Difference between IELTS and TOEFL

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  • By:CANAM Group
  • Updated On:Jan 30,2024 12:37 PM IST

Explore the choice between IELTS and TOEFL for studying abroad. Both exams are widely recognized, but IELTS is favored by international students. The blog highlights differences in recognition, sections, and structure and more. By examining these factors, the blog aims to guide students in making informed decisions to realize their dream of studying abroad.

Difference between IELTS & TOEFL.webp
A decision to choose a right English Proficiency exam can make one’s dream come true to study abroad. IELTS and TOEFL both are the popular exams among aspirants worldwide.  Both the exams are recognized by several different top ranked foreign universities in Canada, Australia, United states of America, United Kingdom, New Zealand and many more countries. But the popularity of the IELTS is more than TOEFL among the international students. There are specific reasons behind the worldwide popularity of IELTS. 

This blog will explain the difference between IELTS and TOEFL in terms of recognition, sections, structure, how to prepare for IELTS or TOEFL, and which is a better option for students. 

Overview of IELTS and TOEFL 

International English Language Test System (IELTS) is one of the famous study abroad exams among the international students. It has two types of test such IELTS academic for academic purposes and IELTS general for everyday context. It includes four sections which are speaking, listening, reading, and writing considering band scores from 0-9. It is widely recognized by more than 11,500 organizations in 140 countries. It includes universities, migration agencies, and government organizations. IELTS has more than 4000 test centers globally. 

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is yet another widely accepted international standardized test. It also has two types such as TOEFL iBT for study, work, and immigration and TOEFL iBT for writing and understanding. It has four sections which speaking, reading, writing and listening considering score from 0-120. It is recognized by more than 11000 colleges and universities in 160 countries. It has more than 1000 test centers globally. 

Format of IELTS and TOEFL

Starting with the format of IELTS academic and TOEFL iBT, both has four section of test with different duration and scoring. Below table includes the basic format of IELTS and TOEFL.

Mode of TestComputer based (online) and offlineComputer based and pen paper based
DurationUnder 3 hoursUnder two hours
ScoresBand scores (0-9)Scores (0-120)
Marking SystemMachine marking and human examiner Machine marking and human examiner
StructureSpeaking, writing, reading and listeningSpeaking, writing, reading and listening
Recognized by11,500 organizations11,000 organizations
Result Declaration3-13 Days4-13 days

IELTS and TOEFL speaking section

In speaking section of IELTS, a candidate speaks to the examiner either face-to-face or on a virtual call and answers are marked by an examiner. The duration of the speaking test is 11-15 minutes in which a candidate introduces herself/himself and talks about a given topic by examiner. 

On the other hand, in TOEFL, a candidate speaks to the examiner on a virtual call only and answers are marked by a combination of Ai and human examiner. The duration of speaking test is 17 minutes in which a candidate speaks about a familiar topic on the basis of reading and listening.

IELTS and TOEFL writing section

In writing section of IELTS, a candidate has to complete two tasks. In task one, he/she writes 150 words in 20 minutes by revaluating information from chart, graph, and table. In task two, the candidate writes 250 words in 40 minutes on a view of point, solution and problem.

On the other hand, in TOEFL, the writing section is a bit difficult. It also has tasks. In the first task, a candidate has to write after reading a short passage and listening to a lecture. Then, the candidate has to write on the response based on the reading and listening. Second task is an essay writing section wherein a candidate writes based on an online classroom discussion. The duration of the tasks are 50 minutes.

IELTS and TOEFL reading section

In the reading section of IELTS, a candidate has to read three passages of 2,150-2750 words in 60 minutes and answer on the basis of reading. But in reading section of TOEFL, there are 3-4 passages from academic texts. The duration of the test is 50-70 minutes.

IELTS and TOEFL listening section

In both exams, the listening section has special significance. There is a myth that IELTS is for British English and TOEFL is for USA. But both the exams include different accents like North America, New Zealand, British, Australia. 

In IELTS, there are four parts in which first and second part is for social context listening. In third and fourth part, it is for academic and training context. The second and forth part of test section is more than listening to an only person. On the other hand, TOEFL, consists of two types of listening task where candidate listens to two conversations of two speakers and three lectures from which the candidate will be asked to answer the questions. 

IELTS and TOEFL score comparison 

The scoring of IELTS and TOEFL are assessed on different scale. In IELTS, the scores are assessed on a band scale ranging from 0 to 9. But, in TOEFL, the score ranges from 0 to 120. To get admission in different top ranked universities in different degree levels upon the students’ scores in study abroad exam. Below table shows the requirement of scores according to student’s academic. To get good scores, how to prepare for IELTS plays an important role to study abroad.

IELTS & TOEFL score comparison.webp

Degree levelIELTSTOEFL


IELTS and TOEFL, both have some similarities like structure, purpose, and differences like scores scales, popularities, tasks. But, in both exams, it is important to practice basic grammar, reading skills, listening to podcast, re-writing passages, reviewing mistakes, and English audio books. The most important thing is to understand exam strategies. To get the best coaching from the experts, Canamprep is here to make one’s dream to study abroad come true. 


To learn language as a non-native speaker, TOEFL is not enough to have a hold on language. IELTS is better than TOEFL in terms of learning and gaining knowledge. 
IELTS is accepted by different universities in Canada, UK, Australia, and Ireland, South Africa whereas TOEFL is accepted by educational institutes in US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany.
The difficulty level of both the exams depends upon candidate’s capabilities. It is important to practice basic grammar, reading skills, listening to podcast, re-writing passages, reviewing mistakes, and English audio books.
Yes, a hardworking candidate can score good by study self. If he/she is practicing, reviewing candidate’s mistakes, giving mocks, working on speaking, reading, listening, and writing skills.
To get good scores in TOEFL, it is important to know best tips strategies for TOEFL preparation. Through Canamprep, students can achieve their desired scores. 

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