IELTS vs TOEFL: IELTS and TOEFL Comparison of Fees, Test Format, Duration and Difficulty

IELTS and TOEFL are two English Language Testing Services

The question many students ask is that they want to know which test should they take i.e IELTS or TOEFL? Additionally, they also want to know which is easier? 

In this article, we have looked at the major differences and the similarities between the two tests. And have provided you all the information you need to have while making a decision about which test you should take based on your skills. 

Availability of IELTS ad TOEFL

The first and foremost thing you have to check is that, which university accepts which kind of test. This is necessary to know because if some university accepts IELTS only and you are taking the TOEFL test then it would be a problem for you. So, if a certain university is accepting only one type of test then go for that. Additionally, always look at the information given on the websites that what scores they want. So, that you can prepare accordingly.

Always make sure that you have a test center in your area where these tests are conducted. As it will be very stressful for you to give a test after doing a lot of traveling. 

Moreover, you also need to understand the purpose of the test. If you want to give the test for the university admission then there is not a lot of difference between the two tests of IELTS academic and TOEFL. But if you are wanting to give the test for the purpose of immigration then IELTS general test is the best option for you to consider.

Similarities in IELTS and TOEFL

Both tests have four sections which asses language skills such as reading, listening, speaking and writing. Moreover, these tests are standardized tests because of which they are accepted widely all over the world. 

The prices of both tests are more or less the same. As they both cost in the range of $150 and $250.  However, the price may depend on where you live. 

So, these were the similarities between the two tests. Which means that two tests have more differences among them. The differences are explained below. 

IELTS vs TOEFL Differences in the Speaking Section

Speaking section format is the biggest difference in the two tests. As in the test of IELTS your interview is taken by the real person and in the test of TOEFL your speaking test is taken by the computer itself. 

Some people don t actually prefer talking to the person and some find it strange talking to the computer. 

In a speaking test, of the TOEFL you will have to answer 6 questions and the test lasts for 20 minutes. The first two questions will be familiar to you such as the computer will ask you about your family or home town. Additionally, you will be given a passage or conversation and you have to summarize it and state your opinion on it. And in the final question, you will have to summarize a short conversation. 

In contrast to this, the IELTS speaking test is usually made up of 3 sections and it lasts for 15 minutes. However, in IELTS you will be interviewed by the real person like you are having a conversation in real life. The first section consists of the questions related to your life, home, job or studies. In the second section, you get a topic and you have to speak on it for 2 minutes. And in the third section, you are asked questions related to the topic you just spoke on in section 2. 

Some people have said that they find the speaking section of the TOEFL exam a bit weird because they have to talk to the computer. On the other hand, some people like talking to the computer as they feel shy talking to the person who is just a stranger to them. So, there are different opinions based on the comfortability of the people. 

In contrast to this, most people have raised a point that in the IELTS exam a candidate has the leverage to ask examiner a question when they don’t understand it or can ask the examiner to repeat the question. However, in the TOEFL exam, you don’t have this leverage. 

IELTS vs TOEFL Differences in Writing Section

The major difference between the writing sections of both tests is that in the way of writing the words. As in TOEFL, you will be using a keyboard to write the words while in the IELTS exam you have to write words on the paper. 

Most people don’t like typing on the computer but there are many other people mainly those with bad handwriting actually prefer giving TOEFL test because it is computer-based. So, always make your self-analysis that, is your handwriting good enough to get a good grade in the IELTS exam or you are good at typing words on the keyboard. 

Additionally, the writing sections of both exams contain two sections but they are different in format. 

Firstly, In the writing section of the TOEFL exam, you are given a passage and you are also provided with a recording of 2 minutes on the identical topic present in the passage. In this type of question, you have to write a summarized response against the question from that topic. There are some people who prefer these types of questions because they do not require any previous knowledge.  

Secondly, in the second question, you are given a topic on which you have to write a descriptive essay. This is just like writing an academic-style essay. 

On the other hand, if you consider the IELTS exam then there are two different writing sections in the IELTS general training and IELTS academic. The IELTS academic module is usually suitable for the people who want to enter the university and General training is required for the purpose of immigration. 

In the IELTS writing section, there are 2 questions and both take an hour in total. In the academic writing section, you will be given a graph, chart, diagram or a table and you have to summarize the information given in the picture. In contrast to this, in general training, you have to write a letter in question one. However, the second question in both of the modules is the same in which you have to write an opinion essay. 

Most of the people say that the IELTS writing exams follow mostly the same pattern over the period of time which makes it easy to prepare and get good grades. 

IELTS vs TOEFL Differences in Listening Section

The major differences between the listening sections of the two tests are the differences between the context, types of questions, accent and the length of the test. 

The TOEFL tests last for 60 minutes while the IELTS test is usually 30 minutes. Many people find the TOEFL listening section difficult because they are not in a habit of listening to English for longer times. And this makes them bored and they lose concentration, which makes them miss answers. 

The TOEFL exam is all academic, while IELTS is half social and half academic. 

Moreover, the listening test of TOEFL only has multiple choice questions, so if you like multiple choice questions then you must opt for the TOEFL test. On the other hand, the IELTS test has different types of questions such as True, False, sentence completion, etc. 

Furthermore, you will listen to only the American English accent in the TOEFL exam while in the IELTS exam you will hear different accents of English. Such as English accents from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, USA, and Australia. 

Most people say that the TOEFL listening section is easy because you don’t have to listen to very different kinds of accents and it is easy to listen to only American English. But keep in this mind, that accents in the IELTS test are not very difficult. 

IELTS vs TOEFL Differences in Reading Section

In the reading section of both IELTS and TOEFL, there is a difference between the context and the type of the questions.

The reading test of TOEFL contains multiple-choice questions only. While the IELTS reading test has different types of questions. So, if you are, with multiple-choice questions and like them then you must opt for the TOEFL exam. However, if you feel easy with different types of questions in the IELTS exam then for the IELTS test. 

IELTS provides you with both academic and non-academic tests through its academic and general module. While the TOEFL only provides you with academic tests only.  

People say that the TOEFL test is longer than the test of IELTS. Because of this you need to have great mental stamina and should be able to maintain great concentration for a longer period. Additionally, most of the students say that attempting multiple choice questions for longer periods is quite boring and difficult.

Which test should I select between TOEFL and IELTS?

Ask yourself the questions and then decide which test you should opt for. 

Answer the following questions with a yes or no. And if you answer most of them with a yes then opt for the TOEFL exam. 

  • It is easy for me to listen to an American accent. 
  • I like to attempt MCQs.
  • I like listening and reading in an academic framework.
  • I can focus for a longer time duration. 
  • I would like to have a conversation with a computer.
  • I have a good typing speed. 
  • I can take notes while listening to a lecture. 
  • I feel comfortable working with computers.

However, if you answer most of the following questions with a yes then you should opt for the IELTS test. 

  • I am comfortable talking to other people. 
  • I do not like to attempt MCQs.
  • I am not comfortable with listening or reading in academic contexts.
  • I feel comfortable writing by hand.
  • I can comprehend different types of English accents.
  • I like shorter tests.
  • I like different types of questions.
  • I cannot concentrate for a longer time duration.

Which test is easier; IELTS of TOEFL?

There are people who have attempted both kinds of exams. And there are also some people who have attempted both of the tests at a similar time. All of these people have said that IELTS is easy and they have also gained a good score in IELTS. 

There are also some groups and pages on Facebook which ask people which test is easy. The response from these is also somewhat similar, as people rank IELTS more easy to that of TOEFL.

According to one of the candidates, he said that he was very exhausted while attempting the TOEFL test and could not maintain his 100% focus for a longer duration of time. However, when he took IELTS, he said he was mentally relaxed and IELTS was a good choice to represent his abilities in English. 

On the other hand, some other people commented that they spent most of their time on a computer. So, TOEFL was the best choice for them. 

So, it all depends on your skills and your comfort level that which you test you will find easy. So, choose wisely.  

Zahira Bano

Dr. Zahira Bano is one of our lead writers having expertise in immigration, career, and scholarships niche.

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