IELTS and TOEFL are the two main English language proficiency tests required to be given by the students/others, who either want to go abroad for higher studies or want to migrate there for job/work purpose or wanted to apply for immigration. The objective behind the exam is to check whether the person/ student applying to go abroad in an English-speaking country knows sufficient English to communicate with the people there. If he/she doesn’t know the language then how will they communicate. So, these two exams are for the non-native English language speakers. If you want to study abroad then you have to pass at least one of these exams. But which exam you should apply for and what is the difference between these two exams is a big question for many students. In this article we will cover all the essential points required for the students to know the difference between IELTS and TOEFL before applying for these Tests. A complete description of both the Tests are given below:

What is the full form of IELTS & TOEFL?
IELTS full form: – International English Language Testing System.
TOEFL full form: – Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Who conducts IELTS?
IELTS is jointly managed and conducted British Council, IDP and IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.

IELTS Exam Details

Types of IELTS: –

  • IELTS Academic Test
  • IELTS General Test

IELTS was established in the year 1989. It is one of the two main English language proficiency tests, the other one is the TOEFL. Although, there are quite a few other exams too like PTE, CAEL, ITEP etc., but IELTS and TOELF are the two main English proficiency language tests in the word today for the non-native English speakers. Schools, Universities, Colleges, Institutes, workplaces, Companies, MNCs, Immigration Bodies of the foreign countries where English is the first language asks for the IELTS & TOEFL scores from the students and other people who want to migrate there for job or study purposes. Some countries ask for IELTS Score and Some countries ask for TOEFL Score.

IELTS conducts two types of exams, first is IELTS Academic Test and Second is IELTS General Test. Academic Test is for the students who are applying for international universities for higher studies and General Test is not for the students but for those who either wanted to apply for working visa or who want to permanently immigrate to the foreign country. So, if you are applying for immigration then you have to appear in IELTS General Test and if you are going to study abroad where IELTS score is acceptable then you have to appear in the IELTS Academic Test.

Which exam you should choose IETLS or TOEFL?

It depends upon university to university and it varies from country to country. Some universities ask for TOEFL score and some ask for IELTS score. For instance, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many other European countries ask for IELTS score. So, suppose if are interested to go for higher studies in UK, Canada or New Zealand and the university in which you are applying asking for IELTS score then you have to apply for IELTS test but if you are interested in studying in USA as most of the universities in USA asks for TOEFL iBT score then there you have to apply for TOEFL iBT Test. So, the point here is that which test you should apply for it depends upon the country and the university in which you are planning to study abroad. So, the students must enquire properly that which score is acceptable to the particular university in which you are applying for the higher studies. If the university is accepting IELTS score then you have to appear in the IELTS Test but if the university is accepting the TOEFL score then you should appear in the TOEFL Test.

Who conducts TOEFL?

TOEFL is conducted and administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) a non-profit organization. And it is exclusively meant for admissions to foreign universities unlike IELTS which is also applicable for job and immigration purposes. One of the biggest differences in TOEFL and IELTS is that TOEFL is exclusive for admissions to foreign universities and IELTS is applicable for both for studying abroad, jobs, and immigration purposes.

TOEFL was started in 1964 it is much older than the IELTS. And, it was developed by the centre for applied linguistics under the direction of Stanford University. The objective of conducting this Test was to resolve the problem of the non-native English speakers who wanted to enrol themselves into the universities of the USA. An international level council was formed in which representatives of over thirty countries participated and finally the TOELF Test was formulated for the screening of non-native English speakers. It is the test to check the ability to speak English of the non-native English speaker. The score of the Test is valid for two years.

In united states almost every university accepts the score of the TOEFL test. If the students wanted to study in any of the university of the USA, then this Test is like must for you. However, the Test is not mandator in fact IELTS is also not mandatory but if you are applying in the foreign universities, it is advisable that you should have to apply and clear this test before going abroad because it can help you at many stages like visa clearance, immigration and admission process. The Test is not mandatory as many universities has their own eligibility criteria for the admission of the students, however, it is an additional document which most of the universities demands during admission process. So, before heading to any foreign university it is advised that students should apply for these Tests as it is always better to be on the safer side.

It is on the discretion of the universities as in many universities it is mandatory and in many it is not. In many universities TOEFL is mandatory and in many it is not. There are other criteria as well to assess the students like academic Record, Letter of Recommendation, Statement of Purpose (SOP) and for many professional courses the score of other Exams is also very significant like GATE, GMAT, GRE, LSAT etc. These Tests are mandatory in many specialized and professional courses like management, law, engineering, and medicine etc.

Syllabus of IELTS & TOEFL

IELTS is a 2 hours 45 min Test and TOEFL is 3 hours Test.  In both the Tests your Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking skills will be tested. Reading section have English language passages based on which questions are asked from the applicant. Applicant have to read the passage and on the basis of the information given on the passage applicant has to answer the questions asked in the Test. The patter of question paper is quite different in both the exams. Like for speaking part in TOEFL you have to speak with a computer-based program however in IELTS you will be directly speaking to a real human being. So, the question paper and format are quite different in both the exams but in other way round the question paper of both the exams has 4 sections, listening, reading, writing and speaking. These question papers are prepared by the language specialists from different countries like Australis, New Zealand, UK, USA, Canada etc.

Format & Test Structures of TOEFL & IELTS

The TOEFL & IELTS were conducted in three formats, internet-based test (iBT), paper-based test (PBT) and computer-based test (CBT). The computer- based test (CBT) has been discontinued since 2006. But paper-based test is still conducted in some parts of the world. Mainly the online IELTS Test & TOEFL iBT both are internet-based exams.

IELTS Test Structure

  • Listening: You will be given four recordings to listen to the native English speakers and based on the recording you have to write your answers to a series of questions.
  • Reading: The Reading section will consist of 40 questions, designed to test a wide-range of reading skills of the applicant. The applicant will have to read the passages to find out the gist, the main ideas of the passage, to find out the details given in the passage, skimming and understanding the logical arguments and recognising opinion, attitudes of the writer and the purpose of the passage.
  • Writing: Topics will be of general interests that the students can easily comprehend who is applying for graduation, post-graduation or any higher studies courses.  Two tasks have been given in this section:
  • Task 1 – Applicant will be provided with a table, graph, diagram or a chart and asked to describe, summarize and explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe an object or an event as how this particular process works.
  • Task 2 – Applicant will be asked to write a formal essay about his/her point of view on a particular topic, argument or problem given in the question paper.
  • Speaking: This section tests your speaking skills. How articulately and fluently you speak the English language. Every test is recorded. This section has two parts.
  • Part 1 – In this part the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a series of familiar topics, such as family, work, home, studies, hobbies and interests etc.
  • Part 2 – You will be given a card and you have to talk about that topic. You will be given one minute for preparation before you will start speaking for 2 minutes. The examiner will then ask you two-three questions on that particular topic.
  • Part 3 – You will be asked further questions from the topics given in the part 2. You will have to elaborate the ideas and issues on that topic. This part will take around 4 to 5 minutes.

One thing applicant must remember that For IELTS Reading and Writing part there is a slight difference in the Academic writing test format and the General training Reading test format. Similarly, the Academic writing format is also slightly different from the General Training Writing Test format. A complete description of the format is given on the official website of the IELTS.

Both the exams have many differences from syllabus point of view and the methods of testing the language skills. In listening part also, you have to listen to a computer recorded voice and based on that voice you have to answer the questions. The last is the writing part, in writing part you will be asked to write a passage in which your writing skills will be tested.

TOEFL Exam Pattern

3–4 Passages

  • 700 words
  • multiple-focus passages (compare/contrast, cause/effect)
  • 10 questions for each passage

Time: 54–72 minutes
Score Scale: 0–30

3–4 lectures, some with classroom discussion

  • each 3–5 minutes, 6 questions each

2–3 conversations

  • each 3 minutes, 5 questions each

Time: 41–57 minutes

Score scale: 0–30

2 tasks

  • 1 integrated task based on what is read and heard
  • 1 independent task to support an opinion on a topic

Time: 50 minutes

  • 20 minutes for integrated task
  • 30 minutes for independent task

Score Scale: 0–30 points

4 tasks

  • 1 independent task to express an opinion on a familiar topic
  • 3 integrated tasks based on what is read and heard
  • Up to 30 seconds to prepare the response
  • Up to 1 minute to respond

Time: 17 minutes

Score Scale: 0–30 points

IELTS & TOEFL Score Boards

IELTS & TOEFL iBT both have different yardsticks and parameters to evaluate and mark the score of the applicants. TOEFL has 120 points marking scheme whereas the IELTS has NINE points band scale to mark the performance of the applicants. But the interesting fact is that there is no pass or fail concept in both the Tests. If you do not appear in the examination, you will get zero points but if you perform really good in the exam you can get 9 points also on the nine-point scale band of IELTS and in TOEFL up to 120 points.

For most of the foreign university admissions in which IELTS score is acceptable 7 points is considered to be a good score. Whereas in TOEFL iBT Test score is evaluated from 0 to 120 points. 30 points for each paper. More than 11,000 institutions in over 150 countries accepts TOEFL score.

IELTS Score Scale

Brand Score Skill Level Description
9 Expert user The test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
8 Very Good User The test taker has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.
7 Good User The test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
6 Competent User The test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest User The test taker has a partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.
4 Limited User The test taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
3 Extremely Limited User The test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2 Intermittent User The test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1 Non-user The test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
0 Did not attempt the test The test taker did not answer the questions.

TOEFL Score board

TOEFL has 4 scaled section scores and a total score of 120.

  • Each section has a score range of 0–30.
  • All these sections form together for a total score of 0–120.

Each skill has 4 or 5 proficiency levels, so where your score falls within that range tells you your proficiency for that skill.

Skill Level
Reading Advanced (24–30)
High-Intermediate (18–23)
Low-Intermediate (4–17)
Below Low-Intermediate (0–3)
Listening Advanced (22–30)
High-Intermediate (17–21)
Low-Intermediate (9–16)
Below Low-Intermediate (0–8)
Speaking Advanced (25–30)
High-Intermediate (20–24)
Low-Intermediate (16–19)
Basic (10–15)
Below Basic (0–9)
Writing Advanced (24–30)
High-Intermediate (17–23)
Low-Intermediate (13–16)
Basic (7–12)
Below Basic (0–6)

IELTS & TOEFL Exam Fee Structures

The fees for the TOEFL iBT is US$185 which is somewhere around Rs.14,000/- in Indian currency. The fee is non-refundable if you do not appear for the examination. But if you want to cancel the examination within a stipulated time period as given on the website then some amount could be refunded after deducting the administrative cost.

TOEFL Exam Fee Structure

Items Fees
Registration Fees vary by Testing Location.
Late registration USD40
Rescheduling USD60
Reinstatement of cancelled scores  USD20
Additional score reports (per institution or agency)  USD20 each
Speaking or Writing Section score review  USD80
Speaking and Writing Section score review  USD160
Returned payment  USD20

Kindly remember it is clearly mentioned on the official website that TOEFL exam Fee are subject to change without notice.

IELTS General and Academic Test Fee in Indian Rupees

Test Type Fee
IELTS on Paper and Computer (Academic and General Training) INR 14,700/-

For more information kindly visit the British Council official website that administers the IELTS exams in India. The link is given here

Registration Process

3 Steps process for IELTS Registration

To register for the IELTS the first thing the you need to do is go to the official website of the IELTS and read all the information available in the official website then afterwards follow the following three steps:

Step 1 – Find your nearest IELTS test centre. There are about 1,600 test locations in over 140 countries. The exams are always taken on the test centre so select the nearest test centre.

Step 2 – Start registration, fill the application form and pay the online fee and take out the print out to submit at your selected nearest test centre. And don’t forget to provide a copy of a valid document for your identity. The same document you have to show at the test centre on the day of the test.

Step 3 – Once your application is processed you will get a confirmation from your test centre of the IELTS exam date and time of the test. The fourth section of the test “Speaking Test” you can accommodate according to your choice like you can give it either one week before or after the other tests.

The link of the official websites to register for the IELTS and TOEFL exams are given below.

Registration process for TOEFL Test

The TOEFL iBT test is conducted around 60 times in a year at its authorized test centres around the world. Though the exams have been conducted plenty of times however applicants are advised to register at least 3-4 months prior to your desired test date because walk in registration at test centre is not permissible and the seats also gets filled very quickly.

Steps Before Registration 

Please collect all the information about the fee, mode of payment and keep the documents handy like your passport which will be required while filling the application form.

Confirmation After registration

Once you will complete the registration you will get a confirmation from your test centre. You can also check the details before the exams in your ETS account. Please verify the details of the date and timing of the TOEFL examination and whether the centre you have selected is correct or not. Once everything is set you can start preparation for the TOEFL examination.

How to Apply?

First create your account or Register with the ETS. Then in step 2 select the test centre and date and third and last is complete your registration form and make the payment. Applicants can also register by phone and e-mail. The information regarding the registration via phone and e-mail is given on the official website. To know the details interested aspirants can click on the link given below;


TOEFL iBT Home Edition

Since the Pandemic has hit the world the TOEFL has developed its Home Edition also. Now students and applicants do not need to go to go anywhere they can apply and appear in the TOEFL Test while sitting at the home only. The content and format of the Test is same as it is taken at the test centre. You can give the test from your home computer only but you will be monitored by a human proctor online through ProctorU. This facility is available 24 hours a day, 4 days a week, with appointments as early as 24 hours after your registration. To know more on the TOEFL Home Edition you can check out the official website the link is given here