IELTS vs TOEFL

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Often universities abroad ask for either TOEFL or IELTS scores of international students. Then it is the students' choice as both exams are accepted as meeting the entry requirements for academic settings.

As it is up to the English test taker to decide which of these two exams, here is a guide to making the decision.

 

1. Are you more comfortable with North American or British / UK accent?

For British or Australian accent - IELTS

For American accent - TOEFL

 

2. What are you more comfortable with -- a wide range of North American vocabulary and idiomatic expressions or British English vocabulary and idiomatic expressions?

For British or Australian English - IELTS

For American English - TOEFL

 

3. Can you type relatively fast?

If you can type fast, you may opt for TOEFL as it requires that you type your essays in the written section of the test.

If you type slow, go for IELTS as you have to handwrite your essay responses.

 

4. Do you want to finish the test as quickly as possible?

If you want to finish fast, consider IELTS as it is comparatively shorter - about 2 hours 45 minutes. However, shorter does not necessarily mean easier.

If you want to take your time, you can take TOEFL - it lasts approximately 4 hours.

 

5. Do you feel comfortable with a wide range of question types?

If yes – then take IELTS. It has a much wider range of question types including multiple choice, gap fill, matching exercises, etc.

If you prefer multiple choice questions – then take TOEFL.

 

6. Are you proficient at taking notes?

Note taking is important for both IELTS and TOEFL. However, it is much more critical for TOEFL. The IELTS requires you to answer questions as you listen to the exam.

 

7. What are the major differences between IELTS and TOEFL exam structure?

TOEFL

IELTS

Reading
  • 3 - 5 reading selections of 20 minutes each
  • Reading materials are academic in nature
  • Questions are multiple choice
  • 3 reading selections of 20 minutes each.
  • Materials are related to an academic setting
  • There are multiple type questions (gap fill, matching, etc.)
Listening
  • The listening selection is very different from IELTS
  • You will have 40 - 60 minutes of listening selections from lectures or campus conversations.
  • Take notes and respond to multiple choice questions.
  • A wider variety of question types, as well as exercises of differing lengths
  • You will answer questions as you move through the listening selection of the test.
Writing
  • Task one involves writing a five paragraph essay of 300 to 350 words.
  • Note taking is important as the second task asks you to take notes from a reading selection in a text book and then a lecture on the same topic.
  • You are then asked to respond using notes by writing a 150 - 225 word selection integrating both the reading and listening selection.
  • The first task is a short essay of 200 - 250 words.
  • The second IELTS writing task asks you to look at an infograhic such as a graph or chart and summarize the information presented.
Speaking
  • You are asked to record responses on the computer of 45 - 60 seconds to six different questions based on short descriptions/conversations.
  • The speaking section of the test lasts 20 minutes.
  • The IELTS speaking section lasts from 12 to 14 minutes and takes place with an examiner, rather than a computer.
  • There is a short warm-up exercise consisting mainly of small talk, followed by a response to some sort of visual stimulus and, finally, a more extended discussion on a related topic.

8. What is the section-wise score comparison between these exams?

Listening Section Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9 30
8.5 29
8 28
7.5 27
7 24-26
6.5 20-23
6 12-19
5.5 7-11
5 4-6
4.5 3
<4 0

 

Speaking Section Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9.0 30
8.5 28-29
8.0 26-27
7.5 24-25
7.0 23
6.5 20-22
6.0 18-19
5.5 16-17
5.0 14-15
4.5 12-13
<=4 0-11

 

Reading Section Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9 30
8.5 29
8 29
7.5 27-28
7 24-26
6.5 19-23
6 13-18
5.5 8-12
5 4-7
4.5 3
<=4 0-2

 

Writing Section Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9.0 30
8.5 30
8.0 30
7.5 29
7.0 27-28
6.5 24-26
6.0 21-23
5.5 18-20
5.0 14-17
4.5 12-13
<=4.0 0-11

 

Total Score Comparisons

IELTS Score

TOEFL Score

9 118-120
8.5 115-117
8 110-114
7.5 102-109
7 94-101
6.5 79-93
6 60-78
5.5 46-59
5 35-45
4.5 32-34
0-4 0-31
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