TOEFL IBT vs TOEFL Essentials 2024: Which is the better choice?

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The TOEFL iBT is part of the Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) portfolio of language assessment exams and accurately measures English proficiency. It is one of the most commonly used English proficiency tests.

The TOEFL Essentials test is the newest addition to ETS’ TOEFL suite of exams and measures the core elements of English proficiency in general and academic contexts. This exam has short, fast-paced questions and tasks that measure basic grammar and vocabulary.

TOEFL iBT is the best test to take if you apply for universities abroad. TOEFL Essentials is the test you can take to visit the country for work or immigration purposes. 

Finding the proper TOEFL test can be challenging if you don’t know the details and differences.

This blog will address both versions of TOEFL in-depth. Read to find out more!

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TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Overview

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL Essentials are identical, but both exams’ intentions differ. TOEFL iBT measures your English language skills academically, while the TOEFL Essentials test generally does so. 

Both contain 4 sections: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. However, the syllabus and difficulty level of the questions change. 

Below is an in-depth overview of the two exams. 

ParticularsTOEFL iBTTOEFL Essentials Test
What it MeasuresLanguage skills in an academic settingFundamental language skills in academic and non-academic contexts
Language Domain100% academic English setting50% general and 50% academic English 
SectionsListening, Speaking, Reading, WritingReading, Writing, Listening, Speaking + 5-minute personal video statement 
Who’s likely to take itStudents applying for UG/PG/PhD courses abroadInternational students applying to universities (limited acceptance) and high schools
Length2 hours1.5 hours
Main Test Design PrincipleDesigned to be the most effective assessment of applied English communication in academic contexts, with a range corresponding to CEFR B1 to C2.Designed to be a highly efficient, multistage adaptive test that measures the full spectrum of English proficiency (CEFR A1 to C2) accurately with fewer test items and in just 1-1/2 hours
DeliveryAt a test centre or at-home At-home (same procedure as TOEFL iBT)
Cost ₹16,134₹9,851
Score Reports and Additional CostFirst 4 reports: free
Additional: ₹1,640 per university
Free, unlimited score reports
Scale Score0 – 120 1 to 12 

Which is better for you? Discuss with our experts!

TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Differences

Though the two tests seem similar, they have many differences. The common TOEFL iBT and TOEFL Essentials differences are as follows.

toefl ibt vs toefl essentials

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TOEFL IBT vs TOEFL Essentials 2024: Which is the better choice?

TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Time Duration

The total test duration of TOEFL iBT is 3 hours, while TOEFL essentials last only 1 and a half hours. Further, duration details regarding each section are represented in the table below.

SectionTOEFL iBT FormatTOEFL Essentials Format
Reading20 questions, 35 mins30-45 questions 22, 33 mins
Listening 28 questions, 36 mins30-45 questions 21, 34 mins
Break10 minsNA
Speaking4 tasks, 16 mins3 tasks, 13 mins
Writing2 questions, 29 mins2 tasks, 24-30 mins
Personal Video MessageNAOne video of 5 mins

TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Exam Fee

The TOEFL iBT costs ₹16,134 in India, while the TOEFL Essentials test costs ₹9,851. In terms of fees, TOEFL Essentials is much cheaper than TOEFL iBT. 

Also read: TOEFL Writing Task 2

TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Scoring

The scoring system for the TOEFL Essentials is identical to that of the IELTS in that you are scored on a band of 1-12. Each section gets an individual score. Unlike IELTS, there is no half score in TOEFL Essentials. If you get a half score, it will be rounded off to the nearest whole score. 

Below is a table of the TOEFL Essentials score calculation.

ParticularsActual ScoreOfficial Reported Score
Reading 6.46
Writing 7.37
Listening 7.78
Speaking 5.66
Comprehensive (average score of all 4 sections)6.757

These individual scores are averaged to get an overall score.

On the other hand, TOEFL iBT scores your English skills on a scale of 1 – 120. Each section is scored on a scale of 1 – 30. The overall score is the sum of all four scores.

TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Online Vs Offline Test

TOEFL Essentials can be taken at home but is completely proctored through the ProctorU platform. 

TOEFL iBT can be taken at a designated test centre or home. Both modes of the test have the same test format and syllabus. TOEFL Test centres are spread all over India and are available in almost every major city.

TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Score Review Request

While you can request score reviews on the TOEFL iBT, you cannot do so with the TOEFL Essentials. This means that your score on the TOEFL Essentials is the final score.

TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Sending Score Reports to Universities

In TOEFL iBT, you can send your scores to the first four universities completely free of cost. Additional reports will cost ₹1,640 per university. 

However, the great selling point of TOEFL Essentials is that you can send unlimited score reports to institutions completely free of charge.

TOEFL iBT Vs TOEFL Essentials: Similarities

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL Essentials are similar in many aspects, despite all the differences. Here are some similarities.

TOEFL Sections

The tests cover the same standardised four areas of English communication, Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. These four areas are considered the core and help institutions understand how effectively test takers are doing in all aspects of communication. 

For example, one may understand most things that they read. But when collaborating on an assignment with some people in class or communicating with a professor, they need to know how to speak and write.

Entry into Universities Abroad

If you take the TOEFL iBT or TOEFL Essentials, you can be assured that you will have no problem succeeding in an English-speaking university environment. The tests give universities confidence that the students attending their school will not have to deal with language barrier issues during their studies.

Timeframe of Score Results

In addition to having a similar format and length, the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL Essentials also share comparable timing for results. The unofficial results will appear on the computer screen after completing each section.

Further, the official score report containing individual score breakdowns will be sent to you within 6-8 days of your test.

Also Read: New TOEFL Speaking Tips

MyBest TOEFL Scores

If an individual takes the TOEFL more than once, they can combine the best scores for each section to form MyBest scores. This way, if one doesn’t score well on one section but does well on another during a retake, they can use the better score as part of MyBest score. 

Both TOEFL iBT and the TOEFL Essentials produce MyBest Scores if you take the test multiple times.

toefl ibt vs toefl essentials

Final Thoughts

The TOEFL iBT is a three-hour, comprehensive academic English test. The TOEFL Essentials Test is a 1.5-hour general English language test that blends academic and general contexts. 

Of the two, TOEFL iBT is more popular as most universities accept this test. The tasks in TOEFL iBT are longer and integrate various contexts, which universities find reliable. 

Academic institutions accept TOEFL Essentials as proof of English proficiency, but the number of universities that accept the test is limited. Also, you must note that TOEFL Essentials does not apply to most advanced level courses such as Psychology, MBA, or Medical. 

If the universities in your shortlist accept the TOEFL Essentials scores, you should consider taking the exam as it is much cheaper and more convenient.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. Is TOEFL essential accepted in Australia?

    A. The Australian visa process requires a TOEFL iBT score (not the At-home version). TOEFL Essentials isn’t accepted. This ensures comprehensive language assessment, meeting integration needs. Tests at home, like TOEFL Essentials, aren’t recognized.

  • Q. Which TOEFL should I take for university?

    A. The TOEFL iBT test is the world’s most accepted English-language test for studying and working abroad. More universities and institutions prefer it, so you can be confident that you’ll stand out to admissions officers and employers.

  • Q. Why do we need TOEFL Essentials?

    A. ETS has designed TOEFL Essentials to be different from TOEFL iBT. The test provides a friendly and engaging experience for test takers, provides valid and reliable results for institutions, and measures English proficiency beyond just academic situations.

  • Q. What is the validity of TOEFL Essential test scores?

    A. TOEFL Essential test scores are valid for two years from the exam date. During this period, your scores can be used for admissions or other purposes. After the two-year validity period, your scores expire and may no longer be accepted by universities or organizations requiring English language proficiency proof.

  • Q. Do I have to write both TOEFL iBT and TOEFL Essentials?

    A. No, you can take either one of the tests depending on your requirements. If you’re applying to universities, it’s better to choose the TOEFL iBT because it is more widely accepted. On the other hand, if your course and university do not mind TOEFL Essential scores, you can very well take the test as it is cheaper and more convenient.

  • Q. Is TOEFL iBT better than IELTS?

    A. Both tests are designed to test your English language skills and are structurally similar. So, it comes down to university/country requirements. IELTS is a more popular English proficiency test with a wide range of materials for preparation. TOEFL is predominant mainly in the US.

  • Q. Can I use TOEFL iBT materials to prepare for TOEFL Essential?

    A. Yes, you can. But it is not enough alone. We highly recommend using designated TOEFL Essentials materials to prepare for the exam to get better results. Though both exams have similar formats and sections, the questions in both exams differ significantly from each other.

  • Q. Does TOEFL Essentials cost less than TOEFL iBT?

    A. TOEFL Essentials is generally more affordable than TOEFL iBT due to its shorter format and content. However, the exact cost may vary depending on your location and testing centre. In India, the TOEFL iBT Test costs ₹16,134, and the TOEFL Essentials costs ₹9,851.

  • Q. Is TOEFL Essentials easier than TOEFL iBT?

    A. TOEFL iBT tests your English abilities on a purely academic basis. Meaning TOEFL iBT covers English more comprehensively and has longer sections. It is generally more detailed. On the other hand, the TOEFL Essentials tests your English in general and academic settings. It’s 50-50. Due to this, TOEFL Essential is shorter and may feel easier for some students.

  • Q. Can I use TOEFL Essentials for job applications?

    A. Some employers may accept TOEFL Essentials scores as proof of language proficiency, especially if the position you’re applying for doesn’t require strong speaking and writing skills. But keep in mind that most institutions and companies are more likely to ask for TOEFL iBT scores.

  • Q. What is considered to be a good score in TOEFL Essentials?

    A. Unlike TOEFL iBT, TOEFL Essentials is marked on a scale of 0-12. This score scale is much similar to IELTS scores. Your overall TOEFL Essential score is the average of the four sections. A score above 9.5 is equivalent to 94+ in TOEFL iBT, and is considered a good score.

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Saket Kohli

An International Higher Ed professional with 7+ years of experience studying, working, and living across three geographies, currently on a mission to share his journey as an International Student.

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