IELTS vs TOEFL: Which Exam should you take?

IELTS vs TOEFL: Which Exam should you take?

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Rahul
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Sep 22, 2022 08:48 IST

IELTS vs TOEFL: 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 scores or IELTS score from international applicants. The IELTS vs TOEFL debate often confuses the students. Students are also confused about IELTS academic vs general for masters. 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.

IELTS vs TOEFL Exam Structure

The table given below provides differences between all the sections of both the examinations:

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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.

Total Score Comparisons

The table given below provides a comparison between the overall scoring of both the examinations:

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

IELTS vs TOEFL: North American or British / UK accent?

  • For British or Australian accent - IELTS
  • For American accent - TOEFL

IELTS vs TOEFL: Vocabulary and idiomatic expressions

  • For British or Australian English - IELTS
  • For American English - TOEFL

IELTS vs TOEFL: 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.

IELTS vs TOEFL: Test duration

  • 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.

IELTS vs TOEFL: Range of questions

  • 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.

IELTS vs TOEFL: Note taking

  • 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.

IELTS vs TOEFL: Interaction with examiner

  • The difference between IELTS speaking and TOEFL speaking sections 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.

IELTS Academic vs General for Masters

  • Candidates must note that IELTS Academic is for students who wish to study in a country where English is the native language.
  • IELTS General Training module is for those who wish to apply for a PR or job in English-speaking countries.

IELTS vs TOEFL Section-wise Score Comparison

Listening Section Score Comparisons

The table given below provides a comparison between the IELTS listening section scores and TOEFL listening section scores:

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

0

Speaking Section Score Comparisons

The table given below provides a comparison between the IELTS speaking section scores and TOEFL speaking section scores:

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

0-11

Reading Section Score Comparisons

The table given below provides a comparison between the IELTS reading section scores and TOEFL reading section scores:

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

0-2

Writing Section Score Comparisons

The table given below provides a comparison between the IELTS writing section scores and TOEFL writing section scores:

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

0-11

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 vs Duolingo: Which test you should take.

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Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

Rahul Singha is a seasoned editor with Shiksha Study Abroad, specializing in overseas education. With over 8 years of domain experience, he has made a significant impact in contributing to the study abroad industry ... Read Full Bio

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Comments

(16)

J

Jemea Osake

2 years 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 Kohli

2 years 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

2 years ago

Can you apply for scholarships

Reply to Damien Scott

P

Piyush Kohli

2 years 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.

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 Kohli

2 years 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

4 years ago

what is course in abrod after M.A english.

Reply to swaran kaur

7083717
Shilpa Saxena

4 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

5 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

5 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