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Which Test Should I Take – IELTS vs. TOEFL

As our international students know, most U.S. colleges and universities require or recommend that international applicants submit proof of their English language skills, usually in the form of a standardized test score.  The two most popular test are the IELTS and the TOEFL.

Some schools prefer one test over the other, while others accept scores from either test – plus a few others. Prospective international students should make sure they research the preference of the schools they want to apply to.  US News & World Report created a handy table to help you decide.  Of course Stoodnt counselors are here to help as well.

Broadly speaking, the IELTS is shorter, content wise the TOEFL more academically focused, and delivery format – the IELTS paper based, TOEFL computer based.  Se below for more details:

IELTS (Academic) TOEFL (iBT)
Owned by: British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment ETS
Test delivery format: Paper-based Computer-based
Cost: – Varies by country
– In the U.S., the test costs $215-$245
Varies by country between $165-$300, with most countries under $200
Length: 2 hours and 45 minutes 4 hours
Test sections
(in order):
– Listening: 30 minutes
– Reading: 60 minutes
– Writing: 60 minutes
– Speaking: 11-14 minutes (section can also be taken before the other three sections)
– Reading: 60-80 minutes
– Listening: 60-90 minutes
– Speaking: 20 minutes
– Writing: 50 minutes
Speaking section format: In-person with an examiner Computer-based (students speak into a headset microphone)
Breaks: No breaks during the listening, reading and writing sections, but the speaking portion can be taken up to a week before or after the rest of the test 10-minute break between listening and speaking sections
Accents test-takers might hear: Australia,  Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. Australia, Canada,  New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S.
Where the test is offered: More than 1, 100 locations in some 140 countries worldwide Offered around the world, though ETS couldn’t provide an exact count of test sites
How frequently the test is offered: 48 test dates per year More than 50 test dates per year
Where scores are accepted: Accepted by more than 9, 000 organizations globally, including around 3, 000 U.S. institutions (see test website for searchable list) Accepted by more than 10, 000 organizations globally, including more than 5, 000 U.S. institutions (see test website for searchable list)
Results timeline: Results are issued 13 days after the test Results are issued approximately 10 days after the test
Scoring scale: zero to 9 zero to 120
Average minimum score required by rankedNational Universities(fall 2015): 6.3 78
Average minimum score required by rankedNational Liberal Arts Colleges(fall 2015): 6.5 82.2

Author: Yuri Punj

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