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Difference between IELTS vs. TOEFL – Latest 2024


When planning to study abroad, many students and professionals face. The challenge of choosing between the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Both are widely accepted English proficiency tests but have distinct formats, question types, and scoring systems. This article explores the differences and similarities between IELTS and TOEFL. To help you decide which test might be more suitable for your needs.

What is the Difference Between IELTS and TOEFL?

The primary difference between IELTS and TOEFL lies in their format and acceptance. IELTS is managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia. And Cambridge English Language Assessment. Making it widely accepted in the UK, Australia, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries. TOEFL, managed by the US-based Educational Testing Service (ETS), is preferred by American universities.

IELTS offers both paper-based and computer-based tests. While TOEFL is predominantly internet-based (iBT) with a paper-based test available in locations without internet access. The speaking section of IELTS is conducted as a face-to-face interview. Whereas TOEFL’s speaking test is completed on the computer, recording responses.

Format of Tests

  • IELTS has two versions: Academic, for those applying for higher education or professional registration, and General Training, for those migrating to Australia, Canada, or the UK. Each version has four parts: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.
  • TOEFL is primarily academic and includes Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections, conducted in a single sitting of about four hours.

Test Question Types

  • IELTS incorporates a range of question types, including multiple-choice, short answer, labeling diagrams, completing sentences, and essay writing.
  • TOEFL questions are mostly multiple-choice, with tasks that require essay writing and speaking based on reading and listening tasks.

IELTS vs TOEFL – Listening

The IELTS Listening section lasts about 30 minutes and includes conversations and monologues in social and academic contexts. TOEFL’s Listening can last from 60 to 90 minutes and involves listening to lectures and classroom discussions. With non-native English accents introduced recently.

IELTS vs TOEFL – Reading

IELTS Reading requires answering 40 questions over 60 minutes from three texts of general interest for the General version and academic texts for the Academic version. TOEFL Reading involves 3 to 4 passages from academic texts, with 12-14 questions per passage.

IELTS vs TOEFL – Writing

In IELTS, the Writing section includes two tasks: summarizing or explaining a table, graph, or chart. Or a diagram, and writing an essay. TOEFL Writing consists of two tasks: writing a summary from a given text and lecture, and an essay supporting an opinion.

IELTS vs TOEFL – Speaking

IELTS Speaking is a live interview with an examiner, consisting of a short conversation, a monologue, and a discussion. TOEFL Speaking involves six tasks performed on the computer. Including expressing an opinion and speaking based on reading and listening tasks.


IELTS results are reported on a band scale from 1 to 9. TOEFL scores range from 0 to 120 points, with each section scoring from 0 to 30.


Both IELTS and TOEFL are effective measures of English proficiency. However, your choice may depend on your academic or professional goals. The specific requirements of the institutions to which you are applying. Consider the test format, scoring, and preparation materials available to make the best choice for your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1: Which is easier, IELTS or TOEFL?

Neither test is inherently easier; it depends on your strengths in English and familiarity with the test format.

2: Can I use American English in IELTS?

Yes, you can use both British and American spellings in IELTS.

3: How long are TOEFL scores valid?

TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date.

4: Do universities prefer IELTS or TOEFL?

Preferences vary by university and country. It’s best to check the specific requirements of the institutions you’re interested in.

By understanding these differences and considering your personal and academic requirements. You can better prepare for and select the test that aligns with your goals.

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