ielts guide

IELTS or TOEFL - How IELTS Compares with TOEFL & Which IELTS Test You Need

Madison Oster October 12th, 2021

Are you wondering which IELTS test you should take or even if you should take IELTS at all? In this article, you'll learn all about the IELTS and how it compares with TOEFL. First of all, the IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System and the TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. Both test your English ability. However, IELTS differs in that you have to decide between an academic test, or a general training test.

Do you plan to go to an English speaking country to continue your education, or professional advancement? If yes, you will need to take the “academic test.”

Are you going to an English speaking country for migration purposes? Or, for secondary education, work training or work experience? In this case, you will want to take the “general training” test.

Maybe you aren’t planning to do either of the above options. It is possible that you, or your family member wants to migrate to Australia, Canada, the UK or the USA. In this case, you will need to take the “general training test” which focuses on social and basic communication skills.

The Basics

Regardless of which test you will be taking, there are a few pieces of basic information you should know before you start preparing. The length of the IELTS is two hours and forty-five minutes long and is broken into four different sections. The test can be taken in over nine hundred locations worldwide, with 59 locations in the USA alone! The cost of the IELTS is normally around $200 U.S. dollars but can vary from location to location, so be sure to double check all the testing locations in your area!

IELTS Sections Broken Down

In both the “general training test” and the “academic test” there are four sections that you will need to complete.

Academic Test

First, let's look over the structure of the academic test. The listening portion has 4 sections, with a total of 40 questions. You will spend 30 minutes listening and 10 minutes answering. Next, you will move on to the reading portion which has 3 sections, and 40 questions. You will have 60 minutes to complete this section. After reading, you will move on to writing. You will need to complete two tasks. The first task will be a report and you will need to write 150 words. The second task will be an essay and need to have 250 words. You will have sixty minutes to complete this portion of the test. In the writing section, you will most likely be given a graph and asked to describe the graph in academic terms. Finally, you will be at the speaking portion of the test. This will be a one on one interview that consists of three sections.

General Training Test

The general training test has the same listening and speaking structures as the academic test, so let’s just go over the reading and writing sections. The reading portion will also have 3 sections and forty questions, but the passages in the general training test will be somewhat shorter and less complicated compared to the passages in the academic test.

The writing portion of the test also has some differences. You will be given a real-life situation and asked to write a letter about that situation.

Why is the IELTS important?

Now that you’ve got all basic information on the IELTS you may be asking yourself, is it important I take this test? Why should I spend time preparing? Just because you have general knowledge about how the test is structured, doesn’t mean that you are ready to take it. First of all, the test should be taken seriously because it isn’t cheap to register- you want to make sure you are prepared your first time around. Scoring well on the IELTS can open many doors for you in the future. A good test score is imperative to get into an English speaking university, and can ensure that you are prepared to attend and understand college courses in a different language than your native tongue. In addition to this, it is accepted by nearly 10,000 different organizations around the world, including universities, employers and immigration authorities.

So what are you waiting for? Start studying today!

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