A lot of people that have a high English level are looking for get a proficient English certification to access to university or, starting a professional career. For these cases, there are two tests most relevant and useful than the others, IELTS and TOEFL. We want to explain you how do they work and the main differences.


International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores are accepted by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including universities, employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies. It recognises both British and American English in terms of spelling, grammar and choice of words. It also incorporates a mix of native speaker accents from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US in the Listening component.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is recognized by more than 9,000 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries, including Australia, Canada, the UK and the United States. It is conducted in American English (it doesn’t suppose any problem if you normally use British English) and it suits better with academic purposes.

Both are exams to demonstrate that the learners can confidently use English. They are both recommended to who are looking to work or study abroad and in international business. But there are some differences between them. So, let’s check it!


TOEFL exam questions are almost entirely multiple choice so, the students will need to be able to think analytically to weigh up the differences between their options;
whereas IELTS requires you to respond to a range of different question types such as short answer, gap-filling and short essay tasks, so it requires more use of memory, and draws on broader comprehension skills as students are faced with different question styles.

Both of them assess speaking, writing, reading, and listening.

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The IELTS speaking test is taken face-to-face with only one examiner and it takes about 11-14 minutes.

In the TOEFL exam, the leaner will answer six questions into a microphone which are recorded and later sent to a group of six reviewers and it usually takes 20 minutes.

The writing test in the IELTS is composed of two parts. The first one makes the learners summarise or explain information presented in a graph, chart, table or diagram. In the second, they will need to write a 200-250 word response.

The TOEFL writing test is based on two tasks too. The first of which will be a five-paragraph essay between 300-350 words. For the second task, they will need to take notes from a section of text and lecture excerpt on the same topic, and use them to construct a 150-225 word response.


The reading tests for both exams are quite similar, they are 20 minutes long and they are made up of 3 sections, but the IELTS has a wider range of question types that could be anything from ‘fill in the gaps’ to short answer.

IELTS students can answer questions whilst they are listening to the recordings, and will need to respond to a number of different question types and exercises of different lengths.

The TOEFL test is between 40-60 minutes long, and involves listening to excerpts from university lectures or conversations on a university campus. The student will be required to take notes whilst listening and answer a series of multiple choice questions afterwards.

These are the principal differences between IELTS and TOEFL. Now, is your decision to choose one of them and work hard to get your certification! Good luck! 🙂


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