TOEFL or IELTS? Which to take? (2)

In our last blog, we laid out the structures of both tests. There is no definite answer on which is “easier” or “better,” as the format is different. But these are the questions that you could ask to help you decide which test is more suitable for you.

1.Where are you applying

While TOEFL is more commonly accepted by American institutions, the IELTS is more accepted elsewhere, especially the United Kingdom. However, some schools accept either score, and some have their preferences. So it is worth checking with the schools you are applying. Most would specify on their website under Admissions Requirement section.

2. Computer or Paper-based?

This is a question of preference. All sections of the TOEFL are done through computers, but IELTS is paper-based. That means if you think you could type faster than write or read on the screens better than on paper, then you should go for the TOEFL.

3. Are you less nervous speaking to a real person or to the computer?

As mentioned in 3), all sections of the TOEFL is done through the computer, even the speaking part in which would be replying to all four prompts through a microphone. You should also take into consideration that there may be other test-takers speaking at the same time, so that could be a distraction. On the contrary, for IELTS, you would be interviewed by an actual person. The downside of this would be that you have to schedule an interview date, usually on a different day of the test of other sections.

4. What is your style of writing?

Both tests have two prompts for the writing section. Each test requires different word count for different time limits. You would need to write more words for the TOEFL. While the two prompts of TOEFL requires 150-225 words for one and 300 words for another, the IELTS requires 150 and 250 words. You might say, oh, then I would just go for the IELTS. But! Remember that the first task of the IELTS is to describe and analyze data in the form of a graph/pie chart/table… If looking at data like those isn’t your strong suit, you might want to reconsider.

5. What do you like to read ?

The difference between the passages is that while the TOEFL only uses academic texts, the IELTS also adds passages from newspaper and magazines. Passages from newspaper and magazines are often easier to digest and straightforward. So, the TOEFL would have more academic vocabularies than the IELTS.

These are the main questions that could help you decide on which tests to take. Other factors that you could consider are the availability and proximity of test centers and the cost. Once you have decided on which test better suits your strength, then the key is to practice, practice, practice!

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