Students and job seekers have to take a standardized test of English Language for study abroad programs or international work purposes. There are multiple tests among which the most popular ones are TOEIC, IELTS and TOEFL. These tests are widely accepted by institutions or organizations as they are recognized standard exam. Most of the aspiring test takers cannot figure out the main differences in these tests and their purpose as well. Also, they are left wondering which test to choose for their purpose. So in this article, we’ll discuss in details TOEIC, TOEFL and IELTS which will clearly state their differences as well.
TOEIC in brief
TOEIC stands for the Test of English for International Communication, conducted by ETS. It tests your ability to understand business work-related instructions, documents and conversations, in both spoken and written English. This test is not of a pass or fail nature. It simply tests the English speaking proficiency of test-takers and makes them stand out among candidates who have not taken the TOEIC test.
TOEIC test is now accepted by 14000+ organizations worldwide making it one of the most recognized English Language certification to be considered by recruiters. The test covers four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Below are the two main versions of TOEIC test.
The TOEIC Listening and Reading test takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete and comprises of 2 sections as the name of the test suggests:
- Listening Comprehension Section
- Duration: 45 minutes
- 100 Questions in this section
- Reading Comprehension Section
- Duration: 75 minutes
- 100 Questions in this section as well
Additional 30 minutes is taken initially into account to answer biographical questions.
The TOEIC Speaking and Writing test takes exact 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete. The test comprises of 2 sections as the name suggests:
- Speaking Test Section
- Duration: 20 minutes
- 11 Questions in this section
- Writing Test Section
- Duration: 60 minutes
- 8 Questions in this section
Initially, additional 30 minutes are required to complete the administrative formalities.
Format of the TOEIC test
The format of the test is pen and paper and computer based. And the score of the each test is scaled in the range of 10-990. A higher score is always a better score, but usually score above 790 is considered good.
Cost of the TOEIC test
The cost of each test is nearly $85. The cost of TOEIC test depends on your country and prices may vary from place to place. For detailed and accurate fee structure details you can contact your local test centre.
How to register for the TOEIC test
The TOEIC test is conducted by ETS. For detailed understanding of the process you can check Complete TOEIC guide for TOEIC Registrations. You have to contact your local test center for registration process. For a better understanding, we recommend to view ETS TOEIC Examinee handbook for free.
IELTS in brief
IELTS or International English Language Test is designed to help the test takers study or migrate to a country where English is the native language for study or business communication. It is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. It is developed to provide a rational and accurate assessment of English language proficiency. The test covers four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. All the test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests. Make sure that you prepare for the correct test type.
IELTS is recognized by more than 10,000 education and training providers worldwide. The two major versions of the IELTS exam is mentioned below.
- The IELTS Academic test is taken by candidates aspiring to study in an English speaking environment or university for higher education.
- It can also be taken for professional registration purpose.
- Students can request to send their IELTS result to up to five organization free of cost. For sending results to more organizations, you need to pay certain fee until the scores are valid.
IELTS General Training
- The IELTS General Training is applicable for those applying for work or migration, and to study below degree level.
- The test features day to day English language skills required in a workplace or a social environment.
Format of IELTS exam
The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them.
Test format – Listening
You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.
- Recording 1 – a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
- #2 – a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.
- #3 – a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
- #4 – a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture.
Assessors will be looking for evidence of your ability to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of an utterance and evidence of your ability to follow the development of ideas.
Test format – Reading
The Reading section consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.
IELTS Academic test – this includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.
IELTS General Training test – this includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.
Test format – Academic Writing
Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for, test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. There are two tasks:
- Task 1 – you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.
- Task 2 – you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.
Test format – General Training Writing
Topics are of general interest. There are two tasks:
- Task 1 – you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.
- Task 2 – you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be fairly personal in style.
Test format – Speaking
The speaking section assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.
- Part 1 – the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
- Part 2 – you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.
- Part 3 – you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.
IELTS is graded on a scale of 1-9.
Cost of the IELTS exam
The cost to take IELTS in the USA ranges between $245–255 USD. Please check your local test centres for exact fee structure.
How to register for IELTS
Understanding the registration process for IELTS in three simple steps.
- Find the nearest IELTS test location in your country
- With 1,600+ IELTS test locations in over 140+ countries, there is certainly a test location to be one near you. Find your nearest centre.
- Register for your test
- It’s easy for the test taker to register and pay online or download an application form to print, complete the necessary details and submit to your nearest local test centre.
- Don’t forget to provide a copy of your valid identity document.
- Note: You will also need to present the same identity document on the day of the test.
- Confirm your IELTS test booking
- Once your application has been processed, you will receive a written confirmation with date and time of your IELTS test from your test centre. The Speaking test, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. Your test centre will advise you about the same.
TOEFL in brief
The TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language test measures academic English skills the way they’re actually used in the classroom, so universities know you’re ready to succeed. The test has 4 sections — Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. 11,000+ institutions in over 150 countries accept TOEFL scores.
Format of TOEFL exam
The TOEFL test is a four hour computerized test including four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. You’ll be using one main skill for each section. For instance, on Reading you’ll be reading passages and similarly on Listening you’ll be listening to audio clips. Also you’ll encounter some questions or tasks requiring the use of multiple skills.
In the test, all sections are timed. You’ll certainly have 20 minutes on Speaking and 50 minutes on Writing. However, the Reading section (ranges from 60 to 80 minutes long) and Listening section (ranges from 60 to 90 minutes long ). Reading and Listening section vary in length due to unscored, experimental questions. Note: During the test, there will no indication for you to identify which questions are experimental.
- TOEFL Reading
- Duration: 60-80 mins
- 36-56 questions
- TOEFL Listening
- Duration: 60-90 mins
- 34-51 questions
- TOEFL Speaking
- Duration: 20 mins
- 6 tasks
- TOEFL Writing
- Duration: 50 mins
- 2 tasks
Scoring range of each section–> Reading: 0–30, Listening: 0–30, Speaking: 0–30, Writing: 0–30.
Cost of the TOEFL exam
Cost of TOEFL iBT is around $185 and cost of TOEFL Paper-based test is around $180.
How to register for TOEFL
For TOEFL test registration, visit Register for TOEFL test.
A quick overview of the differences
Let’s summarise the difference between IELTS, TOEFL and TOEIC tests.
- The IELTS is for people who want to study abroad or emigrate to a country where English is the native language.
- The TOEFL is for people who want to study abroad in institutions where English skills certification is must.
- The TOEIC is for people to certify their business English language skills required for work and business purposes.
- Test what?
- The IELTS tests academic and general language skills.
- The TOEFL tests English used in the classroom.
- The TOEIC tests business English communication at an international workplace.
- Mode of examination
- The IELTS is a paper-based exam.
- The TOEFL is a computer-based exam.
- The TOEIC two test versions include both paper and computerized exam.
- The IELTS test is graded on a band of 0-9.
- The TOEFL test is graded on a scale of 0-120.
- The TOEIC two test versions are scaled in the range 10-990.
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