What is the Difference Between TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT?

What is the Difference Between TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT?

By Brianna Burrows

International students have to make many decisions when planning to study in the USA. Some will have to decide if they need to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam depending on the program to which they are applying. In general, most international students will take the TOEFL exam, once they have decided to study in the USA. Most international students, do not know there are two versions of the TOEFL exam.


The TOEFL iBT exam is given online through the Internet at designated testing sites. It is recommended that you have basic typing skills in order to complete this exam in a timely manner. This exam measures writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills. The test is administered very frequently throughout the year at various locations. The test takes about 3-4 hours to complete. This format of the exam is generally the only option students will have at most locations where they will be taking the TOEFL exam.


TOEFL PBT exam is administered via a paper and pencil format. This exam measures listening, reading, writing and grammar skills. This exam is only offered in areas where Internet is not available. The test takes about 2.5 hours to complete. This exam is being phased out and the TOEFL iBT will be the primary TOEFL exam given to international students.

You can find testing locations and dates here. Regardless of which exam you take, it’s important to know the score you need to achieve for admissions. Luckily, you are allowed to take all formats of the TOEFL exam as many times as you need. You should prepare well-in-advance of your test date by taking practice exams and speaking with a native English speaker, if possible. If you study and practice, many months before the test, you are bound to do well!   

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Brianna Burrows is a freelance marketing specialist and alumna of Northeastern University. She specializes in event management, social media management, and content branding. Follow her on Twitter here.   

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