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TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT: iBT stands for the Internet-Based Test and PBT stands for the Paper-Based test, which are different types of the TOEFL test. TOEFL is the choicest English proficiency test that evaluates applicants’ proficiency in the English language. This test is one of the major requirements for students planning to study abroad. Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is accepted across a variety of universities abroad and helps students start their journey abroad.

Earlier, Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) and Paper-Based Test (TOEFL PBT) were the two components of the same exam. Thus, it often gets confusing for students to choose the right version of it. Here is a blog that will elucidate the differences between TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT comprehensively!

TOEFL Exam 2021 Update

TOEFL has undergone a major change this year owing to the uncertain circumstances related to COVID-19. The ETS has declared to discontinue the TOEFL PBT format. Thus, TOEFL is now available in only computer-based format. Within the category of TOEFL iBT (Computer-based), the authorities have released a new format- TOEFL iBT Home Edition under which students can appear for the exam from their homes only. Let us know more about this new format of test.

TOEFL iBT Home Edition

During the lockdown phase of 2020, ETS has launched a special version of the TOEFL test – TOEFL iBT Home Edition. This version of the test allows you to take the examination from the comfort of your home provided that you have all the essential equipment required. Listed below are some of the essential pointers related to TOEFL iBT Home Edition- 

  • Generally, all the countries except Mainland China and Iran offer this format of test
  • It is exactly similar in terms of content format and on-screen experience for a test taker when compared to a test centre
  • It is taken on your own computer at home and is monitored by a human protector online through ProctorU
  • It is available for 24 hours a day, 4 days a week and you can take appointment as early as 24 hours after your registration 

Here are some of the essentials you need to have before you appear for this format-

  • Computer
  • Browser download and equipment check
  • Speaker
  • Microphone
  • Camera
  • Tabletop and seating

What is TOEFL iBT and PBT?

Along with their medium, both the tests have different formats. While iBT is conducted online, the PBT exam is pen-paper based. Furthermore, with recent changes in the format, there is a variation in the duration of the tests too. TOEFL iBT is a 4-hour long exam, whereas TOEFL PBT lasts for 3 hours. 

  • When it comes to the sections, TOEFL iBT has Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking sections. As it is a computer-based test, candidates will see the questions on the computer and will record their responses through a keyboard/ microphone.
  • On the other hand, TOEFL PBT consists of Reading, Writing, Listening section. However, instead of Speaking, the 4th section is Structure and Written Expression. All the responses in the PBT test will be recorded in the pen-paper medium.

Now that you know the major difference between TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT in terms of format and sections, let us analyze the sectional differences between both variants. 

How to Crack TOEFL in 3 Months?

TOEFL iBT vs. TOEFL PBT: Reading 

The TOEFL iBT test includes 3-5 reading passages which the candidates have to solve in a time limit of 54-72 minutes. Based on their performance, applicants will be scored on a scale of 0-30. For the TOEFL PBT test, there will be 5 passages with a shorter word limit as compared to TOEFL iBT. The total duration to solve the section would be 55 minutes and the score range will be 31-67.

Listening Section Comparison

The Listening component of TOEFL iBT will offer 4-6 lectures along with 2-3 conversational recordings. To solve the questions based on them, candidates will be given a time limit of 41-57 minutes. While comparing TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT, the listening test of the latter consists of 3-4 mini-talks and 2-3 extended conversations which has to be solved in a time limit of 30-40 minutes. The iBT test will be scored between 0-30 and PBT ranges from 31-68.

TOEFL iBT vs. TOEFL PBT: Writing 

The Writing section, which is also the most important part of the TOEFL test, differs in both variants. The TOEFL iBT will have 2 questions, Integrated writing and Independent writing. This has to be completed in 50 minutes. The aspirants will be given marks on a scale of 0-5. Another important difference when it comes to TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT of the Writing section is that the PBT includes only 1 independent task with a time limit of 30 minutes. The PBT test is scored between 0-30 scale and iBT between 0-5.

Till now we have discussed the sections that were common to both the tests, in the TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT discussion, let us explore the parts that are exclusive to respective versions.

TOEFL iBT Speaking 

In a stipulated time of around 17-20 minutes, candidates will have to record their responses through microphones. The questions in this section would be about your personal life, achievements, hobbies, interests, friends, family, etc. Want to practise some questions? Then here is our blog on TOEFL sample speaking questions!

TOEFL PBT: Structure and Written Expression

In place of speaking assessment, there is a written test for grammar in the TOEFL PBT test called Structure and Written Expression. In this section, candidates have to solve around 40 questions in a time limit of 25 minutes. The questions of this test will be based on the intricate rules of grammar. 


Duration4 Hours3 Hours
Mode of ExamComputer-BasedPen-paper Based
SectionsReading, Writing, Listening and SpeakingReading, Writing, Listening, Structure and Written Expression
Score Scale [Reading Section]0-3031-67
Score Scale [Listening Section]0-3031-68
Score Scale [Writing Section]0-50-30

We hope that after reading this blog, which highlights the differences between TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT, you must have found a suitable version of the test! If you are still confused and want to have a detailed insight of these variants of the TOEFL test, book an online session with our experts at Leverage Edu and they will not only help you choose the ideal variant but will also help you in TOEFL preparation!

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