TOEFL IBT x TOEFL ITP – Which one should I choose?

Hello Exam Seekers,

Today somebody asked me the differences between the TOEFL IBT and the TOEFL ITP. Do you know the differences between them? Well, I decided to help you guys with that!


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 countries to take a master’s or a doctorate degree.

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

It all began in 1962 when a national council in the US 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 developing and administering the TOEFL exam for the 1963-1964 time frame.

A couple of decades later, ETS (Educational Testing Service) finally regulated the TOEFL, and to the present days, it is accepted in most parts of the world. It is actually, in my opinion, 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 of exams, 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 PDT (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 on 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 The CBT was discontinued in September 2006, and these scores are no longer valid.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, 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 evaluate non-native English speakers’ English-language proficiency. 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 match 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. 

OBS: Since May 2022 the Speaking test has been available with the digital TOEFL ITP Level 1 or Level 2 test.

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

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 since 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. according to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference):

TOEFL TOIC IELTS CEFR punctuation table

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 out your goal and choose one of the above.

Good luck in finding your ideal test. I hope I have cleared some questions and made your choice easier. Either way, if you still have questions, make sure to comment in the comment section below.


That’s it for today! Please like the post and follow the blog on:

You can also listen to this post at Anchor!!!

Have a great week,
Patricia Moura


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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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