The official IELTS by IDP app is here! Download it today.


TOEFL vs IELTS: which is the easier English test for you?


TOEFL vs IELTS, which is the better option? While most people are familiar with IELTS as the de-facto option, there are other English language proficiency tests you might also be considering.

This article will take you through the Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL, and how it measures alongside the IELTS examination.

To give you a brief overview, the TOEFL is owned by North American Body, Educational Testing Service (ETS) while the IELTS is co-owned by renowned organisations in the UK and Australia – IDP Education, British Council and Cambridge Assessment English.

While both have their similarities in the manner of test types and global credibility, there are still some differences that aspiring test-takers would want to take note of.

To get a better understanding of both tests, here’s a broader overview that can help you choose between the two with ease.

Choosing between IELTS and TOEFL - make the right selection

1. IELTS vs TOEFL differences


One of the main differences between the two are the accepted English varieties when it comes to testing.

Since the TOEFL is owned by an American entity, TOEFL accepts the use of American English in their tests.

On the other hand, IELTS allows for the use of various standard English varieties such as British, Australian, Canadian, and American.

While this isn’t the biggest consideration you would have when deciding on which test to go for, it doesn't hurt to know!

The IELTS test lasts approximately two hours and 45 minutes, while TOEFL lasts three hours and 30 minutes.

2. IELTS’ format advantages

Depending on your preference, both the IELTS and TOEFL tests can be done physically at a language centre as well as online in the comfort of your own home. Both assess your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.

However, this is where they differ.

Take a closer look to see their key differences in the way they’re formatted:





More varied sections with different task types including multiple choice, sentence completion, plan/map/diagram labelling, and more.

Limited to only multiple-choice questions.


The test runs for 60 minutes for each candidate.


The set of texts may require students to complete various tasks such as suggesting titles, completing sentences and filling in tables, allowing students to give their insights freely based on the text.

The test can average between 54 to 72 minutes depending on the candidate.


It includes between 3 to 5 extracts of text that are also assessed by multiple-choice questions.


Two writing tasks are to be completed. The word limit requirement is 250 words.

Two writing tasks are to be completed. The word limit requirement is over 300 words.


3 test parts are to be completed in no more than 14 minutes.


Test takers can take a one-to-one oral interview with a qualified IELTS, allowing them more privacy. Or video call tests in unique situations.

4 test parts are to be completed in 17 minutes.


Test takers will listen to a series of recorded conversations and answer in a microphone, where no human interaction will be present.


With these comparisons laid out side by side, it’s safe to say that the IELTS has some format advantages for you.

The Writing test has a shorter word limit, the Listening and Reading test allows for more varied responses with its diverse question types, and the Speaking test has lesser parts and involves a real-life assessor compared to a more automated experience.

3. IELTS vs TOEFL calculation of scores


Are you confused about each test’s scoring systems? While both calculations are completely valid despite using varying scoring systems, both test scores might be assessed differently in different countries.

Here’s a simple overview of how both scoring systems are against each other alongside the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), which is another international benchmark used to assess language proficiency.


IELTS (9.0)

TOEFL (120)


































From this table alone, it’s clear that IELTS scores can go up to the C2 level of CEFR while TOEFL only goes up to the C1 level at most. Even if you have language skills equivalent to the native English speaker level, a TOEFL certification will not be enough to prove that.

In cases like this, you may want to opt for the IELTS instead. When choosing your prospective universities, always cross-check their band score requirements for their English language tests.

4. IELTS has unique advantages

Formats, band scores, and test types aside, let’s talk about global recognition between IELTS and TOEFL and how IELTS has a big advantage in this aspect. Among all the other English language proficiency tests, IELTS is held in high regard and is recognised in over 11,000 organisations and universities across 140 countries worldwide.

With that, this certification is also more widely accepted in the UK and Australia and is also recognised by the national immigration bodies of Canada and the UK.

If you’re planning to study abroad in any of these countries, then taking the IELTS will be your safest bet.

5. Focus more on preparation and improving your English skills


Since the IELTS are more well-known among potential test-takers and language centres, the availability of practice material for preparation is endless. Take a look at these materials that could be of use to you:

Ready to kickstart your IELTS journey?

To conclude, there is no absolute “easier” test between IELTS and TOEFL despite what some people say. It all boils down to what you’re looking for, your personal preference, and what certification your desired university accepts.

However, if you want a test that gives you the best access to as many institutions around the world, IELTS is the perfect choice for you.

If you decide to take the IELTS test, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Besides being the official co-owner of IELTS, IDP offers convenient test locations and free test preparation materials to support you. Learn why you should take your IELTS test with us.

Book your IELTS test today to begin your journey.