The TOEFL offers only academic English, while the IELTS offers a general test also. This test is more preferred for immigration purposes to the UK and Canada. And overall, the IELTS has more of a real-world feeling than the TOEFL.
|About four hours long.||2 hours and 45 minutes long.|
|Available at over 500 locations in the US, over 4,500 worldwide.||Available at 59 locations in the US, over 9,000 worldwide.|
|Cost of the exam is usually between 160 and 200 USD.||Cost varies widely within the same country, usually is about 200 USD.|
|Score on a sliding scale from 0 to 120.||Score at any of 9 “bands”, or levels of proficiency.|
WHICH IS HARDER?
This is probably the question you’re most concerned with, but it’s pretty difficult to compare the both directly. A better way to find the answer to this question is to ask yourself a few questions. Answer the following questions with a simple “yes” or “no.”
I am comfortable with computers. YES/NO
I can type quickly. YES/NO
I prefer standard American English. YES/NO
I am good at answering multiple-choice questions. YES/NO
It is easy for me to take notes from a recording. YES/NO
The authentic English sources I read/listen to/watch are usually intended to inform rather than entertain. YES/NO
If you answered YES to most of these questions, the TOEFL is the best fit to your mind set.
I am comfortable having a detailed interview in-person. YES/NO
I have legible English handwriting. YES/NO
I can understand a variety of dialects of English. YES/NO
I prefer tests with many question types, including multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching, true/false, and flowcharts. YES/NO
I feel most comfortable discussing non-academic topics in English. YES/NO
The authentic English sources that I read/listen to/watch are usually made to entertain. YES/NO
If you answered YES to most of these questions, then you might find the IELTS to be more up your alley.
Both the tests are widely-accepted and are available at a variety of locations. When trying to decide between the two, first consult the programs you want to apply to and make sure that they accept both; after that, the most important factors are convenience and your particular skill set.
No matter which test you take, be aware that the scores all expire 2 years after your test date.
NOTE: The above views/statistics are indicative. Opinions and experiences may vary from person-to-person.