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Are you considering studying or working in an English-speaking country? Choosing the right English language exam can be a crucial step. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare IELTS and TOEFL, two popular exams that assess your English proficiency. By the end, you’ll have a clearer idea of which exam suits your needs.

In this blog:

  1. Introduction
  2. What is IELTS?
  3. What is TOEFL?
  4. Purpose and Format of IELTS
  5. IELTS Listening Section
  6. IELTS Reading Section
  7. IELTS Writing Section
  8. IELTS Speaking Section
  9. Purpose and Format of TOEFL
  10. TOEFL Listening Section
  11. TOEFL Reading Section
  12. TOEFL Writing Section
  13. TOEFL Speaking Section
  14. IELTS vs TOEFL: Comparison
  15. IELTS vs TOEFL: Which Exam to Choose?
  16. Tips for Preparation
  17. Conclusion
  18. FAQs


When it comes to assessing English language skills, two prominent exams stand out: IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Both exams evaluate your ability to comprehend, communicate, and interact effectively in English. Understanding the differences between IELTS and TOEFL is essential to make an informed decision.

What is IELTS?

IELTS is a widely recognized exam owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. It comes in two formats: Academic and General Training. The IELTS Academic test measures proficiency for academic purposes, while the IELTS General Training test evaluates skills needed for everyday life, work, or migration.

Also Read:
How to register for IELTS?
IELTS exam dates 2023

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL, administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), is primarily used for admission to colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. It comes in two formats: Internet-Based Test (iBT) and Paper-Based Test (PBT). The TOEFL iBT is more commonly taken and conducted online.

Also read: How to register for the TOEFL exam?

Purpose and Format of IELTS

IELTS aims to assess English language proficiency for various purposes. The Academic format is suitable for those pursuing higher education, while the General Training format is designed for work or migration purposes. The exam comprises four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

IELTS Listening Section

In the Listening section, you’ll listen to conversations, monologues, and interviews and answer questions based on the audio recordings.

IELTS Reading Section

The Reading section evaluates your reading comprehension, vocabulary, and information interpretation. You’ll encounter different text types, such as articles, advertisements, and book excerpts.

IELTS Writing Section

The Writing section consists of two tasks. Task 1 requires summarizing or describing visual information, such as charts or graphs. Task 2 involves writing an essay response to a given topic.

IELTS Speaking Section

The Speaking section assesses your verbal communication skills. It involves a face-to-face interview with an examiner, covering various topics.

Checkout: IELTS free mock tests, study material and more

Purpose and Format of TOEFL

TOEFL is predominantly used for university admissions in the United States and Canada. It measures English language proficiency for academic purposes. The exam consists of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

TOEFL Listening Section

The Listening section of TOEFL iBT evaluates your ability to understand academic lectures, conversations, and discussions. TOEFL PBT assesses listening skills through recorded materials.

TOEFL Reading Section

Both TOEFL formats contain a Reading section that presents academic passages. It tests your comprehension, vocabulary, and ability to analyze information.

TOEFL Writing Section

In the Writing section of TOEFL iBT, you’ll write essay responses based on reading and listening materials. TOEFL PBT requires essays and short answers.

TOEFL Speaking Section

The Speaking section of TOEFL iBT involves recording spoken responses to questions. TOEFL PBT includes face-to-face oral interviews.

Checkout: TOEFL free mock tests, study material and more

IELTS vs TOEFL: Comparison

Let’s compare IELTS and TOEFL in a section-by-section breakdown:

Exam Section IELTS TOEFL
Listening Conversations, monologues, interviews Academic lectures, conversations, discussions
Reading Variety of text types Academic passages
Writing Task 1: Summarize or describe visual information; Task 2: Write an essay response Essay responses based on reading and listening materials
Speaking Face-to-face interview with an examiner Recorded spoken responses to questions

IELTS vs TOEFL: Which Exam to Choose?

Choosing between IELTS and TOEFL depends on your specific needs and the requirements of your target institution or organization. If you plan to study in the United States or Canada, TOEFL is often preferred, while IELTS is widely accepted in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Consider researching the guidelines of your desired institutions or immigration processes to make an informed decision.

Checkout: Easy tips to score over 100 in TOEFL

Tips for Preparation

To excel in your chosen exam, consider the following tips:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the exam format and question types.
  2. Regularly practice in areas where you need improvement.
  3. Enhance your English language skills through reading books, articles, and listening to English podcasts.
  4. Take sample tests to assess your progress and become accustomed to the time constraints.
  5. Consider joining an exam preparation online or offline course for personalized guidance.


Choosing the right English language exam is vital for your academic and career aspirations. IELTS and TOEFL have their own unique characteristics and are widely recognized. Assess your goals, target institutions, and requirements to make an informed decision. Dedicate ample time and effort to prepare for the exam, as a high score can significantly enhance your opportunities for success.


Q1: Can I take both IELTS and TOEFL exams?

  • Yes, you can take both exams to keep your options open and apply to a broader range of institutions.

Q2: Which exam is easier: IELTS or TOEFL?

  • The difficulty level varies based on individual strengths and weaknesses. Practice tests for both exams can help you assess your comfort level.

Q3: How long are IELTS and TOEFL scores valid?

  • IELTS scores are valid for two years, and TOEFL scores are generally valid for two years as well.

Q4: Can I retake the IELTS or TOEFL exam if I am not satisfied with my score?

  • Yes, you can retake both exams to improve your scores. Check the specific guidelines for retaking the exams.

Q5: Is there a passing or failing score for IELTS or TOEFL?

  • There is no pass or fail score for these exams. Institutions have their own score requirements for admission.

Jamboree has been expertly training students to ace the IELTS and TOEFL for the last 30 years along with guiding them for admissions to top universities globally. Book a free counseling session with a Jamboree expert and find out the best-fit universities for you!

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