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The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are both language tests used to evaluate the English-speaking skills of non-Native English speakers. They have four sections which include reading, listening, speaking, and writing. However, they slightly differ from one another which might be the reason for you to prefer one to the other.

Uses of the Tests

TOEFL tests candidates on only academic English while the IETLS comes in two versions, which are the academic version meant for students applying to study at tertiary institutions abroad, and the general test available for those planning to immigrate to English-speaking countries such as UK, US, and Canada to work or settle.

Test Result Duration

Both tests expire two years from the date you received the result. Therefore, you will need to ensure you use it soon for whatever purpose you want to avoid wasting your money. However, in some situations you may be allowed to use expired results (for example, you may be allowed to switch from a Tier-4 visa to a spousal visa in the UK with an expired IELTS result).

The Complexity of Both Tests

If you are an American English native speaker, you might find some questions of IETLS unfamiliar with your daily written and spoken English since it’s more of British English and vice versa. But luckily, you don’t get penalised using a British or American dialect. You only need to ensure your answers are correct, precise and fluent in the English language.

The TOEFL test requires candidates to use a recorder in the speaking session to explain opinions, interpret information, and so on. However, with the IETLS you need to give a short speech in person for the speaking section and a conversation.

Internet-Based Tests vs. Paper Test

TOEFL requires candidates to take the tests and submit through the computer, but this differs from the IETLS test which you can choose either to take it on the computer or paper. So, if you know you type faster and have unpleasant handwriting, consider TOEFL.

Multiple-Choice Questions vs. Short Answers

There is a difference between TOEFL and IELTS reading and listening section. TOEFL requires candidates to answer multiple-choice questions. Even when some questions don’t come with multiple choices, candidates are still provided with answer options. However, IELTS will require you to write your answers to the questions for some sections.

Reading Section Texts

Another difference between the two tests is the test they use in the several passages of the reading section. TOEFL only uses academic texts for its passages which contain challenging vocabulary which could make it difficult to understand the text.

IETLS being a combination of academic and general training test uses both academic texts and other entertainment texts taken from the newspapers or magazines. This makes the IETLS passages easier to comprehend.

Oral Interview and Computer-Based Speaking

In the TOEFL speaking section, the candidate gives answers to the recorded questions through the microphone provided in the computer. This section is also the third part of the test.

But with IELTS, you’ll have a face-to-face conversation with one of the exam officials. You can choose to either take the section a week before the exam or the last part of the test for that day.

Eligibility for Taking the IELTS Test

IETLS is the best language test for you if you prefer an in-person interview, tests with different question types such as multiple choice, true/false, matching, flowcharts, and fill in- the- blank.

It is also the best choice if you have clear handwriting and do not find it weird discussing leisure topics as opposed to academic. You should also prefer reading articles or watching programs that entertain rather than educate.

Eligibility for Taking the TOEFL Test

If you want to take the TOEFL test, ensure you are comfortable using computers and you can type fast and accurate. You should feel comfortable taking notes from a recorded message and speaking into a microphone.

You should also prefer tests with multiple choices and would also prefer reading or listening to informative things rather than entertainment. You also must be comfortable reading or writing American English.

However, most colleges or university you hope to apply to will have their preference which could be TOEFL or IETLS. Therefore, you should first contact them to know what they accept, so you don’t go for the wrong one and get rejected.

Other Data

Location Available at over 900 locations worldwide with about 59 in the US. In over 4500 locations worldwide and 500 in the US.
Score for each section 1-9 0-120
Price  $215-$240 $160-$200
Time length 2 hour 45 minutes About 4 hours

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Giovanni O.C Olakunori

Giovanni Chinecherem Olakunle Olakunori(commonly known as Giovanni Olakunori) is an aspiring data scientist at heart, business developer and educator with a deep interest in ancient philosophy, healthy living, and developing economies. He’s the founder of LarnEdu, a community that inspires and supports lifelong learning especially in underdeveloped nations. He currently lives in the UK after living in 4 other countries across Europe and Africa. You can read more about him or follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see his public posts about how much he loves hot Kenkey and Jolof rice.

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