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IELTS vs TOEFL – Factors to Consider

IELTS vs TOEFL – Factors to Consider
IELTS Vs TOEFL- Factors to Consider

If you’re someone who is confused about which exam you should take, this insightful blog on IELTS VS TOEFL provides a comparative analysis of both exams.

All International students aspiring to study in English speaking countries have to give English proficiency tests like IELTS and TOEFL to proceed with their application process. 


International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a renowned English proficiency test accepted across 140 countries. IELTS has two variants, IELTS General Training for working professionals and IELTS Academic for education purposes. 

TOEFL stands for Test of English Language as a Foreign Language and is accepted across 130 countries. It is conducted by Education Testing Services (ETS).

Differences Between IELTS & TOEFL

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1. Scope

Both IELTS and TOEFL serve a common purpose of evaluating a candidate’s English language ability. However, IELTS has a wider scope as it can also test the English proficiency of working professionals looking to immigrate abroad. TOEFL is used only for academic purposes.

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2. Scoring Pattern & Time Duration

A key difference between IELTS and TOEFL also lies in their scoring pattern. IELTS scores are classified on a band range with 1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest. TOEFL has a maximum score of 120 points, where each section is graded on a scale of 0-30. 

IELTS – 2 hr 45 min

TOEFL – 3 hr 30 min

IELTS vs TOEFL - Factors to Consider blogs frequency of exams illustration

3. Frequency of Exam

There are 48 test dates available for scheduling the IELTS exam. For the TOEFL exam, there are 60 dates in a year and it can be taken worldwide at designated exam centres. 

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4. Announcement of Results

The TOEFL score is available to students within 7-10 days from the date of exam. IELTS exam is either paper based on online and so the result date varies. The online TOEFL exam results are released in a week whereas the offline exam result takes 13 days.

TOEFL vs IELTS - Which One Should You Choose?

It can be difficult to choose between IELTS and TOEFL but it’s important to choose a test that matches your goals and the country you aspire to study in. 

Here are a few factors to consider when deciding between IELTS vs TOEFL. 

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1. Time for Preparation

IELTS preparation takes 3-6 weeks while preparation for TOEFL can take 2-3 months. If your application due date is near, you can opt for IELTS.

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2. Acceptance Rate

IELTS scores are accepted by over 9000 universities in more than 140 countries. Some prominent countries like the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand accept IELTS exam scores. 

TOEFL scores are considered valid in 150 countries and over 11000 universities.   Some prominent countries including the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand accept TOEFL scores. 

There’s no denying the fact that both these exams are prominent. However, you need to check the preference of your university and accordingly choose between TOEFL and IELTS.

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3. Your Comfort Level

The major difference between IELTS and TOEFL is the speaking section. In the IELTS speaking test, you have an oral interview with the examiner. The examiner may ask you questions related to your work, studies, hobbies and career goals. 

In the TOEFL speaking section, you will hear recorded questions and answer them using a microphone. Your responses are recorded and then sent to the examiner. 

You need to evaluate your comfort level in choosing the test. Some people get nervous in F2F interviews and hence would prefer TOEFL, while others find it easier to have F2F conversations as you can leave a lasting impression in the mind of the examiner.

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4. Your Writing Style

In both tests, you’ll have to write two essays. IELTS gives you 60 minutes to write around 400 words, while TOEFL gives you 50 minutes for about 500 words. If you don’t reach these word counts, you may lose points, but you can still submit your essays. If writing in English is tough and time-consuming for you, IELTS might be better because it expects fewer words, making it a bit easier.

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5. Reading Section

In both exams, your reading skills are tested, however, the difference lies in difficulty level. The passages in the IELTS exam are sourced from newspapers and magazines. The passages used in TOEFL are academic texts which are time-consuming and difficult to understand. IELTS is slightly on the easier side if you are not sharp in reading skills. If you want to improve your reading skills– Check out our Blog. 

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6. Format of the Exam

When choosing between TOEFL and IELTS, you also need to ask yourself a question of computer vs paper testing. 

TOEFL is a pure computer based test. You are allowed to do rough work on paper but all the answers have to be submitted online. IELTS is conducted either on paper or or even offline at specific locations. 

If you have a good typing speed, you can go for either or if you prefer writing on paper over computer, you can pick IELTS. Checkout our blog to know all about IELTS in detail. 

illustration for Answer Pattern of the Exam for our blog IELTS vs TOEFL - Factors to Consider

7. Answer Pattern of the Exam

There is another difference in the answer pattern of the exam. In IELTS, you will have to write your own answers while all the answer choices will be given to you in the TOEFL exam. In the TOEFL exam, most questions are multiple-choice questions. For those that aren’t, you don’t have to create your own answers whereas in IELTS, you have to create your own answers and arrange them properly.

Let’s understand this with the help of an example. Both exams may ask you to create an ordered list of events. In the TOEFL, the steps are given to you and you have to put them in the order. In IELTS, you will have to write steps on your own in a proper order. If you want to practice, we have made a list of the Best books for IELTS preparation

If you prefer MCQ-based exams, TOEFL might be the right pick! 

IELTS & TOEFL Training with DG Training

If you are still confused about which exams to take, you can schedule a free consultation call with our academic experts at DG Training. We are the leading educational institute based in Dubai. 

We specialize in providing top-notch English Language Training Courses in Dubai. We will also help you analyze your profile and career goals to recommend the best possible option for you. 

Our language courses include the best IELTS Training Course and TOEFL Training CourseWith experienced trainers and personalized learning approaches, we have a proven track record of guiding students to success in these foreign English proficiency tests. 

Whether you’re aiming for higher education or professional growth, DG Training is committed to supporting your journey towards English proficiency.

Published: October 25, 2023

Last updated: November 28, 2023

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Dr. Shahryar Banan for Digi Training

Dr. Shahryar Banan

Dr. Shahryar Banan is an eminent English educator based in Dubai, renowned for his extensive expertise. With a PhD in TEFL and 14 years of teaching experience, he excels in instructing English as a foreign language and crafting dynamic course curricula, including specialized offerings like Business English. As a sought-after IELTS and PTE instructor, Dr. Banan has guided numerous students to success in language proficiency exams. He holds a prestigious Cambridge

CELTA certificate and contributes to language assessment as a Cambridge OET interlocutor. His dedication to language education in Dubai has established him as a trusted authority, empowering learners with invaluable language skills.

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