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  • Writer's pictureBurak Aydin


When assessing your English language proficiency for academic or professional purposes, two prominent tests often come to mind: the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). These tests are widely recognized and accepted by educational institutions, employers, and immigration authorities worldwide. In this article, we will explore the key features of both tests to help intermediate-level English speakers decide which one suits their needs better.

Overview of IELTS: The IELTS is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. It assesses four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The test is available in two formats: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The Academic module is typically required for higher education institutions, while the General Training module is usually required for immigration and work purposes. IELTS uses a band score system ranging from 0 to 9, with 9 being the highest proficiency level.

Key Features of IELTS:

  1. Wide acceptance: IELTS is recognized by over 10,000 organizations in over 140 countries, including universities, immigration agencies, and professional bodies.

  2. Real-life contexts: The test focuses on practical language skills required for everyday life, academic study, and work.

  3. Face-to-face speaking test: IELTS evaluates your speaking ability through a face-to-face interview with a certified examiner, providing a more interactive and personal experience.

Overview of TOEFL: The TOEFL is developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). It assesses English proficiency specifically for academic purposes and is commonly used by universities in English-speaking countries. The test measures four skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The TOEFL uses a scoring system from 0 to 120, with each section scored individually.

Key Features of TOEFL:

  1. Widely accepted: TOEFL scores are accepted by more than 11,000 institutions in over 150 countries, including universities, colleges, and government agencies.

  2. Internet-based test: TOEFL is conducted online, allowing test-takers to complete all sections on a computer. This format is convenient and provides quick results.

  3. Academic focus: The test emphasizes academic language skills, such as reading complex texts, listening to lectures, and writing essays.

Choosing the Right Test: When deciding between IELTS and TOEFL, consider the following factors:

  1. Purpose: Determine the purpose of taking the test. If you are applying to a university, check the specific requirements of your chosen institutions to see which test they prefer.

  2. Format: Consider your comfort level with test formats. If you prefer face-to-face speaking evaluations, IELTS might be a better choice. If you are comfortable with computer-based exams, TOEFL could be more suitable.

  3. Location: Check the availability of test centers in your area. Depending on your location, one test might be more accessible.

  4. Preparation: Evaluate the availability of study materials and resources for each test. Look for sample questions, practice tests, and preparation courses that align with your learning style.

Ultimately, the choice between IELTS and TOEFL depends on your circumstances, preferences, and goals. Both tests are widely recognized and accepted globally but differ in format, scoring, and emphasis. Researching the specific requirements of your target institutions or organizations and considering your strengths and weaknesses in each language skill is crucial.

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