TOEFL for MBA Admissions |

TOEFL for MBA Admissions

By QS Contributor

Updated January 2, 2024 Updated January 2, 2024

Most international business school applicants will need to take an English test as part of the business school admissions process. Most business schools accept the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).


What is TOEFL?

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the world's most popular English-language test. The test is designed to show whether or not an applicant has the necessary English-language skills for effective communication in an academic environment. The test scores explain an applicant's English-skill level. TOEFL scores are accepted at 6,000 colleges in 130 countries, including top schools in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
There are two different versions of the TOEFL -- the TOEFL iBT (Internet-based) and the TOEFL PBT (paper-based). The majority of TOEFL takers -- 96% -- choose the TOEFL iBT.

The format you take depends on what test center you choose. If you choose the TOEFL iBT, you can take the test in as little as 1 to 4 weeks in most countries. The TOEFL PBT, however, will be phased out starting this year. For some applicants, this means that May 2012 will be the last time they will be able to take the TOEFL PBT.  That's why the rest of this article will focus on the TOEFL iBT.

TOEFL Format

The TOEFL iBT is made up of four sections and a mandatory break after the listening section:

Reading Section

  • Activity: Answering questions based on excerpts from academic texts
  • Time limit: 60-80 minutes
  • Number of questions: 36-56
  • Tip: Due to changes to the reading section, the time to answer questions varies. Make sure you read the instructions carefully so you know how much time you have.

Listening Section

  • Activity: Answering questions based on lectures, classroom discussions and conversations delivered over a headset
  • Time limit: 60-90 minutes
  • Number of questions: 34 to 51

Speaking Section

  • Activity: Expressing an opinion on a familiar topic, speaking based on reading and listening tasks
  • Time limit: 20 minutes
  • Number of tasks: 6
  • Recording method: In addition to wearing headphones, the test takers will speak into a microphone. The answers are digitally recorded and submitted for evaluation by 3 to 6 certified ETS raters. According to ETS, all the raters are monitored on a regular basis to ensure accuracy and quality control.

Writing Section

  • Activity: Writing essays in response to reading and listening tasks, supporting your opinion in writing.
  • Time limit: 50 minutes
  • Number of tasks: 2
  • Tips: Responses will be written using a standard English-language QWERTTY keyboard, so ETS recommends that test takers practice typing on a QWERTY key board to prepare for the writing section. Responses are sent to 4 certified raters.

MBA TOEFL Requirements

Here are the minimum TOEFL score requirements for some top business schools:

School Name TOEFL ScoreNotesHarvard Business School109Admissions discourages anyone with a lower score from applying.Columbia Business SchoolRequiredNo minimum score provided.Wharton School of the University of PennsylvaniaRequiredNo minimum score. TOEFL requirement may be waived for some candidates.MIT Sloan School of ManagementNot requiredOptional. The GMAT verbal is used to asses English ability.The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business104Those with lower scores can still apply, but need to meet other language requirements.Stanford Graduate School of Business100 UC Berkeley Haas School of Business68 Yale School of Management100No minimum score -- 100+ is what's needed to be competitiveRoss School of Business (Michigan)100 Kellogg School of Management100TOEFL requirement may be waived for some candidates.TuckRequiredNo minimum score. TOEFL requirement may be waived for some candidates.Fuqua School of Business (Duke)RequiredNo minimum score. TOEFL requirement may be waived for some candidates.Darden, University of Virginia106Score listed is the average. TOEFL requirement may be waived for some candidates.NYU SternRequiredNo minimum score. TOEFL requirement may be waived for some candidates.Johnson (Cornell)RequiredNo minimum score. UCLA Anderson100Strongly advised even for those educated in English.Tepper (Carnegie Mellon) RequiredNo minimum score. TOEFL requirement may be waived for some candidates.INSEAD 105 IE RequiredNo minimum score. TOEFL requirement may be waived for some candidates.

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This article was originally published in March 2012 . It was last updated in January 2024

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