IELTS vs TOEFL: Which is Better?

English is one language that is popular all around the world. You need to know this language in order to kick start your career. The most basic and most common requirement to get into a university, get a job or apply for an online course is to know English. Recruiters or Universities require a certificate to know that you have proficiency in the language. 

Some of the most trusted and credible certificates include the PTE academics (Pearson Test of English academics), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Level Testing System). 

There is always confusion about which exam to prepare for TOEFL or IELTS. Both these exams are equally relevant and valid in the world but it depends on various factors like destination, fee, accuracy, credibility, and recognition which exam you choose to take. Students also prefer to take up coaching online to train themselves for the exams. Tou can find the best offers on TOEFL and IELTS coaching with Exambazaar.


TOEFL has two types. One is paper based (TOEFL PBT) and the other one is computer based (TOEFL iBT). The differences between the two are as followed:

  1. PBT is paper based and iBT is computer based. 
  2. PBT has fewer questions than iBT.
  3. iBT has a speaking section and PBT does not have a speaking section.

iBT is preferred by universities as it assess of 4 sections of communication skills that are required in a language. People prepare rigorously for both the exams and many a times students start their  TOEFL preparations 3 months in advance.


IELTS also has two types. Both types are paper-based but they both are acceptable for different reasons. The two types are IELTS Academic and IETLS General Training. Academic is for people who are applying for higher education or a profession in an English-Speaking country. General Training is applicable for people who are traveling for secondary education or work experience. The focus for this blog will be IELTS Academic as that is the audience for the blog. 

Basic Difference between IELTS and TOEFL

The most basic difference between the two is the duration of the exam, the type of assessment, and sections of the exams. 

  1. Duration: TOEFL is a longer exam and lasts for 3 hours and 30 minutes. Whereas, IELTS is a shorter exam and it lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes. 
  2. Speaking Section: For IELTS, you can give the speaking test within a range of 7 days before or after the exam. It is considered a separate section of the exam. Whereas, for TOEFL, you need to give speaking with other sections of the exam. 
  3. Assessment: IELTS is tested in terms of the band from 0-9. All the sections are marked on this band and then all of them are averaged. TOEFL has a separate marking scheme for every section. Every section is marked from 0 to 30 and the final score will be between 0 and 120. 

How to decide between the two?

There are various aspects that you can consider before selecting between TOEFL and IELTS. We will be sharing those criteria below. 

What does your school say? Usually, the school you want to apply to, tells you which exam would they consider. For most US universities, TOEFL is more acceptable compared to IELTS. IELTS is more acceptable in the UK and Australia. Therefore, check the website of the university you have applied to and you would be able to find the required test there. 

If a university accepts either of the two, then you can consider the following criteria to pick the right test for yourself. 

There are some major differences between the two exams even though they test the same areas. You can consider the following differences to figure out which exam suits you best and are part of your strengths. 

  • MCQ vs Short Answer Question: In IELTS, you are going to have to write most of your answers in the reading and the listening sections, whereas, all the answer choices will be provided to you in the TOEFL exam. Hence, if you are someone who prefers MCQ, then TOEFL could be a better option to choose from. 
  • Computer vs  Paper-based test: As mentioned above, IELTS is given via pen and paper mode, whereas, TOEFL is a computer-based exam. If you are more comfortable on a computer, then TOEFL might be a better option otherwise IELTS should be your pick. 
  • Reading Comprehension: There is a reading section in both the exams. But the types of texts used by the two are very different. IELTS uses academic texts like pieces from academic magazines and newspapers. TOEFL uses articles with a little challenging vocabulary and harder concepts to understand. 
  • Speaking Test: In TOEFL, you need to talk to a computer, whereas, in IELTS, you talk to a real person. There are some people who find talking to real person difficult. Therefore, you can always opt for TOEFL over the IELTS speaking test.


Both the exams are equally acceptable and are equally hard to attempt. The decision of picking between the two is firstly based on your university. If they do not accept one of the two, then there is no comparison and there is no confusion. If you have an option to chose between the two, then I would recommend you to pick the one which you are most comfortable in. You can compare them based on the following:

  1. MCQ vs Short Answers
  2. Computer vs Paper
  3. Reading comprehension
  4. Speaking Test

We hope that this clears out all your doubts on which text to choose out of the two comprehensive tests.

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