IELTS vs. TOEFL: Which should you take?


English language skills are one of the important factors which you need to consider if you are looking to study in the UK, USA. If you are not a native language speaker, then as a part of your application you’ll have to take an English language proficiency test like TOEFL, IELTS which are acceptable across thousands of universities worldwide. Candidates can pursue MBBS in Ukraine, Russia, Bangladesh, the Philippines where an English language proficiency test is not mandatory to take to get admission.

But some of you might have questions like should you take TOEFL or IELTS? What are these tests like? Do universities prefer one exam over the other? 

The structure, teaching criteria, and approach varies from TOEFL and IELTS so think carefully before you choose:


The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is one of the most accepted English language proficiency exams across 130 countries and is produced by the Education Testing Service. It is either a paper-based or computer-based test. Due to pandemics, the TOEFL iBT is the most commonly taken and accepted version of the TOEFL.

Overview of what to expect in each section: The duration of TOEFL is 3.5 hours including reading, writing, listening, and speaking section:

TOEFL Reading:

This section contains 3 to 4 passages from university-level academic texts, and contains 2 types of questions: one is a standard multiple-choice question where students must insert a sentence into the proper spot in a paragraph, and the second question where students must properly sort information into a chart or summary table.

TOEFL Listening:

This section has four to six recordings, each followed by a set of questions, such as conversations that students encounter in daily academic life, during a classroom lecture, or a discussion between students or teachers. There will be multiple choices, like to order steps in an event or process, or to match objects or text to categories in a chart.

TOEFL Speaking:

The first two tasks are independent speaking tasks focusing on student’s own ideas, opinions, and experiences when responding, and the remaining four tasks are integrated tasks to check the ability of students to use more skills when responding to these types of questions.

Out of four integrated tasks, students are required to read, listen and speak in two integrated tasks, and in the other two, students are only required to listen and then speak.

TOEFL Writing:

The Writing section has two tasks: the first task is  Integrated Writing, where students hear a short recording and read a short passage, then they’ll have 20 minutes to summarize and compare the information in 150-225 words. The second task is Independent Writing, where students are given a topic and are asked to give their opinion on that topic. Students are given 30 minutes to write a minimum of 300 words supported by examples.

International English Language Testing System(IELTS):

It is another English language proficiency exam accepted by over 10,000 institutions across 140 countries globally. The two versions of the IELTS: the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training. 

Overview of what to expect in each section:

The duration of  IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The IELTS has the same number of sections as the TOEFL, although the two exams test the sections in different order.

IELTS Listening:

This section contains four recordings out of which two are set in an everyday social context, one set in an educational context, and one that is a university lecture. After listening to each recording you will have to answer 10 questions such as multiple-choice, matching, diagram labeling, sentence completion, and short answer.

IELTS Reading:

This section has three passages from journals, magazines, newspapers, each followed by about 10-15 questions. These passages will have a variety of styles, such as narrative, descriptive, and/or argumentative and at least one will have a detailed logical argument.

Similar to the listening section, this section will include multiple-choice, matching, diagram labeling, sentence completion, and short answer.

IELTS Writing:

This section contains two writing tasks. For Task 1, students must describe a piece of visual information such as a graph, table, chart, or diagram in their own words (words count -150). For Task 2, a topic is given and they must write at least 250 words on this topic in an academic writing style. Both tasks evaluate the students on how well they respond to the question, the clarity of their writing, range of vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.

IELTS Speaking: 

IELTS Speaking: In this section, you’ll have an oral interview with an examiner. Your responses will be recorded. This section consists of three parts.

  • Part 1: The interviewer will ask the students questions about their work, family, studies, and interests.
  • Part 2: A topic is given to a student, and one minute to prepare and then speak for two minutes, lastly students have to answer the questions from the interviewer.
  • Part 3: In this part, an in-depth discussion on the same topic is done by the student and interviewer for four to five minutes.

We sincerely hope that you were served with the information you came looking for. If you are planning to study MBBS in Russia, Ukraine, UK, the USA, or any other foreign country, seek help from the best overseas education consultants. Wishing you the best!

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