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What You Should Know About International English Language Test (IELTs)

International English Language Test (IELTS) and the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test are the two (2) most accepted/recognized English language tests.

As a matter of fact, the English language proficiency test is a compulsory test for immigrants who desire to immigrate to Canada either for work, study, and some other immigration purposes.


Although there has been a basis for comparison as to which of the test is best for immigrants, while the two tests are accepted globally, their approach, structure, and teaching criteria are completely different.

This article will unveil the differences between the two (2) tests (TOEFL and IELTS) and guide you to decide which is best for you.

TOEFL Meaning And Purpose

The TOEFL test is widely accepted by more than 8,500 institutions throughout 130 nations, including the United States, Australia, the UK, and the world’s top 100 universities.

TOEFL seeks to test an individual’s proficiency to communicate in English especially in academic settings. TOEFL is administered by a US-based organization, also the test is carried out in American English and the TOEFL is more likely to be favored by American institutions.


IELTS Meaning And Purpose

The IELTS is the most popular English language proficiency test in the world for higher education and global migration purposes.  It was established in 1989, and the IELTS examination is designed by a set of the world’s leading experts in language evaluation.

The IELTS test is used for occupational, academic, and immigration purposes. It’s commonly accepted by more than 10,000 institutions across 140 countries. The IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English.

IELTS is an international language test, meaning that you could use either US or UK spelling depending on your entry requirements, you may be required to take either the general training or academic IELTS examination.

Difference Between TOEFL and IELTS



While the TOEFL questions are entirely multiple choice and the duration for the test is about 4 hours to finish, meanwhile the IELTS requires individuals to answer various question types including short answers, brief essay tasks, and gap-filling.

The IELTS test takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete test and this is notably shorter than the TOEFL test duration.

TOEFL test is completely computer-based, but the IELTS comprises of various test that is conducted on paper. Potential students in search of admission into the higher institutions are required to sit for the academic IELTS test meanwhile the general training test is solely used for some occupational and immigration requirements.

While the TOEFL basically present multiple choices that allow students to think analytically weighing up the differences among their options, the IELTS requires more use of memory and draws on broader comprehension abilities as students will be faced with different question styles.

Components Of Test

1). Talking

The IELTS talking (speaking) test is a face-to-face test with an examiner. It takes about 11-14 minutes and possibly not be on the same day as the other exam components. The IELTS speaking result is decided by a single examiner.

Meanwhile, the TOEFL test will require you to answer just six (6) questions right into a recorded microphone which will be later sent to a set of six (6) reviewers. The TOEFL test duration is about 20 minutes and is usually on the same day as the remainder of the test.

Note: IELTS test features a range of different accents speaking in English, while TOEFL features only American speakers.

2). Writing

The TOEFL writing test is usually typed, meanwhile, the IELTS test is paper-based. TOEFL requires students to finish two (2) tasks, the first is usually a five-paragraph essay between 300-350 words. And the second task requires students to take notes from a section of lecture excerpt and text on the same topic, and also use them to form a 150-225 word essay.

There are also sections in the IELTS writing test, the first requires you to answer or summarise questions presented in a table, chart, graph, or diagram. But the second section requires you to write a 200-250 word essay that offers an argument, a point of view, or demands that you write in a particular language style.

3). Reading

The IELTS and TOEFL share some similarities when it comes to the reading section. The TOEFL reading test is composed of 3-5 studying sections and students are allocated 20 minutes to finish, each section is drawn from an academic context. Students are likely to come across in a classroom and will have to answer a series of multiple-choice questions which aim to test how well they understood the texts.

The IELTS reading test has three (3) sections and lasts for 20 minutes. It is also drawn from an academic context but with a much broader variety of question types that could be anything from ‘fill the gaps’ to a quick solution. The questions are also designed to test how well the student understands the textual content in its particular use of thoughts, language, and style.

4). Listening

There’s a huge difference between the TOEFL listening test and the IELTS listening test. While the duration for the TOEFL listening test is about 40-60 mins; which involves listening to conversations on a university campus or excerpts from university lectures.

You could also be asked to take notes while listening as well as answer a series of multiple-choice questions afterward.

Notwithstanding, the IELTS listening test lets students answer questions while they’re paying attention to the recordings. They will also be required to respond to a number of different exercises and question types of various lengths.

TOEFL and IELTS Scoring

The writing and speaking sections of the TOEFL are graded as they appear whole, this includes grammar, a range of vocabulary, and writing style. e.g. In the TOEFL exam, an essay with poor grammar but have a good logical progression of ideas will score higher.

Meanwhile, the IELTS is completely based on separate grades of criteria which include your use of logic, fluency, grammar, and cohesion. E.g an essay with strong vocabulary and grammar but weaker in expressing an idea will do better (higher) by the IELTS criteria.

Also, the IELTS is graded on a band system from 1-9, together with the general score being an average of your various separate scores in all four (4) tests.

Your overall score will be rounded to the nearest half-band. For instance, in a case where your total average is 6.25, it is going to be summed up to a final score of 6.5.

Meanwhile, the TOEFL is a single test that is often graded out of 120 points.


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Samuel Jackson

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