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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 admission process. Some colleges may waive this requirement if certain prerequisites are met.

  1. Both evaluate how well you can combine your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. You have to pay a separate fee to take both tests. Fees can vary, depending on where you take the test, but expect to pay between $170 to $250.
  2. TOEFL is a 4 hour long test, whereas IELTS is 2 hours 45 minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. The scoring system is also different. IELTS, rates you between 0 and 9, with halfway points in between. TOEFL gives a more numerical SAT-style grade, totaling your scores from all areas.
  5. TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service, a non-profit US based organisation, and conducts its test according to US English. IELTS is administered jointly by the British Council, the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and IDP Education Australia, and conducts its test in UK English.
  6. The differences between the two are not significant, but the spelling variations or accent differences could pose a problem for some students. Browse through the guides for both, before deciding which one to take.
  7. 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 minimum score requirement but also if you are eligible for a waiver.