Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are among the most popular English language proficiency tests accepted at universities worldwide. Students across the world strive to get eligible scores for either of the exams to get accepted into institutes or universities abroad with English education.

However, the tests and their scoring system both are different from each other. Therefore before choosing either of them, one must know the difference between IELTS and TOEFL. This article will introduce you to the primary difference between IELTS and TOEFL on the basis of their preparation and scoring system.

Difference between IELTS and TOEFL Scoring System

How does IELTS Scoring Take Place?

IELTS score is acceptable among all the United Kingdom’s universities. It is a certification of English language proficiency as the lectures there are most of the time in English medium, and therefore English proficiency becomes a necessity. Aside from the UK, IELTS score is also applicable to Canada’s universities and some other parts of Europe.

However, the score band requirement remains different for different institutes and the programs there. IELTS scoring is within a band between zero and nine, and sometimes including the half scores, to show your English language level. Here is the table of the band score and their levels of expertise.

Band score Levels
Band 9 Expert user
Band 8 Very good user
Band 7 Good user
Band 6 Competent user
Band 5 Modest user
Band 4 Limited user
Band 3 Extremely limited user
Band 2 Intermittent user
Band 1 Non-user
Band 0 Did not attempt the test

How does the Scoring of TOEFL Take Place?

TOEFL takes place by the name TOEFL iBT. Here, iBT stands for internet-based test and it is the latest version of TOEFL. It is the preferred entrance test for US universities and among the most widely accepted English proficiency tests for higher education.

Universities requiring TOEFL certification usually ask a specific iBT score for their respective eligibility. Although a university will demand an overall TOEFL score, it may be the case that they need a specific number of points in each section. Take a look at the scoring system of TOEFL iBT.

The TOEFL iBT test has different language ability tests. The test will assess your reading, listening, writing and speaking skills. Each skill is given a score, and these scores combine as the overall score.

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Section Scoring Level
Reading 0-30 High: 22-30

Medium: 15-21

Low: 0-14

Listening 0-30 High: 22-30

Medium: 14-22

Low: 0-13

Speaking 0-30 Good: 26-30

Fair: 18-25

Limited: 10-17

Weak: 0-16

Writing 0-30 Good: 24-30

Fair: 17-23

Limited: 1-16

Zero: 0

Total 0-120

The registration for TOEFL closes seven days before the test. Hence one should stay updated regarding the dates and fill the application as soon as possible. Advance registration is mandatory because there can be waiting lists for availability in some areas.

Difference Between IELTS and TOEFL Test Structure

What are the Different Sections of IELTS?

The IELTS exam comprises four sections:  listening, reading, writing and speaking section. All these sections are taken on the same day. However, you may choose to do the speaking section on the same day as the other sections, or up to a week before or after. Below is the description of all these four sections involved in IELTS.

  1. Listening: In the listening section of the test, you’ll have to listen to four recorded monologues or conversations. The duration of the test remains 30 minutes for listening and 10 minutes for writing up the answer. To perform well in the writing part, one should excel the listening part of 30 minutes
  2. Reading: The duration of this section is 1 hour, and it consists of three long passages to read.
  3.  Writing: In the writing section, you are asked to write a minimum of 150 words on the graph, table or diagram given in the question. After it, there is a question of a short essay task of 250 words minimum.
  4. Speaking: This section is of the least duration that is only 15 minutes. Within this section, you have to talk about a topic and answer other questions related to it. This section takes place face to face with an examiner who eventually decides the score.

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What are the Different Sections in TOEFL IBT?

TOEFL IBT consists of four sections that take place on the same day. It is a multiple-choice question paper with a duration of four hours. However, because of its long duration, it involves a mandatory break to be taken halfway through. The reading and listening sections may vary in length depending on the number of questions of the paper. 

  • Reading:
    This section is on a computer and consists of 36-56 tasks based on reading academic texts and answering questions on your comprehension.
  • Listening:
    This section is on a computer. It consists of 34-51 tasks based on listening to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, then answering questions on your understanding of them.
  • Speaking:
    There are six tasks in this section that are scored by a human assessor. The section lasts for 20 minutes.
  • Writing:
    This section is with a human and computer rating to get the best understanding of content and meaning. There are two tasks to complete in around 50 minutes.

How do I Know Which is more Suitable for Me? IELTS OR TOEFL?

Before choosing between IELTS and TOEFL, you should perceive the difference between the two as IELTS vs TOEFL, and then choose the one which wins for you. The following points will make you clear about the major differences between the two tests.

  • IELTS is a written exam, and if you doubt your handwriting or the writing speed, then one must avoid it. On the other hand, TOEFL IBT is an online choice based paper.
  • IELTS have general academic context or passages along with that of some newspaper or magazine passages. However, TOEFL has a high academic-based content, which means it has more challenging vocabulary and topics.
  • If you are shy talking in person, then TOEFL is best for you as during its speaking section you are asked to speak in front of a computer, unlike IELTS where the speaking section is in person.
  • TOEFL preparation may prove easier as you don’t have to score high in all the sections, as the scoring of each section is on a scale of 0 to 30, and it also provides a performance-based result. However, IELTS preparation becomes difficult as you have to pay equal attention to all the sections because the band is an average score of all the sections. Hence, not performing well in one section may make your total band suffer.

Both TOEFL and IELTS are the best two English proficiency tests to study abroad. However, you should choose sincerely between both. The suitability of the exams may vary from person to person. Therefore before opting between the two, one must consider the difference between the two. For more information on IELTS preparation, visit IELTS Ninja. They provide the students with custom plans to cater to their personal needs and also conduct one-on-one video lectures and mock-test series.

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