I heard that if you take TOEFL exam several time your score will never decrease. Is it correct?

It seems rational, if TOEFL is a standard test, its difficulty level should be equal in all exams. For example if in your first try you get 28 in reading and it shows your good skill in reading, it's not rational that ETS assign a lower score in successive exams.

I took exam for second time after ten days of my first attempt. I feel the reading section was harder than my previous exam. If TOEFL is a normalized exam, its evaluation of my skill in reading should not be decreased in such short period.

  • 5
    If you didn't read as well the second time, why would it be irrational to give you a lower reading score?
    – JeffE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 5:43
  • @JeffE My skill could not be degrades during such short times. By the way TOEFL score are valid for two years. A degradation can only show a flaw in exam design. Dec 16, 2013 at 5:45
  • 15
    Of course it could! Maybe you had a headache. Maybe you slept badly. Maybe you ate something that disagreed with you. Maybe your glasses were dirty. Maybe you got lucky the first time.
    – JeffE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 5:49
  • 5
    Sure, but why is an opposing opinion irrational? If having dirty glasses adversely affects your reading ability, and your glasses are often dirty, then the lower score is arguably a more accurate reflection of your reading ability in practice.
    – JeffE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 5:53
  • 3
    Altough your English skill determines what score you get, other factors, like you do not familiar with the topic you read, as well as random events, like @JeffE mentioned, will also influnece your score. Dec 16, 2013 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


It is possible.

As an International student, I have taken TOEFL 4 times in one and a half year. Personally, I increased my score in every section at every exam.

However, it does not suggest you will always improve your score. The reason is simple. Assume you do not spend time on learning English regularly between two exams. In fact, your score is a random variable with constant mean and variance. You may have got 28 in reading last time and 26 next time.

If you spend a lot of time on improving English skills, you may still get a lower score in writing and speaking sections. For those secitons you can apply for rescoring service.

  • 6
    +1 for "mean and variance". Remember that the exam itself has "mean and variance" of the difficulty level. High quality exam like TOEFL should have a low variance, but "should have" and "do have" are quite different.
    – yo'
    Dec 16, 2013 at 15:20

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