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Which is Best : IELTS or TOEFL ?


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Just saw this post on Quora:

IELTS (International English Language Test System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Both are English Language Tests to determine one’s ability to communicate in English. The major difference of both are as follows

  • Style of English Exam - IELTS has different question types, ranging from fill in the gap, short answer and essays. TOEFL is more on multiple choices.
  • Developer/Administration Council - TOEFL is administered by Education Testing service, a US-based organization that also handles SAT. On the other hand, IELTS is administered by British Council, University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and IDP Education Australia.
  • Language - IELTS is more likely British English while TOEFL is more on American English

Hope this can answer your question.

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I need more information to answer accurately. Are you applying to schools in the US/Canada, or Europe/Oceana? 


TOEFL is favored more by the Americas and IELTS is everywhere else.

The trends seem to be in favor of the IELTS (American unis are increasingly accepting it). You still should look at your individual universities of choice to see which tests and scores they require.

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It depends on the institutions you are applying to. If the institutions take both tests then it is your choice. Neither one is necessarily "better." As JohnKim noted the English expected in each test will be slightly different based on the country of origin for the test. However, depending on where you live, location may be a bigger issue. IELTS typically cannot be taken in as many places as the TOEFL. 

Moreover, the scoring of the tests typically are a bit different. Most universities look for the IELTS band score which is an average of all your skills. The TOEFL is usually based on an overall number (the addition of all four parts of the test together). The benefit to the TOELF is that if you have two sections where you particularly excel and two sections where you are good but not great, the adding of the scores does much less to negate the effect of your excellent sections. The IELTS which averages your scores often is more damaging to a high score if your other sections aren't as good. 

Having worked in graduate admissions in the US, most people took the TOEFL even though we allowed the IELTS as well. 

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