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Doodle Nandi
19 May 2017 6K 2 mins Share

IELTS or TOEFL – Which is easier?

A million-dollar question: which is an easier test – is it IELTS or TOEFL that you should be taking for your overseas admissions. This article tells you which test could be more suitable for you.

19 May 2017 6K 2 mins Share
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Which is easier - IELTS or TOEFL?

Many students might feel IELTS is easier than TOEFL. Perhaps that’s right! Perhaps not!

TOEFL (iBT) is mostly accepted at the US institutions, although it is also accepted in many other institutions all over the world. On the other hand, IELTS is mostly accepted in the UK institutions, Australia and other Commonwealth countries.

A brief comparison:

Both IELTS and TOEFL have some similarities and differences. The similarities are –

  1. Both tests comprises four sections – reading, listening, speaking and writing.
  2. There are no separate sections to measure a candidate’s grammar in both the tests. 
  3. You can find four regional accents within US if you are taking TOEFL whereas if you are taking IELTS, you will find mostly British accent. Sometimes, you may find other accents in IELTS as well.

The major differences between TOEFL and IELTS are –

  1. TOEFL is an Internet-based exam, thus known as TOEFL iBT.
  2. IELTS is still a paper-based exam in most countries.   

To help you decide which is easier or better for you, you should first know about the test patterns of both.


  • You’ll talk to an examiner face to face in the speaking section.
  • IELTS accepts both Commonwealth and American spelling.
  • IELTS not only covers MCQs but also a wide range of question patterns to test your presence of mind and ability to grasp.
  • You can answer as you listen to a conversation in the listening section.
  • You’ll get a gap between the speaking test and other modules. So you can chill around!
  • IELTS lasts about 2 hours 45 minutes.


  • You’ll talk to a computer in the speaking section. It records what you say and an examiner assesses it afterwards.
  • You should be able to type ‘in a super-fast speed’ in the writing section of the TOEFL.
  • TOEFL exam covers only multiple choice questions, except for writing section.
  • TOEFL follows American spelling – so you should be careful with the basics, such as ‘toward’ not ‘towards’. The best source to learn American spellings could be ‘Merriam Webster’ dictionary.
  • You can answer only after listening to the entire conversation in the listening section.
  • TOEFL lasts for about 4 hours.

So which is easier? IELTS or TOEFL?

The precise answer is with YOU. You can ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I comfortable with UK English?
  2. Am I comfortable with talking to a computer?
  3. Can I write in a super-fast speed?
  4. Am I confident to deal with different question patterns? Or should I stick to MCQs?
  5. Will I remember the entire length of conversation and answer questions later (for TOEFL)?
  6. Do I have enough patience to sit for 4 long hours (for the TOEFL test)?

Note: In the IELTS test, the examiner assesses you seeing your expressions when you speak, but in TOEFL the examiner assesses based on what he/she hears.

Once you know answers to above six questions, it’ll be easier for you to decide which test you should be taking. However, both tests will grade you accordingly based on your calibre and English knowledge.

Why don’t you try both TOEFL and IELTS sample tests and see for yourself where you stand? You can start with our own IELTS Practice Test.

Additional info:

IELTS is accepted by nearly 10,000 organisations world-wide. However, there are some institutes that do not accept it:

  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Harvard University

In such cases, you should go for the TOEFL iBT test or which suits you the best. 

So which test will you take this year – IELTS or TOEFL?

Image credit: Language Learning Portal

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