graduation-1695185_1920The common question that pops up among people looking to study or work abroad is “Should I take the IELTS or the TOEFL?”. Though they have their differences, both the IELTS and TOEFL serve to test your language proficiency for work or to study abroad. Both these tests examine you on four language functions: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.

The IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and TOEFL for Test of English as a Foreign Language. Both are accepted worldwide. Before we dive into the differences among the tests and how this might suit your needs, let’s take a deeper look into each of these tests individually.

Things you need to know about the IELTS

Candidates seeking employment abroad or opting for visa for immigration or permanent residence should take up the IELTS General Test. To pursue higher education, one has to take up the IELTS Academic Module. This is accepted globally even in certain American universities.

The IELTS exams are conducted by the British Council and IDP during specific dates, all round the year. The results are published about 13 days after the test day. It is scored on a Band Score of 0 – 9 for each module as well as overall. The test report is valid for 2 years.

IELTS consists of 4 modules Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Of which Listening, Reading & Writing are conducted on the same day and Speaking on a separate day. A band score of 6.5 to 7.5 is tends to be the prerequisite IELTS Academic Score in most Universities. An IELTS General Score of about 7 is required for PR and employment abroad. Nurses and doctors should score 7 in all modules and overall too.

Things you need to know about the IELTS

The TOEFL is a prerequisite for studies abroad and is accepted by Universities in USA and Canada. The 4 skills Listening, Reading, Writing & Speaking are integrated and the exam is conducted with these modules integrated. For instance, the listening task requires you to read as well as listen and type out the answers.

The whole exam can take about 3 hours at the minimum to a maximum of 4 hours. It is individually scored 0-30 and on the whole 0-120. The test is administered by ETS. The test report is valid for 2 years and the results are published in about 13 days. A score between 90 to 100 is  considered a prerequisite for admission into most Universities in the U.S. and Canada.


On deciding to take up the Language Assessment Test, the next question that arises is, whether to take IELTS or TOEFL?

This can be a real dilemma for many since time is of the essence and one can’t be caught taking the wrong test!

So, before you make a decision we suggest that you try answering the following question to find solution for the same!

Take TOEFL instead of IELTS if you…

  • are used to a computer based testing experience (similar to GRE or GMAT) as compared with a paper-pencil based examination.
  • can you type your answers quickly
  • would rather complete the entire test in a single sitting
  • are comfortable with assimilating information from different types of sources such as audio track as well as a reading passage
  • are looking exclusively at U.S. universities for for higher education

Take IELTS instead of TOEFL if you…

  • prefer speaking to a person over speaking to a computer (with no human on the other side)?
  • are comfortable with (understanding) different dialects and accents of English
  • are planning to apply to Universities other than those in the U.S.
  • prefer a paper-based exam experience such as those in college and the SAT.
  • are looking for work related emigration to European countries as well as to other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Note: Some American Universities accept IELTS. Moreover, for Work or Immigration IELTS is mandatory if an English Language Test is required.


Preferred by Universities all over the world Preferred by Universities in America
Paper-Based exam Online Exam
Exam is conducted over 2 days Exam is conducted in one sitting
Different dialects of English American English
Work/Immigration Not applicable
Skills are tested individually Integrated Skills are tested

Do you have any more questions? If so, please leave a comment! If you liked reading this article, read this related article on 5 things to ensure a successful visa process.

A commerce graduate by nature but a driving passion for language and teaching has brought Hameeta into this field since 2014. A voracious reader of novels and books together with never-ending thirst for quest in language and teaching methodology to innovate teaching skills defines Her.