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IELTS vs TOEFL: Which One to Choose?

Updated on 11 September, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

toefl vs ielts

IELTS and TOEFL are English proficiency tests accepted by universities globally. Universities across the world require applicants from non-English speaking countries to provide proof of their English language skills. The scores of these tests act as evidence of English expertise.

Students often have doubts in their minds while deciding on the test they should take. These doubts may include – Do universities prefer a particular test? Which is better, TOEFL or IELTS? In which test can they score higher?

Read this guide to know the answers to all of these questions. This post is a complete breakdown of all the information related to TOEFL vs  IELTS. Keep reading!

Introduction to IELTS

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a standardized English proficiency test recognized all over the world. It is taken by non-native English speakers who want to study, work, or immigrate to countries where English is a native language. The IELTS test also has two types – General and Academic.

The IELTS General test is suitable for candidates who want to migrate to countries where English is a primary language. The IELTS Academic test is designed for candidates who want to study or work in English-speaking environments in another country. IELTS measures English skills in four sections – reading, listening, writing, and speaking. The band score ranges from 1 (non-user) to 9 (advanced user).

The three sections of the IELTS testreading, listening, and writing can be taken in a single period of 150 minutes without a break. The speaking test is scheduled up to a week before or after the three sectional tests. Applicants need to attempt the IELTS test in the same format within the same time limit. The speaking test is a face-to-face interview round with an examiner. 

Introduction to TOEFL

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is an English language proficiency test accepted by more than 150 countries of the world. It is considered for work, study, and immigration purposes across Asia and Europe. Over years, this test has been taken by over 27 million people including students, workers, and people wanting to migrate to other countries.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) has also launched the TOEFL essential test. It is taken for academic and non-academic testing of English. This test examines the English communication skills of students and the scores of the test remain valid for two years.

The TOEFL test comprises four sections – reading, listening, speaking, and writing. There are two types of TOEFL tests, one is an online test and the other is paper-based. Before moving on to the differences between the two, it is important to know that these tests check your understanding of the English language. So, if your basics of English are strong, you can easily score well.

Download E-Books for IELTS Preparation

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IELTS vs TOEFL – Which Test to take?

Many students face the dilemma of choosing the right test for themselves. This can be resolved if you understand your purpose well (work, study, or immigration). The IELTS test is a mix of essay questions and answers, whereas, the TOEFL test has multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in some segments. Also, the IELTS test can be completed in 2 hours and 45 minutes while the TOEFL test requires four hours.

Another difference between TOEFL and IELTS tests is in terms of scaled scores. The TOEFL score is assessed on a scale of 0 to 120 while the IELTS score ranges from 0 to 9 band scores.

In IELTS, each section is graded separately from 0-9 and then an average score of all sections is combined. That means, if you’ve performed well in one section there are chances of good scores in the final average. But in TOEFL, each section is marked from 0 to 30, providing a performance-based report according to every section.

The main difference between IELTS vs TOEFL is in the speaking section. If candidates feel more comfortable while communicating with a real interviewer, they can take IELTS. The interview lasts for around 14 minutes and is conducted face to face like a regular conversation.

TOEFL’s test has speaking tasks. Your responses are recorded via microphone and sent to the ETS for evaluation.

Simply put, both IELTS and TOEFL tests check the communication skills and proficiency of candidates. You can choose any of the tests by keeping the mentioned differences in mind.

TOEFL vs IELTS: Which is More Accepted?

Both IELTS and TOEFL are accepted by universities and organizations all over the world. While the IELTS test is the most accepted one, TOEFL is commonly accepted by American institutions. However, certain universities have a preference. You should check the requirements properly.

TOEFL Accepted Countries list

Almost every English-speaking country accepts the TOEFL score. More than 150 countries and 11,000 universities accept TOEFL scores. It is the same for many international organizations. The major countries that accept the TOEFL score include:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • France
  • Germany

IELTS Accepted Countries list

More than 10,000 universities, organizations, and colleges across 140 countries accept IELTS. But, most candidates choose IELTS to study, work and immigrate to countries like the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and the US. Some of the countries that accept IELTS are:

  • Canada
  • USA
  • New Zealand
  • UK
  • Ireland
  • Australia

Can I Study Abroad Without IELTS?

Many students dream of studying at world-class institutions but they do not want to apply for expensive IELTS, TOEFL, or other language proficiency tests. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has made students rethink their plans to study abroad. Some students also feel studying overseas is a long process that requires lots of money and paperwork.

With the commitment of delivering high-quality education, upGrad Abroad – India’s largest education technology provider has launched study-abroad programs. upGrad’s programs enable learners to study one year online and one year on-campus at the best universities in the world. These programs cost only 1/10th of regular on-campus studies. With this program, learners have a chance to explore the best courses from the top universities of their choice at very pocket-friendly costs.

For more information related to the study abroad programs, you can visit our website. You can also leave your queries in the comments section.

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IELTS Score For UK

IELTS For Australia

IELTS Score for New Zealand

Study in UK Without IELTS

Study in Europe Without IELTS

Study in USA Without IELTS

Universities in Canada Without IELTS

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Study in Ireland Without IELTS

Study in France Without IELTS


Important Resources For Duolingo & TOEFL Exam

Duolingo Exam Eligibility

The Duolingo English test does not require any academic transcripts or certificates for qualification. Anyone willing to assess his/her English language proficiency can take the test from any part of the world.

Duolingo English Test Eligibility

Duolingo Exam Pattern

The Duolingo English test pattern is planned and designed using Data Forensics and Artificial Intelligence technology to maintain the clarity of the test.

Duolingo English Test Pattern

Duolingo English Test Fees

The Duolingo exam fees are significantly lower than IELTS and TOEFL because of its unique testing pattern.

Duolingo Exam Fees

Download IELTS Preparation Guide For Free

Get to know about the latest updates on the IELTS Exam, Eligibility, Preparation Tips, Test procedure,  Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Registration Process, Important Exam Dates, and much more!! This guide is a one-stop solution for every IELTS Aspirant who aims to crack the exam with an impressive band score.

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.