Both the TOEFL and IELTS test are widely accepted English language proficiency exams. Students often wonder which one they should take.

Ultimately it all comes down what the admission process looks like at the institution (college, university) you are applying to.

However, there are cases where schools accept both the TOEFL and IELTS. Then the question becomes which test will you perform the best. Let’s take a look at the difference between the TOEFL and IELTS test.

TOEFL is about 4 hours long while the IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. If you have trouble concentrating, IELTS might give you a small advantage since it’s shorter.

The fee for the TOEFL test ranges between 160 to 200 USD while the IELTS cost around 200 USD. Both the IELTS and TOEFL scores are valid for 2 years.

TOEFL is generally used for academic purposes; therefore the content resembles what you will see at a college or university. The IELTS has a version of their exam called IELTS Academic test.

Universities often want you to submit the academic version of the IELTS and not the general version.

The format of the two exams is fairly similar but there is some factor that makes them different. The similar part is that both of them include four different sections (reading, speaking, listening and writing). The difference between the two tests lays more within the content of the exams.

For example the IELTS listening section does not include an integrated part like the TOEFL. Another example is the IELTS speaking section involves conversations with an actual person while on the TOEFL you record your answers through the computer.

Another difference between the two exams is the dialect. IELTS uses British English while the TOEFL is American English.

So which one should you choose given the option?
If you prefer to take the exam on a computer as much as possible, feel comfortable with American English, like multiple choice questions, have experience with informational content in English, have no problem multitasking in English and you prefer to record your answer rather than having a conversation, then the TOEFL might be a better fit.

The best way to find out which exam you will do better in is to take practice tests. Try to find test materials that simulate the real TOEFL and IELTS exams and choose the one you think is easier for you.

Remember to first consult the school/program you want to get admitted to. Research which language proficiency exam they require for admission. If they accept both, evaluate which exam that would be the best fit for you.