Studying abroad is a long road for any student. This road starts with a choice between the IELTS or TOEFL exam. To choose whether it will be IELTS or TOEFL exam, let us understand them both.
The International English Language Testing System or IELTS, is an English proficiency test. It is an international standardized test. The IELTS exam is taken by students who wish to study abroad and whose first language is not English. IELTS is for most countries where either the first language or the lingua Franca is English.
In the same way, TOEFL, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language is also an English proficiency exam. The TOEFL test examines the English language ability of an individual undertaking the test whose first language is not English. The TOEFL exam determines whether the person is capable of studying or working in a country with English as a primary language.
Now if we talk about which test is better- IELTS or TOEFL there is no right answer. Both exams are checking English proficiency. However, there are differences in many aspects. So, we are here to talk about the similarities, differences, pros, and cons of both IELTS and TOEFL. This will help you in determining if it is the IELTS exam or TOEFL exam that is a better choice for you.
TEST PATTERN FOR IELTS AND TOEFL
In the IELTS exam the score is between 0 to 9 bands while in the TOEFL exam, the score is between 0 to 120. Further, between the IELTS or TOEFL exam, the prior has 3 types which are IELTS Academic Training, IELTS General Training, and IELTS Indicator. While the latter also has two types, which are Paper-based and TOEFL iBT.
ACCEPTANCE IN UNIVERSITIES
The TOEFL exam scores are accepted by over 9000 institutes over the world. As indicated by a survey, the TOEFL score is preferred more in the USA over other English proficiency exams.
While the IELTS exam score is also accepted worldwide, it is slightly less popular for undergraduate programs in the USA. IELTS scores are more widely accepted in the UK as well as Australia.
EXAMINER PRESENCE IN THE SPEAKING SECTION
In between the IELTS and the TOEFL exam, the major difference lies in the speaking section. In IELTS an examiner is present for the speaking section. This makes it comparatively easy for the student as talking to a human is easier than talking to a computer. While in the TOEFL exam, the student has to give his speaking test on a computer making it difficult sometimes. Therefore, the TOEFL iBT preparation varies drastically when it comes to the speaking part. The student needs to be psychologically prepared to sit in front of a computer for his speaking skills.
CONDUCTING AGENCIES FOR IELTS AND TOEFL
In between the IELTS and the TOEFL exam, the testing agencies are different. The IDP and British Council administer the IELTS exam. While the ETS administers the TOEFL exam.
TEST SCORES FOR IELTS AND TOEFL
Despite the fact that the test scores on both exams are different, they can be compared as follows:
IELTS AND TOEFL EXAM FREQUENCY
The frequency of the IELTS test is 48 times each year. A total of 24 times per month, IELTS Academic Training and General Training are delivered. There is no established schedule for the more than 50 times the TOEFL test is offered annually.
The scorecard for the IELTS exam is available between 11 to 13 days from the date of the test taken. While the scorecard for TOEFL is available within 4 to 8 days from the test date.
TEST FEES FOR THE EXAM
The fee difference for both exams is not much. Currently, the IELTS exam costs 15,500 INR while TOEFL costs 14,442 INR for 2023.
IELTS AND TOEFL QUESTION PATTERN
In choosing between IELTS or TOEFL one must take care of the exam question format.
In the reading and listening sections, the choice is between multiple-choice and short answers. The TOEFL exam reading and listening sections are multiple-choice based meaning the answers are there to choose from. While in the case of the IELTS exam reading and listening sections, the student has to give the answers himself without any choices. So, the TOEFL preparation is more focused on choosing the right answer rather than writing the right answer by oneself.
DIFFERENCES IN THE READING SECTION
The IELTS exam uses texts from academic books or newspapers or magazines. This makes it slightly easy for the student to relate to and understand as the vocabulary is of daily use. However, the TOEFL exam uses only academic texts which have high-level vocabulary and concepts which can be harder to comprehend. Thus, while preparing for TOEFL the student needs to pay special attention to his choice of text for practice. The text for TOEFL preparation should match the level of the TOEFL exam thus having tougher vocabulary and concepts.
CHOICE OF UK OR US ENGLISH
The key difference between IELTS and TOEFL is the choice of English that one wishes to utilize. IELTS allows the student to speak either US or UK English or a mix of both. However, in the TOEFL exam, the student has to choose if he/she will utilize UK or US English and stick to the same throughout the exam. Therefore, the TOEFL preparation should be focused on the option chosen by the candidate. This allows him/her to get in the habit of using that single type and not a combination of UK and US English.
CHOOSE WHAT YOUR PREFERRED UNIVERSITY DEMANDS
Deciding between the IELTS and TOEFL exams should be based on the requirement of the university you are applying to. Moreover, most universities accept both, some universities have specific instructions for a particular exam whether TOEFL or IELTS. In addition, as mentioned earlier, universities in the USA prefer TOEFL over most exams so if applying to a university in the USA, TOEFL may be a better option. While for the UK or Australia, IELTS seems more advantageous.
It is prudent to say that there is no definite or right answer to which is better- IELTS or TOEFL. Both exams have certain similarities and dissimilarities. While IELTS may prove beneficial for one candidate, TOEFL may be better for the other. The following should be the primary focus when choosing the exam:
- accessibility of test sites
- comfort level
- requirements of the university you are applying to.
The exam you select should play to your strengths as a student. TOEFL for those who are more comfortable talking to a screen for their speaking rather than a person.
In addition, the preparation varies as per the exam. For TOEFL exam preparation one will have to focus more on vocabulary, concepts, and a particular type of English whether US or UK. IELTS does not demand such a high level of vocabulary, concepts, or a certain kind of English. However, the Speaking component does require familiarity with casual conversation. Consequently, there is no better choice, rather it’s your personal choice.
For more information and guidance to choose your exam connect with us. Good to Excellence family will help you choose the best-suited exam as well as provide excellent guidance for your preparation.