The IELTS and TOEFL are two standardized language tests that are used for gaining admittance into universities and colleges across various countries. IELTS and TOEFL are the two most common and widely accepted tests. Although there are a lot of similarities between the two, there are differences between them as well, especially in terms of the level of difficulty.
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If you just want to take an English proficiency test for immigration purposes, the IELTS exam would suffice since it has a general testing option, as well as an academic one. The TOEFL is a different story since it’s more geared toward college admissions and not just immigration.
So, if you’re not sure which one to take, read our guide to understand the differences between IELTS and TOEFL and choose the best one for you.
The IELTS Exam is Given in Two Ways:
|IELTS Academic||TOEFL iBT|
|Method||Paper and Online||Online|
|Length||2 hours 45 minutes||3 hours 15 minutes|
|Results||13 days||10 days|
|Marking||Human examiners and automated marking (machine marking)||Human examiners and automated marking (machine marking)|
|Accepted by||11,000 organizations worldwide||11,500 organizations worldwide|
The TOEFL exam is administered in two ways:
When comparing the two exams, IELTS vs TOEFL, the question that arises is which exam is easier. The decision between the two exams and their level of difficulty is entirely subjective. It is determined by several factors, including
Although both scores are accepted globally for admission to undergraduate and graduate programs, you must be certain. Check to see if the university/school has any particular preferences for accepting English language proficiency tests.
The IELTS and TOEFL both assess the same abilities: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. They do it, however, in a very different way. Learn about the exam format and the types of questions that will be asked.
Before making a final decision, familiarize yourself with the exam pattern and types of questions asked in both exams. For example, if you are more comfortable answering multiple-choice questions, you might prefer the TOEFL exam over the IELTS.
The pattern of the Speaking section differs significantly between the TOEFL and IELTS exams. The IELTS speaking test is given in front of an examiner, who determines your speaking score. Furthermore, the IELTS speaking test may not be scheduled on the same day as the rest of the exam. In the case of the TOEFL, you must answer the questions using a microphone. These are then recorded and distributed to reviewers.
So, select the exam type and pattern that you are most comfortable with.
The cost of IELTS vs. TOEFL can also be a deciding factor. Both exams are typically priced between $190 and $250 USD. These costs, however, vary depending on the country in which you take the exam. So, if cost is a major concern for you, check the prices of the exams in your country before making a decision.
The availability of a test center near you also influences your exam selection. You can select an exam for which the exam center and dates are both easily accessible.
When we compare IELTS and TOEFL, we can see that, while the goal of both exams is the same, they differ in many ways. If you intend to take one of these exams, make sure you understand the following distinctions before making your final decision:
|Length||About 3 hours long||2 hours and 45 minutes long|
|Locations||Available in more than 200 countries and territories||Available at 78 locations across India and about 900 worldwide|
|Scoring||Score on a sliding scale from 0 to 120||Score on a band of 1-9 or levels|
Most of the colleges in the United States and Canada may accept either of the two- The IELTS as well as the TOEFL. You may not need any of these tests for Singapore. Any of the two tests may serve your purpose throughout the Europe except UK for which you will need to take the IELTS UKVI. However, most of the institutes in Australia and New Zealand may prefer the IELTS. The best thing to do is to check the website of the university you are applying to.
In order to find out on which of the tests you are likely to score better, you should take a diagnostic test for each and seek expert advice from your trainers.
For years, the TOEFL vs IELTS question has been haunting students. It is common knowledge that one of these English language tests is required for admission in an English-speaking country. But which test? In 2009, the PTE emerged as a yet-another option, further confusing students.
It is important to understand why each test exists. The IELTS aims to certify the language proficiency of non-native English speakers intending to travel to a Commonwealth country. Hence, Commonwealth countries, the UK, Australia, and such, prefer the IELTS. On the other hand, both TOEFL and PTE are American exams. Most US schools, so, expect students to take one of them.
There are also other English language proficiency tests, e.g. TOEIC, that are designed for professional settings. But let’s keep them outside of this discussion as we focus on study abroad tests.
While all these tests assess candidates on all 4 aspects of English – Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing – their patterns and operational details are different. Some key aspects are
Paper-based vs Computer-based tests:
The IELTS is a paper-based test, with handwritten essays and an in-person interview for the Speaking section. The TOEFL and PTE are entirely computer-based, with typed essays and recorded voice responses.
The IELTS is scored on bands (0-9) whereas the TOEFL and PTE are scored on (0-120) points and (10-90) points respectively.
IELTS lasts for 2 hrs 45 mins and the PTE lasts for about 3 hrs. TOEFL is the longest test and lasts anywhere from 3 hrs 10 mins to 4 hrs 20 minutes. Your stamina and concentration matter enormously.
The IELTS is offered at specific locations and on specific dates. The TOEFL and PTE are offered at any Prometric center around the year.
This, luckily, is one of the few black-and-white aspects. Decision Factor 1 above noted the general rule of acceptance – IELTS by Commonwealth countries and TOEFL/PTE by the US. The ultimate decision, however, depends on each university/school. For example, a number of well-reputed US universities, including Stanford, Yale, Harvard, and MIT, accept the IELTS. Hence, you must check which tests your target universities/schools accept. If most of them accept (or do not accept) a test, your decision is pretty much made.
All the above tests are English competency assessments, so there is no good or bad score per se. However, since the admission process has to have an objective mechanism as the basis for candidate selection, a few general cut-off scores have emerged as ‘minimum score criteria’.
On the IELTS, a composite band of 7 is necessary, although a score of 8 is considered more favorable. On the TOEFL, a score of 100 points is a must-have for most leading institutions, but a few mid and low-ranking universities also accept a score of 90. A score of 110 is necessary for the cream of American universities such as Columbia.
Another thing to note is that there are certain unofficial-yet-widely-followed methods of converting a score on one test to an equivalent score on another. Using them, you will see that most cut-off criteria noted above overlap. So then the question is: which of these tests is the easiest if there is one?
The answer to this million-dollar question is subtle – none of the above is an easy test, but yes, some tests, owing to their specific patterns, can be perceived as easier or more difficult. If you find multiple-choice questions easier, TOEFL and PTE are right up your alley. If you find talking to someone easier than recording your voice in a microphone, you may score better on the IELTS. Ultimately, you must go for a test most suited to your style. This, of course, assumes that all of the above 4 decision factors have already been dealt with!
With all this knowledge, how must you proceed? Simple, again. Make a grid based on the 5 points above and evaluate all tests through them. Keep it an easy Yes-or-No system to know which test suits most of the requirements. There will be one winner and that, my friend, is the answer. Elementary!
This is the most important factor to consider because if the schools you’re interested in do not accept the test scores you take, no other factors will matter.
Overall, the schools you’re considering will most likely accept scores from either exam, but it’s important to double-check this before you choose a test to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on. The TOEFL and IELTS both make it simple to determine which institutions accept their scores.
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