Study in Australia

Which One Is Easier, IELTS or TOEFL?

Discover IELTS vs TOEFL which one is easier to study in Australia. Explore formats, scoring, and key factors to choose the right English proficiency test

Published on: Jun 15, 2024


Planning to study in Abroad? It unlocks numerous academic and career opportunities for students. However, starting an academic journey abroad requires one to take an English proficiency test. It is essential to prove that you are eligible to study Abroad and can meet their academic standards. Further, these exams are perfect for students looking to study in Australia. Many prestigious universities in Australia accept these exam scores.


Well, there are many types of English proficiency tests. However, IELTS and TOEFL are the most popular exams among students around the globe. Students often need clarification to choose one of these exams for their academic journey. Therefore, in this blog, we will compare both of these exams and make it easier for you to decide which exam would be perfect for you to take. So, let's save time here and delve into this blog ASAP!



Understanding IELTS and TOEFL


Both of these exams are the most popular and globally recognised. These tests are designed for students with non-native English speakers. Further, achieving higher scores in any of these provides students with numerous academic opportunities in the world's most prestigious institutions. Let's discuss both of them in brief:




International English Language Testing System(IELTS) is a test that checks how well you can use English. It looks at four things: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Your scores go from 0 to 9, and you get a score for each skill and an overall score. Students take this exam to apply to schools, jobs, or to move to another country, especially to study in Australia. It's popular all over the world. You can take the test on paper or on a computer, whichever you prefer. To do well, you practice the test and learn about the questions you might get.




The TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is a popular exam that tests how well non-native speakers know English. Created by ETS (Educational Testing Service), it's accepted by many universities, colleges, and other institutions around the world, especially in the United States and Australia. The test measures four key skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Each part is scored separately, and these scores are added together for a total score between 0 and 120.


TOEFL vs IELTS: Format Comparison


When you're looking at IELTS and TOEFL both comprise four sections reading, listening, speaking, and writing. However, there is a difference in their question types and time duration of exams. TOEFL includes multiple-choice questions and has a duration of around 2 hours and 45 minutes, while IELTS has various question types like fill-in-the-blanks and short answers. Further, it only takes 1 hour and 56 minutes to complete the exam.


In particular, IELTS has two types of exams one is academic for students who want to study in Australia or other countries. Another is general training for students seeking jobs abroad. Whereas, TOEFL is only one exam that is for students who want to seek study in Australia, Canada, and more.


These exams assess different skills in students. IELTS assesses your creative thinking and understanding skills. It tests how well you can grasp and respond to different kinds of questions. TOEFL, on the other hand, focuses more on analytical thinking and checks how good you are at weighing up different options and making decisions. Let’s discuss it in brief:


Name of Section No. of tasks Duration(in minutes) No. of tasks Duration(in minutes)
Reading 3 60 20 35
Listening 4 30 28 36
Speaking 3 11-15 4 16
Writing 2 60 2 29



1. Reading Section


 In the IELTS Academic test, you'll read three passages from various sources like books, magazines, or websites. These passages are longer, around 2,150 to 2,750 words each. In contrast, the TOEFL test has two shorter passages, about 700 words each. You can be an expert on the topics to answer questions for both tests. Both tests focus on testing your understanding of the passages rather than testing your knowledge of the subjects.



2. Listening Section


• There are four parts in the IELTS listening section, each with 10 questions. The first two sections are about everyday life and social situations, and the last two are more academic. Further, sections 1 and 3 have multiple speakers, giving you a mix of voices to listen to. While sections 2 and 4 are monologues, meaning only one person is speaking.


• On the other hand, in the TOEFL listening section, you will discover five parts. It includes both conversations and lectures, designed to mimic real-life situations you might face while studying abroad. Specifically, there are three lectures, each with six follow-up questions, and two conversations between two speakers, which add variety to the listening tasks.



3. Speaking Section


• The main difference is in how the speaking tests are conducted. In the IELTS exam, you will have a direct conversation or video call with an examiner. Whereas, in the TOEFL exam, you have to speak your answers into the microphone. Your responses will be recorded and later assessed. This makes the TOEFL speaking section a mix of listening and speaking tasks also you will not have a direct interaction with the examiner for this exam.


• Another key difference in this section is how your answers are assessed. Generally, IELTS-speaking responses are evaluated by human examiners. However, TOEFL uses a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and human graders to assess your speaking responses.



4. Writing Section


• If you opt for the TOEFL exam you will have 2 tasks in your writing section. In the first task, you will have to listen to a short lecture, read a brief passage, and then write a response based on the information from both sources. The second task in this section will be essay writing. That is to support your opinion in an online classroom discussion. This task checks how well you can express your ideas clearly and logically in writing.


• Where in the IELTS writing section, you will be given a graph, chart, table, or diagram in the first task. For that, you have to write a minimum of 150 words about it within 20 minutes. For the second task, there will be an essay writing of a minimum of 250 words. You have to write within 40 minutes.



Score Comparision: TOEFL vs IELTS


In IELTS, you get a score between 1 and 9. Your overall score is the average of your scores in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. For example, if your average score is 6.25, it's rounded up to 6.5. On the other hand, TOEFL has a maximum score of 120 points.


TOEFL Band Score IELTS Band Score
118-120 9
115-117 8.5
110-114 8
102-109 7.5
94-101 7
79-93 6.5
60-78 6
46-59 5.5
35-45 5
32-34 4.5
0-31 0-4




TOEFL vs IELTS which one to choose?


It can be difficult to choose one, but it is important to choose one that matches your goals, English proficiency level, and more. Further, when choosing one of these exams you must consider various factors including difficulty level, delivery method, costs, length, speaking skills, etc. Assessing all these factors will help you choose one.


(i) University Preference: Look at what language tests are required for the universities you are aiming for.


(ii) Time for Preparation: You can choose one based on your preparation and the time remaining for your preparation. In general, IELTS exam preparation takes about 3-6 weeks, while TOEFL may require 2-3 months. 


(iii) Exam Format: Assess the format of these exams. Accordingly, you can choose one that best suits you and can be easy for you to score high.


(iv) English proficiency level: Choosing one of these exams also depends on your current English Proficiency level. You must assess it to know which of these exams would be best for you to take.


(v) Cost: Compare the fees for both tests. Sometimes, one might be cheaper or more cost-effective than the other, especially considering additional expenses like study materials and transportation to the test centre.





If you are planning to study in Australia or any other country, you will be required to take an English language proficiency test. That shows that you can manage their academic standards. IELTS and TOEFL are the most popular English language proficiency test exams among students. However, they need clarification about which one they should take. Well, it is essential for every student to consider factors like difficulty level, delivery method, costs, length, and more. It will help them to choose one where they can score high.


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