When it comes to studying abroad, almost every institution requires some form of standardized English proficiency test. These tests are designed to check the merit of the student as well as assess their English language capabilities. Students might complete their secondary education in their native language. However, English is one of the most common mediums for higher studies both locally and abroad. As a result, standardized tests like IELTS and TOEFL have become a staple for study abroad applications, especially in western countries. But which of these are better for study abroad? Let’s find out.
What is IELTS?
International English Language Testing System or IELTS is one of the more common standardized English proficiency tests. It is commonly used for educational, occupational, and immigration purposes. The exam is governed by the British Council, IDP, Cambridge Assessment English.
The IELTS score is valid in over 10,0000 universities, schools, and institutions across more than 140 countries of the world. The exam is applicable in both the USA and the UK so the examinee can use any of the spelling.
There are mainly two variations to the IELTS test – the academic one and the generalized one. Migration and occupational requirements are dealt with through the generalized system whereas the higher study aspirants are required to take the academic test.
What is TOEFL?
While IELTS is a generalized proficiency test for a range of needs, TOEFL is geared more towards the assessment of English communication in an academic setting. This is exclusively designed for students aspiring to pursue higher education in English-taught subjects at a foreign university.
TOEFL is exclusively conducted by the Education Testing Service based in the US. As a result, an examinee is bound to take the test in US English. TOEFL scores are accepted in over 8000 institutions of the world. The leading universities including the global top 100 also acknowledge TOEFL as a standard aptitude score.
The difference between IELTS and TOEFL
Even though IELTS and TOEFL are both standardized tests for English communication and proficiency, there are still some major differences between them. The main difference between them is the structure of the exam.
TOEFL exams are based on multiple-choice questions whereas IELTS requires you to show proficiency in a range of sub-topics like reading, writing, and speaking. The written exam also varies between short question answers, essay tasks, and fill in the gaps.
The IELTS exam may feel more intensive, but the duration of the TOEFL is much longer compared to the IELTS one. It takes 2 hours 40 minutes to take the IELTS test whereas it takes 4 hours to take the TOEFL one.
Since TOEFL is a standardized academic test, there is no variation to it except for the computer-generated one. However, IELTS has two variations depending on the purpose of the applicant.
The multiple-choice nature of the TOEFL exam makes it more analytical. Compared to that, the IELTS one is more like a memory-based competency test. It also focuses on the comprehension capabilities of the student to understand their general style of writing and speaking capabilities.
Factors to consider before choosing IELTS or TOEFL
Acceptance of the test
When an examinee is planning to take any of these tests, chances are they already have a college or institution in mind. It is important to find out which IELTS and TOEFL the college accepts.
A very high number of colleges across the globe accept both IELTS and TOEFL. The majority of the universities and colleges across the US prefer TOEFL to IELTS. However, it is still better to check beforehand, or else it will become pointless to appear for a test. The list of colleges and universities can be found on both IELTS and TOEFL’s websites.
Multiple choice or Short answer
An examinee needs to play on their strength when it comes to taking the tests. Some might be good at multiple-choice whereas others might be good at the descriptive type of answers. Considering TOEFL is almost entirely multiple choice-based, it can be a good choice for those looking to completely avoid coming up with an answer of their own. Those who are comfortable with writing descriptive answers compared to multiple-choice ones should go for IELTS.
Texts for the Reading section
The reading section is one of the more competitive aspects of both IELTS and TOEFL. The performance in the reading section can be a make-or-break aspect for many students. IELTS uses passages from the academic text as well as a newspaper or other excerpts.
However, TOEFL almost exclusively uses academic texts. As a result, the TOEFL passages are harder to understand with rich vocabularies. A student should assess their strength in reading skills to choose which one works best for them.
Computer-generated speaking test Vs Face to Face oral interview
The TOEFL speaking test is a computer-generated one. An examinee has to answer a series of the answers to their speaker which is recorded and assessed. Compared to that, the IELTS speaking test is a physical one with a one-to-one interviewer.
This can be a deciding factor while choosing IELTS and TOEFL. Some people might have a hard time speaking a foreign language in front of a person. This might significantly alter the performance and negatively impact the test scores.
IELTS requires a student to write a recommended 400-word essay in 60 minutes. On the other hand, TOEFL requires you to write a recommended length of 500 words in 50 minutes. It's not a strict rule to maintain the word count. But it is expected that an examinee will write a comprehensive response to the essay. So, depending on your writing abilities, it might be easier for you to take the IELTS test compared to the TOEFL one.
IELTS and TOEFL are both standardized tests designed to assess the English capabilities of the student. However, each of these holds an edge over the other in certain scenarios. The students who are willing to study abroad need to evaluate their own skills in English to pick the most efficient test. Before appearing for the exams the students should consider the prospects and structure of these tests carefully to achieve the best outcome possible.