IELTS is an abbreviated form of International English Language Testing System whereas TOEFL is an abbreviated form of Test of English as a Foreign Language. Both these are the English language tests for non-native English speakers who want to study in foreign universities or want to settle abroad on immigration or want to work. The pattern of both the tests is similar, both have four sections to test the candidate namely Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. A lot of test centers are available for both the exams and the scores of both the exams are valid for 2 years. Besides these similarities, there are many differences in these English language tests. Let us see how both are different:


  • The IELTS and TOEFL English proficiency exams are conducted by two separate entities. The IELTS is conducted and coordinated by Cambridge English assessment service along with IDP, Australia and the British Council, London. And the TOEFL is conducted by Educational Testing Service, which is the United States based entity.
  • As the two exams are held and organized by separate agencies, that is why in the IELTS exam the US and the UK English is accepted whereas in the TOEFL exam only US English is accepted.
  • The IELTS exam duration is shorter than the TOEFL exam. The IELTS test takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes in all whereas the TOEFL test takes around 4 hours in all.
  • The IELTS exam has a variety of questions in different sections like notes completion, match the titles, match the headings, short answer questions, summary completion, flow chart completion, etc. on the other hand, the TOEFL exam contains just the multiple choice questions and there is no other form of questions.
  • The IELTS exam conducted by the British Council is a paper-based exam whereas the IDP has an option of the computer-based exam too. But the TOEFL exam is an entirely computer-based exam which means, a candidate has to give the responses on the computer. The best part of the TOEFL exam is that in the writing section a candidate can edit the written content on the computer itself. Since there is always a time prompt, so it is easier for the candidate to track his time in TOEFL exam.
  • The speaking section of the IELTS is a formal one on one personal interview having three rounds and takes around 11-14 minutes. On the contrary, in the TOEFL speaking section, a candidate hears a situation over the computer and he has to record the response on the computer itself. There is no personal interview round in TOEFL.
  • The IELTS exam tests a candidate on general English and academic English both whereas the TOEFL exam tests a candidate only on academic English. In both the exams, a variety of English accents like Australian, British, America, etc. are used for the Listening sections.
  • The TOEFL scores are accepted worldwide in more than 8500 universities but it’s majorly in demand in countries like the United States, Germany, France, and Canada. IELTS scores too are accepted in more than 140 countries in over 10,000 universities.
  • The IELTS exam is completed in 2 days as the Speaking section is conducted on a different date than the reading, writing and listening sections due to the in-person interview round with the examiner. It is usually within 7 days from the date of the test of the other three sections. On the contrary, the TOEFL exam is completed within a single day as it is totally computer-based.
  • The total time allotted to each section in both the exams differ.
    • The total time allotted to the IELTS  Reading section is 60 minutes (i.e 1 hour) and contains 40 questions whereas the time allotted to TOEFL Reading section is 60 to 80 minutes having 36 to 56 questions.
    • The total time allotted to the IELTS Listening section is 30 minutes (i.e 1/2 hour) and contains 40 questions in all and the time allotted to the TOEFL Listening section is 60-90 minutes having 34 to 51 questions in all.
    • The total time allotted to the IELTS Writing section is 60 minutes in which a candidate has to achieve two tasks. And in the TOEFL writing section, the total time allotted is  50 minutes in which a candidate needs to complete 2 tasks.
    • The total time allotted to the IELTS Speaking section is 11 to 14 minutes which includes three rounds, the first is self-introduction round, in the second round you are given a cue to speak on and in the last round questions are asked based on the 2nd Whereas the total time allotted to the TOEFL Speaking section is 20 minutes in which six different tasks are to be achieved.
    • There is no break given to the candidates in the IELTS exam whereas, in TOEFL exam, the candidates are given a 10 minutes break after the Reading and Listening section exam.
  • All the questions in the IELTS exam are scored and are mandatory whereas there are some questions in the TOEFL exam that are not scored.
  • IELTS exam is vastly taken by the candidates who want to move abroad on immigration purpose, career point of view or for higher studies. On the contrary, the TOEFL exam is mainly taken by the candidates for getting admission in foreign universities and graduate schools. That is why TOEFL tests a candidate just on the academic English language skills whereas the IELTS provides both the options.  IELTS General exam is for the candidates who are applying for immigration and work visa and who just need an average score to meet the basic criteria of the application. IELTS Academic exam is for the candidates who want to apply for the Master’s or Bachelor’s degree for higher education in foreign universities and to get admission in those institutes they need higher bands in IELTS.

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