TOEFL IBT is the version of the test that is most widely used today. IBT stands for Internet Based Test. The entire TOEFL IBT is done on a computer and it is the first TOEFL test to have Speaking questions. It started in 2005 and replaced the CBT (Computer Based Test) which started the trend towards computer-based testing. From 1964 to 1998, the only TOEFL version available was the PBT (Paper Based Test). The PBT test is still offered by ETS, but only in countries where testing via the Internet is not possible. The PBT format was changed in June 2017. For details about the current PBT, see the ETS page
The parts of the TOEFL test have changed with each new version. Things like the question types, test sections, number of questions, and scoring tables have changed a lot. ETS has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the IBT system to show their university customers that the TOEFL is an accurate measure of your English level. Your US$205 fee (cost varies by location) helps them to recover this cost.
The info in this guide only covers the TOEFL IBT. This guide emphasizes the current format of the IBT that has been in use since 2007, including the revisions to the test format inclusive to August 2019.
The length of the TOEFL IBT test takes has gotten shorter over the years. It's gone from taking over 4 hours to complete down to about three hours as of August 2019. The length of the test varies a bit as the Reading section can take from 54 to 72 minutes, and the Listening section ranges from 41 to 57 minutes. Speaking is around 17 minutes. Writing is always 50 minutes.
You will do the four sections in this order: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. The number of questions in Reading varies from 30 to 40 questions. The number of Listening questions varies from 28 to 39. ETS likes to put in new questions that don't count into each section to find out how hard or easy they are. You will never know which questions don't count, so you have to try your best on all of them. There are always 4 tasks in Speaking and 2 tasks in Writing.
This guide will cover the question types in more detail later on. You will see mostly multiple choice questions in the Reading and Listening parts. With multiple choice questions, there are always 4 answer options and only one correct answer.
The highest total score for the TOEFL IBT test is 120. Each of the 4 sections has a maximum score value of 30.
When you take the TOEFL IBT at your local ETS authorized test center, there is a 10 minute break after the Reading and Listening sections have been completed. The entire test must be completed in one session, and if you leave without finishing the test, you will need to register and pay to take the entire test over again.
To quickly see what the TOEFL IBT format is like, check out our IBT demo. You can get a better understanding of what the TOEFL IBT is like if you take one of TestDEN's free mini TOEFL sample tests.
You can get more information on the official TOEFL IBT test by going to the ETS website.