What is the Difference Between the IELTS and TOEFL?

What is the Difference Between the IELTS and TOEFL?

IELTS and TOEFL are the two most important English proficiency tests for an aspirant making plans to Study Abroad. Both these tests assess the English language proficiency of Study Abroad aspirants. All non-native speakers of the English language have to take these exams to submit their applications. Test scores of both these tests are accepted not just by universities abroad but also by various organizations such as Immigration departments. Both of them assess the reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills of the candidates but the formats are different.  If you are planning to take one of these exams, then this blog post is for you. Read this article for a full analysis of the difference between IELTS and TOEFL. Let’s explore!

What is IELTS?

IELTS (the International English Language Testing System) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test used for work, study, and migration purposes. IELTS assesses a candidate’s English language proficiency in four areas: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The test is both computer and paper-based.

The International English Language Testing System or IELTS is collectively managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. Its primary role is to measure the English language competency of candidates who wish to work or study in areas where English is used as the primary means of communication. With an increasing number of people planning for higher education abroad in recent years, IELTS has emerged as one of the most popular English language assessment tests taken by study abroad aspirants.

  • IELTS Exam Format: IELTS tests all the four language skills of a candidate:- Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Listening, reading, and Writing tests  are conducted on the same day one after the other, and there is no break given between these. However, for the Speaking test, you can book a slot online according to your preferred date and time. If you fail to choose a slot within the specified time, a slot will be automatically allocated to you. The total time of the test is under three hours.
IELTS Listening test (30 minutes)You’ll be given four recordings to listen to and then answer the questions asked. The recordings are done by native English speakers
IELTS Reading test (60 minutes)This test requires you to answer 40 questions. It tests your Reading skills. You’ve to read and figure out main ideas, logical arguments, & main ideas
IELTS Writing test (60 minutes)In this test, you’ll be asked to complete two tasks. All topics of general interest are covered.
IELTS Speaking Test (11-14 minutes)This test assesses your spoken English skills. The test is then recorded and conducted in three parts.

Importance of IELTS Exam – Benefits

  • Access to Global Employment Opportunities- If you are a non-native English speaker and seeking employment in a Global multinational, you have to submit proof of English language proficiency. An applicant has to take the General IELTS exam to get a work visa and start a professional life in a foreign country such as the USA, Australia, Canada, Germany, and the UK.
  • Overseas Higher Education & Study Programs overseas- Study Abroad Destinations such as the UK, the USA, Canada, and Germany require an aspirant to take the IELTS Academic test. For non-native speakers, The IELTS examination is a prerequisite for university entry.
  • Immigration and permanent residency- Government agencies use the IELTS exam as a prerequisite to award citizenship or the right to permanent residency as a part of their application process. The immigration authorities of countries like Canada, Germany, the USA, the UK, and Australia accept and recognize visa and immigration applications only when they are submitted with an IELTS score.

Eligibility criteria for IELTS Examination

A Candidate should be of at least 16 years of age. Anybody aged 16 or above can appear for  this examination, irrespective of their gender, nationality, or background. There is no upper age limit fixed by the conducting bodies.

  • IELTS Score- Candidates receive an IELTS score on a scale of 1-9 for all four parts. Besides this, they are also given their overall band score. Applicants must understand the band score of IELTS.
  • IELTS Score Validity- IELTS results are valid for two years after the individual receives them.  Candidates receive their test results within 5 to 7 days of finishing the exam. On the other hand, the offline method can take up to 13 days.
  • IELTS Band Score- The IELTS exam contains four sections: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Each section accounts for 25% of the overall IELTS band score. As a result, each section is equally important. The exam is graded giving band scores ranging from 0 to 9, with each number reflecting a different level of English ability. Students who take the exam will be assigned band scores for each section and an overall band score.
  • IELTS Band Scores Explanation Table
Skill LevelBand ScoreDescription
Expert9Correct and appropriate mastery of the language
Very good8With a few minor hindrances, you have complete command of the English language.
Good7Operational command of the language, with errors in certain areas
Competent6Language proficiency is demonstrated by a practical understanding of the language. 
Modest5In most, partial language command and coping skills are required.
Limited4Inability to communicate in sophisticated language
Extremely limited3Only general connotations are understood
Intermittent2Has trouble writing, speaking, and comprehending the language
Non-user1Inability to communicate in English
No attempt0Did not take the test
  • IELTS Band Score
BandScore out of 40

Why is an Ideal IELTS Score Important for Admissions?

Foreign Universities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels,  assess IELTS scores to examine whether a person can handle the program’s medium of instruction, that is, English. Even many non-English speaking countries need IELTS scores for courses that are taught in English. Universities mainly set minimum IELTS scores that applicants need to achieve in order to be eligible for admissions. Therefore, a student scoring an ideal IELTS score that is equal to or greater than the minimum criteria will have higher chances of getting admission to the university over those with an IELTS score lower than the minimum criteria. Even if someone’s band score falls short of the minimum criteria by 0.5, one would become ineligible for admissions. Hence, it is important for a student aiming for admission in the university of his/her choice to check the minimum IELTS score requirements under their admission criteria and aim to secure an IELTS score equal to or higher than the minimum specified.

What is the TOEFL Test?

The TOEFL iBT test assesses a candidate’s ability to combine listening, reading, speaking and writing skills in the classroom.  Conducted by ETS, the full form of TOEFL is the Test of English as a Foreign Language. The TOEFL exam is widely available in the computer-delivered format called the TOEFL iBT (internet-based test). Candidates who are planning to appear for the TOEFL test would be required to pay US$190 as the fees for all three formats of the test, TOEFL iBT, TOEFL iBT Home edition and the TOEFL test on paper. The test measures your proficiency in the English Language.


When you choose the TOEFL iBT test to prove your English proficiency, universities take notice of you and know you’re ready to conquer.  The TOEFL iBT test is the world’s premier English-language test for study, work and immigration and accepted worldwide by more than 11,500 universities and institutions in over 160 countries. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons on the importance of TOEFL.

  • Around 10,000 colleges, universities, and institutions in over 130 countries worldwide recognize TOEFL.
  • Candidates can appear for this test as many times as they want.
  • One of the most preferred language proficiency tests in the world.
  • TOEFL score is valid only for 2 years.
  • TOEFL Score is accepted globally
  • TOEFL helps improve your language skills
  • TOEFL score supports your visa applications

Eligibility Criteria for TOEFL Exam

  • You should have passed 10+2 from any recognized Indian Board or University.
  • Study abroad aspirants planning to study in an English-speaking country that requires TOEFL as part of the admission process are free to appear for the test irrespective of their age.

Documents Required for TOEFL Registration

  • A valid passport including your name, photograph, and signature.
  • Original Aadhar Card

TOEFL Eligibility Score

In simple terms, a good TOEFL eligibility score is actually that score that is enough to get you admission in the university of your choice. Most international universities set off a cut-off TOEFL score as a minimum requirement that you must meet to become eligible for admission. The TOEFL exam contains four sections into which the test is divided. These sections test your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Each section carries a total of 30 points. So, the total score from the TOEFL exam is 120 points. If you wish to attain a moderately good score, you must achieve a minimum score of 80 in total while earning a minimum of 21 in each section. If you wish to attain a great score, you must score a minimum of 95 in total with a minimum of 24 in each section.

TOEFL Exam Format

The TOEFL iBT test contains four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.

  • TOEFL Exam Test Time- The Total duration of the exam is 3 hours. Actually, you plan for at least 3.5 hours, so you have 30 mins in hand for check-in.
  • TOEFL Exam – Overview of Test Sections
SectionTime LimitQuestionsTasks
Reading54–72 (in Mins)30–40Read the passage and give answers to questions
Listening41–57 (in Mins)28–39Answer questions to the brief lectures and classroom discussions
Break10 (in Mins)
Speaking17 (in Mins)4Talk about a familiar topic and present your opinion you read and listen to.
Writing50 (in Mins)2Read a passage or listen to a recording, write your response to it.

Final Thoughts!

It is mandatory for International students who are from a non-native English-speaking country seeking admission to universities abroad to provide scores on an English language proficiency test. IELTS and TOEFL are the two most common and widely accepted English proficiency tests. Hope this blog has made you understand the Importance of IELTS and TOEFL for admission to universities abroad and the major difference between them. If you’ve liked this blog post, please like and share it. Drop a comment!

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