Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS?: Internet searches reveal that a greater number of people are searching the internet for preparation tips for IELTS than for TOEFL. This is surprising considering that both testing systems are acceptable by over 10,000 academic and non-academic institutions around the world.
Reaching a required exam score in a test for English proficiency is a very important criterion for applying to study or work in various institutions and countries of the world where English is one of or the official language. This requirement is peculiar to applicants who are from places where English language is not the native language. There are different English proficiency tests but two of the well known ones are TOEFL and IELTS.
These tests judge the applicants level of mastery of the English language by evaluating their listening skills as well as their reading, speaking and writing skills. However, the approach that each testing system uses to achieve this end is quite different.
If you are faced with the dilemma of choosing between these two testing systems, you most likely would want to go for the easier one of the two. That is what this piece is about. By showing you how both tests are done, you will be able to make an excellent decision of which one is easier and indeed best for you.
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What are TOEFL and IELTS?
TOEFL stands for Test of English Language as a Foreign Language. It is a well known English language mastery test for candidates who are looking to study in higher institutions of learning abroad. The aim of the test is to evaluate the ability of candidates to communicate on a minimum level of English language. There are over 130 countries in which the TOEFL test is acceptable.
IELTS on the other hand, is short for International English Language Testing System. It is taken not just by applicants who are looking to study abroad but also by those who want to go abroad to work. Applicants who want to study abroad take the variety of IELTS known as IELTS academic while others who are migrating abroad for work take the IELTS General Training.
It is an adequate proof of English language proficiency in about 140 countries.
TOEFL and IELTS, Which is Easier?
There are a lot of divergent views on how easy or difficult these tests are. We shall examine them closely.
1. The Format of TOEFL and IELTS: IELTS is a short test compared to TOEFL. A major difference between these two test systems is the stipulated time for the tests. While IELTS lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes, the duration for TOEFL is 4 hours.
Also, unlike TOEFL, IELTS affords you the option of writing the answers to the test questions by hand. TOEFL requires that you type your answers. This may pose a challenge for candidates who cannot type or are not fast with the keyboard.
With IELTS, you get to view the questions ahead of the test. You would also be conversing with the examiner face to face as in an interview.
TOEFL uses computer interfaces for conducting tests. The test is in multiple- choice arrangement. You are provided with a number of options to pick the correct answer to a question from.
The arrangement of test questions and answers in IELTS is different. You may be required to fill in the gaps, make short sentences or phrases in answering the questions.
The approach of IELTS is one that seeks to cause the candidates to think creatively and display their ability to comprehend easily. However, TOEFL only looks to evaluate the analytical skills of the candidate and their ability to critically evaluate the available options.
2. TOEFL and IELTS Writing Sections: There are 2 writing questions in IELTS. One of the questions will require the candidate to represent the information supplied in a stipulated way. It could be to represent it as a graph, a table or chart. The other question is an essay question. The candidate will have to write about 200 words or a little bit above that on a given idea or topical issue.
The TOEFL test’s writing section requires the candidate to write an essay of 300 words or slightly more which is to be divided into paragraphs. The stipulated number of paragraphs is 5. This is for the first TOEFL writing question.
The second writing question under this assessment system will require you to read a recommended text from which you will get the ideas to answer the questions. The answers are to be at least 150 words and not more than 225 words.
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3. TOEFL and IELTS Speaking Sections: The speaking section of the TOEFL exam is usually done with a microphone which records the answers for evaluation by the examiners. It is an electronic- base exam. The specified duration for this section of the test is 20 minutes.
The speaking test of the IELTS is different. The candidate takes it face to face with the examiner. It lasts for 10 to 15 minutes.
You can choose to begin the IELTS test from the speaking section before going on to attempt questions from other sections. However, this is not allowed in TOEFL.
4. TOEFL and IELTS Reading Sections: There are usually a minimum of 3 and maximum of 5 questions which the candidate is required to provide answers to within 20 minutes for the TOEFL reading test.
The IELTS reading test comprises three questions and the answers can be in different arrangements. The candidate may be asked to fill in the empty gaps or write short notes.
5. TOEFL and IELTS Listening Sections: These two tests are very different in this section. The test for listening skills in IELTS involves the candidate listening to a recording and providing answers to the various questions at the same time.
For the TOEFL listening section, the candidate listens to audio recordings of lectures and takes notes then proceeds to attempt the multiple choice questions within an hour.
6. TOEFL and IELTS Scoring Methods: IELTS is assessed on a range of 1 to 9. The final result is the mean of the singular points scored in all the four sections. It is usually approximated to the nearest decimal. TOEFL on the other hand is scored as a single test and the highest score attainable is 120.
Other Important Factors to Have in Mind When Choosing Between TOEFL and IELTS
As much as the ease of taking and making a great score in a test is important, there are other factors that are equally important and which you need to have in mind when choosing which of these tests to take instead of the other.
1. University Requirement: It is of utmost importance that you find out which language proficiency test is required by the school you are applying to. This is the test you will have to take whether it is easier or not.
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2. Preparation Period: If you have very limited time to prepare for the language proficiency test, it is advisable that you go with the IELTS test. You only need about 1 month and a few weeks to get fully ready to ace the IELTS test but you will need to prepare for up to 3 months to be able to confidently attempt the TOEFL test.
3. Mode of the Test: While TOEFL is fully computer base, IELTS is more flexible, incorporating handwritten sections as well. If you are great with the keyboard, you can choose to go along with either TOEFL or IELTS but if you are better at hand writing, it is advisable to go with IELTS.
4. The Flexibility of the Exam Arrangements: The format of the IELTS test is more flexible. You can take the test over the course of a few weeks but the TOEFL test must be taken at once.
5. Acceptability of the Test: While both TOEFL and IELTS are widely accepted in over 10,000 countries of the world, some countries have special preferences. For instance, IELTS is the preferred choice of language proficiency test in countries like the UK as well as Australia but TOEFL is the widely accepted test in the United States of America.
Whichever of the tests you decide to take, both TOEFL and IELTS are acceptable by so many institutions and countries. The cost of taking these tests are relatively the same.
The choice of the test that is easier for you is based your personal preferences and abilities. If for example you prefer computer base exams, you should go for TOEFL and if you do not like to take the whole exam at once, you should consider IELTS as it allows you to take the language proficiency test piecemeal. You can also consider taking both tests if you have the means.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.