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30K+ Students Counselled

TOEFL IBT Vs PBT: Choosing Between Digital Or Traditional

People trying to study, work or migrate abroad, especially to an English-speaking country, must prove their English proficiency since most of the communication is done in English. This proof cannot be a casual display but something documented and assessed by a third party. This is where English proficiency tests come as an aid and there are many of them. However, a popular and also gold standard among them can be TOEFL or the Test Of English as a Foreign Language. This exam has options within itself and people usually get confused between ‘TOEFL IBT vs PBT.’

The blog below will help in better understanding the two choices and what might be a good option.

What Is TOEFL IBT?

TOEFL IBT or Internet-Based Test is as the name says an online version of the classic TOEFL exam. This version was implemented in the year 2020 as an alternative during covid times and stayed on. The internet based test can be taken from the comfort of the house or anywhere else for that matter caveat being the right equipment is available. The necessary essentials are an isolated room, a computer with a stable internet connection, a speaker, a microphone, and a webcam. The exam can be taken 24 hours a day and 4 days a week but registrations have to be done 24 hours before the exam.

Almost all of the major universities, colleges, and government agencies accept TOEFL IBT in over 150 countries. The exam is conducted in most countries as well, with the only exceptions being Mainland China and Iran. The fundamentals between TOEFL IBT vs PBT still remain the same with the only alteration seen in the mode of taking the exam.

What Is TOEFL PBT?

The other and classic option for the TOEFL exam is PBT or a paper-based test. This version of the test has to be taken in an examination centre in a written format. Since the exam is taken offline, a certain venue and time slot have to be selected before appearing for the examination. Due to the convenience and comfort of modern technology, the PBT method is less favoured currently and also many universities prefer the IBT format that the PBT. Regardless, the PBT method can still be opted for and a large number of institutes continue to accept the PBT scores too. 

Sometimes the feel of a pen/pencil on paper can be substantial for people and might help with the flow of things. It may be a very individualistic experience but there are some benefits that do come with it. 

Exam Format: TOEFL IBT Vs PBT

The examination format for the two are widely different with changes in the sections, duration, and also scoring system. A breakdown of TOEFL IBT and PBT is mentioned below in different aspects.

Score Grading

The scoring system between TOEFL IBT and PBT is done differently. For PBT the test is scored between 310 to 677, along with the reading, listening, and structure and written expression is scored between 31 to 67 points. While the speaking section is scored between 0 to 6. Multiplying each of the scores by 10 and then dividing the sum by 3 gives the total score.

The scoring range for the IBT option is between 0 to 120, with a score range of 0 to 30 for all four individual sections. A score of 110 and above is generally favoured by most institutes. 

Sections

With TOEFL being an English proficiency test, the core elements that it assesses are writing, reading, listening, and speaking therefore these or some parts of these will be present in both methods. The section breakdown between TOEFL IBT vs PBT is mentioned below.

TOEFL IBT 

  • Reading – 3 to 4 passages are given and 10 questions per passage need to be answered.
  • Writing – 2 separate essays have to be written based on two different topics.
  • Listening – 3 class discussions and lectures and 6 questions are asked based on that and 2 more casual conversations and 5 questions related to that.
  • Speaking – 4 speaking tasks which include providing an opinion on a topic, speaking about a topic after a few seconds of preparation and final interview questions.

TOEFL PBT

  • Reading – 50 questions are asked based on the passages that are given to the students to read.
  • Writing – One essay within a certain word limit has to be written based on the prompt provided.
  • Listening – Audio recordings of conversations and lectures are provided to the student and based on that 50 multiple-choice questions have to be answered.
  • Structure and Written expression – 40 questions based on appropriate sentence structure and grammar usage. These are also multiple-choice questions.

Duration

Between the TOEFL IBT and PBT, the former has an exam duration of 4 hours while the latter lasts for 3 hours. This is because TOEFL PBT does not include a speaking test instead of which there is a section called Structure and Written Expression. This section presents students with 40 questions that assess their grammar capability of the student. The individual duration for each of the section is as follows –

SectionsTOEFL IBT TOEFL PBT
Reading 54 to 74 mins55 mins
Writing 50 mins30 mins
Listening41 to 57 mins30 to 40 mins
Speaking/Structure and Written expression17 t0 20 mins25 min

How To Apply: TOEFL IBT Vs PBT

The below steps need to be followed when applying for the TOEFL tests.

TOEFL IBT

  1. Visit the ETS website and create an account by providing personal information, a valid government ID, and strong login credentials.
  2. Choose a specific test date and location based on preference and availability.
  3. Pay the registration fees which typically range from $160 to $250 online.
  4. Provide documents like a passport, date of birth, and other essentials.
  5. Submit the application.
  6. A confirmation email along with the necessary details will be emailed back.

TOEFL PBT

  1. Visit an offline centre which can be located on the ETS website.
  2. Fill in the application with the necessary documents and personal information.
  3. Choose the date and time of the examination.
  4. Pay the registration fees ranging from $160 to $250 at the centre.
  5. A confirmation email with the location, date, and time will be sent.

Which Is Better Between TOEFL IBT Vs PBT

It has to be noted that TOEFL is a global standard when it comes to English proficiency tests as it can grant access to a multitude of opportunities abroad. However, among the two, IBT is a purely digital endeavour while PBT is written on paper. The former has more convenience while the latter is more traditional. Adding on to this, after the advent of IBT, PBT has dropped in popularity and few institutes have also stopped accepting it. Nevertheless, both are still valid in a multitude of places. Finally, IBT does seem more suitable in the long run but individual preference also dictates favourites.

If you liked reading this blog on ‘TOEFL IBT Vs PBT: Choosing Between Digital Or Traditional’ then make sure you check out our other articles link below 

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1 thought on “Top PGDM Courses In Canada: Universities, Specialisations & Eligibility”

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