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IELTS General Training and TOEFL are two popular options among test takers worldwide. Like IELTS, TOEFL also provides reading, writing, listening and speaking scores. But when it comes to relocating overseas for work or migration, IELTS is the clear winner. Let’s take a closer look. 

“IELTS is not just a proficiency test. It’s preparation for life.”  - Ivy Feng, former IELTS test taker, now Multimedia Designer at IDP Education.

IELTS over TOEFL for migration: Understand the difference

  • The Canadian and UK governments do not accept TOEFL. IELTS is accepted worldwide!

Canada and UK do not accept TOEFL for migration. Even the Australian immigration department only accepts TOEFL iBT, the longer version of the test. IELTS, on the other hand, is globally accepted by immigration departments of Australia, Canada, UK and New Zealand – basically by all governments that require an English Language test.  

  • IELTS offers more flexibility

TOEFL is largely available only on a computer in majority of the countries, whereas IELTS allows you to complete your test on paper or computer in most locations. The freedom to choose is particularly important to some test takers who are more comfortable using a pen instead of a keyboard to write their answers. 

  • IELTS is quicker and features more question types 

The IELTS General Training spans 165 minutes featuring various question types, including multiple choice, true/false, matching headings and diagrams. TOEFL iBT is longer (195 minutes). 

  • Why talk into a computer when you can speak to a real person? 

For TOEFL’s speaking component of the test, you will be talking into a microphone in a room where other test takers will be doing the same. With IELTS, your spoken English is assessed by a real person who understands different accents, face-to-face in a private room. That means you can ask the examiner questions if something is not clear. 

  • Simplified scoring 

Your IELTS scores are rounded off to the nearest 0.5, which means a score of 6.75 gets upgraded to 7.0! There’s no such thing in TOEFL, plus it uses a system of ‘raw’ and ‘scaled’ scores, which makes the scoring all the more complicated.

IELTS for migration: The clear choice for test takers



Popularity (number of tests taken in 2018) 

3.5 million

2.3 million

Test duration (migration test) 

165 minutes (IELTS General Training) 

195 minutes (TOEFL iBT) 

Test type 

Paper-based and computer-based 

Computer-based only

Accepted by Canada and UK immigration departments



Speaking test 

With a real person who understands different accents 

Talking to a computer

“I got my required IELTS score and in a couple of months, a shiny new visa arrived in my inbox.” - Anthea, former IELTS test taker and now a successful business owner