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IELTS vs TOEFL: Which English Proficiency Test is Right for You?

Viral Vora

Viral Vora

Nov 25, 2022

11 mins read

IELTS vs TOEFL: Which English Proficiency Test is Right for You? Cover Image

It is very common these days for students and professionals to seek to go abroad for education and professional opportunities. But there is a pretty complex process involved before that happens and one of them is giving an English language proficiency test if you plan to go to an English-speaking country. But are you confused between IELTS and TOEFL? Here are the major differences between the two to help you decide.

What are IELTS and TOEFL?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a renowned language ability test that individuals who wish to pursue an education abroad or for professional reasons must take. It is recognized in 140 countries. IELTS is of two types: Academic and General Training (for education purposes)(for working professionals and immigration needs).

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), on the other hand, is a well-known language competence test that is frequently chosen by students hoping to study abroad. The exam places a strong emphasis on evaluating candidates’ communication skills in English used in a classroom and is recognized in about 130 countries.

IELTS vs TOEFL Acceptance 

The common consensus regarding TOEFL and IELTS is that the former is preferred for students applying to US universities while the latter is better for those applying to universities in the UK, Canada, and certain other European countries. The supposition might or might not be accurate, though.

Many UK universities accept the IELTS as a measure of English language proficiency, and these institutions virtually never require a TOEFL score. However, occasionally certain universities stipulate that a candidate must have a TOEFL score for a particular subject. In that situation, passing the exam is crucial, regardless of your IELTS score.

Many US universities still require a TOEFL score and set a minimum level that applicants must achieve in order to be considered for admission. In some instances, one could notice that US-based universities only need the TOEFL instead of mentioning IELTS.

Therefore, it is usually preferable to base your decision on your university or college and the course you are applying for when deciding between IELTS and TOEFL. Before applying, one must confirm the scoring requirements, such as which exam, what score, etc., and only then may one decide whether to take the IELTS or the TOEFL. The university and course requirements should be taken into consideration before any other factors when deciding whether to appear(s).

Major Differences Between IELTS and TOEFL

Conducting BodyIDP Education LTD and British CouncilEducational Testing Service
How Are They Conducted?Online and OfflineOnline and Offline
Types IELTS Academic
IELTS General Training
Test Duration2 hrs 45 min4 hrs
Breaks Between TestsThere are no breaks permitted during the reading, writing, or listening components of the test, although the speaking section may be taken up to a week before or after the other sectionsThe ten-minute break between the listening and speaking segments
Parts Of The TestReading, Writing, Listening, and SpeakingReading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking
Test Delivery FormatPaper and ComputerComputer
Frequency48 times a year50 times a year
Results13 days after the test
Approximately 10 days after the test
Where Is It Accepted?accepted by over 9,000 organizations worldwidemore than 10,000 organizations worldwide accept it
Score Range0-90-120
Minimum Average Scores Needed by Top Universities6.378

Suggested: Mistakes to Avoid in Toefl

Differences In the Format Of IELTS and TOEFL

The primary distinction between the two tests is the format of the questions; while the TOEFL uses multiple-choice questions, the IELTS will need you to provide responses in a variety of formats, including short answers and fill-in-the-blanks. Along with this, the length of each exam is a notable difference. IELTS must be finished in 2 hours and 45 minutes, however, the TOEFL will take 4 hours to complete. The two IELTS test options are General Training and Academic, and applicants can select their version test based on their intended use of the test. The single exam type offered by TOEFL is the one that most students who are studying abroad choose to take. IELTS requires candidates to demonstrate their critical thinking and comprehension capabilities; in contrast, the TOEFL will assess your analytical thinking and your capacity to weigh your options. As a result, this is one of the key differences between TOEFL and IELTS.

1. IELTS Format

SectionsTimeNo. of tasks
Speaking 11-15 min3
Reading60 min3
Writing60 min2

Suggested: How To Score 110+ In TOEFL 

2. TOEFL Format

SectionsScoringTimeNo. of questions
Speaking 0-3020 Min35-51
Reading0-3060-80 Min36-56
Writing0-3050 Min2 Tasks

Suggested: How To Score 110+ In TOEFL 

3. Scoring In IELTS and TOEFL

Your vocabulary range, writing style, and grammar are all taken into account when scoring your speaking and writing on the TOEFL. Logic, coherence, grammar, and fluency are only a few of the precise criteria that make up the IELTS evaluation. For instance, a TOEFL essay with a logical flow of ideas but poor grammar may score higher, but IELTS requirements favor essays with better grammar and vocabulary but less effective concept communication. The IELTS is scored on a scale of 1 to 9, and your overall score is calculated as the average of the points you receive on each of the four examinations. Your final grade will be rounded up to 6.5 if your overall average is 6.25. There is only one test, the TOEFL, and the maximum score is 120. Following are some general comparisons between TOEFL and IELTS total scores:


Suggested: How To Score 110+ In TOEFL 

Which One Should You Choose?

Most students should find it easy to choose between IELTS and TOEFL since the university and country’s preference for each test is the primary deciding factor. If you’re unsure whether to take the IELTS or TOEFL test, you must first choose the nation and institution to which you wish to apply for admission. 

The decision of which test to choose is based on the institution or university that the candidate hopes to enroll in. Additionally, the country and each candidate’s unique skills and weaknesses will be important factors in determining which exam would be best for them. Many students who have taken both tests have had varying opinions. The TOEFL and IELTS cannot be directly compared. It varies depending on convenience and personal preferences. However, almost all students favor IELTS over TOEFL, and many have actually scored higher with IELTS than TOEFL. However, in the end, everything comes down to your preference. Take the sample tests for each test to determine which one suits you most, then choose that one.


The majority of American universities recognize the TOEFL. The TOEFL tests are a fantastic choice for you if the USA is where you plan to study abroad. On the other hand, IELTS scores are more frequently accepted than TOEFL results and scores in the majority of colleges in nations like the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. However, many colleges and nations accept applications from international students based on both IELTS and TOEFL results. Thorough knowledge of the test’s format and pattern, together with ample preparation, are the only other requirements.

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Viral Vora
Viral Vora

Viral Vora is the co-founder of MastersBuddy, a platform that is building the world’s best study abroad experience. He is a graduate of IE Business School and KJSCE Vidyavihar. Viral is passionate about helping students achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals.

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