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IELTS  

IELTS vs TOEFL

Harsh Ranjan      July 20, 2023

In today's globalized world, proficiency in the English language has become a prerequisite for individuals seeking educational and professional opportunities abroad. As a result, standardized tests have emerged as a crucial means of assessing and certifying one's English language skills. Among the various exams available, two names stand out as the most recognized and widely accepted worldwide: the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). These exams serve as a standardized benchmark to evaluate the language proficiency of non-native English speakers, and they play a significant role in determining eligibility for academic programs, employment opportunities, and immigration processes.

 

IELTS VS TOEFL

 

IELTS, developed jointly by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English, has gained immense popularity and credibility over the years. It is recognized and accepted by thousands of universities, colleges, employers, and immigration authorities across the globe. IELTS assesses four key language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The exam is designed to evaluate a test-taker's ability to understand spoken English, comprehend written texts, communicate effectively through writing, and engage in face-to-face conversations. IELTS employs a wide range of accents, including British, American, Australian, and Canadian, among others, to expose test-takers to the diversity of English language usage.


On the other hand, TOEFL, administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), has long been considered the gold standard for English language proficiency testing. Like IELTS, TOEFL evaluates the four language skills: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. However, there are some notable differences in terms of format and delivery. TOEFL is a computer-based exam, and all sections are completed on a computer. The Listening and Speaking sections involve listening to audio recordings and recording responses into a microphone, while the Reading and Writing sections are completed using a keyboard. TOEFL predominantly focuses on American English accents and emphasizes academic contexts such as lectures, conversations, and discussions encountered in university settings.

 

TOEFL FULL DETAILS


Both IELTS and TOEFL offer a reliable and standardized assessment of English language skills. They enable universities and institutions to evaluate applicants fairly and objectively, ensuring that students possess the necessary language proficiency to succeed in academic programs conducted in English. Additionally, employers and immigration authorities rely on these exams to determine an individual's language competence for employment and immigration purposes.


When considering which exam to take, it is important to consider various factors. The requirements of the institutions or organizations you are targeting should be your primary consideration. Some institutions may have specific preferences or minimum score requirements for either IELTS or TOEFL. Additionally, personal preferences such as the test format (paper-based vs. computer-based) and the speaking component (face-to-face vs. recorded responses) should be taken into account. Familiarity with different accents and the specific context in which you will be using English is also an important consideration.


Ultimately, the choice between IELTS and TOEFL depends on your individual circumstances, goals, and the specific requirements of the institutions or organizations you are aiming for. Adequate preparation and practice are vital to achieving the desired scores in either exam. By understanding the nuances and characteristics of IELTS and TOEFL, individuals can make an informed decision and embark on their journey to demonstrate their English language proficiency effectively, opening doors to exciting opportunities worldwide.


In recent years, India has witnessed a significant rise in the number of students and professionals aspiring to pursue higher education or career opportunities abroad. English language proficiency plays a crucial role in securing admission to international universities and obtaining work visas. To assess language skills, two prominent standardized tests are widely accepted in India: The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between IELTS and TOEFL in the Indian context, helping individuals make an informed choice.

Test Structure and Format: 

Both IELTS and TOEFL evaluate test-takers' English language skills, but they differ in terms of structure and format. IELTS consists of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The Listening, Reading, and Writing components are paper-based, while the Speaking test is conducted face-to-face with an examiner. TOEFL, on the other hand, is a computer-based test comprising four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. The Speaking section in TOEFL involves recording responses into a microphone, and the entire test is completed on a computer.
 

  • IELTS is a 2-hour 45-minute test that is offered in two versions: Academic and General Training. The Academic version is designed for students who want to study at an English-speaking university, while the General Training version is designed for students who want to work or live in an English-speaking country.
     
  • TOEFL is a 3-hour 30-minute test that is only offered in one version, the iBT (Internet-based TOEFL). The iBT TOEFL is fully computer-based and can be taken at any time of year at a test centre in over 160 countries.
     

Both the IELTS and TOEFL assess the four skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking. However, the way that the skills are assessed is different in each test.
 

Items

Duration

Task

IELTS Listening 

30 minutes

40 questions

IELTS Reading

60 minutes

40 questions

IELTS Writing

60 minutes

2 tasks

IELTS Speaking

11-14 minutes

3 tasks

 

Items

Duration

Task

TOEFL Listening 

60 minutes

40-60 questions

TOEFL  Reading

60 minutes

30-56 questions

TOEFL  Writing

50 minutes

2 tasks

TOEFL  Speaking

20 minutes

6 tasks

Accent and Context: 

Another critical distinction between IELTS and TOEFL is the accents and contexts used in the tests. IELTS aims to expose test-takers to various English accents, including British, American, Australian, and Canadian, among others. This diversity helps individuals develop a broader understanding of different accents and dialects. TOEFL primarily focuses on American English accents and emphasizes academic contexts such as lectures, conversations, and classroom discussions typically encountered in university settings.

Test Availability: 

In India, both IELTS and TOEFL are widely available. IELTS tests are administered by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English, with numerous test centres located across the country. Similarly, TOEFL tests, conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS), are also available in various cities across India. It is advisable to check the official websites of both tests to find the nearest test centre and available test dates in your region.

Test Acceptance: 

IELTS and TOEFL scores are accepted by a large number of universities, colleges, employers, and immigration authorities globally. In India, most universities and institutions recognize both tests. However, it is important to research and verify the specific requirements of the institutions or organizations you are targeting. Some institutions may have preferences for one test over the other, so it is advisable to check with the admissions or HR departments to ensure compliance with their specific criteria.

Test Scores:

Both the IELTS and TOEFL use a scale of 0 to 100 to report scores. However, the way that the scores are calculated is different in each test.
 

  • IELTS scores are divided into four bands: 1 to 9. A band score of 7 is considered to be a good score.
  • TOEFL scores are divided into two sections: Reading and Listening, and Writing and Speaking. Each section is scored on a scale of 0 to 30. A total score of 120 is considered to be a good score.

Choosing Between IELTS and TOEFL: 

Deciding between IELTS vs TOEFL depends on several factors. Firstly, consider the requirements of the universities or institutions you are applying to. Some institutions may accept both tests, while others may have a preference for one. Secondly, consider your own preferences regarding test format and speaking component. If you are more comfortable with face-to-face interactions, IELTS might be a better fit. If you prefer a computer-based format, TOEFL might be more suitable. Lastly, assess your familiarity with different accents and the specific context in which you will be using English.


In general, the IELTS is considered to be a more difficult test than the TOEFL. However, this is subjective and depends on your individual strengths and weaknesses. If you are not sure which test to take, you can take a practice test of both the IELTS and TOEFL to see which one you prefer.

Preparation and Practice: 

Regardless of the test you choose, adequate preparation and practice are crucial for achieving the desired score. Numerous resources are available for both IELTS or TOEFL preparation, including practice tests, study materials, and coaching centres. It is advisable to allocate sufficient time for preparation and engage in regular practice to familiarize yourself with the test format, improve your language skills, and build confidence.


IELTS and TOEFL are two widely recognized English language proficiency tests in India. While they share similarities in assessing language skills, they differ in test structure, format, accents, and contexts. When making a decision, it is important to consider the requirements of the institutions or organizations you are targeting, your own preferences, and your comfort level with different accents and test formats. Adequate preparation and practice are key to success in either test. By making an informed choice and dedicating sufficient time to preparation, individuals can demonstrate their English language proficiency effectively and pursue their academic and career aspirations abroad.

 

The significance of IELTS and TOEFL in India cannot be overstated. As an increasing number of individuals aspire to pursue higher education or career opportunities abroad, these exams serve as vital gateways to achieving those aspirations. With India being one of the largest sources of international students and skilled professionals, demonstrating proficiency in the English language through IELTS or TOEFL has become a necessity.

 

Both IELTS and TOEFL provide a standardized and objective assessment of English language skills, enabling Indian students and professionals to compete on a global scale. These exams validate their ability to understand and communicate effectively in English, a language widely used in academic, professional, and social contexts worldwide.

 

Moreover, IELTS and TOEFL scores are accepted by numerous universities and institutions across the globe, including in popular study destinations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The acceptance of these scores by international institutions ensures that Indian applicants can showcase their language proficiency in a consistent and universally recognized manner.

 

Furthermore, in the context of Indian job seekers, an increasing number of companies, particularly multinational corporations, require English language proficiency as a prerequisite for employment. IELTS and TOEFL scores serve as concrete evidence of an individual's language competence, thereby enhancing their job prospects both domestically and internationally.

 

For those considering immigration, proficiency in English is often a mandatory requirement. IELTS and TOEFL scores are widely accepted by immigration authorities, ensuring that Indian applicants can fulfill the language requirements necessary to pursue their immigration goals, whether it be for work, study, or permanent residency in an English-speaking country.

 

In the Indian context, the importance of IELTS and TOEFL extends beyond mere test scores. These exams represent an investment in one's future, opening doors to better educational opportunities, higher-paying jobs, and a global perspective. They signify a commitment to personal and professional growth and provide individuals with the tools to compete and excel in an increasingly interconnected world.

 

People Also Read: IELTS vs Duolingo

 

In conclusion, the role of IELTS and TOEFL in India cannot be underestimated. They serve as indispensable benchmarks for English language proficiency, enabling Indian students, professionals, and immigrants to pursue their dreams and carve successful paths in the global arena. By embracing the opportunities offered by these exams and preparing diligently, individuals can unlock a world of possibilities, expand their horizons, and make significant contributions on the international stage.


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FAQs

Ques 1. What is the main purpose of the IELTS and TOEFL exams?
 

Ans. The main purpose of both exams is to assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers for academic, professional, and immigration purposes.

 

Ques 2. Are IELTS and TOEFL accepted worldwide?

 

Ans. Yes, both exams are widely accepted by thousands of universities, colleges, employers, and immigration authorities globally. However, specific requirements may vary, so it is essential to check the individual requirements of the institutions or organizations you are targeting.

 

Ques 3. Which test is better for studying abroad?

 

Ans. Both IELTS and TOEFL are widely accepted for university admissions abroad. It is advisable to check the requirements of the institutions you are applying to, as some may have a preference for one test over the other.

 

Ques 4. How long are IELTS and TOEFL scores valid?
 

Ans. IELTS scores are generally valid for two years, while TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. It is advisable to check the specific validity period required by the institution or organization you are applying to.
 

Ques 5. Can I take both IELTS and TOEFL exams?
 

Ans. Yes, you have the option to take either or both exams based on your requirements and the preferences of the institutions you are applying to. However, it is important to note that each test has its own registration process and fees.
 

Ques 6. How long does it take to get IELTS or TOEFL scores?

 

Ans. IELTS scores are usually available online 13 days after the test date, while TOEFL scores are typically available online within 10 days after the test.


Ques 7. Can I retake the IELTS or TOEFL exam?

 

Ans. Yes, you can retake both exams if you are not satisfied with your scores. However, there may be limitations on how frequently you can retake the exams, so it is advisable to check the policies of the respective testing organizations.

 

Ques 8. Is there a passing or failing score for IELTS and TOEFL?
 

Ans. There is no passing or failing score for either exam. The score requirements vary depending on the institution or organization you are applying to. It is important to check their specific score requirements.

 

Ques 9. Can I prepare for IELTS and TOEFL on my own?
 

Ans. Yes, there are numerous resources available online and in print for self-preparation. However, some individuals may choose to enroll in preparation courses or seek guidance from professional tutors to enhance their chances of achieving their desired scores.
 

Ques 10. How should I choose between IELTS and TOEFL?

 

Ans. The choice between IELTS and TOEFL depends on various factors such as the requirements of the institutions or organizations you are targeting, your personal preferences regarding test format and speaking component, and your comfort level with different accents. It is advisable to research and understand the specific needs of your intended destination before making a decision.

Harsh Ranjan
Harsh Ranjan

Digital Mktg. Manager

A seasoned marketer with the ability to craft narratives that elevate brands and drive volume. Harsh loves researching, finding new ways to connect with potential audiences

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