When you are striving to become part of a globally renowned university, you do not want to leave anything on a stroke of luck. Higher education aspirants from countries where English is not the first language need to exhibit required proficiency in English in order to become a part of an international classroom setting.
There are predominantly two standardized English language testing which are widely accepted in most of the foreign universities i.e. IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). While both evaluate your English language skills based on four parameters of Listening, Reading, Writing and speaking, on-going debate of which test to take has become a moot point amongst the aspirants.
Let us closely examine the factors to consider before zeroing in on which one to take up:
- While IELTS is jointly conducted by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, British council and IDP Education Australia focuses and on Queen’s English, TOEFL is administered by ETS (English testing service) and conducts test with a special focus on US English. Students who have a good command over UK English choose to take IELTS whereas TOEFL is preferred by students who are more comfortable with US accent.
- Which test to select between the two should be largely dependent on the country you are going to for your higher studies. If you are going to the US or Canada for your higher education ,TOEFL emerges as your first choice whereas if you are headed for UK or Australia you might want to consider taking IELTS.
- Primary difference between IELTS and TOEFL lies in the way speaking capabilities are tested. IELTS requires you to speak to a human voice, and there is a real time communication happening between the examiner and the examinee. TOEFL necessitates you answer into a microphone, the conversation is recorded and subsequently reviewed by a panel of examiners. While the first school of thought maintains that IELTS way of testing is more accurate the other school contends that it is susceptible to bias and human error, and that TOEFL way of grading assures fair decision.
- The next significant difference lies in the way the scoring system operates in both the testing system. While IELTS grades you on the scale of 0 to 9, TEOFL grading is all-inclusive. The grading is statistical and is done on the basis of your individual performance in all the four parameters. 30 points are assigned to each section with 120 being the highest possible TOEFL score.
- TOEFL gives a you choice from the multiple choice questions whereas IELTS requires you to rely more on good memory recall.
- Format of TOEFL has been consistent over a period of time making it a more predictable exam whereas IELTS test format keeps evolving every year.
- Time taken for TOEFL exam is close to four hours, and IELTS takes two hours 45 minutes. The duration of the test, however, is in no way indicative of its level of toughness.
Which test you should take is mostly a matter of opinion and individual preference. While TOEFL is more popular in North American countries, IELTS has wider acceptance globally especially in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. You must do a thorough research on the testing requirements of the universities you intent to attend. While some may accept both; others may give preference to one over the other. It is always a good idea to get a clear picture before you seal your decision.