Launched in 1963, the TOEFL is the most widely accepted English language test in the world. Since its inception, the TOEFL has undergone significant changes. One of the major transformations is its format.

The TOEFL has now switched from a paper-based test to an online test.  The TOEFL iBT (internet-based test) was launched in 2005.

Today, the iBT format has completely replaced the paper-based format all over the world.

Comparing Internet-Based (iBT) and Paper-Based (PBT) TOEFL

The iBT and PBT tests have significant differences in content and scoring. The score range for the PBT is 310–677, while the iBT has a 0–120 score range. Scoring for iBT is less complex than the PBT.

Each section’s score is converted into scaled scores in TOEFL PBT. Therefore, a mathematical formula is used to calculate the total score.

On the other hand, a test taker’s iBT score is determined by adding the scores of all four sections. Each section—reading, writing, speaking, and listening—has a score range from 0–30. The total score is the sum of all four sectional scores (0–120).

Meanwhile, the PBT sectional scores are broken down as follows; listening comprehension and structure and written expression (31–68); (reading comprehension (31–67) and TWE (1–6).

Both TOEFL iBT and PBT comprise four sections. However, the PBT test has a grammar section, while the iBT has a speaking section in place of grammar. The iBT’s speaking and writing sections check a candidate’s grammar.

In addition, test takers have to complete only one written essay in the PBT test, while the iBT has two essays. Furthermore, the reading passages in the iBT are typically longer than those in the PBT. Also, test takers are supposed to write two essays. Therefore, TOEFL iBT is an hour longer than the PBT test.

Online Test

Why the Online Method is Better Than the Paper-Based Method

TOEFL iBT scores continue to be accepted in over 10,000 universities worldwide for admission. The online test aims to assess a non-native’s proficiency in the English language. It’s considered a valid, reliable standardised language test because of the following reasons:

It’s Convenient for Everyone

From test takers to Educational Testing Service (ETS)—the primary organisation that handles the TOEFL iBT test—online testing offers a great deal of convenience to everyone.

Test takers, no matter where they live, can find a test date and register for the test online. They even have the option to pay for the test registration fee online.

Not to mention, the PBT format can be exhausting because test takers have to address multiple choice questions on paper. On the other hand, the iBT involves using a mouse, keyboard and headphones to answer multiple choice questions, which saves time, effort and paper.

Allows More Testing

The ETS has designated its authorised testing centre all over the world. As of now, TOEFL iBT is held in over 4,500 authorised test centres in more than 165 countries across the world. Keep in mind, the test is taken  all-year-round. The fact that the test is performed online makes this possible.

An online test is much easier to create, administer and maintain as compared to a paper test. The ETS doesn’t need to invest in sheets of test papers or interviewers for the TOEFL. This is why the iBT test is now universally available, even in less developed countries.

Ensures Faster, More Accurate Scoring

The iBT test offers a quick way to report test scores to candidates all over the world. Test takers can view their scores online, usually 10 days after taking the test. They receive an email from the ETS that their scores are available online.

Once they receive the email, they are required to log in to their TOEFL iBT account on the TOEFL® registration website  and click ‘View Scores’ on the home page.

At the same time, test takers can also obtain hard copies of their score reports within 13–15 days, following the test date. They can send their official scores to  4 universities for free. If anyone needs additional score report copies, they will be charged US $19.00 per copy.

As universities have strict admission deadlines, the iBT test is the fastest and safest method to send your official score report to your desired universities. Keep in mind, score report delivery takes some time, which is around 7 to 10 days for delivery in the United States and 4 to 6 weeks for places outside the United States.

It’s More Practical Than a  Paper-Based Test

Computers are used extensively in modern universities. Students use computers for research and report writing. Similarly, multimedia presentations have replaced traditional presentations.

The iBT test is more suited to the requirements of modern colleges and universities.

Ready to take the iBT test? First off, you have to make a TOEFL account and then find a test date at your test centre. Once this is done, you can pay the test registration fees online or through mail or phone. As mentioned earlier, online payment is the quickest way to register for the test.

The sooner you register, the better. The demand for the iBT test is high worldwide and so test seats fill up quickly.


Last, but not least, the iBT score is only valid for two years (after the test date). You can retake the test multiple times. However, candidates can’t take the test twice in a 12-day period.

After registration, it’s important that you practice as much as you can to get a decent score. If you need help preparing for the IBT test, uMasterExam has everything you need.

The online TOEFL prep guide provides unlimited information, study resources and materials to help students prepare for the TOEFL iBT test.

You will find the best preparation guides, courses and practice tests, and a complete list of TOEFL tutors worldwide.

Start your TOEFL iBT preparation now with uMasterExam! The simple, effective, user-friendly website has all the information you need to pass the TOEFL exam with flying colors!


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