Are you confused which exam to take –the TOEFL or the IELTS? Are you wondering what are the essential differences or similarities between the two tests? If yes, then this post is for you!

Speaking very fundamentally, both the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are tests to measure English proficiency of those who come from countries where English is not the first language. Most universities worldwide while accepting students from such countries require such students to exhibit their proficiency in English, and these two tests are the most widely accepted tests for English proficiency.

But before deciding which test to take, it is wise to understand the differences and similarities between the two tests. Skill Maestro offers a comprehensive comparison between the two tests.

1. Scope

While both the tests are widely accepted, it is important for you to know which test your intended choice of university accepts. If you are planning to head towards the US or Canada, the TOEFL should be your preference, while if you are planning to head towards Europe, Australia or New Zealand, you might want to give the IELTS. While TOEFL scores are accepted over 500 locations in the US and over 4500 locations worldwide, IELTS scores are accepted at 59 locations in the US and about 900 locations worldwide. You must check the website of the universities that you intend to apply to be sure whether they accept TOEFL or IELTS, and then take your decision accordingly.

2. Medium

While TOEFL is a computer based test, IELTS is a real time physical test. This means in order to be able to give your TOEFL successfully, you should be comfortable with typing on the computer (for the writing section) and with answering over the microphone (for the speaking section). Similarly, it follows that for the IELTS, it is a brownie point for you if you have a legible handwriting and are more comfortable with a detailed in-person interview than speaking over the microphone.

3. Pattern

Both the TOEFL and the IELTS measure your English proficiency on four parameters – Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. However, while the TOEFL tests only Academic subjects, the IELTS is a mixture of both, the academic writing and reading sections plus the general listening and speaking sections.

Also, in the writing section, the IETLS does not have a listening component like the TOEFL does on the integrated assignments (instead it may have a graphic or other written information source for building up an argument for your writing).

As far as the speaking section is concerned, the TOEFL mostly requires you to give your opinions and summarizing and interpreting information from various sources. On the other hand, on the IELTS, the speaking test is in person, and includes a short speech to be prepared within a small period of time and a conversation component as well.

4. Question Types

While the TOEFL mainly has multiple choice questions in the listening and reading section, the IELTS has diverse question types including multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, matching, flowcharts, true/false questions etc.

5. Exam Duration

The TOEFL is a 4 hour long test, while the IELTS is a 2 hour 45 minutes test. However, the duration of the exam is not the indicator of the toughness of the exam. As far as the toughness is concerned, both the exams have an equivalent level of rigor. The extent of your comfort with the respective exam pattern is what determines which exam might appear easier to you.

6. Score Scale

The IELTS grades you on a scale of 0 to 9, while the TOEFL is graded out of 120 points (30 marks each for its four sections).

Having read this comprehensive comparison between the TOEFL and the IELTS, you might find yourself in a better position to decide which exam is suited to your requirements. Remember, it is difficult to compare the level of hardness of the two exams, and as such both the exams are rigorous and are accepted widely. At the end of the day, it all narrows down on the requirement of your intended university.

About Skill Maestro

At Skill Maestro, We guide prospective students about the entire application process as well as suitable universities as per their profile/test scores. We have consulted dozens of prospective students for MIS across the globe. We have a physical presence in Indore where we also help students prepare for GRE, GMAT & SAT


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