July 10, 2019

TOEFL or IELTS? Which is the easier test to take?

The most common English language proficiency tests are the TOEFL iBT ® Test and IELTS, which are used in different parts of the world. Both of these are, if you are not a native English speaker, powerful certifications that will help you gain entrance to some of the most prestigious universities in the world and large corporations. 

Naturally, the better the score, the better your chances. So from the point of view of the test-taker, which is better overall? Which test is, dare we say, easier to get a higher score with? Both tests have reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections. Let’s break it down into the different test sections. 


In terms of difficulty of topics and question types, TOEFL iBT ® Test  and IELTS are more or less the same. The tie-breaker though, is how you answer the questions. In TOEFL iBT ® Test, everything is a multiple-choice type of question, making it easier for you to digest the question fully first, and clicking on your answer. In IELTS, however, you have to write the answer down. This extra time to just write down your answer can make or break your score. 


Hands down, TOEFL iBT ® Test is easier. Again, difficulty of topic is almost the same, but imagine having to write down – by hand – entire essays under a time limit. Typing out your answer is definitely faster, especially if you live on the 20th century. Also, if your handwriting is hard to read… then it will be close to impossible to get a good score in IELTS. Also, having the extra time in this part can help you re-read your essay to check for spelling and grammatical errors, something that is equally vital in getting a good score in TOEFL iBT ® Test.


This is a bit of a difficult question, since if you are shy and cannot communicate well with strangers, TOEFL iBT ® Test would be a better choice since you simply speak into the microphone and a series of raters will score you. However, for those who are struggling to understand the question in the first place, or those who need prompting from the examiner to explain their answers, then IELTS is the easier choice.

But, that being said, the primary difference between IELTS and TOEFL iBT ® Test is that IELTS is done with one examiner, while TOEFL iBT ® Test has multiple human raters, so it is easier to get a fairer judgment if your English has an accent (as with everyone). 


Since you are taking the test with other people, the audio recording for IELTS is simply played out and it is up to you to catch up and write down your answer (by hand – see the trend here?) For TOEFL iBT ® Test however, while there is indeed a time limit, you still get to choose your own speed of answering. 

What about accessibility though? Since both tests are the most popular, both also have equal accessibility – almost all countries that offer TOEFL iBT ® Test also offer IELTS. 


Overall, TOEFL iBT ® Test is generally the easier test to take.

As it is one of the most popular English proficiency test, the majority of institutions will accept this exam. This also doesn’t mean that it is incredibly easy that you don’t have to study for it. But, from a test-taker point of view, it is simply easier to get a better score because there is no wasted time. 


Find out more about the exact diferences between TOEFL iBT® and IELTs on our site.



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