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What are the TOEFL and IELTS?

Posted on Sep 26, 2016
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The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are two popular choices of English proficiency tests, and are accepted by most universities. Most colleges require international students to have completed one, with the grade requirements and preference (if any) clearly stated on the website, as part of the admissions process. Some colleges may waive this requirement if certain prerequisites are met.

• Both evaluate how well you can combine your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills.

• The TOEFL is a 4 hour-long test, whereas the IELTS is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

• One of the main differences is the speaking part of the test. For IELTS, you are required to take the exam face to face with an IELTS examiner. For TOEFL, the speaking test consists of six questions which you answer into a microphone. These are recorded and sent to an examiner to mark.

• The scoring systems are also different. IELTS rates you between 0 and 9, with halfway points in between. TOEFL provides a more numerical SAT-style grade, totaling your scores from all areas.

• Test results are valid for 2 years and you can retake the exam as many times as you like.

It is important that you check the university website before taking your English proficiency exam, not only to see if there is an exam preference or a minimal score requirement, but also if you are eligible for a waiver.