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TOEFL vs. IELTS – 6 Important Points of Comparison to Help You Make the Right Choice

Most universities in US, UK, Canada, Australia, etc. require non-native speakers to take an English proficiency test in order to assess their understanding of the language. With a spate of English language tests available, it can become confusing to home in on a single test. But most serious study-abroad aspirants can easily boil it down to two options before they’re stumped: TOEFL and IELTS.

In case you too are wondering which test you should go for, we’ve compiled a list of pointers to help you decide:

  1. University requirement

    TOEFL-iBT is an English proficiency test conducted by the US-based ETS over the internet. It is accepted by more than 10,000 universities and other institutions in over 150 countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, US, EU and Asia. Almost all US universities accept TOEFL scores.

    IELTS is an English language proficiency test that is owned and managed jointly by British Council, IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English. IELTS is accepted by universities in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada and by over 3,000 academic institutions in the US.

    Most grad and undergrad programs accept both TOEFL and IELTS scores, but one may be preferred over the other so it’s best to check out program requirements on the university’s website.

  2. Test structure

    TOEFL and IELTS are available in both computer-based and paper-based formats. However, TOEFL’s computer-based version is more popular. The reverse is true with IELTS whose computer-based version was released as late as 2018.

    Both TOEFL and IELTS have a similar test format. Each has 4 sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. However, TOEFL is more academically oriented. Its questions lean towards the kind of material found in university textbooks. IELTS, on the other hand, has questions that are mostly based on real-life context. So if you find reading and listening to long academic texts boring, you may want to take the IELTS.

  3. Individual Preference

    TOEFL’s Speaking section requires you to talk to a computer. Your answers are recorded and assessed by certified evaluators. The Speaking section of IELTS, however, is more of a face-to-face interview with an examiner. So it all boils down personal preference in this regard.

  4. Availability of test dates

    For most Indians studying abroad is a well thought out and planned process. At times, however, you may be faced with a situation where you may not have your preferred time slot available. This is especially true for computer-delivered IELTS that has been started only recently and is available in select cities as of now (early 2019).

  5. Range of questions

    Most TOEFL questions are MCQ based. So you will have to choose the correct option. In certain questions, you will be required to rearrange the options to arrive at the correct answer.

    Many questions on IELTS, however, will require you to write your own answers. So if you are not confident with this type of test pattern, TOEFL would be easier for you.

  6. Test duration

    Total testing time of IELTS is 2 hours and 55 minutes. TOEFL, however, is a relatively longer exam lasting up to 4 hours 20 minutes. So if you are not comfortable sitting for long hours, you should take the IELTS.

Could you decide which exam is best for you? Check out Jamboree’s TOEFL and IELTS Classroom prep program. We also offer Live classes that have been optimized for online home-based preparation.

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