Types of TOEFL Exams

You have to take the TOEFL. But there are a few different types:


Don’t worry; you probably have to take some version of the TOEFL iBT, which includes the TOEFL Home Edition and TOEFL Paper Edition. 

But which TOEFL test do you need to take? 

Let’s review each type of exam and find out.

1. TOEFL Internet-Based Test (or TOEFL iBT)

This is the version of the TOEFL test most are familiar with. When you pick up a TOEFL book, it is probably about the TOEFL iBT. (Amazon Link)

As the name points out, this is an internet version of the TOEFL exam, which can be taken in a TOEFL Center or at home. Remember, the at-home version of the TOEFL iBT requires certain equipment. Click this link to find out what you need.

This test is accepted worldwide by more than 11,500 universities and institutions in over 160 countries, and it has three versions:

  1. TOEFL iBT test
  2. TOEFL iBT Home Edition
  3. TOEFL iBT Paper Edition

The first one is the one that is available worldwide. You can check to see the availability in your country here.

The TOEFL iBT Paper Edition is currently available only in Colombia, India, Mexico and the United States. Still, ETS is also working on bringing this kind of experience to other countries. To learn more about the Paper Edition, read this interview with SRIKANT GOPAL, executive director of the TOEFL Program.

It takes about 2 hours to complete the exam, and you will have to prepare for the TOEFL Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections.

*Courtesy of ETS
Section Estimated Timing Questions/Tasks Description
Reading 35 minutes 20 questions Read passages and respond to questions.
Listening 36 minutes 28 questions Answer questions about brief lectures or classroom discussions.
Speaking 16 minutes 4 tasks Talk about a familiar topic and discuss material you read and heard.
Writing 29 minutes 2 tasks Read a passage, listen to a recording, type your response. State and support an opinion in an online classroom discussion.

The TOEFL iBT test format is usually required for:

  • Professionals who need to prove their English proficiency level (often in the field of medicine)
  • Students who wish to study abroad in North America or Europe

2. TOEFL Essentials

The TOEFL Essentials test is the new kid on the block.

Launched in 2021, this test is shorter than the TOEFL iBT and takes about 90 minutes to complete.

While the TOEFL iBT is a test of academic English, the TOEFL Essentials Test aims to assess a test taker’s general English ability. The TOEFL iBT consists of reading and listening passages on academic topics you would expect to find in a freshman-level university textbook. The passages on the Essentials Test are shorter and revolve around English in daily life.

The TOEFL Essentials Test is growing in popularity, with over 500 institutions accepting it as a valid measure of English proficiency worldwide.

You can find a list of institutions that currently accept the TOEFL Essentials Test here. You can also reach out to your school to double-check their specific test requirements.

3. TOEFL ITP® Assessment Series

This is a TOEFL format that aims to bring English assessments to all kinds of English environments (schools, corporate, governmental institutions, etc.). It is currently used by more than 2,500 institutions in 50+ countries. The TOEFL ITP evaluates four different skills:

  1. Reading comprehension
  2. Listening comprehension
  3. Structure and written expression
  4. Speaking

It is currently used to increase the clarity of the feedback loop between teachers and their students without providing any other certification.

Here are a few contexts in which taking this type of TOEFL exam might be a good option:

  • Placement in intensive English classes
  • Building your skills for TOEFL iBT
  • Admission to some short-term, non-degree programs
  • Exiting English preparation programs by proving your skills and English proficiency level

4. The TOEFL Junior® Tests

The TOEFL Junior Test has two different versions. It is currently used to measure various English-language skills by providing reliable scores mapped to CEFR levels.

  1. The TOEFL Junior Standard Test measures Listening Comprehension, Language Form and Meaning, and Reading Comprehension. The test takes about two hours to complete, and the scores are matched to the MetaMetrics® Lexile® tool so that teachers can help their students choose books that match their reading level.
  2. TOEFL Junior Speaking Test is 18 minutes long and aims to evaluate the speaking level of students.

5. The TOEFL Primary® Tests

This one is for the kids. 

TOEFL Primary Tests are designed for students 8+ years old and can help teachers monitor their student’s progress, goals, strengths and weaknesses. It evaluates their listening, reading and speaking levels in just an hour. 

Which TOEFL test do you have to take? 

Let us know in the comments below if you have any additional questions.


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