When you move abroad for your higher studies, you may encounter English Language proficiency tests as part of your immigration process. Among the accepted proficiency tests, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) stand out the most. Even though both these tests are accepted globally, there are some differences between the two. But now the question arises, "Which one of these is better for you specifically?"

To decide which test is a better match for your circumstances, we need to understand the differences between the two and also understand their significance. So, let's dive into the details and try to answer this important question through this blog!

IELTS Vs. TOEFL: The basic differences

Both IELTS and TOEFL are designed for similar purposes: to test the candidate's English language proficiency. However, there are many differences between them based on factors like the test format, scoring system, availability, administration, and acceptance. Knowing about these differences can help you understand each test better and thus choose the right one for yourself. Let's find out more about these factors:

1. Purpose and format

A. IELTS: It was designed and developed by the British Council, IDP, to prove the English proficiency of those moving abroad for academic or work purposes. There are two formats available for the IELTS course:

  • Academic training
  • General training

While academic training is required for those moving abroad for academic or professional regulation purposes, general training is for those moving for work or immigration purposes.

B. TOEFL: Conducted and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the TOEFL test is used for those candidates who are going abroad for academic purposes. The test consists of four different parts:

  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing

These four categories are specially designed to test the candidate's English proficiency.

2. Content and structure

A. IELTS: The basic structure of the IELTS exams evaluates candidates' reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. However, what's fascinating about the test is that the final speaking test is conducted face-to-face with an interviewer/examiner. The other three modules can be taken online or on paper, depending on the format.

B. TOEFL: Even though TOEFL has a similar structure to IELTS, including a four-section module that assesses reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, this test is entirely computer-based. Among the four modules, the listening and reading modules consist of multiple-choice questions. Speaking module can be taken by speaking into a microphone while writing can be done by typing it onto the computer.

3. Scoring system

A] IELTS: A candidate's IELTS test scores are recorded on a scale from 0 to 9 for each section and as an overall band score, with a half-band increment. Depending on where the candidate is applying, different institutions may have specific IELTS score requirements.

B] TOEFL: The TOEFL test scores are reported on a scale from 0 to 120, with every section worth 30 points. Similar to IELTS, various institutions may have different and unique score requirements for academic admissions.

4. Accessibility

A. IELTS: These tests are available in over 140 countries with multiple test dates every month, making IELTS accessible worldwide. The test also offers flexibility in choosing test centres and dates, so the process is fairly convenient for the candidate.

B. TOEFL: These tests are also widely available, but compared to IELTS, TOEFL tests are less frequent. With limited dates and test centres, the candidates may need to plan in advance to make sure that they secure a suitable test date and location.

5. Acceptance and recognition

A. IELTS: Recognized widely by institutions in major English-speaking regions like the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, IELTS is also recognised and accepted by many other academic institutions and employers globally.

B. TOEFL: Like the IELTS tests, TOEFL scores are also accepted by many universities and institutions worldwide. However, the United States particularly recognises TOEFL for academic migrations. For example, if you've applied to a US-based university and have booked your student housing in Los Angeles, your TOEFL scores may be a more accepted choice than taking an IELTS test.

6. Preference

A. IELTS: If the candidate prefers a more face-to-face interaction-based model and is comfortable with a paper-based exam format, IELTS might be the superior choice. If you're applying to an institution in countries where IELTS is more commonly accepted, this could have an advantage over TOEFL.

B. TOEFL: If the candidate is more comfortable with computer-based testing and speaking into a microphone for their speaking module, TOEFL tests might be a better choice. Especially if you're applying for institutions in the United States, where TOEFL is widely recognised, the test becomes an absolute necessity.

If a person moving abroad has a purpose and motivation for the move, both IELTS and TOEFL are widely accepted and recognised methods of checking a candidate's proficiency. However, factors like the test scoring methods, recognition in the applied institutions, content structure, etc., along with the candidate's personal preference, make all the difference. Based on these factors you can choose which test is a better choice for you and thus have smoother immigration paperwork.

How can amber help you?

amber student Accommodation helps you secure accommodation of your choice on your study abroad journey. Having served 80 million students (and counting), amber is your one-stop shop for all your accommodation needs, with great choices for student housing. Download the amber app from Google play store or App store to book an affordable home for your adventure.