Comparing IELTS and TOEFL


Meridean Overseas

Updated On 13 February 2023 & Read Time 9 minutes


Unlike in India where you must appear for competitive entrance exams to enrol in a course or college of your choosing, abroad the process is less cumbersome. The only scores they look at are your English proficiency test scores and for good reasoning too. These scores will assist the admission committee of the university in determining if  you as a student from a non-native English-speaking country will be able to cope with their challenging course curriculum and mode of classroom conduction. In fact, testing for English proficiency is also good for you so you can know exactly where you stand before you take off to a country where you will be immersed in English 24/7!

The two most widely accepted proficiency tests are IELTS and TOEFL. But which one’s easier and which one should you test with? Let us help you take that call.


What is IELTS?

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is one of the world's most well-known English proficiency exams. It is used to assess students' ability to communicate in English for academic and non-academic purposes. In order to be admitted to the best overseas educational institutes and pursue an international education, one must pass the Academic-version of the IELTS. If you wish to seek employment or to immigrate to a native English-speaking country, you must test for the General version of the IELTS. This test is accepted by almost every university in Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Germany. 

Anyone from any nation may register and take the IELTS test. The IELTS is available in both an offline and an online mode. Both exam modes consist of the same questions and exam format. The exam is given in India between the months of July and August, and students can choose to register for any date and center most convenient to them.  The IELTS exam mainly consists of two types, IELTS academic and IELTS general training. Both types of IELTS exams consist of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is another widely accepted English proficiency test. It is accepted in around 130 countries and by over 900 educational institutions. This test is developed and operated by an American company, ETS (Educational Testing Service). The TOEFL iBT test measures a test taker's ability to combine listening, reading, speaking and writing skills.

There are no specific eligibility criteria prescribed by ETS for the TOEFL exam. However, students are advised to pass their 12th from a recognised institution before appearing for the TOEFL exam. The registration fee for the TOEFL exam in India is around 190 USD. Generally, in India, TOEFL is conducted in the months of May, June, July, August, September, and October.

Difference Between TOEFL vs IELTS

Below are some differences between IELTS and TOEFL exams.

Basis of Difference



Registration Date

Students can register online. Generally, centres close their registration a few days before the slot.

Students can register online or by mail, or by phone. You can register up to 4 days prior to the test date.

Availability of Test Slot

The number of tests per year is fixed.

It is offered more than 50 times in a year.


The total duration of the IELTS test is 2 hours and 45 minutes

The total duration of the TOEFL test is around 3 hours and 30 minutes


Students can give pen-paper as well as a computer-based test

Students can only give computer-based test

Score reporting

For the pen-paper test, it takes around 2 weeks, and for a computer-based, it takes around 5 to 7 days.

The test result takes around 10 days to come.

Score Comparison

A score between 0 to 9 band scale

A score between 0 to 120 scale.

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IELTS or TOEFL – Which is better for you?

In our opinion you are the best judge of what is good for you. Here are some more points to consider.


Reading Module


IELTS Reading Module

In the IELTS reading section, the difficulty level of the questions increases as you proceed. After each text, students have to answer 10 to 12 questions. It contains Multiple Choice Questions types, True- False- Not Given types (TNFG), etc.

TOEFL Reading Module

In TOEFL, the difficulty level of questions is the same. After reading a passage, students have to attempt Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) with 4 options in each question.


Listening Module


IELTS Listening Module

In IELTS, students have to listen to the passages very carefully and then answer the questions accordingly. There are a variety of questions asked in IELTS listening, including fill-in-the-blanks, matching the terms or and filling out a chart.

TOEFL Listening Module

The TOEFL recordings always require you to listen, take notes, and then view the questions and provide the appropriate responses. The TOEFL listening section only contains multiple-choice questions, and you just have to choose the right answers after listening to the academic lectures.


Speaking Module


IELTS Speaking Module

In the IELTS Speaking section, a human examiner will sit next to you. With this examiner, you will experience something akin to an interview. The IELTS speaking section lasts for about 11 to 14 minutes. Basically, there are three stages of conversation, stage-1 is an introduction, stage-2 is a long turn, and stage-3 is a discussion.

TOEFL Speaking Module

In TOEFL speaking, students will listen to 6 different types of tasks on headphones. After listening to those tasks, they just have to speak for around 45 to 60 seconds to respond to those tasks. This entire section lasts for about 20 minutes.


Writing Module

Task-1 in both tests is quite similar; students just have to write an essay. In IELTS, students have to write around 250 words of essay, while in TOEFL, students have to write between 300 to 350 words.


IELTS Writing Module

You are expected to describe the information provided in a table, graph, or chart as part of the IELTS Writing Task 2. IELTS Writing Task 2 requires specific preparation in order to be able to accurately use words related to movements, graphs, how to depict trends, etc.

TOEFL Writing Module

You are first instructed to read a brief text of three paragraphs or less. Typically, it is intellectual content taken from a textbook. After reading that for around three minutes, you listen to a lecture on the same subject. Then students have to respond to the question they pose by incorporating material from the reading passage and the listening segment (particularly, your notes) into a response of between 150 and 225 words.


The choice between IELTS and TOEFL for a student ultimately depends on several factors, such as the student's English proficiency level, the country they want to study in, and the specific requirements of the universities they are applying to. In terms of the format of the tests, IELTS is a more language-focused test, while TOEFL is a more academic-style test. It's important to consider which format you feel more confident in and would perform better on. Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose the test that you feel confident about taking, and to prepare well for it. You can find more information and practice materials for both IELTS and TOEFL online.

IELTS vs TOEFL – Score Comparison

The scores of both the tests, TOEFL and IELTS, are valid for 2 years. The TOEFL and IELTS equivalent scores are mentioned below.

























How to Prepare for either IELTS or TOEFL Exams

To prepare for both IELTS and TOEFL exams, you can follow these steps:

  • First decide which test you want to register for. 

  • Familiarise yourself with its format and structure 

  • Practise your English language skills, including grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and fluency.

  • Use official preparation materials, such as textbooks, sample tests, and online practice resources.

  • Get feedback on your writing and speaking by having someone review your practice tests, record yourself, and analyse your performance.

  • Simulate the real test-taking experience by taking full-length practice tests under timed conditions.

  • Stay organised and keep track of your progress.

  • Make a study plan and stick to it.


Q: Is TOEFL harder than IELTS?
A: The difficulty level of TOEFL and IELTS can vary depending on an individual's language proficiency. Both tests assess English proficiency differently, so it's not accurate to say that one test is objectively harder than the other. TOEFL is designed to test English language proficiency in an academic setting, and it focuses on evaluating a student's ability to read, listen, speak, and write in English. On the other hand, IELTS focuses on assessing a student's ability to use English in everyday situations and academic contexts.


Q: Which is more accepted by universities abroad, TOEFL or IELTS?
A: Both the TOEFL and IELTS are widely accepted by universities abroad as measures of English language proficiency. The choice between the two exams often depends on the specific requirements and preferences of the university and country you are applying to. In the USA, TOEFL is more widely accepted, while IELTS is more commonly accepted in the UK. However, both exams are accepted in both countries, and many universities accept scores from either exam. Students are advised to check the specific admission requirements of the university or institution they are applying to in order to determine which exam is preferred.


Q: Is TOEFL accepted in the UK and USA?
A: Yes, TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is widely accepted in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (USA) as a measure of English language proficiency skills. In both countries, many universities, colleges, and other academic institutions accept TOEFL scores as part of their admission requirements for international students.

Moreover, students who wish to study abroad may contact our expert counsellors at any branch of Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). You can also take free online counselling through our website. Our counsellors will provide you with the best support for the application, English proficiency exam, and SOP to take admission to abroad universities and for a visa. For more information or any queries, you can mail us at or call us at our toll-free no. 1800-1230-00011.

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