IELTS (The International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are English language proficiency tests taken for higher education, employment, and migration to a country where English is the primary language. IELTS and TOEFL results are requirements of educational institutions, employers, professional associations, and governments. Test scores of IELTS and TOEFL are recognized by more than 10,000 organizations and 140 countries worldwide.

IELTS is owned by IDP (International Development Program) and British Council along with Cambridge English Language assessment. TOEFL is owned by ETS (Educational Testing Services). The test fee depends on which country the applicant takes the test in and ranges between $180 -$240.

These assessments are designed for non-native English language speakers to test their English language proficiency. These test scores determine if the applicant can join a college program or workforce in countries that require communication in English. High scores in these tests increase the chances of selecting the applicant. In most cases, it also provides eligibility for scholarships.

The minimum age requirement to take IELTS and TOEFL is 16 years, but in some countries, applicants above 14 years are also allowed to take the test. These tests are administered in authorized testing centers and are conducted in both online and pen/paper format. Applicants usually prefer the online medium over the printed tests. There are no limitations on the number of retakes for the IELTS test; a person can take these assessments more than once.

Types of IELTS Test
There are two types of IELTS tests, and the candidate per the requirement can choose any one of them. They are;

IELTS Academic It is taken by applicants who are interested in higher education or professional course registrations. The test is designed to evaluate whether the applicant is ready to begin the training or studying.

IELTS General Training The IELTS General Training test is for those who wish to enroll in training programs or migrate to English-speaking countries. This test measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context.

Difference Between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training IELTS consists of four sections : Listening section, Reading section,Writing section, Speaking section. Reading and Writing sections in the IELTS exam are different while other Listening and Speaking sections of the exam remain the same. TOEFL is only available as “TOEFL Academic” and can be taken for academic and migration eligibility.

Test Format IELTS and TOEFL tests contain four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, And Speaking. The Reading and Speaking sections are the same for IELTS Academic and General Training but there are a few differences in Listening and Writing sections as explained below.

Listening Test: It is designed to assess a wide range of listening skills. It tests how well an applicant understands the main ideas and specific information, the opinion, attitude, and purpose of the speaker. It also tests the applicant’s ability to follow the development of ideas. The test consists of sections such as a conversation between two people, a monologue on a subject, etc.

Reading Test: The purpose of this test is to gauge how well an applicant can comprehend main ideas, look for details, understand logical arguments, give inferences, and register implied meaning. The items to read in IELTS exams are different for Academic and General Training. The academic test includes texts taken from academic journals, books, and magazines, whereas the General Training test includes passages from newspapers, advertisements, and company handbooks.

Writing Test: It evaluates how the applicant organizes ideas, writes a response appropriately, uses a range of vocabulary. The writing test differs in the Academic and General Test. In the Academic Test, the applicant will be asked to provide a written description of visual information such as a graph or a diagram or an essay. In the General Test, the Applicant needs to write a letter, in response to a given scenario and an essay.

Speaking test: It is designed to assess the applicant’s spoken English skills. It tests the candidate’s ability to have a conversation when at work or an educational institution in an English-speaking country. It involves a general introduction, and then the applicant is required to speak on a particular topic given during the assessment. The speaking test is different in IELTS and TOEFL exams. In IELTS, the test is a face-to-face interview, but the applicant speaks into a microphone in TOEFL.

Test Schedule and Timings: IELTS and TOEFL are conducted around 50 times in a year and can be attempted almost every weekend.

Test Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS Questions: 40
Time: 40 mins
Questions: 40
Time: 60 mins
Time: 60 mins Time: 15 mins
TOEFL Questions: 28-39
Time: 41-57 mins
Questions: 30-40
Time: 54-72 mins
Time: 50 mins Time: 17 mins

Ranjan Khajuria