The two most popular standardized tests accepted by universities and companies around the world are IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). They assess a test-takers’ understanding and command of the English language. Global English proficiency tests are important for those wanting to study, work or live in an English-speaking country with more opportunities available to them with positive test scores. In fact, most top institutions demand scores for either the IELTS or TOEFL upon applying.
What do they test? Both the IELTS and the TOEFL tests have reading, writing and listening sections. How they differ mainly is in the fourth structures; speaking. For the IELTS, a face-to-face interview is required, but for the TOEFL six questions are answered into a microphone and sent to an examiner for marking.
How are they scored? Scoring of the tests differs also. TOEFL uses a numerical SAT-type grade, totaling your scores from all the areas, while IELTS uses what they call bands from 0 to 9 with half points in-between. Here is a handy Scoring Chart for the major English Proficiency tests internationally.
What testing styles are offered? In terms of convenience, the TOEFL is offered mainly in an internet-based tests, but there are computer-based and even paper-based tests. The IELTS is offered mainly as a paper-based test, but a computer-based test is available (CB IELTS). However, both styles require the face-to-face speaking test. For the IELTS, you choose between an Academic module (for educational institutes) or a General Training module (for non-academic training, work experience and immigration).
Who administers these tests? An American non-profit, ETS (Educational Training Services), administers the TOEFL worldwide, while the IELTS is administered jointly by the British Council, University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and IDP Education Australia.
And the popular question: Which is easier? That, my friendly test-taker depends on your knowledge and strengths. It is best to first determine why you need to take an English proficiency test and then determine which test you need. Check which test is required by your chosen institution.
If you’ve taken either test, please share your experiences and comments below! ^^