TOEFL Essentials: the new test launches August 21

With the first administration of the TOEFL Essentials test around the corner, ETS has released additional information on scoring and the number of institutions accepting TOEFL Essentials scores.

Test-takers can sit for the new exam—which is about half the length and cost of the TOEFL iBT test—beginning on August 21. For an overview of the TOEFL Essentials test, click here. Then, read on for the latest information from ETS.


Each section of the TOEFL Essentials test is scored from 1-12, and the four sections are then averaged. The ETS website now includes score comparisons for the TOEFL Essentials test and the TOEFL iBT.

  • A score of 12 on the TOEFL Essentials test is equivalent to scoring in the 114-120 range on the TOEFL iBT.
  • A score in the 10-11.5 range on the TOEFL Essentials test is equivalent to scoring in the 95-113 range on the TOEFL iBT. 
  • A score in the 8-9.5 range on the TOEFL Essentials test is equivalent to scoring in the 72-94 range on the TOEFL iBT. 

Note: The TOEFL Essentials test offers a new Instant Scoring feature. You'll be able to see your unofficial Listening and Reading scores at the end of the test, which can be helpful as an early indicator of your performance. You'll receive your full scores 6 days after the exam, just like you would for the TOEFL iBT.


As of August 15, 2021, more than 80 universities in the United States plan to accept TOEFL Essentials scores from incoming students. Because the TOEFL Essentials test is brand new, it may take some time for other universities to decide whether to accept TOEFL Essentials scores and to make changes to their admissions policies if so. (For what it's worth, when ETS surveyed 250 institutions, 95% indicated they'd be likely to accept the TOEFL Essentials test.)

Currently, here are a few of the colleges and universities planning to accept the TOEFL Essentials test for the upcoming admissions cycle:

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Clemson University 
  • Cornell University
  • The George Washington University
  • Hofstra University 
  • MIT
  • Purdue University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Arizona
  • Vanderbilt University

Click here for a full list.

What does this mean for me?

For now, if both the TOEFL Essentials test and the TOEFL iBT are options for you, we still recommend sticking with the TOEFL iBT. Many top schools have yet to confirm that they'll accept the TOEFL Essentials test, and the relative lack of practice materials for the TOEFL Essentials test makes it tougher for students to prep for that exam.

If you're planning to test later in the year or next year, though, the TOEFL Essentials test may appeal to you if you prefer a faster-paced, more interactive testing experience. Click here for more recommendations.

How should I prep for the TOEFL Essentials test?

ETS materials for TOEFL Essentials test-takers are still limited to only 3 practice tests, which you can access here.

A personal tutor can also help you create a test prep plan and guide you to your goal score. To start working with a TOEFL expert, contact us here.

Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

As one of the highest-performing tutors in ArborBridge’s history, Erin coaches tutors and develops tools and trainings to disrupt old habits and empower new strengths. With a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, Erin worked as a classroom teacher and student services director prior to joining ArborBridge in 2017. Her decade of success as an educator has prepared her to ensure that programs are tailored to individual students’ needs.

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