TOEFL vs. IELTS? In which I Can Get a higher Band Score?

Everybody asks about the English proficiency tests i.e. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) whether these tests are accepted at universities across the world. Once you achieve a good score in one of the two tests could help you study in English at the foreign institution of your choice. Therefore, so it is an essential part of the studying abroad process. When it comes to differentiating these two tests, their approach, structure, and teaching criteria, thus everything is different, so you should think carefully about which one you choose to pursue. Before deciding anything, let's clarify what is it and why these two English proficiency tests are different.

What is IELTS?

The IELTS is an English that language test, if you are opting for educational, immigration, and occupational purposes, then it’s a great option and moreover it is accepted by over 10,000 institutions across 140 countries worldwide. In addition, jointly it is owned by the British Council and IDP.

What is TOEFL?

The TOEFL test is used to test your ability to communicate in English in specifically academic, university, and classroom-based settings. When it comes to its acceptance, it is accepted by over 8,500 institutions across 130 countries. In addition, TOEFL is administered by US-based organization I,e the Education Testing Service, and so that’s why it is conducted in American English.

Main differences between TOEFL and IELTS

  • TOEFL generally allows you to use either US English or UK English in your final exam and not mix the two, whereas IELTS is much flexible

  • TOEFL consists of multiple-choice questions(MCQs’s) and in IELTS there are variations in the formation of questions and answers
  • The IELTS exam duration is shorter than the TOEFL
  • The IELTS speaking section is done face to face with an examiner

TOEFL vs. IELTS: What about the Format? 

Both the English proficiency tests have different formats. But when it comes to the module it is the same, e-reading, writing, listening, and speaking. So, how would you choose the best test for you? Let me clear this thing that both the English proficiency tests are best but for you is to choose that one which will help you score high and go for that. So what to do, you need to know the basic structure and grading of IELTS and TOEFL.

IELTS Format

IELTS grades from nine-band scale to analyze your level of English proficiency – from band score 1 (non-user) through to band score 9 (expert). Here are the four IELTS sections:

Number of Questions Time Given
Reading 40 30 minutes
Listening4060 minutes
Speaking2 Tasks60 minutes
Writing3 Tasks11-14 minutes

TOEFL Format

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) assesses the same sections i.e reading, writing, listening, and speaking that check your abilities in a combined test format. The total test time takes 4.5 hours – including checking in.

Number of Questions Time Given
Reading 36-56 60-80 minutes
Listening34-5160-90 minutes
Speaking6 tasks20 minutes
Writing2 tasks50 minutes

TOEFL vs IELTS: How Can You Decide?

After knowing everything about the two English proficiency tests i.e TOEFL vs IELTS, now you have an idea of what to expect from these two tests. It’s time to decide which one should take? For that, you need to ask yourself some questions and think carefully in order to make the best decision for you.

Factor Helps in Deciding Which One to Choose

Which Exam is accepted by the schools you are interested in?

A school that you are interested in matters a lot because ultimately that is the only place where you have to spend a lot of time and also the place which can take you to the next level of your career journey. So if the schools you prefer don’t accept the scores of the test you take, then there is no fun in taking the test. But if talk about the current scenario, Both the test have started getting widely accepted at undergraduate and graduate schools all over the world. The TOEFL is more commonly accepted by American institutions, while the IELTS is more commonly accepted overseas, so you should check this before in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises in the future.

Which Exam Plays More to Your Strengths?

Basically, it does not matter, both the IELTS and TOEFL test have the same ability to test the English proficiency level of aspirants. However; the way of testing both is different.

Below are five of the most important differences between the TOEFL vs IELTS.

1. Multiple-Choice vs. Short Answer

In the IELTS reading and listening section, you need to write your own answers but on the other hand, if you are going for TOEFL, you will be given answer choices that you can choose as per the knowledge. So it's up to you which you feel comfortable.

2. Computer-Based vs. Paper-Based

TOEFL is fully computer-based and almost everyone who takes the TOEFL will do so on the computer but You can take the paper to make notes. However, answers will be submitted on the computer. on the other hand, in IELTS you can take either on the computer or with pencil and paper at many test locations. Therefore, If you’re faster at typing, you may prefer the TOEFL and If you prefer writing answers, you must choose IELTS as some people feel more uncomfortable with computer-based tests.

3. Texts Used for the Reading Section

The Reading sections for both the TOEFL and IELTS contain several passages with series of questions. The IELTS also includes passages from newspapers and magazines. On the other hand, The TOEFL only uses academic texts that means it is dense with more challenging vocabulary and concepts to understand. Thus, If you are confident with your English reading skills, you may find the TOEFL Reading section to be easier.

4. Computer-Based Speaking vs. Oral Interview

In the TOEFL Speaking section, it is done over the computer. Like you will hear recorded questions and speak the answers into a microphone. While in IELTS, you will behave face to face conversations. This is one of the biggest differences in the IELTS vs. TOEFL discussion. So it's upto you whether you are comfortable in giving speaking test face to face or not. If not, you would prefer the TOEFL, rather than speaking in front of a real person.

5. Recommended Essay Lengths

Both the English proficiency test requires you to write two essays in the Writing section. In IELTS, you get 60 minutes to write a recommended 400 words, while on the other hand, TOEFL only gives you 50 minutes but recommends about 500 words. Thus, If you are not good at making ideas and writing quickly in English it takes you a long time, and you should go for the IELTS test as it is easier.

Is One Cheaper?

Both exams generally cost about 14000 INR - 19000 INR, but their costs vary from country to country where you take the exam. It's one of the important factors that you need to consider to know which English test; IELTS or TOEFL is cheaper.

Conclusion: TOEFL vs IELTS

As you know both the English proficiency test TOEFL vs IELTS are the two most commonly administered exams. The best part is both contain four modules: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing, but their test format is different in format and the way they test skills. Once you asked yourself all the above questions and you will definitely come out of this dilemma of choosing between these two English Proficiency tests IELTS vs. TOEFL.

Dr. Roma
Content Writer