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TOEFL PBT Breakdown


Even if you’re in a good mood, the TOEFL PBT (Paper-based test) is no laughing matter. It’s structure varies vastly from the TOEFL IBT (Internet-based test), but the skills tested are the same.

If you need more basic information about the TOEFL itself, TOEFL 101 is the place to go.

Here is the general breakdown:

Listening Comprehension

General info:

  • There are 50 questions
  • You’ll have 30-40 minutes to read and answer.

Skills tested:

  • Comprehending the main idea, major points, and important details related to the main idea
  • Recognizing a speaker’s attitude or purpose in speaking
  • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
  • Recognizing topic changes like digressions, along with introductions and conclusions of lectures and conversations.

Structure and Written Expression

General info:

  • There are 40 questions
  • You’ll have 25 minutes to answer

Skills tested:

  • Knowledge of sentence construction in English.
  • Understanding grammatical elements of English

Reading Comprehension

General info:

  • There are 50 questions
  • You’ll have 55 minutes to read and answer.

Skills tested:

  • Scanning text for important info
  • Increasing reading fluency
  • Recognizing organization and purpose of a passage
  • Understanding the main idea, major points, important facts and details, vocabulary in context, and pronoun references.

Writing (Test of Written English)

General info:

  • There is only one topic
  • You will have 30 minutes to compose your response

Skills tested:

  • Taking notes on what a student has heard and read,
  • Using notes to organize information before writing
  • Expressing opinions in a written format
  • Relating learned information to experiences
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