IELTS VS TOEFL: What is the difference?

April 25, 2022

You're presumably an international student wanting to pursue academic or professional ambitions in an English-speaking country like the United States if you're interested in the IELTS and TOEFL exams. 

Although pursuing your ambitions in a country where you don't know the language is complex, English examinations are designed to give you and your employers confidence in your capacity to succeed no matter where you are.

To assess English competence, academic and professional institutions employ one of two standardized exams: the IELTS exam (International English Language Testing System) or the TOEFL exam (Test of English as a Foreign Language). 

So, you've decided whether to take the TOEFL or the IELTS.

We'll give you all the details you need to know about how these two examinations compare in terms of content, format, time, cost, and score in this guide. We'll point out the significant distinctions between the two and offer tips on how to prepare for whichever exam you choose.

However, if you're still researching these tests to see which one is best for you and your educational goals, keep reading to make an informed selection and be better prepared to ace your exam, no matter which one you choose. So, which is better: IELTS or TOEFL? 

Conducting Body  British Council and IDP Education Ltd. Educational Testing Services 
Medium      Online and Offline  Online and Offline 
Variants  IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training IELTS Indicator     TOEFL iBT
Duration  2 hours 45 minutes     4 hours 
Breaks No breaks during the listening, reading, and writing sections, but the speaking portion can be taken up to a week before or after the rest of the test A 10-minute break between listening and speaking sections
Sections  Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking
Test Delivery Format  Paper-based Computer-based 
Score Range  0-9     0-120
Average Minimum Score Required by Top Universities 6.3 7.8
Exam Frequency  48 times in a year      More than 50 times a year 
Results Timeline Results are issued 13 days after the test     Results are issued approximately 10 days after the test
Where All are the Scores Accepted Accepted by more than 9,000 organizations globally Accepted by more than 10,000 organizations globally
Cost INR 14,700/- INR 13,780/  (TOEFL iBT)

Let's acquire some information!

Read this blog to Know About Computer Based IELTS.

Is it better to take the TOEFL or the IELTS?

While there are some essential distinctions between the TOEFL and IELTS exams, they both have the same primary goal: to evaluate students' ability to comprehend and apply the English language.

Each exam assesses your English language abilities as a non-native speaker through a variety of listening, speaking, reading, and writing exercises, including how well you can utilize English in your writing and speaking and how well you understand English when reading and listening. 

Here's a quick rundown of the two exams before we get into the specifics of how they're constructed and scored:

Why should you take the IELTS?

The IELTS is a two-hour and forty-five-minute test that can be done on a computer or paper, and it is a more "international" exam than the TOEFL. The British Council oversees the IELTS, which includes listening examinations with a variety of accents—you'll get a more worldwide approach to the English language with this test, making it a fantastic alternative for people who want to utilize English in places other than the United States. 

The IELTS is available in both General and Academic editions, allowing students interested in pursuing higher education to benefit from an exam designed expressly for the use of 'academic' English.

Another factor to consider is that while the best IELTS prep courses are frequently less expensive than the best TOEFL prep courses available today, there aren't as many high-quality IELTS prep options.

Read this blog to know about How To Study In The USA Without IELTS.

Why should you take the TOEFL?

The TOEFL exam is a three-hour computer-based test sometimes referred to as the TOEFL iBT (internet-based test). The ETS, an American company, administers this test, systematically assessing your understanding of American-dialect English, particularly for usage in American higher education. The TOEFL is a secure bet if you plan to use English in a graduate institution in the United States. 

Some graduate schools in the United States will only take TOEFL scores and do not consider IELTS Academic scores. Finally, we've discovered that the best TOEFL courses are often a little more expensive than the best IELTS courses, but there are more TOEFL prep options to choose from, and they frequently include a lot of premium prep features.

What Are the Major Differences Between the IELTS and the TOEFL?

To summarize our comparisons, the following is the bottom line on the differences between the IELTS and the TOEFL:

A TOEFL score will almost certainly be required if you're applying to a high-performance position in an American graduate school or industry. On the other hand, the IELTS exam is best for anyone seeking to utilize general, everyday English around the world; however, it can also be used for school entrance.

TOEFL vs. IELTS Format

Sections of the IELTS

The IELTS has a reasonably basic format and structure. This exam is divided into four sections and lasts two hours and 45 minutes.

The IELTS, on the other hand, is distinguished by its two distinct variants, the IELTS General exam and the IELTS Academic exam. The structure of these multiple versions is similar, and they all have the same divisions, but the content within those sections differs.

The IELTS General exam assesses your readiness for everyday life in an English-speaking setting. It employs texts that you are likely to encounter in your profession or daily life, regardless of your employment or educational path.

The IELTS Academic test is the most challenging version of the exam. It determines whether you are prepared to use English in demanding academic settings and high-performance work conditions. It contains works that are controversial, research-based, or otherwise complex. Even though the substance of these two IELTS tests differs, the structures of these two tests stay the same, with four core sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.


Students will listen to four audio recordings and answer ten questions about each as they listen. True/false, fill-in-the-blank, and sentence completion forms are used in the questions. Unlike the TOEFL, the IELTS hearing section includes speakers with various accents, whereas the TOEFL solely covers American accents.


Students use a variety of books to answer 40 questions in the IELTS reading section. From job handbooks to magazine articles and everything in between, the words can be anything. This section's questions test your comprehension of English, logical reasoning, and ability to evaluate arguments and information. These questions come in various styles, including short answers and fill-in-the-blank.


The IELTS writing section is divided into two parts. Part one requires students to write a 150-word essay in 20 minutes using the material presented (often graphs or charts). The second section lasts 40 minutes and requires students to produce a 200-250 word essay responding to a given argument.


There are two portions to the speaking section (which students will most likely finish on a different day than the remainder of the exam). Students conduct a face-to-face chat with the test administrator about familiar themes in the first half (like family, home, school, etc.). The instructor will present a topic on a card for the second part. Students then have a few minutes to gather their thoughts before speaking with the administration again.

Sections of the TOEFL

The TOEFL consists of the same four portions as the IELTS, although in a slightly different order: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. 
When it comes to substance, there is only one TOEFL exam, and it is similar in complexity to the IELTS Academic examination. 
There are various versions of the TOEFL exam, but the TOEFL iBT is the most popular, and many colleges in the United States use it to assess students' English abilities.


Students are given 3-5 text excerpts to help them answer sets of multiple-choice questions in the TOEFL reading section. The questions test students' word mastery, reading comprehension, and analytical ability.


Students hear between four and six audio recordings on the TOEFL's listening part, containing both conversational and lecture-based discourse. 
Students respond to multiple-choice questions after listening to the audio to test their ability to detect each speaker's motivations and understand the broader context of the recordings.


Unlike the IELTS, the TOEFL breaks its speaking exam into four sections, each requiring students to record their comments into a microphone. 
The first section asks pupils to express their thoughts on various issues. 
Students are given content to read or listen to in the following three portions. 
They have a few minutes to compose and record a response after reading the material or listening to the tape.


The TOEFL's writing section is divided into two sections, just like the IELTS. Students are given a short piece to read in the first section, and then they listen to a short lecture on the same topic in the second section. Students must write a 300-350 word response to a linked question. Part two requires students to produce another short essay in response to a given prompt.

Read this blog to know about Improving Your Fluency- IELTS Speaking | Tips For IELTS Speaking Test.

Length of IELTS vs. TOEFL

IELTS Length

There are no interruptions between the first three components of the IELTS exam, which lasts 2 hours 45 minutes, including the Speaking section (which is sometimes performed independently from the other areas). 
The following is a breakdown of the test's timing:

Listening: Set out 30 minutes to listen to four audio recordings and answer ten questions about each one.

Reading: 60 minutes to read a variety of books and answer a total of 40 questions

Writing: You will have 60 minutes to compose two essays: one of 150 words in 20 minutes and another of 200-250 words in 40 minutes.

Speaking: 10-15 minutes with two discussions, one casual and one on a given topic, taken separately from the other components.

TOEFL Length 

The TOEFL, like the IELTS, contains four sections; however, the TOEFL lasts a little longer overall than the IELTS. The TOEFL iBT takes roughly 3 hours in total. However, the testing process can take anywhere from 3.5 to 4 hours. In order, here's how each section is timed:

Reading: 41-57 minutes to read various passages and respond to 40 questions.

Listening time: 54-72 minutes for 4-6 audio recordings and up to 39 questions

Speaking: You will have 17 minutes to produce four speaking samples based on the instructions.

Writing: 50 minutes total for two essays: a 20-minute short essay based on a supplied text and lecture recording and a 30-minute essay with 300-350 words based on a writing prompt.

TOEFL vs. IELTS Scoring

IELTS Scoring
The IELTS uses a scoring system known as 'band scores,' which is unique to this test. The number of questions you get right (your 'raw score') determines your band score, ranging from 0 to 9. Each of the four portions of the exam will earn a band score, averaged and rounded to the next half to give you your total exam result. For example, if your four band scores average is 6.25, your overall exam score will be 6.5.

IELTS test format

TOEFL Scoring 
The TOEFL uses a reasonably standard scaled scoring system, which means your score will not correspond precisely to the number of questions you answered correctly. Instead, ETS uses its formula to calculate your scaled scores based on your performance's raw scores and quality. For each of the four sections, you get a scaled score from 0-30, which are added together to give you a total score between 0-120.

TOEFL test format


Hopefully, this TOEFL vs. IELTS comparison has given you all of the information you need to decide which test to take, depending on your specific interests and circumstances. Despite a few changes in score and format, we believe the IELTS and TOEFL are broadly similar exams. The most significant distinction between the two is that the TOEFL is more often used in American graduate programs. At the same time, the IELTS is appropriate for those who use English outside of the United States.

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