Difference between TOEFL and IELTS

TOEFL and IELTS are two tests that are required for students wishing to go abroad for studies. These international standardized tests are for students whom first language is not English. For English countries like UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and others, these tests help Universities to assess a person’s aptitude in English. The scores of these tests are basis of one’s admission in the higher education institutes.  Acceptable by all of the Universities, these are must to clear to take admission. Students, who have failed to clear any of these exams, are denied to seek admission in the Universities.  These exams are important to clear for any non-English speaking students to get admissions in foreign Universities and assess students on the basis of the proficiency levels in reading, writing, speaking and listening, these have some basic differences mentioned below:

  1. TOEFL is conducted by a nonprofit organization called ETS whereas IELTS is governed and managed jointly by British Council, University of Cambridge and IELTS Australia.
  2. IELTS scores have limited validity in US as Universities in Canada and US prefer TOEFL.
  3. IELTS judges proficiency levels of students in British English whereas TOEFL in US English.
  4. In IELTS, students need to copy the conversation word to word played as a recording and answer the question based on this. In TOEFL, candidates have to answer multiple choice questions.
  5. The format of IELTS keeps changing whereas TOEFL remains the same.
  6. If the knowledge exhibited by student is well, TOEFL tends to ignore small grammatical errors whereas marking pattern in IELTS is strict.
  7. Students who are looking for vocational courses which are not much academic in nature, can take IELTS to seek immigration to English speaking countries whereas TOEFL doesn’t has such General version of exam.
  8. TOEFL focuses on North America region whereas IELTS has much larger scopes, various accounts and accents in account. So, if it’s not for a University in North American region, take IELTS so that your score can be validated across.
  9. The scores of IELTS are on the scale of 0 to 9 whereas for TOEFL, the scores are from 310 to 577. There is an online version of TOEFL as well with a maximum score of 120.
  10. TOEFL is longer with the duration of 4 hours whereas the duration of IELTS is 2 hours and 15 minutes.


  • no surprise here. the british are tight ass about their tests and create the worst nit-picking infinitive slicing tests on the planet. unrealistically rigid and  nuanced. oh, and Cambridge the leading language book publisher in the world must play a role in their constantly changing test formats cha-ching!

    • Pankaj Sureka

       That’s true. Now days IELTS agencies seem to have made a covert policy of making lack of transparency in Writing marking system as way of limiting score to 6.5 and never give more than that no matter how well you write. Thus because of its fair evaluation TOFEL is much better.

  •  Nice post about Score in IELTS it is very important information for students