Ielts vs Toefl Test: Which is Easier to Study Abroad?

To study in an English-speaking country abroad, many schools will require that you take an English Language test like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

This is to ensure that you are proficient in the English Language to undertake your coursework successfully.

You might be wondering which of the tests to take, considering the easier one.

In this article, I will provide you with all you need to know about IELTS vs TOEFL test and which is easier.

IELTS vs TOEF: All You Need To Know

As an International student who is not a native English speaker, schools abroad want to ascertain your English Language proficiency.

To achieve this, you are required to write one of the popular English tests for international students.

These English Language tests include IELTS and TOEFL.

Meeting the minimum test score requirement is essential for you to receive an unconditional admission offer from schools abroad.

IELTS is an English proficiency test that evaluates your proficiency in British English. It is acceptable in many schools with English-taught programs globally. The test provides an option to choose between writing either online or on paper.

TOEFL tests your knowledge of American English. It is also widely accepted in various academic institutions around the world. It has evolved from paper tests to Computer-Based Tests (CBT) and finally to Internet-based tests (TOEFL-iBT).

Ielts vs Toefl Test: Which is Easier to Study Abroad?

Before registering for the English proficiency test, find out the exact English test that your school of choice requires.

Some schools abroad give you the option to write either IELTS or TOEFL and meet their minimum band scores on any of the tests.

So, let’s establish some facts about the English Language proficiency Tests, IELTS, and TOEFL to enable you to make an informed decision.

IELTS Sections And Scores

The IELTS test has different sections for you to write on and this comprises the listening, speaking, writing, and reading sections.

The test has two variations that you can choose from, the general and the academic IELTS.

If you are planning to study in a school abroad, you have to write academic IELTS. This is because it is specifically for students and professionals.

The general test has people who are travelling abroad for work and migration reasons as its target.

As an international student, you can write either computer-based or hand-written in-person IELTS in any of the partnering test centres.

There is another option of taking the IELTS test remotely. However, the immigration authority only accepts in-person test scores.

The IELTS writing section usually contains two tasks to write on. It can be an essay and or letter with a specific word count.

This section targets you to demonstrate your communication skills.

The listening section of IELTS focuses on testing your ability to listen, understand, and interpret spoken English.

You are to answer the 40 questions in 3 sections in 30 minutes.

To pass the listening section, pay attention to the questions, the instructions, and the spelling.

Attempt answering all the given questions, since there is no penalty for failing any of the questions in the IELTS listening section.

You have only 10 minutes to get your answers into the answer sheet.

The speaking section usually comes a week before or after the fixed date for the IELTS.

It can take place online or face-to-face with an examiner who asks the question. It can be in the form of a two-way discussion.

You can request the examiner to repeat any question if need be. Ensure you answer the questions fully.

The reading section of IELTS involves reading 3 articles and answering 40 questions within 60 minutes.

You are to write your answers directly into the answer sheets as you will not receive additional time to transfer your answers.

To score high in the IELTS reading section, you need to master the act of skimming, scanning, intensive reading, and analysis.

IELTS test score has a score band of 0-9 which increases in the band of 0.25. The total test score is the average score in each section.

It takes 3-13 days to receive an IELTS score. Whatever the case, the IELTS test score is valid for use for only two years.

After which you are to write another IELTS if you need to use the test scores. You can register for the test through the British Council and International Development Program (IDP Education).

You can apply to some of the best UK postgraduate scholarships for international students.

TOEFL Sections And Scores

Just like IELTS, TOEFL also has four sections that test your skills in speaking, reading, writing, and listening.

The educational Testing Service (ETS) that organizes TOEFL provides free and premium resources for your learning to help you get a high-test score.

Every school and program have a minimum test score that you need to meet.

To this end, you can access self-paced courses, tutors, study materials, and practice tests to prepare you for TOEFL on these four sections.

You have 35 minutes to read and answer two passages in the TOEFL reading section.

Each passage of about 700-word length has 10 questions for you to answer in the reading section.

For the writing section of TOEFL, you have to read the given article quickly. After which you listen to a lecture on the same topic as what you read earlier.

The listening section has a pattern of giving the opposite of the initial reading.

After this, you are to write an article from your understanding of the reading and listening section.

Your second writing task is on Academic discussion. You are to cover the writing section in 29 minutes.

The test scores for TOEFL are measured in 12-point bands for each section. Your final score is the average score of the four sections.

Schools choose the minimum test requirements in half-band addition like 8.5 or 9.0 for the average test score.

Not only that, schools also set minimum test scores for certain sections of the TOEFL.

This gives additional tasks to TOEFL test writers to not only aim to meet the minimum band score for the program but also meet that of the sections.

It takes 6-8 days to receive a test score from TOEFL. You can get the result via three different routes including the data manager at ETS, e-mail, and the server feeds.

TOEFL test scores also last for two years. Some institutions that need your test score can require that ETS send the result directly to them.

As an international student considering taking an English proficiency test, note these differences between IELTS and TOEFL.

You can apply to some of the best USA postgraduate scholarships for international students.

The Main Differences between IELTS vs TOEFL

The major difference between IELTS and TOEFL is IELTS focuses on testing your English proficiency level in British English while TOEFL tests your proficiency in American English.

While IELTS has two versions which are academic and general tests, TOEFL focuses basically on academic English.

However, it still has two test variations; TOEFL Essentials and TOEFL-iBT.

The former focuses on half of both general and academic tests whereas TOEFL-iBT communicates 100% in academic English.

Another difference between IELTS and TOEFL is that IELTS requires that you write the test in any of the affiliated test centres.

But you can choose to write TOEFL from the comfort of your home or any accredited test centre in your location.

The time frame to receive your IELTS and TOEFL results is one of the differences between the two tests.

It takes 3-13 days for you to receive an IELTS test score, depending on the type of test. But, TOEFL takes 6-8 days to send your test score.

This implies that peradventure you should take the IELTS test within a short period when you need the result, you can easily access your test score shortly after writing the paper IELTS at a partnering test centre. 

IELTS vs TOEFL: Which Test Is Easier?

IELTS is widely accepted by 11,500 institutions in 140 countries while TOEFL is known in 12,000 institutions in 160 countries.

With this, it seems that TOEFL is more popular but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easier.

However, many English proficiency test takers prefer to write IELTS.

Know that for any of the tests to be easier for you, it is dependent on factors like your preparation, time management on the test day, prior knowledge of the English language, and the method of delivery of the test.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What are the IELTS test dates in Nigeria?

There are different IELTS test dates in Nigeria. Since there is no fixed test date for IELTS throughout the year, it is advisable to check on the website to see available test dates for you to apply on time.

2) What are the TOEFL test dates in Nigeria?

There are no fixed IELTS test dates in Nigeria. However, you need to visit the ETS website to find out the available dates for TOEFL and choose from them.

3) Which of these two tests is easier?

Between IELTS and TOEFL, there is no absolute conclusion on which of the English Language proficiency tests is easier.

But there are speculations that people prefer to write IELTS because you can either choose to write general or academic tests.


If you want to study abroad, you will need to write either IELTS or TOEFL. They are widely recognized.

The tests have major differences in their focus on either British or American English, their mode of delivery, and the different versions of the test.

The easier of the tests is subject to your preparation, chosen delivery mode, and time management on the test day.

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