Hello Exam Seekers,

Today someone asked me the differences between the TOEFL IBT and the TOEFL ITP and I decided to write a summary for you, guys.


What is the TOEFL?

It is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers. It is usually taken by people who want to enroll in an English-speaking university being that abroad, or in universities in their own country to take a master or a doctorate degree.

We call it an exam, as we’ve explained before because it comprises the four skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. However, TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language® (TOEFL /ˈtoʊfəl/ TOH-fəl).

It all began in 1962, when a national council in the US made up of made up of representatives of thirty government and private organizations was formed to address the problem of ensuring English language proficiency for non-native speakers wishing to study at U.S. universities. This council recommended the development and administration of the TOEFL exam for the 1963-1964 time frame.

A couple of decades later ETS (Educational Testing Service) finally regulamented the TOEFL and to the present days it is accepted in most parts of the world. It is actually more famous than the IELTS (the Cambridge equivalent).

What is the difference between the TOEFL IBT and the TOEFL PDT?

A while ago, there used to have two types an exam, one called CBT (Computer Based Exam) and PBT (Paper Based Test). However, the PBT was available in limited areas until 2017, when it was replaced by the Paper-delivered test.

The PDT scores are valid for two years after the test date and it consists of:

  • Listening: 30-40 minutes of a three-part recording containing a short conversation, a long conversation and a lecture/talk.
  • Structure and Written Expression: 25 minutes to answer 15 exercises of completing sentences correctly and 25 exercises of identifying errors.
  • Reading Comprehension: 55 minutes to answer 50 questions about reading passages.
  • Writing: 30 minutes to write an essay with 250-300 words in average.

Since its introduction in late 2005, the TOEFL Internet-based Test (iBT) format has progressively replaced the computer-based tests (CBT) and the PBT/PDT. The CBT was discontinued in September 2006 and these scores are no longer valid.

The iBT scores are also valid for two years after the test date, but it is a longer exam than the PDT. It consists of:

  • Listening: 60-90 minutes of a 6-9-part recording each 3–5 minutes in length containing two student conversations and four academic lectures or discussions.
  • Speaking: 20 minutes to complete six tasks: two independent and four integrated.
  • Reading Comprehension: 60-80 minutes to answer questions of 3-4 passages, each approximately 700 words in length.
  • Writing: 50 minutes of a 2 task test. First the test-taker reads a text, then listens to a recording, only then writing a summary about them.

What about the TOEFL ITP?

It stands for Institutional Testing Program. They are paper-based tests that use academic content to also evaluate the English-language proficiency of non-native English speakers. The tests use new and previously administered TOEFL test questions and are used for placement, progress, evaluation, exit testing and other situations. The test scores, format and content of the test matches the “TOEFL PBT”.

The ITP tests are administered by the institution and for internal use. It should not replace the need for the TOEFL iBT test, which is administered securely and includes Speaking and Writing components. 

People usually take this exam to measure their level of English for personal reasons or in a educational purposes. It is also taken by people who want to upgrade their résumès or to test their English school efficency.

There are two levels of TOEFL ITP:

  • Level 1 (intermediate to advanced) – 310–677 points.
  • Level 2 (high beginning to intermediate) – 200–500 points.

It is easier than the IBT because it is shorter because, as mentioned, it does not include Speaking and Writing. However it does not replace the IBT as mentioned before.

How are the IBT and the ITP allocated in the CEFR?

Take a look at the punctuation needed for each of the exams.



What is the age requirement?

These exams are usually taken by adults, but there is also a Junior version: TOEFL Junior Tests. It is a general assessment of middle school-level English-language proficiency. It is intended for students aged 11+.

The tests are administered in two formats:

The TOEFL Junior Standard (on paper), which has three sections:

  • Reading Comprehension;
  • Listening Comprehension;
  • Language Form and Meaning.

The TOEFL Junior Comprehensive test (via computer), which has four:

  • Reading Comprehension;
  • Listening Comprehension;
  • Speaking;
  • Writing.


Which one should I take?

All certificates are mapped to the CEFR and provide a certificate of achievement, so you just need to figure your goal and choose one of the above.

Good luck in finding your ideal test. Hope we have cleared some questions and made your choice easier.


Have a great weekend,
Patty and Eve.

Cf. ETS 2007 document “Test and Score Summary for TOEFL Internet Based Test: September 2005-December 2006 Test Data”, p.3, section “History of the TOEFL Program”

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