What is TOEFL and IELTS?

“Test of English as a Foreign Language” or commonly known as “TOEFL” and “International English Language Testing System” otherwise known as “IELTS” are the two most popular and widely accepted exams taken by everyone who wishes to pursue studies/employment abroad; to prove their English proficiency. The decision to take which test depends on a variety of factors and ultimately should be decided by the test taker which suits him best.

The scoring for TOEFL is on a scale of 120 marks each section of 30 marks each, whereas the IELTS is graded on a scale of 9 band. Scores are given after at least 12 days from the exam date.

How important are these exams?

If a person is planning to study at any level after high school or is seeking employment or immigration to any country, they are required to give these exams.

The TOEFL is generally used as an entrance exam for graduate schools and universities and therefore offers only the academic section. Whereas, IELTS can be used as an entrance exam and also for immigration purposes, hence it has academic and general section respectively.  IELTS exams are conducted 48 times a year and TOEFL have around 3-4 test dates available each month.

Comparison between the sections:


The listening section of TOEFL is 41-57 minutes long and consists of 3–4 lectures with 6 questions each
and 2–3 conversations containing 5 questions each. Unlike TOEFL, IELTS is only 30 minutes long and has 4 sections with 10 questions. Test takers get additional 10 minutes after the audio to transfer the answers from the question sheet to answer sheet. Question types include multiple choice with one or more than one possible correct answer, ordering of events, and matching objects to categories in a chart. Accents that you might hear during the listening are Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, British English and US English


TOEFL reading contains 3-4 passages to read and 10 question each passage to find the answers cumulating a total of 50-72 minutes. Question type includes define a word which is a minuscule vocabulary test, identify the idea and find the false statement. IELTS, this section comprises of 40 questions in three passages each for 20 minutes, with varying styles of questions that incorporate short answer and fill in the blank that cover different aspects such as, reading for details and main themes, skimming, coherent contentions and perceiving the writer’s opinions and purposes. The IELTS general reading differs from the academic one, as the academic focuses on topics related to books, journals, newspaper and literature whereas general reading consist of more generic topics.


The writing section of both tests requires the candidate to write two short essays based on the topics given. As for IELTS the writing section is for 60 minutes, task 1 for academic section includes a graph or chart that’s needs to be paraphrased into short essay of 150 words within 20 minutes. As for general writing, you need to write a letter for 150 words. The task 2 requires you to write a response of 200-250 words to an argument stating your point of view within 40 minutes. The TOEFL writing tasks require students to demonstrate their competence in form of integrated and independent writing task. The integrated writing requires you to read a short text about a topic and then listen to a two-minute lecture about the same and then summarizing the context in 200-225 words within 20 minutes. The independent task entails you to write an essay of 300-350 words on the given topic within 30 minutes. The huge contrast between the two tests is that for the TOEFL, the essay must be typed on a PC, while the IELTS must be written manually on paper. If you have a good typing speed, you will be more comfortable taking the TOEFL. For IELTS you should consider how good your handwriting is – if your handwriting is difficult for the examiner to read, they might deduct points.


Students taking the TOEFL must complete four tasks on the speaking section: 1 independent and 3 integrated cumulative of 17 minutes. The first requires test-takers to express their own opinions in spoken form, while the second asks students to read and listen, and form a response to the recording and passage. Each section will include some time for preparation before recording the answer. The big difference between the speaking sessions of both test is TOEFL speaking is recorded on a microphone, whereas IELTS you need to speak English to a person face-to-face. The IELTS speaking is conducted as a normal conversation, wherein the instructor asks you questions and records your answers for evaluation. You are asked general questions, after which a topic with cue cards is presented to you and you get a minute to prepare and speak for 2 minutes on the topic. Another discussion related to the topic takes place, the entire speaking lasts for about 11-14 minutes.

To know more about which countries prefer what exam, preparation time as well as a demo session of the lecture, please call us and book an appointment here: http://imperial-overseas.com/contact.php

Ms. Jessita Gonsalves

Trainer & Counselor 

Imperial Overseas Education Consultants

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