Before deciding between taking the iBT TOEFL or IELTS, be sure to note these three important items:

● the application requirements of the schools you intend to apply

● the deadline dates for submitting your scores

● the assurance that you have no less than 15 weeks to prepare.

A large number of undergraduate and graduate programs in Europe, England, the USA, and Canada, are accepting scores from either of these Academic English language proficiency exams, while Australia requires the Academic IELTS for undergraduate and graduate school admissions.

However, immigration intentions differ. Both Australia and Canada request the General IELTS for purposes of immigration. So… research the test you need for the objectives that lie before you!

As you search the university online, use the key words “international student admission requirements.” If you are entering college or university directly from high school, search undergraduate programs. If you are applying for a Masters degree program, check the department you wish to enroll in for specific requirements. Some will request IELTS; others will expect iBT TOEFL, and yet others may set requisites for SAT, GRE, or GMAT, (all of which will be covered in other articles).

Once you know which exam is requested and the minimum scores that are required, sit back and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. How strong are you in academic English? To what extent can you write an argumentative essay in thirty minutes? Are your writing skills best presented on paper (IELTS) or do you do your best written work on a computer (iBT TOEFL)? Some schools permit scores from either IELTS or iBT TOEFL, and at this point, it’s wise to evaluate your assets.

The iBT TOEFL emphasizes a learner’s ability to examine written and oral material from a perspective of logic. The reading section, the listening, and the speaking component all balance situations that blend both practical experiences within an academic community and exchanges between advisors, professors, and a student within the classroom.

The IELTS readings and listenings rely heavily on students’ ability to pick up quickly on minute details, and are often based upon global topics of social concerns.

Some test takers find the iBT TOEFL Listening, Writing, and Speaking comfortably objective, since all three are decided upon by a panel of six adjudicators and often include the perspective of a robot, called an “e-reader.” While the reading and listening sections are entirely multiple choice, the speaking and writing sections demand that the graders evaluate student performance on a matriculated, objective standard. The listening section combines academic community life with lectures. The accents of the speakers are, generally, North American. The writing section and the speaking component are examined by six people. If they do not agree on an overall pointage, then a seventh grader decides the score. In so far as the writing goes, TOEFL uses one person and one e-grader (robot) to recheck the human’s ability to acknowledge strengths in grammar, cohesion, task completion, and cogency.

The IELTS reading section is both multiple choice and fill in the blanks. Success depends on a test taker’s ability to flush out those details to fill the gapps, and to be able to discern between inferences and information not given within the texts. The IELTS listening includes 40 questions – mostly to fill in the blanks of gap questions (and spelling must be correct to constitute a correct answer). A range of accents are used on the IELTS listening component: Irish, British, Australian, and North American. The writing of both essays is examined by a team of examiners who quickly read each essay and evaluate on a point system of task completion; cohesion; lexical range; and mechanics (spelling, punctuation, grammar).

On these points, both IELTS and iBT TOEFL are equivalent.

Both exams take about 3 hours and 45 minutes, so ask yourself this: do you work better under multiple choice conditions or with fill in the gaps contents? Do you prefer a paper and pencil based exam, or do you find writing essays on a computer, with edit functions, easier for you?

Many like the personalized approach of the IELTS, while others feel safer with the objective measures of the iBT TOEFL.

Overall, your success can only be based on advanced planning and preparation, and your understanding of your skills.

Article written by Patricia Love.