The TOEFL is owned by Educational Testing Service (ETS), a huge American non-profit organization based in Princeton, New Jersey, with many for-profit subsidiaries in other countries. The fees for TOEFL go to ETS in large part, and it is ETS that grades the TOEFL iBT, using software for the multiple choice questions and large teams of correctors for the written and spoken sections. The test center where you take the TOEFL keeps the rest of the test fee in exchange for ensuring security and correct test administration. Nobody at your test center grades your TOEFL test.


The TOEFL was not built by ETS originally. It was designed in the early 1960’s at Stanford University in order to address the problem of assessing the English skills of foreign university students applying to study in the USA. ETS joined the College Board in 1965 to manage the TOEFL jointly, and from 1973 onward, ETS has been managing the TOEFL independently.

Other tests

The TOEFL is not the only test run by ETS. ETS is also the organization behind the TOEIC (for business English, mainly in Asia), the SAT (for American high school students), the GRE (for American college students), and many other American state exams for primary and secondary school students. ETS is a huge organization and is estimated to administer over 50 million tests a year worldwide. ETS’s TOEFL has been taken by over 35 million people.