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Home > Differences between Internet and Paper based TOEFL Test

TOEFL test is undeniably the world’s most popular English Language test. It is conducted at over 45000 administration site across 165 countries. The test so far has been taken by about 25 million students so far. The TOEFL is now conducted globally in two formats Internet Based Test (IBT) and Paper Based Test (PBT). It is very important to know the difference between the two tests in terms of pattern, structure and benefits according to individual applicant. Wisdom Mart bring you a detailed comparison of the two tests to help you understand TOEFL better and shorten the distance between you and your dream college. Read on…

IBT is four hour long and PBT in 3 hour long. IBT requires integrated tasks and note taking while PBT does not require any of it. While listening, reading and writing are common to both the tests, IBT has speaking as the fourth section and PBT has Structure which is majorly based on grammar.

Due to their different structure, there is also a difference in the time duration of both the tests. While IBT is for four hours, the duration of paper based test is only 3 hours. Following is a section wise comparison for IBT and PBT tests:


The Internet Based TOEFL exam can consist of 3 to 5 passages of around 700 words each. Each passage contains 12-14 questions often based on comparison, contrast and cause & effect. The Paper Based Test or PBT is always made up of 5 passages from academic texts which are around 250-350 words long. The ideal time for reading section IBT is 60-100 minutes and the score scale of section is from 0-30. While the ideal time for paper based text is around 55 minutes and the score scale is between 31 and 67.


The listening section in TOEFL IBT is made up of 4-6 lectures (some with classroom discussion) and each lecture is 3-5 minutes long with 6 questions. For PBT, there are 3-4 mini talks, each one around 60-90 seconds and with 3-5 questions. In the next phase of IBT there are 2-3 conversations of about 3 minutes and 5 questions each. While in PBT, there are 2-3 extended conversations of 60-90 seconds and 3-5 questions again. PBT has another set of questions. These are about 30-40 dialogues followed by 1 question each dialogue. The duration of these dialogues is not more than 15 seconds each. The time for IBT should be between 60 to 90 minutes and it has a score scale of 0-30. While the time for PBT should be around 30-40 minutes with a score scale of 31-68.


As we mentioned before, there is no speaking section in Paper Based TOEFL. In IBT, there are Six tasks is speaking section. 2 of these are independent where candidate has to express an opinion on a familiar topic. The other 4 are integrated tasks where candidate is expected to speak on basis of what is read and heard. The candidate gets about 30 seconds to prepare and 1 minute to respond for each task. The total time allotted is 20 minutes. The score of speaking section in IBT is on a scale of 0-4 which is converted to a 0-30 score scale.


In writing section of PBT, there is only one independent task (Test of Written English) to be ‘written’ in 30 minutes. In IBT, there are two tasks, one integrated (write on basis of what is read and heard) and one independent ( support and opinion on a topic). The time allotted is 20 and 30 minutes respectively. The score scale of 0-5 is converted into ratings of 0-30 score scale.


While grammar is evaluated in speaking and writing sections, there is no separate grammar section in Internet Based Test. In the Paper Based Test, there are a total of 40 questions to be done in 25 minutes and the score scale is between 31 and 68.


The total score of IBT exam is from 0-120 and the total score of PBT exam is from 310-677. The IBT version scores on the fact that in it, a candidate gets performance feedback for each skill in the test taker report, which is missing in PBT.

Acquainted these facts about IBT and PBT, we hope now you are in a better and more informed state to prepare and appear for TOEFL.


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