Why TOEFL Score 80-100 Is NOT Hard: How To Prepare Right

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Is TOEFL Score 80 Hard?

Is TOEFL score 80 hard to achieve and how to achieve it? The TOEFL score of 80 is achievable and within reach with proper study and practice test-taking. This score is not an easy one to get, but it is just above average in difficulty.

This is a particularly pressing question for those, who do not speak English as a first language but dream of enrolling in the American college. Or, college in other countries where English is the primary language of instruction.

Note: I took TOEFL myself a while ago and achieved quite a good score. When I took TOEFL long ago, I got equivalent to about 100-110 scores without intensive but very short few weeks of practice. Granted, I studied English for a few years before that. Therefore, I am a bit qualified to talk about TOEFL.

You probably have seen tons of opinions about the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Is TOEFL score 80 easy as one-two-three? What is the lowest passing score to enter the institution? Are the TOEFL sections untakable? What’s all the fuss about?

Why TOEFL Score of 80 is Significant?

Because score after 80 is considered good and opens doors to many colleges and universities. 90, 100, 110, 120 scores are better. But, achieving 80 is a major step toward being accepted by college admissions.

The majority of US colleges and universities set a minimum TOEFL score of 60 to 80. Scoring 80 on TOEFL means that you can apply to most colleges.

TIP: If you reached a TOEFL score of 80 without too much hard work, I suggest to keep practicing. Because there is still room for growth and you may be able to continue improving your score. The higher score opens doors to higher-ranking colleges and programs. 

Is it Easy to Score 80 in TOEFL?

Each test taker is entitled to own opinion about the test. Many of first-time test-takers find it TOEFL challenging and hard overall. There are takers, like me, who believe that this language exam will not be so challenging if you practice English regularly and don’t have major communication problems. There are other takers, also like me, who think that with sufficient learning and practice score 80 is kind fo easy to get.

Do you feel like you are still weak in the English language and have too much material to work over? Do not get upset – just keep working on improving. Even if it appears you will be stressed and pressed hard during the TOEFL examination, as it expects an intimate acquaintance of the subject to score high.

How hard is to get 80 at TOEFL

Stop dreaming of the highest score and simply keep working hard. Only a few top educational institutions expect perfection from your overall TOEFL test result. You should know that TOEFL can be scored 0 to 120, and you need 100-120 if only you aim high. But, is TOEFL scores 80 har or easy? Is it necessary?

But even Harvard doesn’t expect the highest score form your test! Search and you’ll surprisingly find out that many more schools and universities are happy to add you to their team with the TOEFL scores inside of 75-100.

For your information, Iowa State University demands TOEFL 71-81, and Columbia University is glad to accept you with 100 points. Luckily, you need to get only 79 to enter UT Austin.

NOTE: Even within the same college or university each program (business school, engineering school) may have different TOEFL requirements. 

How to interpret the overall grade of your exam?

The caveat: If you could not achieve 80 on TOEFL, you may not ready to get into an English-targeted institution. At least, you should not enroll in any complex or language intensive program. Nevertheless, some public schools and universities gladly welcome you with a score below 80 because they will receive money for education.

If you have got 80-90, then you are in luck! Many universities and grade programs are ready to accept you. Needless to say, some TOEFL test takers dream of at least 80.

HINT: For Harvard College (please, do not confuse with Harvard University) you do not even need to take and pass TOEFL!! Harvard College is a junior educational institution within the Harvard system. It is still Harvard, though. https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/apply/international-applicants

If you scored 90-100, your range is already in the top and acceptable at most institutions.

With 100-110, you can be easily accepted to all the top schools and universities.

110-120 is the highest score by any standard.


Is TOEFL score 80-90 easy? What to expect from the exam?

What is difficult in the Reading Section?

What is the problem with reading? First of all, many students are nervous because of time restrictions. Also, TOEFL reading vocabulary raises fears with its academic and, therefore, more complicated English level.

People say that your TOEFL score can be higher if your native language is closer to the Latin-roots languages. Being far from Spanish, French, or Italian, you may need to train hard to pass the exam.

What is difficult in Listening?

Do you believe that this part is the most pressured one? The vocabulary is challenging here. Nevertheless, it is not a problem to enchant your listening skill by watching TV shows and programs where you hear natural fluent English or slang. Besides, the recording you will be required to listen to on the exam is usually a bit slower than conversational speech.

HINT: To improve your listening, watch movies in English and listen carefully. Watch with subtitles. 

Why are students afraid of writing and speaking?

Speaking and writing sections are aimed to check your ability to percept information and express it through speaking and writing. The main difficulty here is that you can’t learn the undoubtedly right answer. Everything depends on how you will organize the response.


You can only hope to predict the overall result of your TOEFL exam. How is that possible? Look, if your current test score is 30-40, it would be almost impossible to reach 80 fast. Start training right now!

It takes you months of exercises to improve. If you have 60-70 for now, you can improve the result in a month or two. The truth is that the TOEFL exam is relatively hard and easy in the same proportion and depends on your current academic English level. The more you learn – the easier it becomes. Duh.

Reasons why getting a high result in TOEFL is hard to achieve.

1. Comprehensive knowledge

As you already know, TOEFL overall score depends on your answers using listening, speaking, reading, and traditionally, writing skills. Therefore, you need to get all your language skills together to answer the exam question.

Much depends on how fast you can switch between those skills. Finally, your result flows out of how clear you understand the heart of the matter and build up the most suiting answer. Forget about skipping unknown words or phrases! Every small detail is important!

2. Specific vocabulary

You may think that your vocabulary must be advanced to pass reading. Of course, the heavy academic passages confuse and jumble your thoughts. Nevertheless, being equipped with new English words and expressions, slangs, and terms, you stand to win the game and succeed in all the exam sections.

3. Open-ended tasks

Many TOEFL graduates fail the Speaking section because of their inability to answer broad questions. Try to describe the happiest moment of your life. What are the best human qualities you appreciate?

To put your best foot forward this task, you need a second to dig into your memory, find the happiest moment, and speak about it for 50 seconds. It is only part of the story. You’ll be asked many more provoking questions and waited to give clear well-set answers. You need to dig fast.

4. Distractions 

This is a typical problem for all exams. You will be testing in a closed space full of other takers, murmuring, stamping, and thinking aloud. Speaking Section supposes loud speaking of many students at the same time. Experience has proven that it is awkward to focus on your paper and give the best fitting reply together with other students.

5. Time restrictions

Don’t forget you are restricted by time. Collect your thoughts quickly! The format of the procedure gives you a specific number of tasks per section and a cut of time to give your response. Thus, you have 35-55 questions in reading and 80 minutes maximum to answer them all.

Also, the Listening Section gives about 50 questions and 65-90 minutes for answering. Speaking consists of 6 tasks and only 20 minutes for performing your work. Luckily, the Writing Part has only 2 tasks and 25-30 minutes per each.

Do Not Fear TOEFL

The exam can be challenging, but not that heavy for you to give up. It is learnable.

1. Reading period is better than nothing

By all accounts, the Speaking Section seems to be the darkest hour for all applicants. You will face 6 conversational topics to speak about. You will have 20-30 seconds for goal setting and composing your ideas before you jump into action immediately.

No time to fear! One way or another, you’ll have a short while to breathe in and think over your words. Just reorganize your thoughts, work on the most complicated passages, and take vocabulary notes. Of course, your time is limited, but you do have it! Try to focus on your task and leave your fears and worries behind.

2. English level isn’t higher than the college level

Don’t be afraid of hard vocabulary and academic words. No doubts, that would be a big plus if you elaborate on theory and work painfully to learn new vocabulary.

Calm down! You will never meet an impossible task! Of course, each exam section makes you wonder and worry about your final result.

But your test can’t more difficult in grammar and vocabulary than college English. Have you ever taken college exams in languages? Look through AP or IB exam materials between this and then. That’s a big advantage for you!

3. Straight questions

You can often meet crampy and provocative questions on your exam. Of course, the TOEFL topics and items are more difficult compared with some other public tests. But the questions are plain and simple for you to get and understand the message. And they are significantly easier than on the American College Testing Program or Standardized Aptitude Test.


This information can be useful for those who despair in the success that they will earn at least 79 in TOEFL.

  • You can choose between paper-based and online tests. The last one is more advanced and well-liked. It takes 4 hours and includes just 2 writing issues and ample time for checking your spoken level. The paper exam will not give you even a chance to speak.
  • Never take the preparation courses lightly! Choose the right preparation plan according to your current TOEFL score and active language skills. Choose good preparation books and a good preparation course. This is critically important to maximize your ability to get the highest possible TOEFL score.
  • Complete the learning course according to your plan and make sure your pronunciation is at the right level. Let the specialist evaluate your writing and reading skills.
  • It can’t hurt to take a full-length trial exam whenever you feel you are ready. Check the score. If it is 80 and more, you are ready to take up the glove and pass the exam. Or, you may study more and get even to 90? 100?

The last but not least important advice lies in regular English practice. How much time it will take to get ready for TOEFL much depends on your English proficiency. With the right preparation and good efforts, you can boost your language level at about 5–10 points per month. So, if your current score is 60, you’ll need about 2-3 months to bring your efforts to a successful conclusion.

Listen, speak, and write. Use English speaking forums to connect with others.

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