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Some colleges and universities require or recommend that international applicants submit proof of their English language skills, usually in the form of a standardized test score. Two of the more popular English language proficiency tests out there are the IELTS and the TOEFL. Some schools prefer one test over the other, while others accept scores from either test. If a school doesn’t have a preference, students should consider whether the TOEFL or the IELTS plays more to their strengths as they decide which to take. This article tries to be a myth buster of sorts and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about TOEFL and IELTS.

IELTS is mostly accepted in the UK institutions, Australia and other Commonwealth countries. On the other hand, TOEFL (iBT) is mostly accepted at the US institutions, although it is also accepted in many other institutions all over the world.


A brief comparison:

  • Both IELTS and TOEFL have some similarities and differences. The similarities are –
  • Both tests comprise of four sections – reading, listening, speaking and writing.
  • There are no separate sections to measure a candidate’s grammar in both the tests.

You can find four regional accents within US if you are taking TOEFL whereas if you are taking IELTS, you will find mostly British accent. Sometimes, you may find other accents in IELTS as well.


The major differences between TOEFL and IELTS are –

  • TOEFL is an Internet-based exam, thus known as TOEFL iBT.
  • IELTS is still a paper-based exam in most countries.

To help you decide which is easier or better for you, you should first know about the test patterns of both.


  • You’ll talk to an examiner’s face to face in the speaking section.
  • IELTS accepts both Commonwealth and American spelling.
  • IELTS not only covers MCQs but also a wide range of question patterns to test your presence of mind and ability to grasp.
  • You can answer as you listen to a conversation in the listening section.
  • You’ll get a gap between the speaking test and other modules. So you can chill around!
  • IELTS lasts about 2 hours 45 minutes.


  • You’ll talk to a computer in the speaking section. It records what you say and an examiner assesses it afterward.
  • You should be able to type ‘in a super-fast speed’ in the writing section of the TOEFL.
  • TOEFL exam covers only multiple-choice questions, except for writing section.
  • TOEFL follows American spelling – so you should be careful with the basics, such as ‘toward’ not ‘towards’. The best source to learn American spellings could be ‘Merriam Webster’ dictionary.
  • You can answer only after listening to the entire conversation in the listening section.
  • TOEFL lasts for about 4 hours.

So Which Is Easier? IELTS or TOEFL?

The precise answer is to YOU. You can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I comfortable with UK English?
  • Am I comfortable with talking to a computer?
  • Can I write at a super-fast speed?
  • Am I confident to deal with different question patterns? Or should I stick to MCQs?
  • Will I remember the entire length of conversation and answer questions later (for TOEFL)?
  • Do I have enough patience to sit for 4 long hours (for the TOEFL test)?

Once you know answers to above six questions, it’ll be easier for you to decide which test you should be taking. However, both tests will grade you accordingly based on your calibre and English knowledge.

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