Differences between TOEFL and IELTS

It’s common for non-native English speakers to need to prove their language skills in order to study or work abroad. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are two exams used to measure English language proficiency. To assist you in selecting the exam that best meets your needs, we’ll go through the main differences between TOEFL and IELTS.

A description of the IELTS and TOEFL tests:

Before we engage in a head-to-head comparison of the TOEFL and IELTS, let’s first take a brief glance at the two tests.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a test that determines a candidate’s level of English language proficiency. The reading, listening, writing, and speaking portions of the test measure a person’s competency in all four components of the English language. The exam, which was introduced in 1989, is jointly administered by the British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge Assessment English. The exam is available in two delivery formats: paper-based and computer-delivered.


The majority of foreign universities where English is the principal language of instruction employ the internationally recognized, standardized Test of English as an Overseas Language (TOEFL). as a second language, English. The exam is given by Education Testing Service (ETS), a commercial, non-profit company with offices in the US. A paper-delivered examination and an internet-based test (iBT) are both available for this exam. The exam, which was introduced in 1989, is jointly administered by the British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge Assessment English. The exam is available in two delivery formats: paper-based and computer-delivered.

Differences between TOEFL and IELTS

Differences between TOEFL and IELTS:

1. Scope:

Despite the fact that both tests are meant to gauge a person’s English language skills, IELTS and TOEFL have different test objectives. IELTS offers a wider range of topics than the TOEFL does. For those looking to move to an English-speaking country, work or study abroad, or pursue other international endeavors, it acts as a test of English proficiency.

The TOEFL is only used by academic institutions. Students who wish to enroll in universities with an English-speaking student body do so.

2. Types:

The Academic and General Training versions of the IELTS exam are the two most common ones. The IELTS Academic test is for students intending to pursue further education at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate levels. The IELTS General Training test is for persons who want to join in a vocational training programme or go overseas for work.

Contrarily, the TOEFL is primarily utilized for academic objectives, as was already said, hence there are no appreciable differences.

3. Locations That Are Open:

The exams are broadly accessible, but there are differences in accessibility. At more than 1,600 locations, students from more than 140 nations can take the IELTS exam. The TOEFL can be taken with ease. Students can take exams essentially anywhere in the world. There are testing centers available in more than 165 different countries at more than 4,500 locations globally.

4. Popularity:

Both tests have a fair amount of students who take them each year, which indicates that they are both popular. The IELTS exam is anticipated to have been taken by more than 3.5 million candidates in 2018. The number is higher since more people take IELTS in this place than only students. The TOEFL is anticipated to be taken annually by around 2.3 million prospective students.

5. Exchanges With the Examiner:

Another difference between IELTS and TOEFL is how the test is delivered. Candidates must communicate directly with the examiner during the IELTS speaking test.

The complete TOEFL test is computer-based. Therefore, students do not approach the examiners directly. For the TOEFL speaking portion, students must record and submit their speech for editing.

6. Scoring:

One of the biggest differences between the IELTS and TOEFL is how they are scored. IELTS scores are determined using a scale of 1 to 9 bands. The overall and sectional scores for the IELTS exam are calculated on a scale from 0 to 9. in contrast to the TOEFL, which is scored out of 120. An evaluation between 0 and 30 is given to each part.

7. Exam Length:

Two hours and 45 minutes are allotted for the IELTS test. The online TOEFL exam lasts three hours, compared to the two and a half hours required for the paper-delivered exam.

8. Frequency:

Authorized testing centers from all over the world offer the TOEFL iBT exam more than 60 times per year. The new TOEFL iBT home edition exam is offered four days a week. The IELTS test may be taken as frequently as once per week. Each year, 48 days are set aside for testing.

9. A Statement of Results:

Six to ten days following the exam date, students receive their TOEFL results. The results of the IELTS test are made available either seven days (online) or thirteen days (offline) after the exam.

IELTS vs TOEFL- Exam Pattern and Syllabus:

A student must pass all four portions of both exams—Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. The way the exam is administered can vary, though.

1. Reading:

The TOEFL reading component tests a student’s ability to read and comprehend academic material suited for a university environment. There are three to four passages that you must read. For each of these paragraphs, you will be asked to respond to a set of around 10 questions.

For the IELTS reading section, students are often given three passages. Various questions based on the readings must be answered by the students. The section’s main objective is to gauge how effectively students comprehend and can identify the key ideas of the author, as well as how well they can access specific information. The IELTS test results are made available to the public a week (online) or 13 days (offline) after the exam.

2. Listening:

The purpose of the TOEFL listening section is to assess a student’s ability to listen to lectures and classroom discussions. The class will be given questions based on three to four lectures and two to three chats. In a lecture, there are six questions after each question; in a conversation, there are often five questions after each question.

In the IELTS listening section, students’ comprehension of a conversation and their ability to pay attention to important details are evaluated. The pupils will receive four recorded monologues or talks that have been divided into four parts. The first two conversations/monologues cover societal demands, whereas the last two are concentrated on the topic of education. Questions are based on the audio, which can only be listened to once.

3. Writing:

The purpose of the TOEFL writing section is to assess students’ proficiency in effectively and systematically expressing their ideas in writing. The students will receive two assignments: one is an integrated task that calls for three minutes of reading, two minutes of listening, and then fifteen minutes of writing.

Your ability to create an essay that is logical, intelligible, and well-structured on the assigned topic will be tested on the IELTS writing section. The pupils are required to submit two brief essays.

4. Speaking:

The TOEFL speaking section’s objective is to evaluate a student’s level of spoken English competence. The student is given four assignments, and an examiner grades the responses. One assignment calls for the student to discuss a well-known topic. Students must read, listen to, or do both in order to prepare for the other three integrated speaking activities that require them to speak about a certain topic.

The main objective of the IELTS speaking component is to assess a candidate’s ability to articulate ideas and opinions in English. Interviewing the student face-to-face is required by the appointed examiner.

FAQs about TOEFL and IELTS:

Q1: Can I use TOEFL scores for immigration purposes?

TOEFL scores are primarily used for academic purposes and are not typically accepted for immigration purposes. IELTS is commonly required for immigration and work-related applications.

Q2: Is one test easier than the other?

The difficulty level of TOEFL and IELTS is subjective and varies depending on individual strengths and weaknesses. Some test-takers may find one test more challenging than the other based on their language skills and test preferences.

Q3: Can I take both TOEFL and IELTS?

Yes, you can choose to take both tests if you wish. However, it is essential to check the specific requirements of the institutions or organizations you are applying to and determine if they accept scores from both tests.

Q4: How long are TOEFL and IELTS scores valid?

TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. IELTS scores are valid for two years as well, but some institutions may accept scores that are older than two years in certain circumstances. It is advisable to check the specific requirements of your target institutions.

Q5: Can I retake the TOEFL or IELTS if I am not satisfied with my scores?

Yes, you can retake both TOEFL and IELTS if you are not satisfied with your scores. However, there may be restrictions on the frequency of test retakes, so it is important to check the policies of the respective test organizations.


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