TOEFL vs IELTS – Which One Should You Take?


As part of your application process to study at an English-speaking university in another country, you will be required to take an English language proficiency test if you are not a native English speaker. English Proficiency Tests include the IELTS vs TOEFL as two of the main tests. If you want to study at a university outside of your home country, you probably already have one or both of them.

They both evaluate your English listening, speaking, writing, and reading proficiency, and their basic outlines are nearly identical.

Students have a hard time choosing between the two tests, so this article will cover major differences and assist you in selecting the appropriate test. Despite the fact that they are more or less identical, there is only a very thin line of difference between them.

IELTS vs TOEFL: Overview

Internationally accepted assessments include the TOEFL and IELTS. They look at a candidate’s English language ability. IELTS is administered jointly by Cambridge Assessment English, the British Council, and IDP, while TOEFL – ETS (Educational Testing Service) is administered by an American organization. Worldwide, over 10,000 colleges and universities accept either test’s results.

There is only one version of the TOEFL, while there are two versions of the IELTS:

  • IELTS General Training 

The purpose of the IELTS General exam is to determine your level of preparedness for everyday life in an English-speaking environment. It makes use of texts that you’ll probably come across on the job or in your daily life, no matter what you do for a living or study.

  • IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic test is the more difficult version. It determines whether you are prepared to use English in demanding academic settings and high-performance work settings. Texts that are generally complex, research-based, and argumentative are included. Even though the content of these two IELTS tests is different, their formats remain the same, with four fundamental sections: Reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Also Check: IELTS v/s CAEL which exam is better to study in Canada?

Is the TOEFL vs ELTS better for me?

While the TOEFL and IELTS exams have a few key differences, their fundamental objective is essentially the same: The students’ English language comprehension and usage abilities are evaluated on both tests.

IELTS General exam
IELTS General exam

Each exam evaluates your English language abilities as a non-native speaker through a variety of listening, speaking, reading, and writing tasks. These tasks include how well you can use English in your writing and speech, as well as how well you understand English when reading and listening. Here is a quick overview of the two exams before we get into the specifics of how they are structured and scored differently:

Why you should take the IELTS

The IELTS is a 2-hour 45-minute exam that is more “international” than the TOEFL and can be taken on paper or a computer. The British Council overseas the IELTS, which includes listening tests with a variety of accents. With this test, you’ll get a more international perspective on the English language, which makes it a great option for people who want to use English outside of the United States. The IELTS is available in both a General and an Academic version, so people who want to go to college can benefit from taking an exam that is specifically designed to test their ability to use “academic” English. It’s also important to note that while the best IELTS preparation courses are typically less expensive than the best TOEFL preparation courses, there aren’t as many high-quality options for IELTS preparation.

Reasons to take the TOEFL

The TOEFL exam is a three-hour computer-based test that is frequently referred to as the TOEFL iBT (internet-based test). This rigorous assessment of your knowledge of American-dialect English, particularly for use in the world of American higher education, is carried out by the American company ETS. The TOEFL is a safe bet if you intend to use English in a graduate school in the United States. In point of fact, IELTS Academic scores are not taken into account by some US graduate schools, and only TOEFL scores are accepted. Last but not least, we’ve discovered that the best TOEFL courses are typically a little bit more expensive than the best IELTS courses. However, there are more TOEFL prep options available to you, and many of them offer a lot of premium prep features.

What distinguishes the IELTS from the TOEFL?

The following is a concise summary of our overviews regarding the IELTS and TOEFL differences:

A TOEFL score is more likely to be requested if you are applying to a high-performance position at a graduate school or workplace in the United States. On the other hand, the IELTS exam is best for anyone who wants to use general, everyday English anywhere in the world. You can also take the IELTS to get into school.

The tests are generally fairly comparable, with the same four sections, despite the fact that they differ slightly in who accepts them. However, there are two distinct scoring systems and section orders used on these tests, and one even has multiple versions. If you have read our overviews but are still unsure which exam is best for you, continue reading to learn about all the differences between the two.

Length: IELTS vs TOEFL

IELTS Length

The Speaking section of the IELTS exam, which is frequently completed independently of the other sections, takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. There are no breaks in between the first three sections. The test’s timing is broken down as follows:

Listening: 30 minutes to listen to four audio files and respond to ten questions per file.

Reading: 60 minutes to read a variety of texts and respond to 40 questions in total.

Writing: Two essays took 60 minutes. One 150-word essay in 20 minutes and another 200-250-word essay in 40 minutes.

Speaking: Ten to fifteen minutes are allotted for two separate conversations: one on a given subject and one on a casual basis.

TOEFL Length

The TOEFL has four sections as the IELTS does; However, in general, the TOEFL lasts slightly longer than the IELTS. The TOEFL iBT takes about three hours to complete, but taking it can take anywhere from 3.5 to 4 hours. The timing for each section is arranged in this order:

Reading: You have between 41 and 57 minutes to read multiple passages and respond to up to 40 questions.

TOEFL preparation courses
TOEFL preparation courses

Listening: Between 54 and 72 minutes to listen to four and six audio recordings and respond to up to 39 questions. 

Speaking: 17 minutes to present four speaking examples using the prompts. 

Writing: Two essays took fifty minutes each: one 20-minute essay on a given text and lecture recording and another 30-minute essay on a writing prompt with 300-350 words

What sets the TOEFL vs IELTS apart most?

After reading the entire blog, here are the main differences between IELTS and TOEFL for students who want to study abroad.

  • The IELTS exam takes less time than the TOEFL exam.
  • The speaking portion of the IELTS exam is given in front of an examiner.
  • Although the IELTS appears to be a little more lenient, the TOEFL typically requires you to use only US English or UK English during the exam.
  • While multiple-choice questions make up the majority of the TOEFL, the IELTS offers a wider range of questions and required responses.

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