You can use the below charts to find out how many hours of study it will take to reach a target TOEIC level from your current level. For example, if your current level is TOEIC 400, and your target is the 700 point level, it will take you approximately 750 hours of study to achieve your goal. It is important to note that it takes many more hours of study to raise one's TOEIC score at the upper end of the scale than at the lower end. For example, it takes about 100 hours of training to raise a score from 200 to 300 points, but it takes an estimated 400 hours to raise a score from 800 to 900 points.

Estimated Hours of Study Needed to Progress Between TOEIC Levels

--> 100 hrs 250 hrs 450 hrs 700 hrs 1000 hrs 1350 hrs 1750 hrs
--> 150 hrs 350 hrs 600 hrs 900 hrs 1250 hrs 1650 hrs
--> 200 hrs 450 hrs 750 hrs 1100 hrs 1500 hrs
--> 250 hrs 550 hrs 900 hrs 1300 hrs
--> 300 hrs 650 hrs 1050 hrs
--> 350 hrs 750 hrs
--> 400 hrs

Please remember that these figures are all rough approximations. Many factors will influence your progress, including how hard you work, your native ability, and the quality of instruction you receive. From these charts, you should be able to get a realistic idea of how long it will take you to reach your goal. If you can estimate how long it will take you to learn English, you can avoid the unrealistic expectations that lead so many students to feel disappointed with their progress. So the next time you see a book in the book store with a title like "Perfect English in Only 20 Days," you will know that that is not only a wild exaggeration, it is impossible!

The TOEIC (Test Of English for International Communication) is probably the most cost effective and readily available way of evaluating an employees English skills, and for this reason, about 2,400 companies in Japan are now using it. The test was developed by ETS (Educational Testing Service), the same company that produces the GMAT test. Scores range from 10 to 990 with steps of five points. As a point of reference, TOEIC 730 (which is approximately equivalent to TOEFL 550*) is considered by most U.S. universities to be the minimum English proficiency level to begin academic work. Most universities will not accept applicants with scores lower than TOEIC 730. TOEIC 875 (which is approximately equivalent to TOEFL 600) is the minimum standard that most Universities set for applicants to programs where a good command of English is required, for example, an MBA Program.

*TOEIC score x .348+296=TOEFL score. This formula is published by ETS.

It must be said that the TOEIC is not very useful as a precise measure of one’s English skills. It can only indicate an approximate level of development. In fact, the TOEIC is quite ineffective for measuring short term progress. (Short term is defined here as study for approximately 150 hours or less.) Unfortunately, many companies test after only 50 to 100 study hours for the purpose of measuring a students progress. This is wrong. TOEIC has published no guidelines for minimum intervals between testings. This shocking omission may be due to the fact that the more frequently companies use the test, the more money TOEIC makes.

Although TOEIC claims an SEM of 25 (SEM = Standard Error of Measurement - an SEM of 25 indicates that 68% of all test takers fall within a range of plus or minus 25 points from their true scores), various independent studies have indicated that the TOEIC SEM more accurately lies in the range of 35 to 47. Corporate training managers who have experience using this test can readily verify this by analyzing their own score distributions.

So how many hours of instruction are needed before the TOEIC will yield meaningful results? In a large-scale study conducted by Saegusa (Saugusa 1985), 53% of students who received an average of 84 hours of instruction had made gains of less than 50 points, a number which is less than the SEM and therefore statistically meaningless. Saugusa indicates that from 100 to 200 hours of instruction are needed before meaningful TOEIC scores can be obtained.

It is appropriate, however, for corporate training managers to use the TOEIC test to determine the overall effectiveness of their company’s English training program. Using a sample of 30 students or more, it is possible, after a least 100 hours of instruction, to compare group mean pretest and post-test scores and evaluate the results next to the standards indicated on these charts.

In a Research Paper titled “Good and Bad Uses of TOEIC by Japanese Companies,” Dr. Marshall Childs reaches the below five conclusions about the TOEIC test. This information is presented here with the permission of Dr. Childs.

1) Measuring overall group gains in proficiency.

Conclusion: Good under some circumstances. The TOEIC can be used to differentiate some group mean gains between large groups of learners with the caveats that careful measurement of statistical significance is necessary in order to distinguish real gains from illusory ones, and that even if the significance of the gains is established, the causes of the gains may remain problematic.

2) Comparing the performance of different schools or treatments.

Conclusion: Good under some circumstances. the administrator must be aware that the difficulty of raising a TOEIC score is considerably greater at the upper end of the scale than at the lower end.

3) Gauging the progress of individual learners.

Conclusion: Bad. The use of the TOEIC for gauging individual learning is, in general, inefficient or wrong. The variability of TOEIC results defeated their usefulness in measuring learning gains because the SEM (standard error of measurement) was in the range of expected individual gains.

4) Counseling learners on their progress.

Conclusion: Bad. Because of the SEM of TOEIC, test-to-test differences will display very great variability. For example, differences may be negative or they may be very large-and somewhat illusory in both cases. Indeed, the lower results that are frequently encountered in successive tests can have the unfortunate side-effect of demotivating learners.

5) Guide the course of study of individual learners.

Conclusion: Bad. TOEIC is not a diagnostic test and it can not pinpoint learners’ strengths and weaknesses. It can be a rough guide for gauging a learner’s overall level, if the administrator clearly understands the statistical variability of the results.


*Childs, M. (1995) Good and Bad Uses of TOEIC by Japanese Companies. Japan Association of Language Teachers. Language Testing in Japan, 1995

Saegusa Y. (1985) Prediction of English Proficiency Progress. Musashino English and American Literature, Vol. 18 Tokyo: Musashino Women’s University.