Difference Between TOEFL and IELTS with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

Difference Principal – TOEFL vs IELTS

TOFEL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are two of the most popular English language proficiency tests for non-native English speakers. While both tests measure your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills accurately, there are certain differences in their structure, focus, and scores. The main difference between TOFEL and IELTS is that T OFEL is a computer-based test while IELTS is a paper-based test. Therefore, some fundamental differences between these two tests can be noticed, especially in the speaking test. This article will help you understand the difference between TOEFL and IELTS and help you gather more knowledge about what is tested, the application, the preparation, the test duration, and the scores of these two tests.               TOEFL and IELTS

What is TOEFL?                                                   TOEFL and IELTS

TOFEL is an internationally recognized English language proficiency test specially designed to assess your ability to communicate in English in academic and educational settings. This test is conducted in American English and is administered by a United States-based organization, the Education Testing Service. Therefore, it is more likely to be favored by American institutions. However, this test is accepted by more than 9000 institutes in more than 130 countries.

Before 2006, this test was available as a paper-based test. But now the TOEFL IBT (Internet-based) test is the most widely used test format. The paper format is available in limited areas where Internet facilities are not available.

The test takes approximately 4 hours to complete and consists of 4 sections. Let’s briefly look at these sections:


The reading section contains 4-6 passages drawn from the academic context; All passages are of the same level of difficulty. Candidates must read the passages and answer a series of multiple-choice questions. This section will last between 60 and 80 minutes.


There are two tasks in the writing section. The first task is a short essay between 300-350 words. The next task will be to take notes on a section of the text and an excerpt from the lecture on the same topic and write an answer (150-225 words) to a question about the excerpts. Answers must be written down and you will have approximately 50 minutes to complete these two tasks.


The speaking test has no interviewers; It will involve a 20 minute conversation with a computer. Your responses will be recorded and relived by more than one marker. There are 6 different college type questions: two questions will be on familiar topics, the next two questions will include summarizing information from a text, and a conversation, and the last two questions will include summarizing information from a short conversation.


The hearing test can be completed in 40-60 minutes. There are 2-3 longer conversations and 4-6 lectures related to university life. You have to answer multiple choice questions. This test will primarily contain American English accents.


Each of the four sections (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) receives a score from 0 to 30. The scaled scores from the four sections are added together to calculate the total score. The final score is on a scale of 0 to 120 points.

Application and preparation

You can find a TOFEL test location by following this link. Once you select your country, you will be notified of test centers, fees, and test dates. You can also register and create a profile.

TOFEL’s official website also offers preparation materials and tools. You can access them here. Although most of these materials must be purchased, you can also find some free resources at the bottom of the page.

What is IELTS

IELTS is a popular English language proficiency test that can be used for educational, immigration, and occupational purposes. This test is accepted in many countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. IELTS is jointly administered by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment. There are two modules in the test: Academic Module and General Training Module.

IELTS is a paper-based test, and it takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. There are four sections:


There are three sections in the reading test, each lasting 20 minutes. The passages will become increasingly difficult. There will be a wide range of question types: short answers, multiple choices, fill in the blanks, etc.


The writing test contains two main questions. The first part is to interpret a graph, table, or diagram. Then the candidate will have to write a short essay as an argument or discussion. These two parts must be completed in one hour.


Unlike TOFEL, IELTS has a real interview, that is, it is face to face with an examiner. This test will take only about 12-15 minutes. There are three parts to the test. Candidates must first engage in a short introductory conversation on a familiar topic. They are then asked to speak on a given topic. In the final section, the interviewer will ask questions about the given speech (in question 2). The oral exam can be done on a different day.


There are four sections to the listening test. This will take about 30 minutes. You can observe a variety of different accents of English in these audio clips. The first section will be a conversation, usually a transactional conversation in which someone is requesting something. The second section will be an informal lecture and the third will be a conversation in an academic context. The final section is an academic lecture.


Results are given in band scores on a scale of 1 to 9. (1 is the lowest and 9 is the highest). You can learn more about the scores by following this link.

Below is a comparison between the IELTS and TOFEL scores.

IELTS Score TOEFL score
9 118-120
8.5 115-117
8 110-114
7.5 102-109
7 94-101
6.5 79-93
6 60-78
5.5 42-59
5 35-41
4.5 32-34
0-4 0-31

Application and preparation

You can find sample test materials and other resources to help you prepare for IELTS from this site. You can register for the test by following this link.

Difference between TOEFL and IELTS


TOEFL is computer-based.

IELTS is paper based.

Time frame

TOEFL will take about 4 hours.

IELTS It will take approximately 2 hours, 45 minutes.


TOEFL will contain 4 – 6 passages and multiple choice questions.

IELTS It will contain 3 passages and different types of questions.


TOEFL will mostly have people speaking in American accents.

IELTS will have a range of different English accents.


TOEFL involves talking to the computer.

IELTS will have a real examiner.


TOEFL tests are typed on the computer.

IELTS essays are handwritten.


TOEFL  is given scores from 0 to 120.

IELTS  It is given scores from 0 to 30.

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