TOEFL vs. IELTS: Which is Harder?

When it comes to pursuing higher education or professional opportunities in English-speaking countries, proving your English proficiency is a critical step. The two most well-known English proficiency language exams available are IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Both exams assess your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, but they do so in distinct formats and styles.


Foreign universities, colleges and organizations widely accept the scores of these two exams due to their transparency and accuracy in determining an individual’s English proficiency. In this article, we will explore the differences, challenges, and ease of both tests, helping you decide which might suit you best. If you’re aiming to join the best TOEFL institute in Indore or the best TOEFL institute in Delhi, understanding these differences is crucial.

TOEFL vs. IELTS: Understanding the Differences

Differences in Test Structure and Format

The TOEFL and IELTS exams are designed to evaluate your English language skills comprehensively. However, their approach to assessing these skills varies significantly.

  • TOEFL is primarily internet-based (iBT) and is structured around four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. The total test duration is about 3 hours and 30 minutes. It’s known for its academic orientation, with tasks and readings resembling university-level work.
  • IELTS offers two versions: Academic and General Training, with each having four sections as well. The test duration is slightly shorter, around 2 hours and 45 minutes. IELTS is appreciated for its real-life context, making it slightly more practical for everyday use.

Differences in Reading and Listening Sections

  • In the Reading section, IELTS presents three long passages with tasks that range from descriptive to analytical, intended to test a wide range of reading skills. TOEFL, on the other hand, offers passages followed by questions that test your ability to understand academic texts.
  • The Listening section in IELTS includes recordings of native English speakers in various settings, while TOEFL’s listening tasks are based on lectures and classroom discussions, reflecting the North American academic environment.

Differences in Speaking and Writing Sections

The Speaking section of IELTS involves a face-to-face interview with an examiner, which can be more intimidating but also allows for a more natural conversation. TOEFL’s

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