TOEFL vs IELTS: A Differentiative And Easy Guide In 2021

Planning to study abroad? You need to submit proof of English proficiency. In order to prove your English language test skills, you need to submit IELTS or TOEFL Scores. IELTS and TOEFL are the two best options to give an English test. To know more about the exams and which exam should you take IELTS or TOEFL. In order to know about the exams, read this TOEFL Vs IELTS guide.

In this article, let us look at:

  1. Should you take TOEFL or IELTS?
  2. Introduction to TOEFL
  3. Introduction to IELTS
  4. TOEFL Vs IELTS Scores
  5. TOEFL Vs IELTS: How can you decide?
  6. TOEFL Vs IELTS: Which is more accepted?
  7. Which is better TOEFL or IELTS?

1. Should you take TOEFL or IELTS?

First of all, check the exams, IELTS or TOEFL, which exams the universities or colleges accept. Here is the gist of the test: TOEFL Vs IELTS.

TOEFL is entirely a computer-based test and has a longer time duration to finish the test. IELTS has a shorter time duration and is more intense with a broader variety of questions and tasks which includes speaking directly with an examiner.  In order to know which is easy, TOEFL or IELTS, check the details below.

2. Introduction to TOEFL

The Test of English as a foreign language, an internet-based test, will test your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in English. The exam focuses on authentic communication in a classroom setting. TOEFL is an American test but accepts both British and American spelling.

TOEFL consists of four sections that are equally weighted. You’ll do reading, writing, listening and speaking which means you’ll have to combine your competencies to succeed.  The whole test will take about four hours to complete the exam. TOEFL also has a different version which is paper-based and the scoring mechanism is also different.

Exam Format

The TOEFL lasts a total of 3.5 hours which includes four sections. There is a ten-minute break between listening and speaking tests. For each section, the score is calculated on a scale of 0-30. The scores are added together making the total between 0-120. Here is the format of the exam.

SectionNumber of QuestionsDuration
Reading36-5660-80 minutes
Listening34-5160-90 minutes
Speaking6 tasks20 minutes
Writing2 tasks50 minutes


There will be three or four passages from academic texts. The passages are from university-level textbooks. There are three types of questions: multiple choices, insert a sentence into proper spot paragraphs and sort information into a chart or summary table.


The listening section has four to six recordings. The recordings are similar to conversations students encounter in daily academic life, such as classroom lectures or discussions. The types of questions are:  multiple choice, order the steps in an event or process, require to match objects or text to categories in the chart.


Two tasks require students to read, listen and then speak

The other tasks are integrated and require you to listen and then speak.


The writing section has two tasks: integrated writing and independent writing.

For integrated writing, students hear a short recording and read a short passage, summarize and compare the information they got from these two sources. The length of the passage is 150-225 words.

For independent writing, students are given a topic and must give their opinion on that topic. The length of the writing should be a minimum 300 words.

3. Introduction to IELTS

The International English Language Testing System tests your ability to read, write, listen and speak in English. Though the IELTS is based in the United Kingdom, both American and British spellings and accents will be accepted. There are two modules in IELTS, here are the details:


This module is for candidates who plan to study at a college or university in a English speaking country or to pursue a professional career in fields like engineering and health care.


This module is for students at a high school or lower level as well as candidates planning to migrate to an English speaking country.

Exam Pattern

The IELTS exam syllabus and pattern is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Here is the IELTS exam pattern in brief:

ListeningIt consists of four audio recordings30 minutes40
ReadingThree long passages with questions60 minutes40
WritingTwo TasksTask 1: 150 words- describe a diagram or graphTask 2: 250 Words- a short essay60 minutes2
SpeakingA face-face interview- it includes introduction, short questions, a familiar topic and structured discussion11-15 minutes3 Parts


IELTS listening syllabus is designed to assess the listening skills which tests how well you understand the ideas and specific factual information, recognize the opinion and the attitude of the speaker and follow an argument. You can listen to the recording only once. The IELTS academic and IELTS general test consists of the same Listening questions. A variety of questions like multiple choice, matching, diagram, and flowchart, short answer questions, etc.

This section consists of four tasks with a total of 40 marks. There will be a total of 40 questions with a time limit of 30 minutes. You will be given 10 minutes to copy your answers to the answer sheet. 


This module is to read quickly and efficiently and manage the time. This section has three different passages. You have to answer 40 questions in a time span of 60 minutes. You are supposed to note down the answers during the 60 minutes no extra time will be given. The question variants will be multiple-choice, identifying information, matching information, and sentence completion, short answer questions and table completion

IELTS Academic Syllabus and pattern reading module consists of three reading passages of medium length which are taken from journals, books, magazines and newspapers. The passages deal with issues which are appropriate and accessible to candidates entering in undergraduate or postgraduate or professional recognition. The passages are written in various styles such as narrative, descriptive, discursive or argumentative. Texts may contain diagrams, graphs or illustrations. You have to recognize the purpose, attitude or opinions of the writers of these passages.

The IELTS General Syllabus and pattern in reading has three sections. Section 1 may contain two or more than two short texts. Section 2 contains two texts and Section 3 has one long text.

·        Section1- Social Survival- The text contains tasks mainly about retrieving and providing general information

·        Section2- Workplace Survival- The text focuses on the workplace context.

·        Section3- General Reading- The text involves reading more content with a complex structure. The emphasis is on descriptive and instructive rather than argumentative.


The IELTS writing test is a 60 minute duration module where candidates are required to write two tasks. The IELTS paper pattern in writing is designed to assess how well you write a response, appropriately structure your ideas and use a range of vocabulary and proper grammar.

IELTS Exam syllabus- Academic

 The IELTS academic writing pattern and syllabus has two tasks. You are required to spend 20 minutes writing approximately 150 words to complete task 1 and 40 minutes to write 250 words for Task 2.

Task 1- You are required to describe the given graph, table, chart or diagram or summarize and explain the data and the stages of a process on how something works or describe an object or event.

Task 2- You will be asked to write an essay in the form of an argument or respond in point of view in a formal style. 

IELTS Exam Syllabus- General

The IELTS General Test format and syllabus writing has two tasks. You are required to spend 20 minutes writing approximately 150 words to complete task 1 and 40 minutes to write 250 words for Task 2.

Task1- You are required to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation based on the given situation. Task2- Write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or a problem.


The IELTS Course syllabus for speaking is the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Tests. The IELTS speaking test is designed to assess skills on how well you can communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences, speak at length on a given topic, express your ideas, justify your opinions and analyze and discuss issues.

The duration is 11-14 minutes long. You will speak to a certified Examiner. The test is close to real life situations and interactive. The test is divided into three parts.

·        Part 1 (4-5 minutes): Introduction and Identity check. There will be general questions on many familiar topics like home, family, work etc.

·        Part 2 (3-4 Minutes): A task card will be given. You’ll have to talk about a particular topic and the points on which you’ll have to speak are also mentioned on the card.

·        Part 3 (4-5 minutes): There will be further questions on the topic you spoke in Part2.

4. TOEFL Vs IELTS Scores

There is a lot of difference between IELTS and TOEFL scores. Here are the details of TOEFL vs IELTS score.

IELTS: IELTS uses a band system of 1 to 9 with separated scores across the four sections and the mean is calculated to the final score.

TOEFL: TOEFL uses a single score from 0-120. The score are calculated individually in the modules which is 0-30 and the total is taken as the overall score of the exam.

5. TOEFL Vs IELTS: How can you decide?

Taking the overview of IELTS and TOEFL, check the exam which is more comfortable for you to give the exam. Learn about TOEFL Vs IELTS and decide based upon your requirements.

6. TOEFL Vs IELTS: Which is more accepted?

Both the TOEFL and IELTS are widely accepted tests and they are available at various locations. Check the institutions and the exams which are accepted by them and decide.

7. Which is better TOEFL or IELTS?

·        The four modules in the exam are the same but the TOEFL and IELTS have slight difference.

·        The structure of the test varies a little

·        TOEFL can be completely computer-based without human interaction while IELTS requires an examiner to speak.

·        The listening part of the TOEFL will require you to take notes and then answer them in the multiple-choice questions while IELTS requires you to listen to audio and note down the answers.


TOEFL and IELTS are the two most common administered English language exams.  Learn TOEFL and IELTS differences and consider the most important factors of your convenience and your skill set.

Lastly ask yourself these questions and decide the best exam for you:

·        Which exam does my choice of institutions accept?

·        Which exam plays more to my skills?

·        Which exam is easier for me to crack?

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