If you are applying to a University or College in an English speaking country, like USA or the UK ,for example, and English language is not your first language, your institution may require that you take a test to prove your English proficiency.
The two mostly accepted standardized tests to certify one’s English proficiency are: The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing Systems). The TOEFL and IELTS tests are fairly different, and therefore some people will find that they are naturally better suited for one than they are for the other. This article will provide more information about these tests.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a respected English Language test, designed for non-native English speakers, who wish to study in an English speaking country.
IELTS was established in 1989. It is jointly owned and managed by the British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment and IDP Education, Australia.
The TOEFL was first developed by the National Council on the Testing of English as a Foreign Language, by a group of educators and government officials in 1962.
TOEFL and IELTS Acceptance and Availability
IELTS:As a proof of proficiency in English language, many universities worldwide and all universities and colleges in the UK accept IELTS test result. IELTS is accepted worldwide by more than 9000 institutions such as universities, corporations, immigration offices and international professional organisations. The IELTS is offered up to 48 times per year at test centers worldwide, and the number of annual test-takers is approximately 2.5 million.
TOEFL:More than 10,000 colleges, agencies and other institutions, including top universities in Australia, Canada, the UK, and USA, in over 30 countries accept TOEFL test result and Immigration departments, medical and licensing agencies and other organisations require this test result. Reliable statistics on the annual number of TOEFL administrations are not readily available, but over 27 million students have reportedly taken the exam since its inception in 1964.
The TOEFL and the IELTS both evaluate the same four main language skill areas (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), but in distinct ways.
The TOEFL reading section includes three or four reading passages of varying lengths, and the questions are all multiple choice (although some questions can have more answer options and correct answers than others). IELTS’ reading includes three sections, but there are more question types (including multiple choice, short answer, labelling diagrams, and matching information). The IELTS’ reading section on the academic test is different from the general test, with the former emphasizing books, journals, and newspapers and the latter devoted to more general resources.
The listening section of the TOEFL consists of 4-6 academic lectures (6 questions each) and 2-3 conversations (5 questions each). Question types include multiple choice with one or more than one possible correct answer, ordering of events, and matching objects to categories in a chart. IELTS listening has four sections of 10 questions each. The first two are based on social situations, while the latter two are dedicated to academic and professional life,with one exercise on each with a single speaker and a conversation. Test-takers write down their responses sequentially and then transfer them to an answer sheet (the last 10 minutes of this section is set aside for the latter purpose). The IELTS listening assessment is the same on both the academic and general test.
Students taking the TOEFL must complete two tasks on the speaking section: independent and integrated. The first requires test-takers to express their own opinions in spoken form, while the second asks students to synthesize reading, listening, and speaking. Spoken responses are preserved by audio recording. The IELTS speaking assessment, on the other hand, is an in-person interview with an official proctor (this portion of the IELTS need not be taken on the same day as the rest of the exam). The IELTS invigilator asks students questions about their lives, interests, and other general topics, and the student then has a conversation with the examiner about a provided topic. There is no distinction between the academic and general tests in terms of IELTS speaking.
TOEFL writing features two essays that require students to demonstrate competence in independent writing and integrated writing. The former requires test-takers to express and support their own opinions, while the latter is primarily devoted to written analysis of a given reading passage. The IELTS academic writing assessment, which is distinct from the general test, also has two tasks. In the first, students must write an essay describing a graph or chart. The second is devoted to common academic writing tasks, such as offering a solution to a problem, comparing and contrasting evidence, or evaluating ideas.
At two hours and 55 minutes, the IELTS can be a significantly shorter assessment than the TOEFL, which ranges from three hours and 20 minutes to four hours and 10 minutes.