Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

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gaugeinvariance
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:33 am

Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

Post by gaugeinvariance » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:39 pm

Dear All

It is me again, haha. :lol: Recently I have received the TOEFL test results and the test scores are the following

Reading: 28
Listening: 29
Speaking: 23
Writing: 25
Total: 105

I am considering whether I should retake the TOEFL exam. The reason is the following

1.Some school require threshold scores that are larger than my scores. For example, Georgia Tech requires TOEFL minimum score 106
2.The speaking score seems to be not good enough. I don't know whether it will hurt me when I am applying for top schools
3.I don't know how schools weight the TOEFL scores. Especially when GRE scores are waived this year, TOEFL scores seems to become important. Furthermore, I am not sure whether TOEFL below 110 would be accepted by TOP schools
4.Increase my chances to be accepted by top schools
5. Combine the test scores to obtain the best performance using the MyBest schemes of the new TOEFL system*

What do you guys think? Do you think that this score is good enough, or should I retake the TOEFL?

*However, not every school accept this combined scores.

geekusprimus
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

Post by geekusprimus » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:24 am

A 105 is good enough for a lot of schools, but not all schools. You should definitely work on improving your English-speaking abilities; my (very brief) search of a few schools seems to suggest that a low speaking score is the most likely deal-breaker when it comes to English language tests.

gaugeinvariance
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:33 am

Re: Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

Post by gaugeinvariance » Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:24 am

geekusprimus wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:24 am
A 105 is good enough for a lot of schools, but not all schools. You should definitely work on improving your English-speaking abilities; my (very brief) search of a few schools seems to suggest that a low speaking score is the most likely deal-breaker when it comes to English language tests.
Thank you for your suggestion. Indeed I am aiming for top schools like Caltech and Cornell etc... Your concern is right, although they didn't mention about their requirements on the TOEFL scores, but seems that at least 100 would be definitely a minimum. By the way, you mentioned that you have searched for a few information about speaking scores as a deal-breaker, could you list where you find those information?

Well speaking is a quite difficult task... 60 seconds for a summarization is just to demanding :oops:

geekusprimus
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

Post by geekusprimus » Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:34 pm

By the way, you mentioned that you have searched for a few information about speaking scores as a deal-breaker, could you list where you find those information?
I just looked up admissions details at a few schools (Princeton, Georgia Tech, Penn State, and BYU, just to get a good range), and a few of them said things to the effect of, "We look very closely at TOEFL scores, particularly speaking scores." A lot of schools indicated that they, in addition to wanting TOEFL scores, will have an English language examination of their own, often in the form of something like a phone interview after applying or after being accepted. In my own experience, no matter how brilliant they are, my international classmates who don't have strong speaking skills often struggle because it's so hard to express themselves clearly and effectively.

That being said, I completely understand your pain with speaking. I'm a native English speaker, but I did learn Spanish. I can read it and write it reasonably well, but I haven't really had a lot of chances to speak with native speakers (being in the United States, their English is generally better than my Spanish), so listening and speaking are very difficult.

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Nishikata
Posts: 231
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

Post by Nishikata » Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:49 am

Caltech doesn’t require TOEFL for admission.
In the application form it is stated:
Although not required for admission, for applicants whose native language is not English or who have not received a degree from a university or college where English is the primary language of instruction, it is important to demonstrate a strong capability in English.
So, there is no need to retake it at this stage.

I believe TOEFL test score is just a formality because they need to issue visa letters for the students they admit. It is not used to compare applicants to decide who gets the admission. The rest of your profile is used for that purpose. If you are good enough, they will ask you to prove your english proficiency later on.

HubbleBubble
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:06 am

Re: Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

Post by HubbleBubble » Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:28 pm

While the importance of the TOEFL specifically might vary from school to school, I know for a fact that language ability is major factor in admissions. Many international profiles on this website with near perfect scores might face all rejections, and one of the most common reasons is that their applications had grammatical errors. Granted, funding schemes are different for internationals which can lead to just a few spots available to a larger applicant pool. Even so, British, Canadian, and Australian profiles tend to do much better in US admissions than Chinese and Indian profiles with higher GPA and GRE scores and more research results. Despite facing the same funding barriers, the former applicants are not hindered by poorly written essays. Advisers want to be able to easily communicate with their students and not have to correct a large number of language errors in paper drafts etc. So, at minimum, I suggest you have more than one native English speaker look over your application materials.

gaugeinvariance
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:33 am

Re: Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

Post by gaugeinvariance » Sat Nov 14, 2020 5:15 am

To begin with, thank you for the valuable advices from all of my dearest mates in this forum. I have been discussing this TOEFL issue with my classmates too, and the answers are, similar to what happened in this post, quite divergent. Here is the thing, I would definitely like to apply and pursue for Top-Tier schools for their ASTROPHYSICS or PHYSICS program such as:

CALTECH, CORNELL, UIUC, GEORGIA TECH, NORTHWESTERN, UCSB, NOTRE DAME, PENN STATE, UCSC, WASHINGTON STATE, STONY BROOK, CARNEGIE MELLON, ARIZONA, MIT, HAVARD, VIRGINIA PRINCETON, UC BOULDER, STANDFORD, JOHN HOPKINS, PITTSBURGH, NORTH CAROLINA STATE, MARYLAND,

My major concern is, does my TOEFL scores enough to get into these schools? Would TOEFL scores be one of the factor for students selection? Would my TOEFL scores in speaking hurts, especially if I wanted to be admitted into these TOP-TIER schools? Which schools would I probably failed to get into with my current TOEFL scores?

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Nishikata
Posts: 231
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Re: Should I retake the TOEFL exam?

Post by Nishikata » Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:29 am

does my TOEFL scores enough to get into these schools?
good TOEFL scores are necessary but not sufficient
Would TOEFL scores be one of the factor for students selection?
TOEFL scores, logically, aren't used to compare applicant A vs applicant B.
It is used to assess whether an applicant has sufficient proficiency of the English language to study at grad school level.
Would my TOEFL scores in speaking hurts, especially if I wanted to be admitted into these TOP-TIER schools?
Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what the AdCom has for breakfast when looking at your files.

If they think it is lacking, they could ask for interview or ask you to fulfill the score requirement before a certain deadline.
If the rest of your files are not good enough anyway, they'll reject.
Which schools would I probably failed to get into with my current TOEFL scores?
You'll be failed/accepted mainly by your physics aptitude and not by TOEFL scores.
This means from your SOP, GPA, Recommendations, Publications, etc.



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