Although Educational Testing Service touts the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, as the best measure of English language proficiency in the world, university and college admissions offices are also increasingly using the International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, for admissions purposes. Before you begin reviewing for either test, learn the differences between them, including price and availability, test format, score types and which colleges accept each test.
Availability and Cost
The TOEFL is an internet-based test that you can take on a number of available dates each month. You can take the test as often as you like. The IELTS is a paper-based test with a speaking component, offered at specific institutions 48 times per year, usually on Saturdays and Thursdays. You can also take the IELTS as often as you like. There is no significant cost difference between the two tests.
The most widely-accepted version of the TOEFL is now the iBT, or Internet Based Test, which has four sections: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. The IELTS is paper-based, consisting of the same four sections. One of the main differences between the TOEFL and IELTS tests lies in the speaking task. In the TOEFL, the test-taker speaks into a microphone, but during the IELTS, the test-taker speaks face-to-face with an examiner.
The perfect score for the TOEFL iBT is 120, with 30 points per each of the four sections. The perfect score for the IELTS a 9. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, each college or university decides whether a TOEFL score is needed for admission and the minimum score required. The same is true for the IELTS. Your application packet should include this information.
Which Colleges Accept the Scores?
According to ETS, the TOEFL is now accepted by more than 8,000 universities and institutions all over the world. Currently, you can expect a smaller number of institutions that accept the IELTS test for admissions purposes, but this number is rapidly rising. Check with the college or university you're applying to in order to confirm which tests you'll need to take in order to gain admission.
- International English Language Testing System: Test Takers - Test Dates
- National Association for College Admission Counseling: Test of English as a Foreign Language 101: Demonstrating English Language Proficiency for Admission to American Universities
- Educational Testing System: TOEFL ibT - About the Test
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