TOEFL Insider: A Test Preparation Blog

TOEFL PBT or IBT—Which Test Should I Take? ©

Many of you have dreams of studying or working successfully in America. If you are applying for admission to an American high school or college, sooner you will probably need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or some other standardized test.

Testing centers in some countries only offer the Internet-based TOEFL (iBT), while some may offer both the iBT and paper-based TOEFL (PBT). Only the iBT is currently being offered by testing centers in many countries In Asia-particularly, China, Japan and Korea. Testing centers in Australia, and certain countries in Europe and the Middle East, however, offer both the iBT and PBT.

Recent changes have made it more convenient for test takers to take the TOEFL. You can take the TOEFL at a physical location or on-line through the Internet. Keep in mind, however, that each of these tests differ in terms of structure, content and difficulty.

The Internet –based TOEFL, or iBT, requires that you speak, listen write and read English. Though no isolated vocabulary questions are on the test, you must have advanced word knowledge to understand terms used in the context of reading passages.

The paper-based TOEFL, or TOEFL—PBT, does not require that you speak on the exam. However, you must apply your knowledge of grammar and composition as you write essays and responses to questions. In addition, you must also have intermediate to advance listening skills to score well on the TOEF-PBT.

The scores on each test also vary. iBT scores range from a minimum score of 0 to a maximum score of 120. The TOEFL—PBT score ranges from a maximum score of 200-800 points.  Most colleges require scores of 80 (iBT) or 500 (PBT). The iBT is quite challenging, so choose your test carefully.

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Criteria Internet-Based TOEFL (iBT) Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT)
Listening 33-35 questions (60-90 minutes 55 questions
Speaking Respond to six tasks questions (20 minutes) No spoken questions or responses
Listening/Speaking Included in test items Forty (40) questions
Structure No questions included 50 questions
Reading Comprehension 36-56 questions (60-80 minutes) 50 questions
Reading & Speaking No questions included Questions included in test
Writing Write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing (50 minutes); Two tasks Two questions/prompts
Listening & Writing Included in test No questions included
TIME LIMITS Four (4) hours Two (2) hours