Difference between IELTS and TOEFL

If English is not your first language and you are applying to study or for a job in an English-speaking country, it is necessary that you will be required to sit a standardized test to show your level of English proficiency.

There are two main English language tests that are accepted worldwide – TOEFL and IELTS. Both estimate how well you can combine your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. 

ielts and toefl difference


The TOEFL is available as a paper-based test, but the internet-based test is more popular. The IELTS is only available as a paper-based test. The internet-based TOEFL can take up to 4 hours to complete, while the IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. Moreover, the IELTS may take more than one day because the speaking test with the instructor is separate from the other sections.

 University Acceptance:

It is recommended that you speak with the university to find out their English language requirements. IELTS is more eagerly accepted in universities within the Commonwealth and American universities are beginning to accept it, too. The US tends to prefer the TOEFL with over 8,000 universities.

Test Formats:

The IELTS is a 2 hour, 45 minute paper-based test consisting of 4 sections: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. The most widely-recognised version of the TOEFL is the iBT (Internet Based Test) which is somewhat longer at 4 hours but with the same four sections.

The TOEFL offers an Academic English test for admissions requirements whereas the IELTS offers a General English test in addition to this. The general test is based on questions related with real-world, social surroundings and is commonly used for immigration and visa purposes.

ielts and toefl

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The IELTS is on a 9 point scale with halfway points in between. Relatively, The TOEFL is scored out of 120, with 30 points for each of the 4 sections. The TOEFL scoring system is more attractive to a student base as it’s on a broader point range. The fact that a few mistakes can put your score down hugely on the IELTS can be quite off-putting.

Which is Best for You?

If you plan to study in the UK, you have no choice but to do the IELTS. But if you plan to study in the US or Canada, you have a choice as to which test you can take, because they accept any of these test. So which is best suited for you? To keep it easy, if you prefer feel more comfortable writing on the keyboard, multiple choice questions, and understand an American accent at ease, the TOEFL is best suited for you. If you prefer a variety of different question types, enjoy writing with a pen, feel more comfortable talking to a person rather than a microphone, and, then the IELTS is best for you.

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