TOEFL vs. IELTS, What Should You Choose?

If you want to study at a foreign university, you should know that one of the requirements for all non-native English speakers is to take English language tests. Here’s what you need to know about IELTS and TOEFL, two of the most popular tests.

Although both tests assess candidates’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, they have different formats. Candidates find it hardest to write my essay using arguments in both exams, so we advise you to focus on this part.

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a language proficiency test taken by candidates who want to study abroad or pursue a profession. It is accepted in 140 countries worldwide.

IELTS has two versions: IELTS General Training (for employment/immigration purposes) and IELTS Academic (for educational purposes).

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL is short for the Test of English as a Foreign Language, a popular language test often taken by students who want to study abroad.

The test focuses on testing applicants’ ability to communicate in English in the classroom, so it is accepted in about 130 countries.

IELTS and TOEFL format

The main difference is in the format of the questions, as TOEFL consists of multiple-choice questions, while IELTS has different formats, such as fill-in-the-blanks, short answers, etc. Another difference is the duration of the test. IELTS needs to be taken in 2 hours and 45 minutes, while TOEFL needs to be taken in 3 hours.

In addition, the IELTS exists in two versions: general education and academic. Candidates can choose the version they want depending on their goals. In contrast, TOEFL offers only one type of test and is chosen mostly by students participating in a program abroad.

Also, IELTS requires candidates to demonstrate creative thinking and comprehension skills, while TOEFL tests your analytical thinking and how well you can weigh different options.

IELTS and TOEFL Writing Section

On the IELTS exam, you will have to solve two writing questions. In the first, you will have to explain the information presented in the form of a diagram, table, etc. In the second you will have to write 200-250 words about an argument or a particular point of view. If you ever did buy an argumentative essay, then you know how important it is to be able to describe your arguments correctly.

If you are taking the TOEFL test, you will have to write a five-paragraph essay between 300-350. In the second question, you will need to find some notes from the assigned text and formulate a 150-225 words answer.

IELTS and TOEFL Speaking Section

The TOEFL speaking test will be recorded via microphone and transmitted to the examiners, while the IELTS speaking test will be given in person to all candidates. The TOEFL exam is 20 minutes long and the IELTS is 10 to 15 minutes maximum.

Another differentiating factor is the ability to take the oral test before the other tests in IELTS, whereas TOEFL does not have this option.

TOEFL vs. IELTS Reading Section

The reading test on both exams will include texts similar to those you find in the syllabus. The TOEFL will offer 3 to 5 reading questions to be completed in 20 minutes. The IELTS test will include 3 questions in this section, and candidates will be asked to answer questions in a variety of formats, such as space-packed presentations, short answers, etc.

TOEFL and IELTS Listening Section

The listening test on these two exams is very different from each other. On the IELTS test, students can answer questions while listening to a recording. Whereas the TOEFL test will be based on in-class lectures, and applicants will take notes while listening to audio recordings.

Comparison of IELTS and TOEFL scores

The TOEFL Speaking and Writing sections primarily assess vocabulary as well as writing style and grammar.

IELTS is graded on different points for specific criteria such as logic, coherence, grammar, and fluency. For example, an essay with logical coherence of ideas but poor grammar may score higher on a TOEFL test, but an essay with good grammar and vocabulary but less ability to convey a concept will score higher on the IELTS criteria.

As for scores, IELTS is graded on a scale of 1 to 9, and your overall score is the average of your individual scores on the four tests. If your overall average score is 6.25, it will be rounded up to a final score of 6.5. The TOEFL, on the other hand, is a single test with a maximum score of 120.

Which one should I take?

First, find out which exam you need to take at the university you want to apply to. If you’re allowed to take either one, consider which one best fits your abilities.

The TOEFL is more extensive, but it’s completely computer-based, so if you’re worried about your handwriting or your English when speaking to a native speaker, this exam might be a good option for you.

The IELTS, on the other hand, is a shorter, perhaps more rigorous test, with a greater variety of questions and assignments, including direct interaction with the examiner.

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