IELTS vs TOEFL: Which Test Is Right for You?

TOEFL vs IELTS Which One Is for You

PI - Prepare IELTS




TOEFL and IELTS are the world’s most popular and widely known English language proficiency tests. Are you wondering which one would be best for you? Read this blog to help you decide between the two!

Criteria to Decide Between TOEFL vs IELTS

The first question that comes to mind when seeing a requirement for proof of English proficiency is which test to opt for: TOEFL vs IELTS. They differ in several aspects, despite seeming like they are interchangeable. The primary question you must ask yourself to make this decision is - where do you want to go? The English requirements may vary by country or university.

The IELTS exam which the British Council manages, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English, is recognised across the United Kingdom and most of Europe. At the same time, TOEFL is accepted by a majority of universities in the United States of America and is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). Here is a list of the major differences between the two tests:



The difficulty level depends on your language competence and prior knowledge. It is very subjective as some applicants find IELTS easier while others find TOEFL easier. To determine how tough the test will be for you, it is essential you get to know the test format and task types. You can do so with resources like training courses, webinars, coaching apps, and practice tests.



What is your purpose for taking the test? IELTS has a distinct advantage here: you can choose from two types – Academic & General. IELTS Academic is mandatory when planning to study or work abroad. When measuring your ability to cope in day-to-day life, IELTS General would be best for you. Consult with the university to which you intend to apply beforehand to help you choose the right IELTS test. Choose between IELTS and TOEFL also based on your core objective. 


Delivery Method

You will not find substantial differences in how the TOEFL vs IELTS tests are administered. TOEFL, like IELTS, comes in two formats. Online versions of both tests are available so that you can take them in your comfort zone. TOEFL provides a Home Edition test to allow you to feel comfortable and in your own space. IELTS has also recently launched an online version.


Level of English

An accurate comparison between TOEFL vs IELTS can be a slightly daunting prospect. However, the right degree of compatibility can still be obtained with the sort of levels usually needed. Such levels can be referenced with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) as a worldwide benchmark.

IELTS results are given as band scores, ranging from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the best), while TOEFL scores range from 0 to 120 points (the highest). Below is a table that shows how these align with one another:

Level CEFR IELTS (9.0) TOEFL iBT (120)

Basic user







Independent user















Proficient user
















Now, as you can see above, the IELTS exam can demonstrate proficiency up to the C2 level, while TOEFL can only test you up to the C1 level. A native-level English speaker will not benefit from taking TOEFL.

Aside from this, there is one more question: How long are TOEFL or IELTS scores valid? The results of both tests are valid for 2 years. You must take them again after this period. 


Test sections

Both TOEFL and IELTS have sections on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They vary in the task types they use to assess these skills. The TOEFL listening module is in MCQ format, while the IELTS listening section uses a variation of MCQ, maps, notes, and matching, among others. Similarly, the reading modules of TOEFL and IELTS differ as one has MCQs and the other comprehensive questions. 


Speaking skills

The speaking section is the most significant difference between IELTS and TOEFL. Answering questions in the TOEFL exam requires speaking into a microphone. In contrast, participants in IELTS have a one-to-one interview with an IELTS Examiner, making IELTS Speaking interactive and as real as it gets.



TOEFL takes 3 hours and 30 minutes, while IELTS takes 2 hours and 45 minutes. 

Knowing the timings well in advance helps you plan your arrival and departure.

Be aware that exam conditions are meant to test your ability to stay seated, answer tough questions, and keep your focus. 



Depending on your chosen delivery method, the time taken to receive TOEFL and IELTS results may vary. The IELTS Test Report Form (TRF) method depends on whether you choose the online or the paper-based test. An online TRF can take 3-5 days, while paper results usually take 13 days. Unlike IELTS, TOEFL results can take 7-10 days. 



IELTS registration is simple, and payment can be made in your native currency either online or offline. Here's how much the tests cost in India.


Computer-delivered IELTS: 16,250

Computer-delivered IELTS for UKVI: 16,500

Paper-based IELTS: INR 16,250

IELTS Life Skills (A1 and B1): 15,350

IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration: 16,500

$195 (INR 15,997)

Tips and other test takers’ experiences

Although IELTS is the most popular English language proficiency test worldwide, you should interact with other IELTS participants to know their experiences with the test process. In addition to all the above information, note that the IELTS exam may be useful for master’s or doctoral degrees.


By the end of this comparative guide, you should be aware of the difference between IELTS and TOEFL. Carefully decide which test to take based on your plans. We hope we have provided you with helpful insight into TOEFL vs IELTS. If you need further guidance, please contact Prepare IELTS (PI) expert counsellors. Our team of education experts is dedicated to providing you with the best guidance in preparing for the IELTS Exam.

You can get on a one-to-one free counselling session online via our platform. Contact us at or call us at +91 9773398388.


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