Different from other English language certificates, TOEFL certificates are divided into different types, each designed for specialty target groups. Therefore, thoroughly researching the type of TOEFL certificate that suits your needs or the requirements of an organization or business is a crucial preparation step. In this article, we introduce to you the TOEFL PBT certificate, one of the commonly used forms of TOEFL certificates. Let’s explore it together!

toefl pbt
A comprehensive guide for test-takers


1. What is TOEFL PBT? 

TOEFL PBT stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language Paper-Based Test.” TOEFL PBT is often conducted in countries where technological infrastructure does not allow for computer-based testing or has special requirements.

TOEFL is an international test used to assess the English proficiency of non-native speakers. This test evaluates the listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills of the candidates. TOEFL PBT provides similar test sections to TOEFL iBT, but with different formats and methods of implementation.

2. What is the structure of the TOEFL PBT test?

Basically, TOEFL PBT has a structure similar to other versions of the TOEFL test, but with some specific differences. Here is the detailed structure of the TOEFL PBT test:


2.1. TOEFL PBT Listening 

The listening test in TOEFL PBT is a relatively important section for candidates who want to assess their ability to understand and process information in English. Through 3-4 diverse audio segments, candidates must listen to conversations, discussions, and lectures.

Various question types regarding content, vocabulary, and details require concentration and analytical skills. Facing question formats such as selecting answers, filling in tables, and matching will assess comprehensive listening comprehension and information processing skills.


2.2. TOEFL PBT Reading

The reading skills in TOEFL PBT require candidates to have the ability to comprehend, search, and summarize information from 3-5 passages. These passages cover different topics, so candidates need to grasp certain vocabulary to complete this skill.

estudyme.com suggests candidates that capturing the main ideas, identifying relationships between ideas, and understanding vocabulary are key skills to scoring high in this section.


2.3. TOEFL PBT Writing

The writing section of TOEFL PBT evaluates the candidate’s ability to create and express ideas in English. Candidates are required to complete two essays, one is a free topic and the other is based on a reading passage.

To score high in this section, candidates are required to construct ideas, use complex sentence structures, and express opinions clearly. Both essays require grammatical and vocabulary accuracy, and the challenge for candidates is to manage time effectively to complete the tasks thoroughly.


2.4. TOEFL PBT Speaking 

The speaking tasks in TOEFL PBT place candidates in realistic situations, requiring them to introduce themselves and discuss opinions with an assumed audience. Listening tasks evaluate candidates’ understanding and reactions to the listening content.

Candidates who score high in the speaking section need to use diverse grammar and rich vocabulary, along with confidence in expression, to overcome the challenges of the speaking part.

toefl pbt structure
TOEFL PBT structure

3. TOEFL PBT score range

TOEFL PBT scores are calculated based on the candidate’s total score in each test section and then converted into an overall score, similar to the TOEFL score format. Below is the detailed scoring for each skill:


3.1. TOEFL PBT Listening & Reading

  • The maximum score for each section is 30 points
  • Each section is divided into 53-68 questions
  • Your score depends on the number of correct answers


3.2. TOEFL PBT Writing

  • There are two essays: one on a free topic and one based on reading a passage
  • Each essay can achieve a maximum of 5 points
  • Your score depends on how you express ideas and use language


3.3. TOEFL PBT Speaking

  • There are 6 speaking tasks evaluated, each task can achieve a maximum of 4 points
  • The total speaking score is 24 points

After obtaining scores for each skill, these scores are synthesized to create the overall score of the TOEFL PBT test. The total score usually ranges from 310 to 677 points.

Here is a summary of the most important information about the TOEFL PBT exam for your convenience:

Criteria Listening Reading Writing Speaking
No questions 28-39 questions  44-56 questions 2 tasks 6 tasks
Time 30-40 minutes 55 minutes 30 minutes/task 20 minutes
Type of questions Selecting answers, filling in tables, and matching Fill in the blanks, selecting answers, and reading and answering questions Free-topic essay and essay based on reading a passage Introduction, discussing opinions, and providing feedback on listening
Score 30 30 10 24


4. Frequently Asked Questions about TOEFL PBT 

4.1. How do I register for the TOEFL PBT?

Candidates can register for the TOEFL PBT online through the official website of ETS (Educational Testing Service), the organization that administers the TOEFL test.


4.2. How is the TOEFL PBT test conducted?

TOEFL PBT usually takes place in one day. The listening and reading sections are usually conducted in the morning, while the writing and speaking sections are typically held in the afternoon.


4.3. What is the maximum score for TOEFL PBT?

The maximum score for TOEFL PBT is 677 points, divided into scores for each skill such as listening, reading, speaking, and writing.

toefl pbt score range
TOEFL types score range


4.4. How many times can the test be retaken?

Candidates can take the TOEFL PBT as many times as they want, but there needs to be a certain time gap between test attempts. This gap is typically 12 days.


4.5. How is TOEFL PBT different from TOEFL iBT?

TOEFL PBT (Paper-Based Test) and TOEFL iBT (Internet-Based Test) are two formats of the TOEFL test. PBT is conducted on paper, while iBT is conducted on a computer. Both assess listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills.


In summary, TOEFL PBT is a paper-based test that has been widely used for many years, but recently, it has been replaced by computer-based and internet-based testing formats. However, some candidates still choose this format due to habit or because the TOEFL PBT format is still applicable in their location. If you are preparing for the TOEFL and need a reputable source for practice, consider using estudyme.com for the TOEFL practice test! Best of luck to all of you in the upcoming test!