Choosing between TOEFL and IELTS: A Comparison

4 mins read36.2K Views 16 Comments
Piyush
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jun 30, 2022 15:40 IST

TOEFL and IELTS are the two main English-language proficiency tests available for the students and employees of non-English speaking countries. Often universities abroad ask for either TOEFL or IELTS scores from international applicants. The IELTS vs TOEFL debate often confuses the students. However, it up to the students to choose which exam is more relevant for them. There are various factors such as study material availability, pattern of the exam, toughness level, demand of universities, test center availability, etc. that must be kept in mind.

As it is up to the English test taker to decide which of these two exams, here is a guide to making the decision.

1. Are you more comfortable with North American or British / UK accent?

For British or Australian accent - IELTS

For American accent - TOEFL

2. What are you more comfortable with -- a wide range of North American vocabulary and idiomatic expressions or British English vocabulary and idiomatic expressions?

For British or Australian English - IELTS

For American English - TOEFL

3. Can you type relatively fast?

If you can type fast, you may opt for TOEFL as it requires that you type your essays in the written section of the test.

If you type slow, go for IELTS as you have to handwrite your essay responses.

4. Do you want to finish the test as quickly as possible?

If you want to finish fast, consider IELTS as it is comparatively shorter - about 2 hours 45 minutes. However, shorter does not necessarily mean easier.

If you want to take your time, you can take TOEFL - it lasts approximately 4 hours.

5. Do you feel comfortable with a wide range of question types?

If yes – then take IELTS. It has a much wider range of question types including multiple choice, gap fill, matching exercises, etc.

If you prefer multiple choice questions – then take TOEFL.

6. Are you proficient at taking notes?

Note taking is important for both IELTS and TOEFL. However, it is much more critical for TOEFL. The IELTS requires you to answer questions as you listen to the exam.

7. Do you mind interacting with the examiner directly?

The difference between IELTS and TOEFL speaking section is that in the IELTS you have to interact with the examiner directly. However, in the TOEFL you will not be interacting with the examiner directly.

8. What are the major differences between IELTS and TOEFL exam structure?

Section

TOEFL

IELTS

Reading

  • 3 - 5 reading selections of 20 minutes each
  • Reading materials are academic in nature
  • Questions are multiple choice
  • 3 reading selections of 20 minutes each.
  • Materials are related to an academic setting
  • There are multiple type questions (gap fill, matching, etc.)

Listening

  • The listening selection is very different from IELTS
  • You will have 40 - 60 minutes of listening selections from lectures or campus conversations.
  • Take notes and respond to multiple choice questions.
  • A wider variety of question types, as well as exercises of differing lengths
  • You will answer questions as you move through the listening selection of the test.

Writing

  • Task one involves writing a five paragraph essay of 300 to 350 words.
  • Note taking is important as the second task asks you to take notes from a reading selection in a text book and then a lecture on the same topic.
  • You are then asked to respond using notes by writing a 150 - 225 word selection integrating both the reading and listening selection.
  • The first task is a short essay of 200 - 250 words.
  • The second IELTS writing task asks you to look at an infograhic such as a graph or chart and summarize the information presented.

Speaking

  • You are asked to record responses on the computer of 45 - 60 seconds to six different questions based on short descriptions/conversations.
  • The speaking section of the test lasts 20 minutes.
  • The IELTS speaking section lasts from 12 to 14 minutes and takes place with an examiner, rather than a computer.
  • There is a short warm-up exercise consisting mainly of small talk, followed by a response to some sort of visual stimulus and, finally, a more extended discussion on a related topic.

9. What is the section-wise score comparison between these exams?

Listening Section Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9

30

8.5

29

8

28

7.5

27

7

24-26

6.5

20-23

6

12-19

5.5

7-11

5

4-6

4.5

3

<4

0

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Speaking Section Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9.0

30

8.5

28-29

8.0

26-27

7.5

24-25

7.0

23

6.5

20-22

6.0

18-19

5.5

16-17

5.0

14-15

4.5

12-13

<=4

0-11

Reading Section Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9

30

8.5

29

8

29

7.5

27-28

7

24-26

6.5

19-23

6

13-18

5.5

8-12

5

4-7

4.5

3

<=4

0-2

Writing Section Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9.0

30

8.5

30

8.0

30

7.5 

29

7.0

27-28

6.5

24-26

6.0

21-23

5.5

18-20

5.0

14-17

4.5

12-13

<=4.0

0-11

Total Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9

118-120

8.5

115-117

8

110-114

7.5

102-109

7

94-101

6.5

79-93

6

60-78

5.5

46-59

5

35-45

4.5

32-34

0-4

0-31

If you have finalised either of the two: IELTS and TOEFL, you might want to know When to start preparing for IELTS or TOEFL?. In case you are still confused, consider reading IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE Academic: Which test you should take.

About the Author
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert

With a plethora of knowledge of the education domain, Piyush Kohli has been involved with study abroad for over 5 years and counting. He comes with prior experience on the complexities of the study abroad applicatio... Read Full Bio

Comments

(16)

J

Jemea Osake

5 months ago

Hello I want to ask is it after paying the online application fee before I can be eligible to take the TOEFL exams

Reply to Jemea Osake

P

Piyush KohliStudy Abroad Expert

4 months ago

Hi Jemea, you can take the TOEFL exam anytime after or before submitting your application. However,
it is good to take the test before going for the application process, as you'll have the TOEFL score with you while applying.

D

Damien Scott

6 months ago

Can you apply for scholarships

Reply to Damien Scott

P

Piyush KohliStudy Abroad Expert

6 months ago

Hi Damien, please elaborate on your query and let us know which course you want to pursue abroad, so, we can assist you better.

g

gunwant singh rao

8 months ago

hello
I have done 10th after 10th I did 3 year electrical diploma , and after diploma I did b.tech and I was doing part time job as a apple Technician let me know which course is best for me.

Reply to gunwant singh rao

P

Piyush KohliStudy Abroad Expert

6 months ago

Hi Gunwant, as you have gained work experience, you can go for master's in this field:
https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/ms-in-electronics-electrical-engineering-from-abroad-ds11509263?country=usa-uk-canada

s

swaran kaur

2 years ago

what is course in abrod after M.A english.

Reply to swaran kaur

7083717
Shilpa Saxena

2 years ago

Hi Swaran,
Could you please elaborate your query? Are you looking for options to study after MA English? Which country do you aspire to study in? What exams have you given? What is your current profile?

D

Deewan Bhandari

3 years ago

Hello.what should i do for study IELTS and exam.....i am 12th passed and i have one year diploma in hotel management.....from Dehradun..i want study and give paper soon

Reply to Deewan Bhandari

5173871
Swameeka Medhi

3 years ago

Hi Deewan, you must create an online account on the official website of IELTS, thereafter you may pay the fees and schedule the test. Please find registration instructions here
https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/exams/ielts/how-to-register

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