TOEIC Listening & Reading Test: Scoring & Retakes

Instructor: Bill Sands
The TOEIC assessment uses a scaled scoring system and features a generous retake policy. Keep reading for more information on how this test is scored and how you can take it multiple times.

TOEIC Listening & Reading Scoring

The TOEIC Listening & Reading exam is scored using a scaled system that converts the total number of correct answers (known as a raw score) into a composite number. The scaled score system is used because individual test forms are not uniform and contain minor variations at each testing center. Although test administrators strive to ensure that all tests contain the same level of difficulty, it is inevitable that certain forms will be more challenging than others. Because of this discrepancy, Educational Testing Service (ETS) does not report raw scores. The use of the scaling system makes it much easier to compare scores across different forms of the test.

Score Descriptors

The two components of the exam, the Listening and Reading sections, each have their own unique scoring bands.

For the listening section, the top band level is 400. Candidates who score in this range are considered experts and must demonstrate proficiency in each of the test's skill areas in order to reach this level. Candidates at the 400 level are deemed to have no weaknesses, except when uncommon vocabulary and grammar are used. The second level is 300. Candidates may fall to this level if they have trouble understanding the central idea of the recordings or if they have trouble picking up on details. Candidates may also receive a score in the 200 range, which is the lowest possible score for the listening section. At the 200 level, candidates usually need to have information repeated multiple times to gain an understanding of what is being said.

The reading section uses a similar format, but with minor adjustments. For this section, 450 is the top level. Candidates must display a number of strengths and few weaknesses to reach this level. Candidates can also receive a score of 350. Test-takers who receive this score might have a difficult time understanding specialized language like idioms, and complex words are not always understood. At the 250 level, candidates might also have difficulty with understanding paraphrased information. They might also have challenges with more complex grammatical constructions. At the 150 level, candidates can only understand a small number of vocabulary words. They might also have challenges with comprehending inferred meanings from text.

Passing Standards

When you receive your score report, you will not be told whether or not you passed the assessment. This is because the TOEIC does not have a passing or a failing grade. Test administrators merely report scores to show levels of English proficiency. It is up to the discretion of individual employers to determine exactly what constitutes a passing score. If possible, check with your employer prior to sitting for the TOEIC so that you understand what score you will need to pass.

Score Validity

Your testing center will hold on to your score report for two years, at which point they will stop storing the report and will not answer any requests for additional copies. TOEIC scores do not expire, but since language skills can change over time, a score that's several years old might be invalid. If an employer requires TOEIC scores and you have not taken the exam in two years, you will need to retake the exam.

Retake Policy

ETS offers a generous retake policy in that there are no restrictions on taking the test multiple times. Candidates are welcome to sit for the exam as often as they would like, as long as there is a test date available. Candidates should be aware that they will need to pay the exam fee for each retake.

Preparing for the TOEIC Listening & Reading Exam

One way to avoid retaking the TOEIC is to score well on your first attempt. Doing so will save you time and money, so you should put in enough study time to make sure you reach a proficiency level that meets your needs. To help you get ready, has a number of preparatory materials.

This TOEIC Listening & Reading: Test Prep & Practice course is a great place to start, as it provides a detailed look at both components of the exam. There's also these Grammar Flashcards and English Grammar: Help and Review course, both of which focus on fundamental grammar skills that are essential on the TOEIC. These courses contain self-checking practice exams that you can use to test your knowledge and keep track of your improvement.

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