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2021-01-15 00:00:30

Which is better to pass: IELTS or TOEFL?

Which is better to pass: IELTS or TOEFL?

Foreign universities that teach their programs in English accept students from all over the world. To bring their knowledge to the uniform standards of the academic program, tests were created that assess the knowledge of English of each person according to one system. University professors cannot conduct a seminar with students with completely different knowledge of the language. There is a certain minimum, the basis from which the student will understand the entire program that is given to him. Otherwise, the student would not have time and spent all the time only on understanding the task, and not on its implementation. This is a notoriously failed system.

Now all English-language programs have passing criteria, one of which is knowledge of the language. If you are applying directly to a bachelor's or master's degree, then IELTS will need at least 6.5. If we are talking about admission to a preparatory program at a university (Pathway), then students are accepted with scores of at least 5.5.

In any country, the university will accept either TOEFL or IELTS equivalently. In general, there are many such grading systems - Pearson, CAE, the same DuoLingo - just IELTS and TOEFL are the most popular. But they are also the most difficult, since they are systemic, you need to prepare for them. Knowing English and passing the test for a high score the first time will not work.

TOEFL has several test types to choose from:

  • A paper-based test is a routine test that takes place in a typical classroom using traditional paper and pen. PBT is still relevant today.
  • Computer-based test - the iBT format has replaced computer testing - passing the test online. Most of those who want to take the test turn to the online format.
  • The Internet-based test is very convenient: you can register for it via the Internet, and this test format is conducted much more often than PBT. The costs for the test are minimal, because you don't have to go anywhere.

Test sections


3-4 texts containing 12-14 questions

60-80 minutes


2-3 texts containing 5-6 questions

60-90 minutes



10 minutes


6 tasks and 6 questions

20 minutes


2 tasks

50 minutes (20 and 30)


In the iBT variant, each of the four sections is evaluated on a 30-point scale. The maximum score for the entire test is 120.

The IELTS system is different. The exam lasts approximately 3 hours and consists of four modules:

  • Listening (approximately 40 minutes)
  • Reading (60 minutes)
  • Writing (60 minutes)
  • Speaking (11-14 minutes)

IELTS uses a grading system from 0.0 to 9.0 in 0.5 increments. The IELTS score consists of marks for each of the four skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking + the overall GPA is given.

So the choice between these two exams should be based on how it is more convenient for you to take the exams: in person at the paper-taking center or, for example, on the Internet, to whom you want to take Speaking - a living person or a computer.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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