Everything You Need To Know About TOEFL and IELTS

June 3, 2019


English Language Proficiency Tests, IELTS, TOEFL

One of the basic requirements that one has to fulfill while seeking admission in a college or university in developed countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand is one’s ability to understand, write and speak in English. This is because English is not just the most commonly spoken language in those countries but also the primary medium of instruction in their schools and colleges. All those countries were colonies of the British Empire.

India too was a British colony till mid-twentieth century. However, this does not qualify Indians as English speakers because it is not our mother tongue. Indians applying for undergraduate or graduate degrees in English speaking countries are required to show documentary evidence of their proficiency in English.

This can be achieved by taking any of the English language proficiency tests such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). But taking both these tests would be time consuming as well as expensive.

In this blog, Student Cover tells you which English language proficiency test is best suited for getting admitted to universities abroad.


If one observes carefully, one would notice that people in the US often use certain words and expressions that are different from those used in the UK. Americans even use different spelling for common words like realise, behavior, colour etc (In US – realize, behavior, color) or call Lorry as truck, Lift as elevator, trousers as pants etc. As a result, those who are applying in universities in the US are required to take TOEFL examination.

TOEFL is a standardized English proficiency test developed by a US company ETS and was first conducted in the year 1964. It is based on American English and is accepted in more than 10,000 educational institutions in over 130 countries. TOEFL score is the most accepted English test score among educational institutions in the US.

TOEFL consist of two types of examinations – PBT (Paper Based Test) and IBT (Internet Based Test). Earlier, the tests were paper based. However, with the advent of internet, IBT test has become more popular due to their reach and ease of conducting examinations. An estimated 2.3 million people, mostly students applying in US universities, sit for test which are conducted 50 times each year.

In India, TOEFL tests are internet based and include Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing exercises which may take up to 4 hours. The cost of appearing for TOEFL IBT test depends varies from one country to another and may cost $160 to $300 per exam. TOEFL IBT fee in India is $180. The entire paper contains a total score of 120 marks which is divided into 4 of the above mentioned categories. Students who apply in US universities are expected to score at least 80 marks out of 120.

IMPORTANT – Due to their proximity to the US, many colleges and universities in Canada accept TOEFL score to admit students in various courses.


It was launched in the year 1980 as University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) and the British Council. The purpose of this test is also to test the English proficiency of people of non-English speaking countries like India. It is also accepted in over 10,000 colleges and universities in over 140 countries all over the world. Unlike TOEFL however, IELTS have two categories of tests – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, both of which are computed based except the speaking test which is done through one on one interview.

While the IELTS General Training test is required for those wish to work, settle or study at secondary school level in English-speaking country, the IELTS Academic is a more rigorous test which students applying for higher education in English-Speaking countries are required to take. They are conducted by respective British Councils in different countries. In India these tests are conducted in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai and cost Rs 12,000 to Rs 12,700 depending on the time of the year when the student registered for the test.

The total score of the test is 9 and consists of listening, reading, writing and speaking sections. These may take up to 2 hours and 45 minutes. With IELTS Internet-based option, students also have the choice of appearing for all the 4 sections together on the same day unlike the IELTS paper-based option whereby candidates take face-to-face interview some day before or after the day of listening, speaking and writing tests. IELTS score is compulsory for getting UK visa to study in a college or university in that country. IELTS score are also accepted in all English-speaking Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

We hope that the readers will find the content of this blog useful and informative. Since, TOEFL and IELTS are tests conducted to check one’s proficiency in US and British English, students, especially those taking TOEFL test are advised to prepare well for these tests.

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