When you are going to a country to study, work, or are immigrating into that country, you will need to have an understanding of the language which is spoken by the people there. Language proficiency tests like TOEFL or IELTS perform the task of checking the understanding of the English language in people who are visiting English-speaking countries.

If you have decided to go abroad for study, but not able to decide which language proficiency test to write. Do not worry as we will help you decide between the most popular language proficiency tests

In the article below we give you an overview of the two most popular English language proficiency tests. We will analyze TOEFL vs IELTS, by giving an outlook on the differences between the two. 

TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language:

TOEFL exam is designed to test the proficiency of students in the English language. TOEFL was developed by the same organization that developed GRE(an exam for grad school admissions). TOEFL has several versions, some of which are paper-based and some computer-based.

Related: TOEFL Exam 2024 Guide 

We will consider TOEFL iBT to compare with IELTS which is conducted over the internet and is the most accepted version of the TOEFL test.

IELTS Exam: 

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and is owned by the British Council and IDP. IELTS is widely accepted in UK and Australia. Almost all the best universities in the United Kingdom accept IELTS.

Related: IELTS exam 2024

IELTS has two versions namely academic and general training. While IELTS general training is for people who are going abroad for work experience or for secondary education, IELTS Academic is for people applying for higher education or to work. We will consider IELTS academics in this article as it is concerned with undergraduate and postgraduate admissions.

Read More: How to prepare to IELTS

TOEFL vs IELTS Differences:

Though both tests are for checking English language proficiency, there are certain differences between the two. The students need to have clarity between the two before they decide to prepare for the exam. Below is the table, where we look at some common differences between the two:


Differences based on




Conducted by

Educational Testing services

 British Council and IDP education limited



Paper-based or Online(TOEFL iBT)

IELTS academic and IELTS general training



4 hours

 2 hours 45 minutes 


    Score range




    The average score required by many Universities




    How frequent is the exam conducted?

More than 50 times a year

48 times in a year


    Time taken for results

Approx 10 days after the exam is conducted

13 days after the exam is conducted


    Where is the score accepted?

    Accepted by more than 10,000 organizations worldwide. 

Accepted by more than 9000 organizations worldwide


   Exam Fee




    Format of the test is 




TOEFL vs IELTS Sections comparison:

We have seen a tabular comparison between the IELTS and TOEFL exams. Now let us have a look at an in-depth difference in each section of the two tests.

TOEFL vs IELTS Writing section:

For the writing section, the TOEFL and IELTS both will ask you to attempt two questions. For TOEFL, you will be asked to write an essay of up to 350 words, and the second question will ask you to analyze certainly given notes and respond in 150 to up to 230 words.

In the case of IELTS too, you will have two questions. The first one will ask you to analyze a given chart or diagram and retrieve information from it, the second question will ask you to take up an argument on the given topic in the question.

TOEFL vs IELTS Reading section:

The reading section will test the abilities of a student to read and understand English. For TOEFL you will be given 3 to 4 different passages with questions to answer, so as to assess your understanding of the passage.

For IELTS you will be either asked to give short answers to questions or fill the gaps in between sentences. This will test your ability of reading or understanding sentences in English.

TOEFL vs IELTS Speaking section:

In IELTS, you have the option of attempting a speaking section before the other sections, while in TOEFL you will have to go in a defined order. The speaking assessment for TOEFL will be recorded and then sent to the examiner, while in the case of IELTS you will have a face-to-face assessment with the examiner. 

The speaking assessment in the case of IELTS will be of 10 to 15 minutes, while it will be of 20 minutes for TOEFL.

TOEFL vs IELTS Listening section:

The TOEFL listening section will have a few classroom lectures and conversations which they can hear and then answer the questions that follow. They will have up to 57 minutes to complete this section. This section will test students' understanding of lectures and conversations.

The IELTS listening section will have recordings related to conversations or monologues. They will have up to 40 questions, which they can give while listening to the recordings. They will have the time of approximately 30 mins to complete this section. 

TOEFL vs IELTS- How to decide between the two?

You can read the above comparisons to decide between the two, but still, you will have some confusion. We have heard the unheard and listed a series of questions that you are bound to have, along with the answers to help you decide which test to write.

1. Which test is preferred by your school or University?

As you have started reading the different types of language proficiency tests, that means you might already have a University in your mind. Different Universities prefer different language proficiency tests, so if you have a university of preference you should consider checking with them about the test that they might prefer.

This is a very important question that you need to answer before you start preparing for your test. TOEFL is more accepted by the Universities in the USA, though there are also universities that prefer IELTS in the USA. Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand are some of the destinations where IELTS is more common.

Read More: Study in these universities without IELTS Exam

Despite the dominance of a certain test in a certain region, you should consider consulting with the university before proceeding with admission or starting preparation for the test.

2. The Exam that meets your strength?

As discussed above, there are many differences between the two exams, which means for some IELTS would seem easy whereas TOEFL would seem tough for them. That is why know your strength and choose the test according to your strength. There are some differences between the two tests which will help you choose the test that can sync with your strengths.

  • TOEFL has most of the questions in the form of multiple choice questions and you don’t need to write comprehensive answers. So if you are not among people who like to write detailed answers rather than choosing between options, then you can go for TOEFL.
  • If you are among those individuals who are good at typing and would prefer a computer over paper, then you can opt for TOEFL.
  • For people who aren’t that well versed in reading should prefer IELTS as the vocabulary used in TOEFL is a bit harder than the words that are used in the IELTS reading test.
  • For the speaking section, if you find talking to a real person easier than talking to a microphone, then you can choose IELTS, as the speaking test will be conducted in person for IELTS. For TOEFL, you will have to record yourself in a microphone.

3. Which test is cheaper?

Though there is not much of a difference in the cost of writing either of the tests. You would still want to find out the cost if you have the option of writing either of them and are confident that you can clear any of the two tests. The price may differ according to your region. Go to this site for checking the fees for TOEFL and this site to check the fees for IELTS.

We can conclude by saying that both the tests do have some differences as well as similarities. While TOEFL can be easy for a person, it may prove hard for some other person. So choose the test wisely according to your strength.

Comparison and Score Conversion between TOEFL and IELTS

When it comes to tests like TOEFL and IELTS for English, they score you in different ways. IELTS grades from 0 to 9, while TOEFL scores from 0 to 120. People often want to compare these scores. Using a conversion table from the official test makers can help estimate how you might do on one test based on your practice scores on the other. This helps understand how well you might do on both tests.

0-4 0-31
4.5 32-34
5 35-45
5.5 45-59
6 60-78
6.5 79-93
7 94-101
7.5 102-109
8 110-114
8.5 115-117
9 118-120

Getting Ready for University fee:

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