Info about the paper-based TOEFL

TOEFL PBT General Information and Policies

The TOEFL paper-based test (PBT) is currently taken by a very small percentage of students, in locations where internet testing is impractical (Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, and Libya are examples of countries where some test centers offer the PBT). Students may register for the PBT by phone, email, or online. Standard test security and academic honesty measures (such as the prohibition on bringing personal items into the test center) apply to the PBT, and accommodations may be provided for test-takers with disabilities. Available testing dates are far less frequent than those for the internet-based test (iBT), and the PBT is generally administered no more than once per month at any individual center. Test-takers receive PBT scores by mail, approximately five weeks after the test date. Educational Testing Service (ETS) ultimately plans to discontinue the PBT, and it remains available for the sole purpose of ensuring access to the TOEFL for all students. The ETS website publishes materials that help test-takers prepare for the PBT, including sample questions, strategies, and tips. The fee for the TOEFL PBT is $170. Students taking the PBT must complete all four sections in order to receive an official score (taking PBT sections individually is not allowed).

Timing, Sections, and Scoring of the TOEFL PBT

The TOEFL PBT takes two hours and 20-30 minutes to complete. The PBT's four sections (discussed in greater detail below) are Listening Comprehension, Structure and Written Expression, Reading Comprehension, and the separate Test of Written English (TWE). Total PBT scores are given from 310-677 and do not include the TWE. Listening Comprehension and Structure and Written Expression are each scored from 31-68, and Reading Comprehension scores are given between 31 and 67. ETS calculates the total PBT score by converting raw scores (number of correct answers) into scaled scores for each of these three sections, adding them together, multiplying the sum by 10, and dividing the product by 3. TWE scores are reported from 1 to 6 in half-point increments.

TOEFL PBT Listening Comprehension

PBT Listening Comprehension exercises are based on audio recordings of short or long conversations and lecture excerpts. This section of the PBT is structured in three parts: A (short conversations), B (longer conversations), and C (talks). Each part has its own set of unique instructions, and students are not allowed to take notes. In each part, test-takers answer multiple-choice questions that ask about issues such as main points, included facts, vocabulary, and expressions idiomatic to the English language. Each question has four answer choices, which is true of all sections of the TOEFL PBT except for the TWE. PBT Listening Comprehension consists of 50 questions to be completed in 30-40 minutes (broken up into 30 questions in part A, 8 questions in part B, and 12 questions in part C).

TOEFL PBT Structure and Written Expression

PBT Structure and Written Expression includes two sections. Structure questions require students to select multiple-choice answers that accurately complete sentences with given words or phrases. In Written Expression exercises, students are asked to choose the incorrect word or phrase in a sentence from the underlined options. The Structure and Written Expression portion of the TOEFL PBT is intended to assess students' command of grammar and standard written English. PBT Structure and Written Expression is 25 minutes in length, in which students must complete 40 questions (15 Structure questions and 25 Written Expression questions).

TOEFL PBT Reading Comprehension

PBT Reading Comprehension features a series of multiple-choice questions on brief reading passages that are each approximately 10-35 lines of text. Reading passage subject matter is intended to reflect topics that are likely to be included in college courses. Among the important skills for PBT Reading Comprehension are understanding of main ideas, using context to infer meaning, and comprehension of factual information. On the Reading Comprehension portion of the TOEFL PBT, students must answer 50 questions in 55 minutes. The number of questions associated with each reading excerpt depends on the length of the passage, and can range from 6-12 questions for each.

TOEFL PBT Test of Written English (TWE)

On the TWE, students must write a single essay on a given topic, for which they are given 30 minutes. Essays are written by hand in the provided test booklet. Successful completion of the TWE is dependent on demonstrating the ability to organize and express ideas, provide evidence to support assertions, and follow conventions of written English. Essay topics may cover a variety of subjects, and the essay usually involves staking out a position on some debatable issue.