THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IELTS and TOEFL - Seven peaks education }


Studying in foreign institutes brings a long list requirement that needs to be fulfilled prior to your admission. Today IELTS and TOEFL are the most accepted international exams for academic qualification, professional licensing, and immigration. This article discusses the differences of these two exams which are designed to measure the proficiency of a person in four skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

I.  Skills Tested

In IELTS, there are four sections to the listening modules. There are 40 questions altogether. The audio will last approximately 30 minutes. At the end of the test you will be given 10 minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.
IELTS listening modules
General, daily topic
Conversation between two people
General, everyday topics
One person
School or training related topics
Conversation between two or more people
School or training related topics
One person

There are some question types in IELTS Listening test:
  • Multiple choice
  • Short answer
  • Sentences completion 
  • Making notes 
  • Summarizing 
  • Labeling 
  • Classification 
  • Matching
On Contrary, in TOEFL listening test there are is of 60-90 minutes long, and you must be able to listen to lectures, discussion and conversations then answer the questions. You can take notes on any listening materials throughout the entire test.

There are 34-51 questions which are either multiple choice with four possible answer choices or computer assisted with special directions on the screen.

The reading test for both exams are quite similar; the TOEFL reading test are made up of three-five reading sections you will have 20 minutes to complete each drawn from academic content. The TOEFL reading sections ask you to read 4-6 academic English passages ( all of the same difficulty) and answer multiple choice.

While in IELTS you should spend 60 minutes for three contents. In Ielts there are several questions types, such as Multiple choise, True/ False/ Not Given, Yes/ No/ Not Given, Matching Information, Classifying Information/ Matching Headings/ Sentence, Diagram Label Completion/ Short Answer.

In IELTS there are two writing tasks in both academic and general training writing modules. In writing task 1 you should write a short report summarizing information presented in one or more charts, graphs, or tables. You should write at least 150 words. While in writing task 2, you should write an essay about your opinion with reason and examples, it's about 250 words There are several types of writing task 2,

  • Agree-disagreement
  • Problem solution
  • Advantages disadvantage
  • Double questions

In TOEFL, the topics are both general and academic. There are two types of tasks included in writing section: one independent writing task and one integrated writing task.
In the Independent writing task, you will see a question about general topic. You can use your personal experience and common knowledge to answer. After the question, you have 30 minutes to prepare and write your essay. This essay should be 300 and 350 words, word long. 

In the integrated writing task, you will hear a lecture, read a passage, or hear a lecture and read a passage about an academic topic. You may take a note to prepare your answer. After each lecture, reading passage, or both, you will read a question that requires you to respond by writing. You will have 20 minutes to prepare and write the answer to the questions. The answer should between 150 and 225 words long.

In IELTS there are three parts to the speaking modules, which lasts between 11 and 14 minutes. You will be in a room with one examiner, who will ask you question and ask you to talk certain topics. The interview will be recorded. There are three sections, section 1 is only about your personal information, and section 2 about long turn individual and the 3rd section is discussion

In TOEFL there are usually six questions on the speaking section. The topics are both general and academic. There are two types of tasks included in the speaking section two: two independent speaking and four integrated speaking task. The questions are presented only one time.

II. How long is the test?

The complete IELTS takes 2 hours and 45 minutes. The listening, reading, and writing modules are taken in one sitting. There are no breaks. The speaking module will be taken after the other modules. It is usually taken the same afternoon. On the other hand, TOEFL exam, taking approximately 4 hours to complete.

III. Where to take IELTS and TOEFL

The IELTS is an English language test that is used for educational, immigration and occupational purposes, and its accepted by over thousands of institutions across many countries worldwide. It is administrated by the British council, University of Cambridge Esol Examination and IDP Education Australia.
While TOEFL is accepted by over thousands of institutions across many countries, mostly USA. TOEFL is administrated by US-based organization the Education Testing Service.

IV.              Language use

IELTS uses British English and is believed to be favored by United Kingdom and institution in commonwealth nations such as New Zealand and Australia.
On the other hand-TOEFL test seeks to test your ability to communicate in English in specifically academic, university and classroom-based settings, and so is constructed in American English.

Source: IELTS and TOEFL Barrons


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