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The Big Debate: TOEFL Or IELTS? Which Should You Take?


If you need to appear for an exam to prove your English language skills, the IELTS and TOEFL are two of the most prominent exams out there. But which one should you go for TOEFL or IELTS? Which is easier TOEFL or IELTS ? Which is better: TOEFL or IELTS? What are the advantages of IELTS or TOEFL?

Read our guide for a complete breakdown of TOEFL or IELTS and to get answers to all the other questions. To answer all your questions related to the two English proficiency tests, we first need to discuss each of the tests.


Difference between TOEFL or IELTS

The Test of English as a Foreign Language commonly known as TOEFL is an English language proficiency test organized by the ETS, the organization that conducts several examinations like GRE and other grad school admissions tests.

There are different versions of the TOEFL exam, it’s either computer-based or paper-based. This guide will aim at the TOEFL iBT which is conducted over the internet. The TOEFL iBT is the most prevalent and accepted version of the TOEFL. More than 9000 institutions around the globe accept TOEFL scores. For institutes in the United States, most of the institutes surveyed stated that they prefer TOEFL scores over scores of any other English language tests. 

The International English Language Testing System universally known as IELTS is also an English language proficiency test mutually owned by the British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

There are two different versions of the IELTS test: the first one is IELTS Academic and the second is IELTS General Training. IELTS Academic is taken by students planning for higher education or a professional job. IELTS General Training is suitable for people migrating to English-speaking countries for work experience or secondary education. 

This guide will aim at IELTS Academic as it is the version of IELTS for students planning to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Just like the TOEFL, IELTS scores are also accepted by over 9,000 institutions globally. The IELTS is not usually preferred by students looking to join universities in the United States but is more popular in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Now that you have an overview of what can you expect from both IELTS and TOEFL. Now you must be thinking should I do toefl or ielts? Have a look at the differences mentioned below

Multiple-Choice or Short Answer (TOEFL or IELTS)

A major difference between both the exams is that, for the listening and reading sections, you’ll need to write your answers according to you for most of the questions in the IELTS exam.

On the other hand, all the answer choices will be provided to you in the TOEFL exam. Most of the questions in the TOEFL exam are multiple-choice questions.

For instance, both exams have a question where you’ll need to form an ordered list of given events or steps. In the TOEFL, the jumbled steps are already provided to you, and you just need to put them in the correct order. In the IELTS, you’ll need to write the steps on your own and then order them properly.

If you prefer to go with more multiple-choice questions, TOEFL would be more convenient for you. 

Computer-Based or Paper-Based

The question of which one is better toefl or ielts is also a question of computer-based exam or pen and paper exam.

Almost everyone who appears for the TOEFL will be giving the exam on the computer. You are permitted to perform rough work on scratch paper, but all your official answers will be submitted through the computer. The IELTS provides you with the option of both, either on the computer or with pencil and paper at several test locations.

If you’re more convenient at typing than writing or if you have messy handwriting, you may go with the TOEFL. If you prefer writing down your answers, don’t feel comfortable with computer-based exams, you may find the IELTS easier.

Computer-Based Speaking or Oral Interview

In the TOEFL exam, the Speaking section, just like every other section of the test, is to be answered over the computer. You can hear recorded questions and you need to speak into a microphone to give your answer. In the IELTS, you’ll be having a real one to one conversation with an interviewer.

This is one of the most important differences in the ielts versus toefl discussion. Some candidates who find talking to a real person more nerve-wracking would go with the TOEFL, while some people find it easier to have an actual conversation with a person.

To Sum up which one is TOEFL vs IELTS

Apart from the test differences, you need to check which exam is accepted by the university you wish to apply for. The TOEFL is usually accepted by American institutions, while the IELTS is more commonly accepted overseas in the UK and Australia.

Overall, the universities you’re aiming for will likely accept scores from either of the exams, but it’s necessary to verify this before you choose a test in order to prevent any troublesome surprises in the future.

So in the debate of TOEFL or IELTS before choosing one exam you need to figure out which exam does the university you’re interested in accept and which test plays more to your strengths. Will you be comfortable giving a pen and paper test or a computer-based examination and several other factors that are mentioned above will help you make the right decision.

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The Big Debate: TOEFL Or IELTS? Which Should You Take?

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