IELTS vs. TOEFL: Which Should You Take?

The pursuit of higher education and career opportunities in English-speaking countries has become a global aspiration. As a result, English language proficiency tests have gained immense popularity. Two of the most widely recognized and accepted tests are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).IELTS vs. TOEFL: Which Should You Take?

Choosing between these two can be a daunting task for anyone planning to study or work abroad. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of IELTS and TOEFL, comparing them in various aspects to help you make an informed decision about which test suits your needs.

Understanding IELTS

IELTS Overview

IELTS, which stands for the International English Language Testing System, is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. It is recognized by thousands of institutions worldwide, including universities, colleges, employers, and immigration authorities. IELTS evaluates your proficiency in English across four key language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

IELTS Scoring

IELTS scores range from 0 to 9, with each skill assessed separately. Your overall IELTS score is the average of these four individual scores. Different institutions may have specific score requirements, so it’s essential to research the minimum scores required by the institutions you are interested in.

IELTS Format

The IELTS exam is available in two formats: Academic and General Training. The Academic version is intended for those applying to universities or professional registration, while the General Training version is for those seeking employment or immigration in English-speaking countries. Both versions assess the same four language skills but with varying content in the Reading and Writing sections.

IELTS Speaking Test

One distinctive feature of IELTS is the face-to-face Speaking test with a certified examiner. This interaction assesses your ability to communicate in real-life situations and is considered by many to be a more realistic evaluation of speaking skills.

Delving into TOEFL

TOEFL Overview

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Similar to IELTS, TOEFL is accepted by a wide range of institutions worldwide, including universities, colleges, and government agencies. TOEFL measures your English language proficiency through four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing.

TOEFL Scoring

TOEFL scores range from 0 to 120, with each section scored separately. Institutions may have specific score requirements for each section, so it’s crucial to check their individual preferences.

TOEFL Format

TOEFL offers both a paper-based and an internet-based (iBT) version. The iBT is the more commonly taken version and is offered at test centers worldwide. It is divided into four sections, just like the paper-based version.

TOEFL Speaking Test

Unlike IELTS, TOEFL’s Speaking section is conducted via a computer. Test-takers record their spoken responses to prompts, and these recordings are then evaluated by human raters. While this format lacks the real-time interaction found in IELTS, it offers the advantage of consistency in scoring.

Comparing IELTS and TOEFL

Scoring Scale

IELTS: Scores range from 0 to 9

TOEFL: Scores range from 0 to 120


IELTS: Face-to-face Speaking test with an examiner

TOEFL: Speaking section conducted via a computer

Test Availability

IELTS: Offered on multiple dates throughout the year

TOEFL: Offered frequently throughout the year, especially for the iBT version

Test Duration

IELTS: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes

TOEFL: Approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes for the iBT version

Scoring Requirements

Both tests may have different score requirements for individual sections, depending on the institution’s preferences.

Which Test Should You Choose?

Choose IELTS If

You prefer face-to-face interactions in the Speaking test.

You are comfortable with the British English accent, as IELTS primarily uses British English.

You need a test score for immigration purposes in countries like Canada, Australia, or the UK.

Choose TOEFL If:

You prefer a computer-based Speaking test.

You are comfortable with American English, as TOEFL primarily uses American English.

You are applying to universities or institutions in the United States or other countries that primarily accept TOEFL scores.

Consider Other Factors:

Test Format: Consider which test format you are more comfortable with – IELTS’ face-to-face interaction or TOEFL’s computer-based speaking section.

Test Dates: Check the availability of test dates in your area and whether they align with your application deadlines.

Institutional Requirements: Always research and verify the specific score requirements of the institutions you are applying to, as they may have preferences for one test over the other.

Personal Preference: Ultimately, your comfort and confidence with a particular test format may influence your decision.


Choosing between IELTS and TOEFL is a critical decision that can significantly impact your academic and professional aspirations. Both tests are widely accepted, and their formats cater to different preferences. While IELTS offers a face-to-face Speaking test and primarily uses British English, TOEFL has a computer-based Speaking section and primarily uses American English.

It’s essential to consider your individual preferences, the requirements of your target institutions, and the availability of test dates when making your choice.

Remember that success in either test depends not only on your language skills but also on adequate preparation. Whichever test you choose, diligent practice and preparation will be key to achieving the scores you need to fulfill your dreams of studying or working in an English-speaking environment. Good luck on your English proficiency journey!

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