sometimes you can make a few mistakes and still get a perfect score.  The conversion is based on the difficulty of the specific test.  Here’s what ETS says:

“…despite the best efforts of test designers, no two test forms can ever be exactly alike. Each form is composed of different questions, which means that each test form differs slightly from other test forms in its level of difficulty. Therefore, number-correct (raw) scores are bound to a specific test form and are not directly comparable across forms.” (source)

The difficulty of a given test is determined through a process called equating.  In practice, this means that each test contains questions that have been “pre-tested” in the past.  I assume these questions are contained in the extra sets mentioned above.

A Rough Raw-to-Scaled Reading Chart without Ranges

If you want to score a practice set and the creators have not provided a conversion chart, you can make your own “best guess” chart using basic math.  Here’s the easy formula:  (RAW/33) * 30 = SCALED.  Round the fractions.  Here’s what it looks like:

 

TOEFL Reading Raw to Scaled

 

A Rough Raw-to-Scaled Listening Chart without Ranges

Likewise, you can make a basic conversion chart for the listening section of the TOEFL with the following formula: (RAW/28) * 30 = SCALED.  That chart looks like this:

How about the Speaking and Writing Sections?

Oh, who the f–k knows?  I’ll write an article about them in the future, but now that the e-rater and SpeechRater are in full use it is impossible to know exactly how the questions are graded.  We know how about the raw scores from human graders, but the AI graders are mysterious.  We don’t even know how they are weighted versus the human graders.  Just note that the speaking and writing scores are adjusted up and down depending on the difficulty of a given test.  I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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