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Washington State University Graduate School


The TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) complements the suite of TOEFL exams (paper-based, computer-based, and Internet-based). The format depends on where the examination is administered. Students often have only one choice in this and so we need to understand the scores provided by each type of exam and how they compare to each other.


The TOEFL iBT tests all four language skills that are essential for success in graduate school: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The TOEFL iBT also emphasizes integrated skills and provides better information to institutions about students’ ability to communicate in an academic environment and their preparation for coursework. The Graduate School will use iBT scores that are equitable with our current standards for the paper- and computer-based exams. A total score of 80 on the iBT is a minimum for admission to the Graduate School (departments can set higher minimums), which corresponds to the current 550 minimum for the paper-based exam. Departments are encouraged to develop guidelines for scores on each of the four subsections.

However, it is important that these scores be used and interpreted wisely. It is ill advised to focus on one score as a sole indicator of potential success. To do this, several suggestions are offered.


1. Base the evaluation on determining the applicant’s ability to begin a graduate academic program in your department or program. One factor in this evaluation is the TOEFL.

2. Take section scores, as well as the total minimum of 80, into account.

3. Consider the type and level of English proficiency necessary based on first-year expectations, opportunities for ESL access once on campus, and type of support being offered.

4. Do not use the TOEFL scores to predict academic performance.

More information on the TOEFL, including the iBT, can be found HERE.

Please contact the Graduate School with any questions that arise when evaluating international student applicants.