If English is not your first language and you are applying for a job or to study in an English-speaking country, it is likely that you will be required to take a standardized test to show your level of English proficiency. There are two main English language tests you can sit that are accepted worldwide – The Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Both evaluate how well you can combine your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. It can be hard to decide which English language test to take to make sure you get the best score possible to put on your application. Below, we list some factors to consider when making your decision.
It is recommended that you check with the schools you are applying to in order to see which test they accept. Generally, the IELTS is more readily accepted in universities within the Commonwealth, although many U.S. universities are starting to accept it too. The U.S. tends to prefer the TOEFL iBT, but it is accepted by over 11,000 universities worldwide. Ultimately, you will need to take the corresponding exam to that which your schools require, although many now accept both.
Both the IELTS and the TOEFL iBT are offered worldwide. You can take the TOEFL iBT at a test center or at home, making it easily accessible for most students. The exam is offered almost everywhere in the world, with testing available in over 200 countries and territories. The TOEFL iBT Paper Edition is also currently offered in the U.S., Colombia, India, and Mexico. You can take the IELTS at one of their 1,600 locations in 140 countries and territories, or take the IELTS Online which gives you flexibility on where you take your test.
Test section differences between TOEFL and IELTS are another factor to consider, as whether or not an exam plays to your strengths will greatly impact the maximum score you can achieve. Here are the main differences between the TOEFL and IELTS exams that students usually find play to/ against their strengths: