The two most important English proficiency tests that Indian students take while seeking admission in an English country are International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL).
In Europe and Australia, IELTS is more popular while in the USA, TOEFL is more popular. However, IELTS scores and TOEFL scores are now accepted as a proof of English proficiency by almost all the universities, irrespective of the continent where they are located.
If you are specifically targeting European universities and educational institutions, IELTS is more widely accepted there. Conducted jointly by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, British Council and IDP Education Australia, IELTS is considered slightly more difficult than TOEFL. TOEFL on the other had is conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Service).
Both TOEFL and IELTS evaluate student's English-language skills on the basis of similar criteria, namely; IELTS listening, IELTS reading, IELTS writing, and IELTS speaking, and TOEFL listening, TOEFL reading, TOEFL writing, and TOEFL speaking. But while TOEFL focuses on sentence structure in its paper-based and computer-based formats, IELTS focuses more on ‘speaking' skills of the candidates.
Non-native English speakers often find it difficult to face interviews and hence, consider TOEFL easier than IELTS. However, the new internet-based TOEFL test also includes a section to evaluate English speaking too.
Scoring patterns of IELTS and TOEFL are quite different too. While IELTS gives out scores in bands from 0 to 9 for each section (where 0 stands for ‘does not know English at all' and 9 stands for ‘expert in English) and average them for the overall band, TOEFL scores are more exact. However, if you have already taken TOEFL, you can check with the university in Europe to see if it accepts the TOEFL scores converted to IELTS scores.
Typically, the duration of IELTS test is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The speaking section of the exam usually take place a few days before or a few days after the other three sections. TOEFL on the other hand, takes about 3 hours to complete and all the sections are held on the same day.
You can read the following articles for more clarity on both the exams:
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