Differences between TOEFL and IELTS

There are some differences between TOEFL and IELTS, you will decide which test depending on your needs. These two tests are commonly used for examination of international university students. Here are 8 of the most clear differences.


1. Form of Speaking Test

TOEFL speaking test is conducted by a computer, so you need to talk to it within a certain time, which makes it hard to make an opinion in such a short time. On the other hand, in IELTS speaking test you can talk with an interviewer in person. You can ask again if you miss a question, and it is easy to control your pace.

2. Listening Test/ Different Accent

Compared with TOEFL, IELTS uses speakers from different countries, but most of them use a British accent, which many students are unfamiliar with. The TOEFL test has a bit of a difficult form, asking the detail after listening to a long lecture. However, IELTS uses mostly a dictation section, filling in blanks of pictures or sentences, so you can find answers while listening. Also a lot of time is given in IELTS. For example, there is time to look at questions before listening or to copy answers to an answer sheet so it will make it easier to organize your time.

3. Integrated Task

TOEFL has an integrated task which needs multitasking skills, writing answers in the form of an essay after reading some articles and listening to a lecture about the topic. It is based on the actual university life (reading textbooks, listening to lectures, writing essays), and it is also the most difficult part in the test.

4. Number of words in Reading Passage

IELTS test has more words than TOEFL, so examinees are required to read quickly in IELTS as opposed to TOEFL, where you don’t have to read faster as much as in IELTS.

IELTS         3passages   / 900 words /            40 questions            /60mins

TOEFL    3-4 passages / 700 words / 12-14 questions×passage / 60-80mins


5. Length of the Test

TOEFL takes 4-4.5 hours, which is quite long compared to IELTS, which takes 2.45 hours. However, because IELTS speaking is in person, it is  likely that you will have to wait for a longer time or for it to take around two days because of the separation of  the speaking test.

6. Way to answer

You can type with a keyboard or choose options in TOEFL, but you have to handwrite in IELTS, so it is likely that you will make  careless mistakes such as spelling mistakes, answering Yes/No in true/false questions, or putting answers in wrong blanks.

7. Overall band score

In IELTS, a score is calculated by rounding up, which means that the better score is shown.   For example, when you need 7.0 overall, one pattern is to take 7.0 in all modules, but another pattern is that 7.0 is rounded up from the total score. (Reading 6.5, Speaking 6.5, Writing 7.0, Listening 7.0 = average 6.75→  score:7.0) This is one of the biggest differences between the two tests.

When you take an English test, it will be recommended to see how different the two tests are after seeing which test can be used for your university or other institutions. You can prepare these two tests in TOEFL class in Toronto or IELTS class in Toronto at EC. The right preparation will make you more confident!