TOEFL vs IELTS | What’s the Difference?

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Have you ever wished to study abroad and pursue your dreams? Do you have a destination already, or you’re still uncertain where you want to go? Perhaps you might want to know about TOEFL vs IELTS first.

You might be wondering by now what TOEFL and IELTS are and if they’re the same or not. Of course, the two have similarities and differences. Otherwise, they won’t be our subject for comparison in this blog.

Yes, in this blog, we will be talking about TOEFL vs IELTS. We’ll try to compare the two and see their similarities as well. So, if you wish to know further, take your coffee and scroll down!

TOEFL vs IELTS | The Definition


Studying abroad isn’t as easy as enrolling yourself in your home country. Several documents are needed to apply for a genuine temporary entrant and student visa. On top of this, you need to take TOEFL or IELTS.

TOEFL or IELTS are the two primary English proficiency tests accepted at universities globally. However, choosing between them would depend on what you’ll do in the country. So now, let’s try to define them first before we talk about their differences.

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It’s a standardized test accepted in most foreign universities where English is the medium of instruction. Also, it’s an English proficiency exam made by the US-based Education Test Service.

TOEFL tests your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in English. And its focus is on authentic communication in a classroom setting. Thereby, you’ll get materials that vary in level of competencies.

Moreover, a different version of TOEFL uses pen and paper. This kind of exam varies in the scoring mechanism. However, 90% of TOEFL takers go for the iBT or internet-based test.

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. Like TOELF, IELTS tests your capacity to read, write, listen, and speak English. However, its base is in the United Kingdom, which means you can use either British or American spellings.

Now there are two main strands in IELTS:

  • Academic
  • General

The academic strand in IELTS is for those who will study at a college or university. Also, this is for those who will pursue their professional career in fields like engineering and healthcare. On the other hand, the general strand is for high school students or lower level.

TOEFL vs IELTS | The Similarities

TOEFL and IELTS are similar because both are English proficiency tests. Thus, these two will check and measure your skills in the English language. Also, these two are the most popular exams if you want to study and live abroad.

On top of this, TOEFL and IELTS are both credible worldwide. Hence, they have a high degree of recognition in international institutions. Above all, these two test reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

TOEFL vs IELTS | The Difference

While both are similar in their competency areas, their structures differ somehow. We’ll give some points to help you understand the difference between TOEFL and IELTS. Hence, you’ll have an idea of which one is best for you.

Now, these are the things that we’ll include in comparing TOEFL vs IELTS:

  • ideal countries for TOEFL and IELTS
  • scoring system
  • test formats

Which countries are ideal for TOEFL and IELTS?

Countries for TOEFL

TOEFL sets to test one’s communication skills in English. It’ll measure how you can converse in an academic setting such as colleges and universities. Moreover, this exam is more related to the USA and American institutions.

Other countries and universities in the UK and Australia accept this test. However, applicants in the UK take this for university admissions applications but not for student visas. This is due to some frauds that happened years ago.

Countries for IELTS

IELTS mainly helps those who wish to work, study, or immigrate to English-speaking countries. These include the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA. Thereby, it’s recognized globally by over 10,000 employers, universities, schools, and immigration bodies.

How do they differ in scoring?

TOEFL Scoring

The overall score for TOEFL falls in the range of 0-120. Each skill – reading, writing, listening, speaking scales from 0 to 30. So, here’s a rubric of TOEFL scoring:

SkillScore (0-30)Proficiency Level
Below Low-Intermediate
Below Low-Intermediate
Below Basic
Below Basic

IELTS Scoring

Another difference between TOEFL and IETLS is the scoring system. While TOEFL has a scoring range, the basis for IELTS is on band scores. Also, calculating its score is through averaging four sections – reading, listening, writing, and speaking.

In addition, the score for reading and listening is from 0 to 40. However, it’s converted to a band score between 0 and 9. Moreover, the writing and speaking test has a set of criteria assessed by an examiner.

For instance, you get 7 for writing and listening and 8 for reading and writing; your total score is 7.5. You just add the total band scores and divide it by the number of sections. So, here’s how the scores translate to proficiency level:

Correct AnswersIELTS ScoreCEFRProficiency Level
37-409C2Expert user
32-368C2/C1Very good user
26-307C1Good user
18-256B2/C1Competent user
16-195B2Modest user
13-154B1/B2Limited user
10-123B1Extremely limited user
8-92A2Intermittent user
4-50A0Did not attempt the test

What are the test formats?

The type of test in TOEFL is almost in a multiple-choice format. However, IELTS includes the following:

  • short answer
  • small essays
  • gap-filling

Test format for TOEFL

Taking TOEFL has two different formats. The first is, a Paper-Based Test (TOEFL pBT), second is an Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT). However, the most popular is TOEFL iBT.

Test format for IELTS

Like TOEFL, IELTS also is paper-based or computer-based. Choosing among these two depends on you and if the center has both options. Moreover, IETLS has an examiner that will ask you some questions and assess your capabilities.

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TOEFL and IELTS with GrowPro Experience | We Got You


Studying and living abroad is one of the ultimate goals of most people. Most of them are willing to take risks to reach their dream destination. On top of this, they’re determined enough to face any challenges, including taking TOEFL or IELTS.

Some would even spend money to have a review for TOEFL or IELTS exam. With hard work and persistence, there’s a big possibility to pass and get an outstanding result. However, if you’re hesitant about what to do, we’re here to help you.

Now you might ask, “why should you trust us?”. Well, our company may be new, but we can guarantee that you’re in safe hands. Also, we’ll do our best to help and guide you in processing the documents needed.

To give you a good start, you can check this most requested experience we have for your reference. You can complete the form and wait for a call for further assistance. Also, we give tips on finding the best accommodation, transportation options, and more.

We live with our mission to help international students like you to study abroad. Set aside your doubts and worries, for we will be with you every step of the way. So, choose GrowPro now because we got you!

About the author

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!

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