6 differences between IELTS and TOEFL

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Both the IELTS and the TOEFL are English proficiency tests needed for either university entrance, immigration or work. They are designed for non-native speakers who need to show organisations around the world that they have a certain level of English.

Here are 6 differences between IELTS and TOEFL tests:

1. IELTS is British, TOEFL is American

At the end of the day, both exams test the same skills, however the IELTS is more recognised in countries such as the UK, Australia and NEW Zealand. The TOEFL is recognised by American institutions.

2. Accents

The IELTS uses a range of international accents for the listening compared to the TOEFL which mostly uses American accents

3. The length

The TOEFL test is 4 hours long and the IELTS test is 2 hours and 45 minutes

4. The structure

Although both exams test all 4 skills (reading, writing, listening & speaking), the format of the tests is very different. The IELTS is divided in to 4 categories and requires the candidate to write most of the answers. Therefore, good writing skills is a must. The TOEFL is a multiple choice test and doesn’t really require any writing on the candidates behalf but does require good analytical skills.

5. Online vs paper

The TOEFL test is taken on a computer even for the speaking part where you record what you say into a microphone. The IELTS test is all done on paper except for the speaking part where you are interviewed by an examiner.

6. General for immigration or Academic for work

The TOEFL IBT is recognised by both American universities and the American government if you are to use it for immigration purposes. However, there are two IELTS tests; general and academic. The general IELTS test is for immigration purposes or for work. Most universities require candidates to have the academic IELTS.

Which test you need depends on why you need it. If you are not sure which test is best for you, call us on 04 431 1232 and we will be happy to help you.


Jake has been helping people learn English for over 10 years. He believes that everyone should access to quality and affordable education. He worked in Europe and the Middle East as a freelance corporate language trainer before opening his own institute in Dubai in 2013.

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  • Ielt level 1 0556043820

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