Studying and settling abroad has become a passion for many today. There are various gateways that can help these aspirants to move to the country of their choice. Some of the most popular international entrance exams for studying abroad include IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, SAT, MCAT, GRE etc. These can help you study, live or work almost anywhere around the world.
The TOEFL and the IELTS probably top the list with regard to the sheer number of students across the globe undertaking one of them to showcase their English language skills. However, the student has to find out which test the university he wishes to join requires. Some universities and programs accept scores from both these international tests.
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for a non-native English speaker. It is available in two modules: Academic IELTS exam is taken by the students applying for the purpose of studying whereas the General Training exam is for immigrating and getting work in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US.
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is also a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers wishing to enroll in English-speaking universities only. TOEFL (iBT) is the progressive version of TOEFL (CBT). It is an internet based test.
While Both IELTS and TOEFL (iBT) test the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers through Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing, the former assesses the test takers on individual skills sets; the latter assesses them based on integrated skill sets.
The IELTS speaking test takes place in person and is conversational in style. It includes three sections, one of them being a short speech for which preparation time is given. Unlike TOEFL, IELTS speaking can be scheduled a week before or after the other three tests. For TOEFL speaking test, the candidate speaks into a recorder and this test mostly involves explanation of opinions, summarizing and interpreting information from other sources. There are six tasks involved, the first two being independent where the student expresses his own ideas, opinions and experiences. The remaining four are integrated tasks, involving skills like reading, listening and speaking.
In the written test of the TOEFL exam, the candidate is expected to type as opposed to the paper-based IELTS exam. The IELTS writing test has two sections. The first task requires the candidate to explain information presented in a graph, chart, table or diagram. In the second task, he needs to write a 250 word response to a prompt that offers an argument or a point of view. TOEFL, on the other hand, asks the candidate to complete two tasks, the independent and integrated writing. In the independent writing section, the candidate has to write an essay between 300-350 words. For the second task, which is an integrated task, the test taker is required to take notes from a section of text or part of a lecture on the same topic. He is then expected to use them to construct a 150-225 word response.
The reading tests for both tests are similar in nature for they are designed to check candidate’s comprehension. The IELTS Academic reading test has three sections. Candidate is expected to spend 20 minutes on each passage. These passages contain text academic in nature, but with a wider range of question types that can be anything from Complete the summary to Match the correct heading. The test is structured to test how well one has understood the text in its particular use of ideas and style.
The TOEFL reading test is made up of three to four reading passages where one gets 20 minutes per passage. Each passage is drawn from academic content one is likely to encounter in an academic environment. One has to answer a series of multiple choice questions testing how well one hasunderstood the texts.
The listening tests of both IELTS and TOEFL vary quite significantly. In the IELTS listening test, students answer 40 questions in a sequence while they listen to the recording which is played just once. The test takers get 30 minutes for listening and an extra 10 minutes to transfer the answers to the answersheets.The TOEFL listening test is almost 60 to 90 minutes long and involves one listening to excerpts from academic contexts. One is required to take notes while listening and answer a series of multiple choice questions afterwards.
The IELTS test takers are graded on a band system from 1-9. The overall score is an average of one’s separate scores in all the four tests. This score is rounded off to the nearest half band. TOEFL test takers are given a grade out of 120 points.
The results of both these tests are valid for two years.
While TOEFL scores are mostly accepted by North American universities, the scores of IELTS are more commonly accepted by maximum English speaking countries.
Though these tests with their varying levels of difficulty joggle the brains of the test takers yet they help them get the ticket to their dream destination where studying or settling in an English speaking environment becomes their way of life.