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What is the difference between TOEFL iBT & TOEFL Essentials

Updated on 11 September, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

toefl ibt & toefl essentials

What is the difference between TOEFL iBT & TOEFL Essentials

Stuck on the TOEFL iBT vs. TOEFL Essentials debate? Both tests have a unique pattern and structure, which make them different from each other. The TOEFL Essentials examination is more affordable and convenient for those preferring smaller tasks, as compared to the more intensive TOEFL iBT examination. 

TOEFL iBT Vs. TOEFL Essentials: Differences 

ParametersTOEFL iBTTOEFL Essentials
What does the test measure/evaluate?Is a direct and extensive evaluation of the academic, communicative language prowess of aspirantsFoundational English language proficiency components, indicating how aspirants will operate in both academic and non-academic settings
Who is the desired candidate?Those looking to stand out with their English language abilities in academic environments Those seeking a quality test which is more engaging and convenient 
Domain of Language100% academic English50% academic and 50% general English
Test Content There are chosen tasks which indicate what students are required to excel at in academic environments, integrating all major language abilitiesHelps in tracking proficiency as per the abilities of aspirants, based on multi-stage adaptive methodologies
FocusDepth and intensity with longer and more interconnected tasksShorter and quicker tasks for a more engaging experience
Test LengthAround 3 hours Approximately 1.5 hours
Test FormatFour Sections- Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking Four Sections- Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking and a five-minute personal video statement (which is not scored)
Test Delivery Taken at home (TOEFL iBT Home Edition) or at a test center Home-based with the same security and platform technologies as the iBT Home Edition

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Exam pattern for TOEFL iBT & TOEFL Essentials 

Here is a brief look at the examination pattern for both these tests: 

Section NameTOEFL iBTTOEFL Essentials 
Reading30-40 questions taking 54-72 minutes 30-45 questions taking 22-33 minutes 
Listening18-24 questions taking 41-57 minutes30-45 minutes taking 21-34 minutes
BreakDoes not apply There is a 10-minute break
Speaking four questions in 17 minutes3 tasks including 19 responses in total. This takes 13 minutes 
Writingtwo questions in 50 minutes15-19 questions with two added tasks. This takes 24-30 minutes 
Personal TaskDoes not apply One 5-minute video 

Exam Fee 

The TOEFL iBT requires $185-270 for every test, based on where you take the examination. The TOEFL Essentials fees are around $100-120 across most nations. 


The scoring scale for TOEFL Essentials is between the bands of 1-12 for every examination section. The overall score is calculated as the average of all sections, rounded off to the closest half-band. 

For the TOEFL iBT, the score is given on a 1-120 scale. Every section has a scale of 1-30. The overall score is the sum total of all four section scores. There is no rounding off. 

An equivalent table is given below for your perusal: 

CEFR level

TOEFL Essentials 




















Below A1




The TOEFL Essentials and TOEFL iBT both have the validity period of two years. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better, TOEFL iBT or TOEFL Essentials?

Both are different types of examinations. Those more into the academic scenario seeking something comprehensive that intensely evaluates their abilities will go for the TOEFL iBT. Those looking for a quality examination that integrates abilities in general and academic English environments in a shorter and more affordable package may choose TOEFL Essentials. 

Do universities accept TOEFL Essentials?

According to ETS reports, TOEFL Essentials is already being accepted by several institutions which already take the TOEFL iBT scores. ETS reports indicate more than 90% of surveyed USA, UK, and Canadian universities are likely to accept TOEFL Essentials test scores for their admissions. 

What is a good score in TOEFL essentials?

A good score corresponds to 114-120 in the TOEFL iBT, 12 in TOEFL Essentials, or the highest score. Other good scores include 10-11.5 and 8-9.5 in TOEFL Essentials, equivalent to 95-113 and 72-94 in the TOEFL iBT, respectively. 

Which is easier, the TOEFL iBT or the IELTS?

Many test-takers feel that the IELTS is comparatively easier since the TOEFL iBT has a longer essay to write, while it has a tougher reading section than the IELTS examination. 

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Mrinal Mandal

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.