IELTS vs TOEFL: Which One Suits You? Know The Difference

If you are looking to take an English proficiency test maybe you already have decided to migrate abroad for your new career path or higher education. However, before that happens, there are several factors to consider and one of those is to take an English proficiency exam. Yet, it’s not that simple since there are two famous academic examinations which are IELTS and TOEFL that both offer quality standards for better opportunities. Before the exams, if you want to prepare with the help of a professional be sure to check out our article on advanced English classes.

Testing AbilitiesReading: 3 reading questions
Writing: explain through writing the information provided in a form of table chart / diagram
Listening: listen then answer
Speaking: face-to-face  10-15 mins
Reading: 3-5 reading questions
Writing: five paragraph essay  
Listening: listen then take down notes only
Speaking: audio recorded 20 mins
Suggested Preparation3-6 weeks2-3 months
Exam Formatwritten or computercomputer only
Exam CostUS $260-390US $200-325
Exam Duration2 hrs 45 mins4 hrs
Exam PurposeMostly for any work-relatedMostly for education purposes


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Researchers are looking for ways in order to improve the assessment of the English language during the 1970s. Until 1980, the International English Language Testing System also known as IELTS was developed and conducted in 1989 by the Cambridge English Language Assessment, International Development Program of Australian Universities & Colleges, and the British council. The newly launched testing system was still not standardized back then wherein during 1981 there were only 4,000 test-takers while 10,000 in 1985. One reason is IELTS is lacking in international relations for the input-output.

In addition, through the years, IELTS was continuously improving until today it is being used all over the world has more than 1,100 test centers, and is widely recognized by different Universities specifically in English-speaking countries. To this degree, standardizing this kind of test system will help to easily assess how proficient or how far the test-taker will pass the standard in terms of the English language not only in speaking but also in listening, writing, and reading.

Furthermore, IELTS consists of Four Modules: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Whereas these modules have two versions which are Academic (reading & writing) and General (speaking & listening). These kinds of modules not only help to excel academically but also help to enhance skills practically in real-life situations. Since English is one of the most spoken languages across the world. That’s why several countries require people to communicate in English especially if you’re migrating to a specific English-speaking country related to work or study. For tips on how to study, be sure to check out our article on IELTS tips

In addition, IELTS has different scoring which is called Band, which ranges from 0-9.


Band ScoreLinguistically demanding academic coursesLinguistically less demanding academic coursesLinguistically demanding training coursesLinguistically less demanding training courses
7.5 – 9AcceptableAcceptableAcceptableAcceptable
7.0Probably acceptableAcceptableAcceptableAcceptable
6.5English study neededProbably acceptableAcceptableAcceptable
6.0English study neededEnglish study neededProbably acceptableAcceptable
5.5English study neededEnglish study neededEnglish study neededProbably acceptable
  • Band 9 Expert user
  • Band 8 Very good user
  • Band 7 Good user
  • Band 6 Competent user
  • Band 5 Modest user
  • Band 4 Limited user
  • Band 3 Extremely limited user
  • Band 2 Intermittent user
  • Band 1 Non-user
  • Band 0

However, there is another English Proficiency Test System which is the Test of English Language as a Foreign Language or also known as TOEFL, which is mostly being used to test the ability of the students to communicate in English inside the classroom yet the exam is most likely in multiple-choice. While IELTS General is mostly used by professionals who wish to work abroad and IELTS Academic is for education purposes.

Introduction of TOEFL

TOEFL was developed by the National Council and then was formed in the year 1962 by government officials and a group of educators. A few years later, TOEFL was already offered to the students back in 1964. Moreover, until this generation, TOEFL has been effectively used, especially by some universities internationally. Since TOEFL was developed due to the fact of completing the requirements, some English-speaking universities have asked. In a way, through this exam, the English language level will be measured.

To further know about TOEFL, this is one of the essential steps in order to get into universities in the United States there are also two categories of exams: Academic and General just the same as IELTS. However, TOEFL is mainly implemented by government agencies, licensing/certification agencies, and scholar programs for the evaluation of English proficiency. In other words, most test-takers of TOEFL are mostly students who plan to study in colleges or universities which are English-speaking schools abroad.

In addition, most universities in the United States require students to have a specific score which they called iBT or internet-based test, the latest version of the assessment. Universities in the US prefer to have this kind of assessment as proof to show the proficiency of students in English. Since TOEFL is also one of the widely accepted English proficiency exams aside from IELTS.

Furthermore, the iBT score of TOEFL will be based on the exam taker’s ability for each category, it will be scored for each type which is reading, writing, listening, and speaking; afterward, combine the overall score.

Exam Scoring

TOEFL SkillPossible ScoreLevel
Reading0-30Advanced: 24-30
High-Intermediate: 18-23
Low-Intermediate: 4-17
Basic: 0-3
Listening 0-30 Advanced: 22-30
High-Intermediate: 17-21
Low-Intermediate: 9-16
Basic: 0-8
Writing 0-30 Advanced: 24-30
High-Intermediate: 17-23
Low-Intermediate: 13-16
Basic: 7-12
Speaking 0-30 Advanced: 25-30
High-Intermediate: 20-24
Low-Intermediate: 16-19
Basic: 10-15
Total0-12090th percentile: 106+
75th percentile: 97-105
50th percentile: 84-96
View the full guide here: Ets site link

Moreover, if you’re planning to take the TOEFL exam, better to register and book in advance. There’s a tendency you might get waitlisted depending on the availability for some areas. Normally, registration for the test schedule will be closed a week before the official date of the exam. Therefore, register ahead of time once you’ve decided so that you can do things accordingly.

In-Depth Differences Between IELTS and TOEFL

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There are several factors to consider regarding which English Language exam to take. However, this will be based on the test taker’s preference since the length of preparation has a big impact with a very huge difference and also the price. In terms of test type, both exams are intended to evaluate the basics of English yet there is still an easier one among them, and that is IELTS, this is based on the test-takers since TOEFL consumes more time than IELTS.

Reading and Listening

In terms of the Reading and Listening section, both have provided passages and recordings but vary in level and test type whereas TOEFL is more on Academic based type and it’s like a teacher-student discussion in multiple-choice. IELTS is composed of mixed test types (multiple-choice, matching type, sentence completion, short answer and etc.) while the listening section is divided into two (realistic social context and educational context). Moreover, one of the huge differences between the two in the Reading section is that the exam uses different types of text while IELTS focuses more on academic texts but mixes with passages from magazines and newspapers. While TOEFL only focuses solely on the academic text which consists of complex vocabularies which are more difficult to understand.


For IELTS, you will mainly need to have a face-to-face speaking test with a real examiner, but for TOEFL it’s mainly computer-based. Therefore, it is difficult to get a higher score in speaking in TOEFL.

In addition, with regards to the Speaking section, people normally get nervous and they tend to choose TOEFL since it’s computer-based while they would ask to speak in front of the examiner in IELTS. However, what people didn’t realize is that in IELTS they provide you up to a week for you to finish the Speaking section and you have the right to decide whether you’ll take it before or after the rest sections which means more time to prepare. In TOEFL, test-takers will feel more nervous due to time limitations which can be seen on the computer. Knowing the limited time would affect the thinking that leads to distraction for every test-taker.

Tips for Each Module

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This is the most common English Language learning, especially for starters. Reading can enhance memory and comprehension which exercises our brain to stabilize our emotions and helps us to recall information and details easily.

There are a lot of reading materials to choose from in order to develop reading skills such as Books (any genres will do but novels or education is recommended), E-books, Online Articles, Blogs, Magazines, Newspapers, and even subtitles when watching movies or videos. Since, in some instances, some people don’t have enough resources to spend money on books or paid e-books, that’s why online is the right platform to take the opportunity to learn for free.


In this method, not everyone is capable of writing, especially if that person is just starting to learn English. Due to the fact of still contemplating the grammar, English rules, vocabulary, or even spelling. Fortunately, with the help of such web browsers like Google, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc. also an internet connection. Learning to write could be that easy since people can now verify the spellings, look for the proper usage of a certain word or find ways for people struggling with the meaning of complex words.

Nowadays, writing is not only limited to a pen and paper considering people may use their different devices like computers, laptops, or smartphones in expressing their thoughts and ideas through writing. For the top accredited writing, courses make sure to check out our online writing course article.


It is easy to listen to but not everything we hear we really understand. The same goes for the English language. We often listen to English songs but we don’t know the meaning of all the lyrics. It is advisable to learn vocabulary first since this is correlated with listening; this will boost or speed up the learning process. In other words, it is easier to listen and also to read when you understand what you see and hear.

Furthermore, Listening will help people to improve their pronunciation, accent, or diction. Some platforms that may improve English by listening are listening to English podcasts every day, exposure to an English-spoken environment, listening to English-speaking Vlogs, and overhearing an English conversation.


The most important method to learn from is Speaking since this is commonly used to communicate with different people worldwide. This is the more practical way to use to help understand each other and to get along together. Everybody knows the language barrier is a huge problem due to the fact that it will cause misunderstanding and trouble. Speaking in English also helps people to look professional in a good way and also boosts confidence when able to communicate proficiently.

One of the basic ways to learn to speak is to have a conversation with English speakers. It doesn’t matter if face-to-face or through a phone call as long as you’re practicing the language. Also, presenting inside the classroom when the teacher asks you to report or at work when proposing your idea not only limits that since you can still learn inside your comfort zone by using English as your primary language to communicate with your family at home. Also, be sure to check out our article on conversational English

IELTS Websites that Offer IELTS Exam Online

These websites are online computer-based exams that can be booked online at your preferred date. Register online in order to be able to book an exam slot. They also offer preparation materials which include the four modules and the type of exam with a specific time duration for each test type. Scores can be viewed once the result is already up on their website. Online exams would be easier than taking exams on-site like centers since they won’t require people too much preparation unlike at-home computer devices and a stable internet connection is what is most needed as long as the test-taker is prepared for the exam you’re good to go. Most online IELTS exam offers to get the result for around 1-2 days only which is very convenient for anyone who took the exam.

After all the preparations for the IELTS exam, learn to take a break as well and look for ways to relieve the stress and tension. This way can help to calm the nervous system which will feel more relaxed. Taking the IELTS exam would really feel pressure on your part but surrounding yourself with good vibes and positive people can somehow aid pressure. Eat the right amount of food, and get enough sleep as well to gain energy which also helps the brain to function well. Lastly, take time to pray before taking the exam. A few minutes will do for good luck. Just remember if you are truly prepared there is nothing to worry about.

Ready to Ace Your Exam?

Taking either the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) are both a great opportunity to showcase the capability of the English language which proves the proficiency of one person and the ability to fit the standard of a specific organization. Well, of course, nothing is easy in this world.

Therefore, doing so requires courage since this will impact our future. It is better to be prepared as always before trying out, especially new things. Just like taking the exam, it is not a joke to spend tons of money while some already spent for the review in a review center. We need to accept the fact that nothing comes free in this world. You already paid for it but you’re the one who will work for it as well, that’s how life is. Because people are meant to strive hard to achieve the life they always wanted.

Furthermore, no matter how you struggle in the process of reviewing and studying for the exam, the final result is what really matters. As long as you have chosen the correct type of exam for you and really prepared for it you don’t have any regrets in the future since you just did the right thing by giving out the best that you can be. That’s why good results are what you deserve.

To get a customized lesson plan for your needs and a tutor that understands your anxiety and struggles make sure you take a look at online English courses that AmazingTalker is offering!

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