Before we proceed to discuss the differences between IELTS and TOEFL exam, 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 exam 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 exams are standardized tests – their scores are consistent throughout the world
- Both IELTS and TOEFL exam tests 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 exam
|Test Duration||2 hours 45 minutes||3 hours 30 minutes|
|Sections (in order)||Listening
|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:
|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 41–57 minutes
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 54 –72 minutes
Multiple choice questions only
Academic context only
|WRITING||Paper and pen test
Duration is 60 min
|Duration is 50 min
Integrated writing task (20 minutes) — read a short passage and listen to a short lecture, then write in response to what you read and listened to.
Independent writing task (30 minutes) — write an essay based on personal experience or opinion in response to a writing topic.
|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.
|4 questions that last for 17 minutes
Question 1: Independent Speaking Task — requires you to draw entirely on your own ideas, opinions and experiences when you respond.
Questions 2–4: Integrated Speaking Tasks — require you to combine your English-language skills — listening and speaking, or listening, reading and speaking — just as you would in or out of a classroom.
*This is probably the biggest difference between the two tests. In the IELTS exam, you will talk to a real person and in the TOEFL exam you will speak to a computer!