TOEFL and IELTS are two most popular variants if you need to pass an exam to prove your English language proficiency. What would be better to choose? How does each test look like? One shall consider each test before answering the question IELTS vs TOEFL.

TOEFL form

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is held by ETS, the same organization, which developed GRE (entrance exam to post-graduate school) and several other tests.

There is a TOEFL version on paper and in computer — TOEFL iBT, administered via the Internet. TOEFL iBT is the most widespread and received version. TOEFL lasts 3,5 hours and consists of four sections, where each section checks different fields of expertise in English language. One gets a score of 0-30 for each section. These grades are summarized, total grade of TOEFL makes up 0-120.

Reading - 36-56 (number of questions) 60-80 minutes (time)
Listening - 34-51 (number of questions) 60-90 minutes (time)
Speaking - 6 (tasks) 20 minutes (time)
Writing - 2 (tasks) 50 minutes (time)


There are three or four text fragments for reading, which the students shall read and answer the questions. There are also fragments from the university level textbooks, which make an introduction to the theme or subject. Three types of questions follow thereafter: standard questions with a choice of a lot of answers, questions, where the students shall insert words in proper places and questions, where information shall be defined in a correct way.


Section Listening consists of four or six records, which is followed by a set of questions. The records look like dialogues of students in everyday academic life, such as a classroom lecture or a discussion between two students or between a student and a teacher. Questions may have several variants of response to put events in order or compare objects.


The first two tasks are independent assignments based on own ideas, opinion and experience of the student.

The remaining four tasks are integrated. The students shall use more than one skill for the answer of this type. And namely:

  • two integrated tasks when the students must read, listen and speak thereafter.
  • the second two tasks when the students must listen first and then speak.

Written TOEFL

Section "Writing" consists of 2 tasks: integrated and independent writing. Students have to listen to the record and read a text fragment within the course of integrated writing. Then they have 20 minutes to summarize and compare information they received from two sources. The answer volume shall be 150-225 words.

Students get a subject for independent writing and they must express their opinion on it based on examples. It must be not less than 300 words for 30 minutes.

IELTS form

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) — is one more exam in English managed by the British Council and IDP:

IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.
There are two versions of IELTS: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.
IELTS Academic is for students being enrolled in the Bachelor's degree program and Master's degree program.
IELTS General Training is developed for people intending to immigrate to the English-speaking countries.

Total test time makes up 2 hours 45 minutes. IELTS has the same four sections as TOEFL, but two exams are aimed at testing sections in a different order.

You can get from 0 to 9 points in each section in IELTS. General point is average and is also from 0 to 9 points.

As compared to TOEFL, which one shall pass immediately, you can pass section "Speaking" in IELTS at your discretion - one week before or one week after other sections.

Listening - 40 (number of questions) 30 minutes (time)
Reading - 40 (number of questions) 60 minutes (time)
Writing - 2 (tasks) 60 minutes (time)
Speaking - 3 (tasks) 11-14 minutes (time)


You will hear four records (two in ordinary social context and two of them in academic context). One shall answer 10 questions of several types after each record: multiple choice, comparing, completion of the sentence, etc.


The student will be suggested three text fragments for reading, where each fragment is followed by 10-15 questions. The fragments are taken from books, magazines and newspapers. They can be of different style, such as narrative, descriptive and/or logically reasoned.

Questions will be of various forms as in section "Listening".


There will be two written tasks. Task No. 1 requires from the students to describe a fragment of visual information in own words (for example, scheme, table or diagram). Not less than 150 words in 20 minutes.

Task No. 2 suggests the students a subject, usually it is a point of view in a dispute or discussion.
A student has to write not less than 250 words on the subject in academic style within 40 minutes.


Section Speaking includes an oral interview of three parts with the examiner.

- Part 1: The interviewer asks the student about his/her job, family, studies and interests.
- Part 2: The interviewer gives a card with the topic. The student has one minute to prepare and then he/she must speak for two minutes and answer additional questions thereafter.
- Part 3: The student and the interviewer continue discussing the topic from part 2 in detail for 4-5 minutes.

TOEFL vs. IELTS: what is better to choose?

To make a decision one should answer the question: what exams are accepted/preferred by the universities and colleges, in which the student is interested in.

Both TOEFL and IELTS are well-spread in the whole world. TOEFL is most commonly accepted by the American institutions while IELTS is most commonly accepted in other countries, however many higher educational institutions accept certificates in both exams.

The second factor of importance is logistics. If the testing centre of one of the exams is located closer to you and/or one of the exams can suggest a better variant of available dates for testing, this will help you to make a decision.

Both IELTS and TOEFL test the same four main sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing, but tests differ in form and the way of skills check. You can also pass a trial test for each exam and consider what is more convenient for you.

Canadian educational institutions

You can choose your own option for study
Kitchener (Ontario province) in 80 km from Toronto
Toronto, Ontario province
Vancouver, British Columbia province
London, Ontario province
Toronto, Ontario province
Ontario province
Vancouver, British Columbia province
Winnipeg, Manitoba province
Toronto, Ontario province
Toronto, Ontario province
Welland, Ontario province
Burnaby, British Columbia province
Brampton, Oakville and Mississauga
Barrie, Ontario province
Winnipeg, Manitoba province
Winnipeg, Manitoba province
Toronto, Ontario province
Toronto, Ontario province
Lennoxville, Québec province


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