TOEFL Reading Score Performance Descriptors

The TOEFL Reading Score has a varied range of  0 to 30. That score range is separated into 4 proficiency levels to help you more accurately assess a test taker’s skill.


Proficiency Level:

  1. Advanced (24–30).
  2. High-Intermediate (18–23).
  3. Low-Intermediate (4–17).
  4. Below Low-Intermediate (0–3).

Performance Descriptors for the TOEFL Reading Score iBt Test

As we said the test range score breaks down into 4 proficiency levels, let’s learn more about each one of them.

Advanced (Score range 24–30) CEFR Level C1

Test takers who receive a Reading section score at the Advanced level typically understand academic passages in English at the introductory university level. These passages are dense with propositions and information and can include difficult vocabulary; lengthy, complex sentences and paragraphs; and abstract or nuanced ideas that may be presented in complex ways.

Test takers who score at the Advanced level typically can

  • Understand a range of academic and low-frequency vocabulary as well as less common meanings of words.
  • Understand explicit connections among pieces of information and make appropriate inferences, even when the passage is conceptually dense and the language is complex.
  • Recognize the expository organization of a passage and the purpose that specific information serves within the larger. context, even when the purpose of the information is not marked, and the passage is conceptually dense.
  • Follow a paragraph-length argument involving speculation, qualifications, counter-evidence, and subtle rhetorical shifts.
  • Synthesize information in passages that contain complex language and are conceptually dense.

High-Intermediate (Score range 18–23) CEFR Level B2

Test takers who receive a Reading section score at the High-Intermediate level typically understand the main ideas and important details of academic passages in English at the introductory university level, but they may have an incomplete or incorrect understanding of parts of passages that are especially dense with propositions and information, or complex in their presentation of ideas and information.

Test takers who score at the High-Intermediate level typically can

  • Understand common academic vocabulary, but sometimes have difficulty with low-frequency words or less common meanings of words.
  • Understand explicit connections among pieces of information and make appropriate inferences, but may have difficulty in parts of a passage that contain low-frequency vocabulary or that are conceptually dense, rhetorically complex, or abstract.
  •  Distinguish important ideas from less important ones.
  • Often recognize the expository organization of a passage and the purpose of specific information within a passage, even when such information is not explicitly marked.
  • Synthesize information in a passage, but may have difficulty doing so when the passage is conceptually dense, rhetorically complex, or abstract.

Low-Intermediate (Score range 4–17) CEFR Level B1

Test takers who receive a Reading section score at the Low-Intermediate level typically understand some main ideas and important information presented in academic passages in English, but their overall understanding is limited. They are able to understand connections across two or more sentences when the relationships are clear and simple, such as a claim followed by a supporting example. However, they have difficulty following denser or more complex parts of a passage.

Test takers who score at the Low-Intermediate level typically can:

  • Understand texts with basic grammar, but have inconsistent understanding of texts with complex grammatical structures.
  • Understand high-frequency academic vocabulary, but often have difficulty with lower-frequency words.
  • Locate information in a passage by matching words or relying on high-frequency vocabulary, but their limited ability to recognize paraphrases results in an incomplete understanding of the connections among ideas and information.
  • Identify an author’s purpose when that purpose is explicitly stated or easy to infer from the context.
  • Recognize major ideas in a passage when the information is clearly presented, memorable, or illustrated by examples but have difficulty doing so when the passage is more demanding.

BelowLowIntermediate (Score range 0–3)

Test takers with a Reading section score below 4 have not yet demonstrated proficiency at the Low-Intermediate level.

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