Almost every day an E2Language student will ask us which is easier, TOEFL or IELTS? Well, we think it’s time to address this question in more detail once and for all!
First and foremost, it’s important to let you know that neither of these tests is easier than the other. With that said, people are unique and have different learning and testing styles, so often they will find one test more suited to their skills over the other. To choose the right test for your needs, you must know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and you must also know which format (written or computer-based) you are more comfortable with.
I know, I know. You’re sitting there thinking, “Get to the point, Kaia!! IELTS or TOEFL, which is easy?!!” I hear you. Let’s get started!
Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS: Depends Which Test You Need!
Before choosing between TOEFL and IELTS, make sure you are able to answer the following questions:
- Are both tests accepted by the institution or immigration authority for the country I wish to enter?
- Which is more appropriate for my needs, IELTS General or IELTS Academic?
The answer to the first question is pretty important, since it may turn out that your prospective university, workplace, or federal government only accepts one of these tests. For example, the Canadian government accepts IELTS but not TOEFL for immigration purposes.
The second question may also play an important part in answering the “Which is Easer, TOEFL or IELTS?” question. If you are planning to take an English test for professional purposes only (not immigration or academic purposes), you have the option of taking the IELTS General test.
Most people find the IELTS General to be more practical and relevant to everyday life; for example the reading section contains shorter, more general texts than the IELTS Academic reading section, which focuses more on complex vocabulary and academic concepts. In addition, the first task on the IELTS General writing section asks test-takers to write a formal, semi-formal, or informal letter to someone, while the first IELTS Academic writing task requires test-takers to analyze and describe data.
Bottom Line: Many people find the IELTS General less intimidating and complex than the IELTS Academic, so if you’re eligible to take IELTS general, you may want to keep this in mind! Out of the three (IELTS General, IELTS Academic or TOEFL), most of our E2Language students would prefer to take the IELTS General if they had the choice!
Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS: Speaking
Okay, time for you to do a little self-evaluation. Do you like speaking English in front of other people, or do you find it terrifying? Do you like speaking into a microphone with no speaking partner, or do you find it unnatural? (If you don’t know the answer to the second question, try recording yourself speaking about a topic non-stop for 2 minutes on your phone or another device to find out!)
If you enjoy engaging in conversations with others (especially strangers!) in English, you may find the IELTS speaking section a better fit than the TOEFL speaking section, in which you must record your answers using a computer and a headset.
The IELTS speaking section is a lot like a first date: your examiner is “getting to know you” and you are telling them all about yourself and your thoughts on various topics. In contrast, TOEFL speaking feels a little bit more like a traditional “test” because there are twice as many task types as IELTS (6 vs. 3) and most of these tasks are related to either summarizing or problem solving, although you must still provide your opinion in most cases.
Bottom Line: If you don’t get nervous speaking English in front of other people and you want to have an experience that’s more like a real conversation, you might find the IELTS speaking test easier than the TOEFL speaking test.
Learn more about the TOEFL Speaking Test on the E2 TOEFL YouTube Channel
Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS: Writing
It’s time to journey back into your own mind again! When it comes to problem solving, are you more of a concrete thinker or an abstract thinker? In other words, do you like to have the facts right in front of you, or do you prefer to piece them together yourself?
If you chose the first option, you’ll probably enjoy the graph/chart/table/diagram you’ll find on IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. This task is all about summarizing and/or describing the available information in your own words, and it is great for analytical thinkers.
The TOEFL integrated writing task delivers information in multiple ways (through a reading passage and a recording) and takes a step further than IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 by asking you to compare and contrast the information provided to you. Successfully identifying and breaking down differences or similarities in opinion takes some strong abstract reasoning skills.
As previously mentioned, the first IELTS General writing task requires you to write a letter in a formal, semi-formal or informal style. If you’re a practical person with lots of experience writing professional and personal emails and other written correspondence, you’ll probably do very well on this task.
Bottom Line: Are you a “details” person? Give those IELTS Academic graphs a try! Are you more of a “big picture” person? Have fun with those information comparisons on the TOEFL!
Learn about IELTS Writing Task 1 on our E2 IELTS Channel
Okay, I hope you’re not still sitting there in complete frustration, chanting “IELTS OR TOEFL, WHICH IS EASY?” over and over again and wishing somebody would just give you a straight answer. Sorry guys, unfortunately life isn’t that simple most of the time!
You may find one of these tests easier than the other, but remember that your experience is different to your friends, your family, and every random person on an IELTS or TOEFL forum! The key to this question is your understanding of your own skills, shortcomings and needs.
As the wise Aaron Carter once sang in his lyrical masterpiece ‘Do you Remember’: “The answer lies in you”.
Tell us what you think! Which is Easier, TOEFL or IELTS?
Written by Kaia