IELTS/TOEFL

Choosing between IELTS and TOEFL has become a headache for many students. Which exam is more difficult is a question many have asked.

First of all, IELTS and TOEFL are two different forms of English proficiency test. IELTS is short for International English Language Testing System, which the University of Cambridge ESOL (The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate-UCLES), Australian Universities International Development Agency (IDP Education Australia) and the British Council (for non-native English speakers of English proficiency exam the British Council) jointly organize. IELTS is divided into two types, namely the General Training Module (usually for immigrants) and the Academic Module (usually university applicants).

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is an English proficiency exam provided by the Educational Testing Service (often referred to as ETS) for students who would like to apply to universities in the United States or Canada. It is mainly the American English that you will hear on TOEFL exams, which is easier for students who are educated in North America.

Secondly, IELTS and TOEFL focus on different aspects of the students’ English ability. IELTS test focuses on testing the viability of the candidates in English-speaking countries, which is the essentially revolve around life applications. TOEFL test focuses on the normative and academic English language usage. The requirement of vocabulary for IELTS test is not very high compared to other English tests; it mainly focuses on the practical vocabulary. However, TOEFL vocabulary has a higher requirement, yet the vocabulary will help students in their studies in universities.

Thirdly, the structures of IELTS and TOEFL are also very different, though they both consist of speaking, listening, reading and writing; TOEFL is about 1.5 hours longer than IELTS. TOEFL is given over the computer and internet whereas IELTS is done on paper. Lastly, the speaking part of IELTS is done with an examiner who records students’ answers, and during TOEFL, students speak to a microphone.

Finally, IELTS and TOEFL are different in each section. IELTS reading exam time is 60 minutes, including three articles of 1500-3000 words each. TOEFL reading exam has less number of words in the articles, and more importantly, it is easier for students to find answers in the original text. In writing, the difficulty is similar in both, but it is more difficult to get a high score in IELTS exam. The IELTS markers are not as open to the “templates” of writing as the TOEFL markers are; therefore, it is easier for students to get a higher mark in the TOEFL writing by utilizing the structures often taught by teachers. In terms of speaking and listening, if students are more familiar with American English, they are better off taking TOEFL; on IELTS, you will hear various types of accents during the listening section. However, the drawback in TOEFL listening and speaking is that students do not have time to preview the questions.

Overall, TOEFL exams emphasize on the note-taking skill, which is essential in the university learning environment. Therefore, students will gain more long-term benefits from preparing for TOEFL.

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