If you are applying to university or college in an English-speaking country and English is not your first language, your institution may require you to take a standardized test to prove your English language proficiency. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are two of the most widely-accepted tests to certify this, which will bring up the big question: should you take the IELTS or TOEFL exam?
Watch this video to know more about the differences between these two tests.
IELTS vs TOEFL: Similarities
- Both test the four main language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
- There is not much difference in price either, with both costing between $150 and $250 dollars depending on where you do it.
That is where the similarities end and there are many more differences. Let’s look at how each of the four skills is different.
IELTS vs TOEFL: Differences
- The main difference here is that TOEFL will always be standard American English, whilst with IELTS; you can find different English variations from Ireland, Wales, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Australia.
- The TOEFL listening exam lasts between 40 and 60 minutes and is based on multiple choice questions regarding university life situations while the IELTS listening section lasts 30 minutes, divided into 4 sections, and it can cover different conversations, both academic and general that comprise of a variety of tasks from sentence completion to matching headings.
- The TOEFL speaking exam is a 20-minute conversation with a computer, which is recorded and assessed by an examiner at a later stage. You are asked 6 university-related questions on various things such as hometown and family topics, and you will have to express your opinion on a chosen subject/given text.
- The IELTS speaking exam is slightly shorter: 12-15 minutes long. This is split into 3 sections and is conducted with a real examiner. With few examples when you will have to talk to a computer, IELTS is much better for practice as it is with a live tester.
- TOEFL is a 2-question exam that lasts for 50 minutes and is typed on a computer. First, you’ll have to write a short answer after reading a text and listening to a lecture of about 2 minutes. The next answer is an Essay you’ll need to write down and will require a longer reply (between 450 and 600 words).
- IELTS has Academic and General Training – 2 different writing tests. These answers are handwritten. The first question involves interpreting a graph, table or diagram for Academic students and a formal or informal letter for General Training students. The next one involves a short 250-word essay answer as an argument or a discussion.
The two main differences here are questions types and context.
- The TOEFL test is multiple choices only and the IELTS test has a wide range of question types.
- If you like multiple choice then TOEFL might be the test for you but other people really don’t like them and feel that a range of question types gives them a better chance of getting a high score.
According to many experienced professionals, who train for both tests and according to the educational system we have in India, IELTS is easier than TOEFL because our educational system has likely been more European. So, whenever students ask for an advice, they recommend IELTS.
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