The Difference Between The TOEFL iBT vs PBT

Although both the TOEFL iBT (internet-based) and TOEFL PBT (paper-based) are called the TOEFL, they are a separate entities. Here is the difference between the TOEFL iBT vs PBT.

Availability and Administration of the TOEFL iBT vs PBT

  • In terms of availability and administration, the TOEFL internet-based test (iBT) and paper-based test (PBT) are vastly different.
  • The iBT was developed in the late 1990s and released to the public in 2005, and it has nearly totally superseded the PBT in the years thereafter.
  • The TOEFL iBT is now taken by more than 97 per cent of students, and the PBT exists solely because internet testing is not yet universally available.
  • The iBT is offered exclusively in most countries throughout the world, and because of the ease of internet testing, finding a test date for the iBT is much easier than for the PBT.
  • The iBT can be taken practically any Friday or Saturday of the year, whereas the PBT is only given once a month at most in the few sites that provide it.
  • Paper tests are more expensive to proctor, transport, and assess, which is why the PBT is less widely available.

Content and Structure of the TOEFL iBT vs PBT

The iBT and the PBT also have significant differences in content.

TOEFL iBTTOEFL  PBT
the iBT can last from three hours and 20 minutes to four hours and 10 minutes.The total test takes about two hours and 20-30 minutes.
The TOEFL iBT is a Computer-Based exam.The TOEFL PBT is a Paper-Based exam.
It has 4 sections: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.It has 4 sections: Reading, Writing, Listening, Structure and Written Expression.
TOEFL iBT evaluates spoken English with a dedicated section.TOEFL PBT does not assess speaking skills at all.
TOEFL iBT does not assess Structure and Written Expression skills at all.The PBT’s Structure and Written Expression section, in which test-takers must complete or correct sentences.
The iBT writing section, 2 tasks in 60 minutes.It lasted just 30 minutes and with a single essay prompt.
The iBT measures a greater range of writing skills.The PBT is a much more limited assessment.

TOEFL iBT vs PBT Scoring

TOEFL PBT was scored on a scale of 310 to 677 which included only the first three sections of the test. The writing section was not included in the overall score, it was instead reported separately on a scale of 0 to 6.

  • 31-68 (Listening Comprehension and Structure and Written Expression),
  • 31-67 (Reading Comprehension),
  • and 1-6 (TWE).
  • The writing section was not included in the overall score.

While in the TOEFL iBT, the four sectional scores of 0-30 each (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) and a total score that is the sum of all four sectional scores (0-120).


The TOEFL iBT is increasingly becoming the more popular of the two tests, but the TOEFL PBT, despite its decline in popularity, still has loyal fans.

We hope that after reading this blog, which compares the TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT, you’ve discovered the right test for you! If you’re still not sure which test is right for you, consider your target universities.