IELTS VS TOEFL: Which Test to Opt for?


Both TOEFL AND IELTS are English Proficiency test that are useful to test your English skills when applying for further studies abroad. If you are planning to study abroad in an English-speaking country for your Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree, you will most likely have to submit either an IELTS or TOEFL score. Either the IELTS or the TOEFL is required as part of your application to an English-speaking university and will demonstrate if you will be able to understand the course material Even though both these tests have their pros and cons. It is very important to understand the core structure of both the examinations, and according to your strength opt for the test.

What is IELTS?

IELTS is an abbreviation for International English Language Testing System. The test is available in two formats: “IELTS Academic,” for those planning to study at a higher education level abroad; and “IELTS General Training,” which focuses on social skills and workplace contexts.

IELTS Test Format

Section Number of Questions
Reading : 30 min 40
Listening : 60 min 40
Writing : 60 min 2 tasks
Speaking : 11-14 mines 3 tasks
  • The Speaking section on the IELTS can be taken before or after the other sections.

Time prescribed to complete the test

Generally the time allotted to the students to complete the entire four sections is 2hrs and 45 mins. The sections are bifurcated in to four parts with each individual section having a score band of 0-9

Eventually, the average score of all the four sections is taken into consideration.

Where IELTS is IS accepted?

Over 9,000 institutes across the world accept IELTS scores worldwide.

Content Elaboration

Section Task
Reading Three passages followed by 10-15 questions  
Writing Two tasks given 1st Task :  Describe a piece of visual information in 150 words within a time frame of 20 mins 2nd Task:  Present your point of view on an argument or debate in 250-300 words. For both tasks, students are tested on how well they respond to the question, the clarity of their writing, range of vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.  
Listening Consists of four Recordings : Two from everyday lives social contextOne from educational contextOne from university lecture.
Speaking Speak for 11-15 mins on the topic given in the pla card followed by two or three general questions.

What is TOEFL?

 TOEFL is an acronym of the Test of English as a Foreign Language. It assesses your ability to both speak and understand English by analysing your English ability in terms of reading, speaking, listening and writing. These are all skills which will be required to carry out your academic studies

 Content Elaboration

Sections Questions  
Computer Tutorial NA NA
Listening Section 30 – 50 questions 40 – 60 min.
Structure Section 20 – 25 questions 15 – 20 min.
Reading Section 44 – 60 questions 70 – 90  min.
Writing Section 1 Essay 30 min.
 Total 94 – 135 question + 1 Essay 4 hrs. 

Where is TOEFL accepted?

TOEFL is accepted across 9,000 universities worldwide.

Major Difference between TOEFL and IELTS

  • Acceptance by the university: This is the most important factor to consider when appearing for any tests. Visit the university website to check which test they accept. Both the TOEFL and IELTS are widely accepted at undergraduate and graduate schools around the world. Mostly students going to US take the TOEFL test. However, certain universities in USA do accept IELTS scores as well. IELTS is popular in countries like UK and Australia.
  • Choice of questions

A key difference between the exams is that, for the Reading and Listening sections, you’ll have to write your own answers for many of the questions on the IELTS, while all the answer choices will be given to you on the TOEFL. The TOEFL questions on these sections are not all multiple-choice, but most of them are, and for the ones that aren’t, you won’t have to produce your own answers. On the IELTS, you’ll have to come up with your own answers for many questions.

·         Texts Used for the Reading Section

The Reading sections for both the TOEFL and IELTS have several passages, each followed by series of questions. However, the two exams use different types of texts. The IELTS uses academic texts as well as passages from newspapers and magazines. The TOEFL only uses academic texts, which means its reading passages are often denser with more challenging vocabulary and concepts to understand. If you’re not confident with your English reading skills, you may find the IELTS Reading section to be easier.

  • Mode of Interview

On the TOEFL, the Speaking section, like all other sections of the test, is done over the computer. You’ll hear recorded questions and speak into a microphone to give Also, the Speaking section on the TOEFL is always the third part of the exam, while, with the IELTS, you can take this section up to a week before or after the rest of the test. Some people prefer to get the exam over with all in one sitting, while others prefer to break the exam up into more manageable pieces.


When opting for any test, be it IELTS or TOEFL; Keep in mind three crucial factors:

  • Know your strengths
  • Which exam is affordable?
  • Which test is accepted by the university?
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