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IELTS vs TOEFL

ielts

Before we proceed to discuss the differences between IELTS and TOEFL, let us look at two key aspects: Availability and Similarities

IELTS vs. TOEFL: Availability

  • Please check which universities/colleges accept each of these tests
  • You should also check whether there is a test center for IELTS or TOEFL in your local area (You would benefit if there is – so that you don’t have to travel a lot)
  • Think why you want to take the English Language test
    • If you wish to study at a foreign university there is not much difference between the two tests (in that case you should ideally go by the university requirements)
    • In case you plan to work or migrate to another country, the General Training paper that IELTS offers is probably more suitable for you

IELTS vs. TOEFL: Similarities

  • Both IELTS and TOEFL are standardized tests – their scores are consistent throughout the world
  • Both IELTS and TOEFL test the four main English language skills – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking

Differences between IELTS and TOEFL

Below is an overall comparison chart showing some of the key differences between IELTS and TOEFL

 

Particulars IELTS TOEFL
Test Duration 2 hours 45 minutes 3 hours 30 minutes
Score Range 0-9 0-120
Sections (in order) Listening

Reading

Writing

*Speaking

Reading

Listening

Speaking

Writing

Institutions that accept the Scores Over 9,000 Over 9,000

*The Speaking section on the IELTS can be taken before or after the other sections.

Now lets us concentrate on the integral differences:

 

SECTIONS IELTS TOEFL
LISTENING Duration is 30 min

Context: Half Academic and half social

Question types: sentence completion, matching headings and True/False/Not Given

Audio content will include a range of different accents from English speaking countries such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, USA, Canada and Australia

Duration is 60 min

Context: Academic

Multiple choice questions only

Audio Content will be standard American English

READING Duration is 60 min

A wide range of question types

You can choose either Academic or General Training depending on your requirements

Duration is 60 min

Multiple choice questions only

Academic context only

WRITING Paper and pen test

Duration is 60 min

  • ACADEMIC FORMAT
  •  Task 1: A graph, table, chart, stages of a process, or a diagram will be given and you will be required to describe or summarize the information provided.
  • Task 2: You will be required to write a formal and academic style essay expressing your point of view in response to the given argument or problem and support your response with appropriate examples.
  • GENERAL FORMAT
  • Task 1: You will be required to write a personal, semi-formal, or formal style letter requesting for certain information or explaining a given situation.
  • Task 2: You will be required to write a personal style essay expressing your opinion of a particular argument or problem and support your response with relevant examples.
Duration is 50 min

You will have to first read a text and then listen to a 2-min lecture on the same topic. You must then write a short response to a specific question on that topic

The second question is a longer discursive essay on a particular issue, similar to a university style academic essay.

SPEAKING* Three sections that last for 15 min

The first part will be on familiar topics such as your home/job/studies

In the second part, you will be given a topic and then will have one minute to prepare a monologue of 1-2 min.

Finally, you will be asked questions linked to the topic you spoke about in part 2.

Six questions that last for 20 min

Two questions on familiar topics such as your hometown or family

You will be asked to summarize information from a text/conversation and share your opinion

You will be asked to summarize information from a short conversation

 

*This is probably the biggest difference between the two tests. In the IELTS test you will talk to a real person and in the TOEFL test you will speak to a computer!