English Students On Campus

Do you need to take an English proficiency test to apply for college, a scholarship, or even a job?

Or do you need to take IELTS? Or TOEFL?

So many students ask us the difference between IELTS and TOEFL and which one they should take.

In this article, we show you the differences between the IELTS and TOEFL tests. We discuss when they are required, how they are conducted, what skills are tested, and how the tests are scored.

Similarities

Although there are differences between IELTS and TOEFL, there are some similarities between the two.

  • Both are international standard tests that are used to check your English ability.
  • Both tests measure your and Reading skills and Listening Skills.
  • Other skills tested include Structure, Speaking and Writing depending on the test.

Differences

Now that we’ve discussed some brief similarities, buckle up because it’s time to move on to the differences!  

1. Who requires the test?

IELTS is widely accepted in universities in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and in some Asian countries as well. However, it is also accepted in the US and Canada.

TOEFL is widely accepted by universities in the US, Canada, and some universities in Asia.

Many international universities accept both IELTS and TOEFL iBT test results.

Some universities in Indonesia also accept TOEFL Paper Based Test (PBT) or TOEFL Institutional Testing Program (ITP) results.

So make sure to check which test is required by the institution you are applying for.  

2. What are the different types of IELTS tests?

Not only is the IELTS test different from the TOEFL test. There are also different types of IELTS and TOEFL tests!

IELTS also has two types of tests, or more commonly known as modules.

  • Academic IELTS Module – for those who want to study in university or pursue higher education
  • General Training IELTS Module – for those looking for work experience or non-academic use. 

3. What are the different types of TOEFL tests?

There are three types of TOEFL tests:

  • TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test). This is the official test that is mostly widely accepted by international universities.
  • TOEFL PBT (Paper Based Test). Accepted in certain universities in Asia, including Indonesia.
  • TOEFL ITP (Institutional Testing Program). Quite popular in Indonesia.

We won’t go into the differences here as we discussed them in depth in our article TOEFL iBT vs TOEFL PBT: which is best for you?

4. What skills are tested?

  • IELTS tests listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
  • TOEFL iBT also tests listening, reading, writing and speaking.
  • TOEFL ITP does not test writing or speaking but it does test structure and written expressions.

5. What is the duration?

  • The IELTS test is about 3 hours long in total, comprising:
    • The Listening Module (40 minutes)
    • The Reading Module (60 minutes)
    • The Writing Module (60 minutes)
    • The Speaking Interview (about 10-20 minutes)
  • The TOEFL iBT test is about 4.5 hours long, and it consists of:
    • Reading Comprehension (about 60-80 minutes)
    • Listening Comprehension (about 60-90 minutes)
    • Speaking (about 15-20 minutes)
    • Writing (about 50 minutes)
  • The TOEFL PBT (otherwise known as ITP in Indonesia) is about 2 hours long, and consists of:
    • Listening Comprehension (about 30-40 minutes)
    • Structure and Written Expressions (about 25-30 minutes)
    • Reading Comprehension (55 minutes)

6. How the skills are tested?

Listening & Reading

The IELTS listening and reading modules have varied question types and tasks.

The tasks in IELTS listening and reading include:

  • Completing forms/notes/table/flow/chart/summary
  • Multiple choice
  • Short-answer questions
  • Sentence completion
  • Labelling a diagram/map/plan
  • Classification
  • Matching

There are three question types that only appear in the IELTS Reading module, which are:

  • Choosing paragraph headings
  • Locating information
  • Identifying writer’s view

The TOEFL listening and reading modules consist mainly of multiple-choice questions.

TOEFL iBT reading module question types include main ideas, details, inferences, essential information, sentence insertion, vocabulary, filling out tables, and completing summaries.

For TOEFL ITP reading module question types include main ideas; stated, unstated, and implied details; vocabulary; and locating information.

Writing

The IELTS Writing module consists of two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2.

  • IELTS Writing Task 1 (Academic Module) requires you to write at least 150 words explaining a graph, table, chart, process, or map. You will be presented with factual information and asked to select and report the main features. It is recommended that you spend 20 minutes on this task.
  • IELTS Writing Task 2 (Academic Module) presents a point of view, argument, or problem; and you will be asked to write an essay in response. You should write at least 250 words in length and it is recommended that you spend 40 minutes on this task.

TOEFL iBT Writing also consists of two tasks called integrated and independent tasks.

  • The integrated task takes 20 minutes and requires you to read a passage on an academic topic, then listen to a lecture on the same topic, and then summarize the important points from the lecture and explain how they are related to the reading passage.
  • The TOEFL iBT independent writing task is similar to the IELTS Writing Task 2 essay. You are given a short statement and you have to state your opinion and support your arguments with examples. This task takes 30 minutes to complete.

Speaking

The IELTS Speaking Interview has three parts.

  • In Part 1, you are asked general conversational questions on topics familiar to you such as home, family, hobbies, education, work, and others. This takes about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Part 2 requires you to talk for a longer time about a specific topic. The examiner will give you a card with a specific topic and key points that you should talk about. You have 1 minute preparation time to make notes, and you should speak for 1-2 minutes on the topic and key points. In total, this part lasts takes about 3-4 minutes.
  • In Part 3, the examiner asks further questions related to the topic given in Part 2. Here you need to express your opinions and arguments about these talking points. This part takes about for 4-5 minutes.

In TOEFL iBT, speaking takes about 15-20 minutes and consists of four questions: one independent and three integrated.

  • The first question is the independent question, which requires you to express your opinion on familiar topics.
  • In questions 2 and 4, you have to read a short passage, then listen to a lecture or conversation related to college or university life, then synthesize what you read and listened to in order to answer the questions.
  • Question 3 is similar to question 2 and 4, but without reading.

7. How are the tests graded?

TOEFL iBT gives you scores for each module. These scores are then added to give an overall score.

SkillScore RangeLevel
HighMediumLow
Reading0-3022-3015-210-14
Listening22-3014-220-13
Speaking26-3010-250-16
Writing24-3017-230-16
Total0-120 

IELTS, on the other hand, gives you an overall band between 0 and 9, including half scores with the following guidelines.

Band ScoreSkill Level
Band 9Expert user
Band 8Very good user
Band 7Good user
Band 6Competent user
Band 5Modest user
Band 4Limited user
Band 3Extremely limited user
Band 2Intermittent user
Band 1Non-user
Band 0Did not attempt the test

Each IELTS module also gets an individual band score ranging from 0 to 9, and the overall IELTS band score is the average of the four module band scores. So for example, you might get the following score:

Listening 6.5 Reading 7.0 Writing 6.0 Speaking 6.5 Overall 6.5

There are some tables we can use to convert TOEFL iBT into IELTS scores and vice versa, which look like this:

IELTSTOEFL
9118-120
8.5115-117
8110-114
7.5102-109
794-101
6.579-93
660-78
5.546-59
535-45
4.532-34
0-40-31

We have discussed the differences between the IELTS and TOEFL tests (in particular the TOEFL iBT test).

If you want to guarantee success in the IELTS or TOEFL test, please contact us at IELC to see how we can help you achieve your goal.

We have helped thousands of people achieve their IELTS and TOEFL targets and we would love to help you too!

We guarantee that we offer the best Online and On Campus IELTS Courses and Online and On Campus TOEFL Courses in Indonesia.

So contact us to get your FREE consultation now and take your first step towards success in IELTS or TOEFL!

Sincerely,

Anthony McCormick,

IELC Managing Director