Choosing the right English proficiency test, IELTS or TOEFL, is an important decision for anyone looking to move abroad for study, work or migration. While both tests have their merits, IELTS is the better choice for several reasons. It evaluates language skills more comprehensively, offers more flexible testing options, and is recognised by a greater number of academic institutions, professional bodies and immigration departments around the world.
IELTS over TOEFL: Understand the difference
You can't migrate to Canada or the UK with TOEFL
Canada and the UK do not acknowledge TOEFL as a valid English Language test for migration. Moreover, the Australian immigration department only recognizes the lengthier version of TOEFL, the TOEFL iBT.
IELTS is accepted everywhere!
IELTS is globally recognised and accepted by leading universities, academic and professional bodies, and immigration departments of Australia, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand, making it the preferred option for anyone looking to move abroad for study, work or migration.
IELTS offers more flexibility
In most countries, TOEFL is predominantly administered via computer, whereas IELTS provides the flexibility to choose between paper or computer in many locations. This option is especially valuable for individuals who prefer using a pen over a keyboard when writing their responses. As a result, IELTS offers test-takers greater flexibility and the freedom to choose the mode of testing that best suits their needs.
Ditch the bots and speak to a real person
During the speaking section of the TOEFL test, you will be required to speak into a microphone in a room alongside other test-takers. In contrast, IELTS evaluates your spoken English through face-to-face interaction with a trained examiner who is well-versed in various accents. This assessment takes place in a private room, giving you the opportunity to ask the examiner for clarification or further information if needed
Simple and straightforward scoring
The scoring system for IELTS is straightforward, with scores rounded to the nearest 0.5. This means that a score of 6.75 would be rounded off to 7.0. In contrast, TOEFL uses a complex system of "raw" and "scaled" scores, making the scoring process more convoluted.
IELTS The clear choice for test takers worldwide
Popularity (number of tests taken in 2018)
Paper-based and computer-based
Accepted by Canada and UK immigration departments
With a real person who understands different accents
Talking to a computer
“IELTS is not just a proficiency test. It’s preparation for life.”Ivy Feng, former IELTS test taker, now Multimedia Designer at IDP Education
Even for studying in Canada, IELTS is the obvious choice
Recently, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced changes to the English test requirements for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) study permit. Under the new changes that go live on 10 August 2023, IELTS Academic test takers no longer need a 6.0 score on all individual skills. Instead, only a 6.0 overall score is sufficient to help them meet the English proficiency requirement for SDS.
Alternatives to TOEFL iBT and TOEFL Essentials
IELTS English proficiency tests are a great alternative to TOEFL iBT and TOEFL Essentials for several reasons. Firstly, IELTS is widely accepted by universities, employers, and immigration authorities in English-speaking countries worldwide. Secondly, IELTS assesses both British and American English, whereas TOEFL is primarily focused on American English. Thirdly, IELTS offers a more personalized speaking test, where the candidate has a conversation with an examiner, as opposed to TOEFL's speaking section, which is recorded and evaluated later. Finally, IELTS also offers a paper-based test option, which is not available with TOEFL iBT or TOEFL Essentials. With these advantages, IELTS is a strong alternative to TOEFL tests for individuals seeking to study, work or immigrate to an English-speaking country.