IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are two of the most widely recognized English language proficiency tests, but they have some notable differences in terms of test format, scoring, and test-taker preferences. Here are the key distinctions between the two:
IELTS: IELTS offers two main versions – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. IELTS Academic is typically required for university admissions, while IELTS General Training is often used for immigration and work-related purposes. Both versions consist of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, and the Speaking section is conducted in person with an examiner.
TOEFL: TOEFL primarily comes in an internet-based test (iBT) format. It includes four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. All sections are taken on a computer, including the Speaking section, which is recorded and assessed by human graders.
IELTS: IELTS uses a band score system, with scores ranging from 1 (non-user) to 9 (expert user) for each section (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). The overall band score is the average of the scores in these sections.
TOEFL: TOEFL uses a score scale of 0 to 120, with each section receiving a score between 0 and 30. The four section scores are then added to provide the overall score.
IELTS: The total test time for IELTS is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, including time for the Speaking section.
TOEFL: The TOEFL iBT can take around 3 hours to complete, including a 10-minute break.
Content and Style:
IELTS: IELTS tends to have a more varied and natural use of accents in the Listening section. The Reading section includes a mix of text types, such as articles, advertisements, and notices. The Writing section requires test-takers to express opinions and arguments.
TOEFL: TOEFL listening materials usually feature North American accents. The Reading section primarily contains academic texts. In the Writing section, test-takers are asked to summarize and analyze information.
IELTS: IELTS has a face-to-face Speaking interview with an examiner, which some test-takers find more personal and conversational.
TOEFL: TOEFL’s Speaking section is recorded responses to prompts. It may feel less interactive but allows for standardized evaluation.
Acceptance and Regional Preferences:
IELTS: IELTS is widely accepted in many English-speaking countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. It is also gaining recognition in the United States.
TOEFL: TOEFL is more commonly required by institutions in the United States, although it is accepted by institutions worldwide.
IELTS: IELTS scores are typically valid for two years.
TOEFL: TOEFL scores are also valid for two years.
IELTS: Test-takers can retake the IELTS test as many times as they wish, but they must wait a minimum of 2 weeks between test dates.
TOEFL: Test-takers can retake the TOEFL test as many times as they wish, but they must wait 3 days between test dates.
When choosing between IELTS and TOEFL, it’s important to consider the requirements of the institutions or organizations you are applying to, your personal preferences, and which test format aligns better with your strengths and communication style. Ultimately, both tests serve the purpose of assessing English language proficiency and can be used for various academic and professional purposes.