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IELTS vs TOEFL: WHICH IS BETTER?
If you are applying to university in an English speaking country and English is not your first language, you may need to meet certain language requirements dictated by the institution. In the majority of cases this involves taking a standardized test. There are two main English language tests accepted by universities around the world, IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). But the big question that faces students is; which one is better?
Both are English language tests aimed at pre-university students planning to make the step to higher education. Both evaluate how well you can combine your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. You have to pay a fee to take both tests, for both it can vary depending on where exactly you take the test but expect to pay between $150 to $250.
Although both tests ostensibly focus on the same thing, they do so in different ways, which is why so many students want to know which is better (and even more commonly, which is easier). One of the main differences is the speaking part of the test. For IELTS you are required to take this with an IELTS examiner face to face. For TOEFL the speaking test consists of six questions which you answer into a microphone. These are recorded and sent to an examiner to mark.
The scoring system is also different, with IELTS rating between 0 and 9, with halfway points in between. TOEFL gives a more numerical SAT-type grade, totaling your scores from all the areas. This gives an insight into another key difference. TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service, a non-profit US based organization, and conducts its test according to US English. IELTS is administered jointly by the British Council, the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and IDP Education Australia, and conducts its test in UK English. While the differences are not as great as some assume, accents and spelling variations can cause a problem for some students.
So which is better?
The answer really depends on you; what kind of learner you are and where you want to study. The question of which is easier is largely irrelevant as both tests will grade you accurately according to your level of English. TOEFL may tend to favor more abstract learners as many of the questions are multiple choice whereas IELTS may be more suited to concrete learners as it involves memory recall. The face to face speaking section of the IELTS may be daunting to some candidates who would be more comfortable speaking into a microphone
Finally, it may be necessary to check that your chosen institution accepts the test. Although both are accepted at more than 6,000 institutions and organizations worldwide, so there is a fairly good chance you will be able to use either, it is always necessary to check beforehand.
Have you taken either or perhaps both of these tests? Let us know your impressions, what you thought was good and bad about each test and most importantly which you would recommend. Your experiences can help fellow learners.
TOEFL vs. IELTS
The two main tests that check foreign language speakers’ English competency are IELTS and TOEFL. Although both tests are aimed at examining students’ knowledge and understanding of the English language usage, the two are by no mean identical and differs both in the delivery, scoring and difficulty.
The main similarity between the IELTS and TOEFL tests lies in the fact that they test students in three areas plus one additional skill. The three similar skill areas are writing, reading and listening; the area of difference is speaking in IELTS and ‘structure’ (sentence completion and error recognition) in TOEFL.
The scores calculation differs as well. IELTS tests are rated by the so-called ‘band’ scores (from 0 to 9 and the half-bands between) , which are given every section of the test and then are averaged for the IELTS band score. The latter is used by the universities and institutes as an admission prerequisite. In TOEFL numeral scores are assigned to different test parts and then totaled for the final TOEFL score.
One more significant difference between the IELTS and TOEFL tests is that the latter has its paper-based and computer-based version, which makes it easier for students to choose the kind of test and the time and the place of its completion which suits them the most. Although IELTS is developing a computer version of its test, doesn’t have it in use yet. Besides, speaking module must be completed in face to face manner or requires a high degree of technological development.
The final pressing question, which bothers the majority of the prospective test-takers, is which of the two is more difficult. There is no definite satisfying answer, for it depends on the knowledge and preparation of a test-taker, and tests itself (both tests change every time they are taken). However, it is generally believed that IELTS is more difficult because of its speaking section, where students are obliged to participate in something like an interview with a professional face to face. Besides, unlike the TOEFL test, IELTS doesn’t define strictly and exactly the criteria by which self-expression tasks of writing and speaking are judged, and listening and reading tasks tend to contain plenty of ‘tricky’ questions, as said by both teachers and students.
Nevertheless, such a question (which test is more complicated) is largely irrelevant, since most educational institutions clearly state what test the students must take in order to enroll in this very university, which means students usually know what they have to prepare for and should not lose time by developing fear for the speaking or any other test section. Practice and confidence always bring the most fruitful results.