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


Particulars IELTS TOEFL
Test Duration 2 hours 45 minutes 1 hours 56 minutes
Score Range 0-9 0-120
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 36 minutes

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 35 minutes

Multiple choice questions only

Academic context only

WRITING Paper and pen test

Duration is 60 min

  •  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.
  • 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 29 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.

Writing for an Academic Discussion task (10 minutes) — state and support an opinion in an online classroom discussion.

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 29 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!

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Which is easier, TOEFL or IELTS?

While both IELTS and TOEFL require basic preparation at the least, many takers felt that preparing for TOEFL was harder. Also, the reading section in IELTS is considered much easier when compared to that of TOEFL’s. So, you’ll need to prepare for TOEFL harder, as far as the reading section is considered.

How long do the IELTS and TOEFL tests take?

While the toefl takes about 3 hours to complete in one sitting, the ielts takes 2 hours 45 mins on two different days.

How much do the IELTS and TOEFL cost?

The TOEFL iBT fee is US$185 and the IELTS PBT and IBT costs Rs. 14,700.

When will I get my IELTS and TOEFL test results?

Your TOEFL iBT scores are available in your ETS account just 6 days after your test. If you take IELTS on a computer, you will get your results within 3 to 5 days of sitting your test. Or if you choose to sit a paper-based test, your results will be available 13 days after your test.

What scores do I need to pass IELTS and TOEFL?

There is nothing such as pass or fail for both tests. While the IELTS has a band score ranging from 0-9, the TOEFL score ranges from 0-120.

What should I expect from both tests?

Both tests test your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in the English language.

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