For people whose regional language is not English, who wish to be admitted to universities abroad, it is mandatory to provide scores of an English language proficiency test. IELTS and TOEFL are the two most common and widely accepted tests. In both the exams a student has to pass four sections- Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. While the two exams share the same purpose, they differ considerably. This article will help you to choose between IELTS and TOEFL for your study abroad dream.

1. IELTS has a wider scope as compared to TOEFL

IELTS has a wider scope as compared to TOEFL. It is not only used as an English proficiency test for individuals wishing to study abroad, but also for occupational purposes and immigration to English speaking countries. TOEFL is used for academic purposes only and is taken by students who wish to enroll in English-speaking universities.

2. Mode of Examination: IELTS vs TOEFL

IELTS is conducted in two modes: Paper-based and Computer-delivered. TOEFL  has two modes:  Internet-Based Test (iBT) and Paper-Delivered Test. 

3. It depends on which country you want to go for study abroad

TOEFL scores are recognized by more than 11,000 universities in 150 countries including the US (TOEFL is preferred), UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France and Germany (IELTS is preferred).

Also read: Scholarship Exams to Study Abroad after 12th

4. Duration of test

The IELTS exam can be completed in 2 hours and 45 minutes. The  Internet- based TOEFL takes 3 hours while the paper delivered exam is 2 and a half hours.

5. Speaking English section

Students need to directly communicate with the examiner for the IELTS speaking section test. TOEFL is a completely computer-based exam. Therefore, students do not interact personally with the examiners. For the TOEFL speaking section, students are required to record and send over their speech for checking. The student is given 4 tasks the results of which are scored by an examiner. In one task a student speaks about a familiar topic. In the other 3 integrated Speaking Tasks, students read or listen or both and then speak on the given topic.

6. Reading Section

The TOEFL reading section uses university-level texts to test a student’s reading and comprehension abilities. The student will need to read 3-4 passages. Based on each of these passages, they will have to answer about 10 questions per passage. In IELTS reading section, a student is generally given 3 passages. Based on the passages, students are asked to answer different types of questions. The primary goal of the section is to assess the student’s ability to understand & identify the author’s main ideas, and find specific information.

7. Listening Section

TOEFL listening section intends to assess a student’s ability to listen to classroom lectures and conversations.  Students will be asked to answer questions based on 3-4 lectures and 2-3 conversations.  Each lecture is followed by 6 questions and each conversation is followed by around 5 questions. As for the  IELTS listening section, it is designed to evaluate how well a student understands a conversation, listens to and registers important and specific facts. Students are provided 4 recorded monologues or conversations divided into four sections. The first two conversations/ monologues are about social needs, while the last two are linked to the field of education. The audios on which questions are based, can be heard only once. 

8. Writing Section

TOEFL writing section tests a student’s ability to plan and present their ideas clearly. Students have to complete two tasks – one integrated task involving reading (3 mins), listening (2 minutes) and writing (15 mins) in that order. This is followed by an independent essay writing task. IELTS writing section tests the same writing skills of a student.  They have to write a short and another long essay.

9. Exam dates and frequency

The TOEFL iBT exam is conducted over 60 times a year at the authorized test centers all over the world. The new TOEFL iBT home edition exam can be taken on any of the 4 days in a week. The IELTS exam is allowed to be taken up to once a week. It is scheduled for test dates that include 48 days per year.

Also read: How To Prepare For IELTS – A Complete Guide For IELTS Preparation

10. Results

Students can check their TOEFL score anywhere between 6-10 days after the test date. As for the  IELTS test results, they are made available within a week (online) or within 13 days (offline) from the date of the exam.