These are all times questions for students: TOEFL or IELTS? Which one is the hardest? Which one should I take?
In this post I want to mention the differences that IELTS and TOEFL have with each other.
First of all you need to know that the IELTS test is administrated by the British Councils, the University of Cambridge, and IELTS Australia. That is to say, it is associated with the British government and traditionally was used by British universities, as well as New Zealand and Australian universities to determine the language capability of foreign students. But TOEFL is administered by ETS, a US-based non-profit and is used widely by American and Canadian universities. So your target schools are somehow important.
For the reading and listening sections, TOEFL gives you multiple-choice questions, whereas IELTS generally expects you to copy down words from the text or the conversation word-for-word. Multiple-choice questions will tend to be requiring slightly better abstract thinking, but the IELTS favors people who have good memories and think more concretely.
Also it worth mentioning that the TOEFL is more predictable than the IELTS. The IELTS throws lots of different question types at you, and the instructions are often slightly different every time. That makes it harder to prepare for. The TOEFL, on the other hand, is pretty much the same test every time–pick A, B, C, D, or E. On the other hand, the IELTS certainly keeps you on your toes and that can keep you more alert.
Another large difference is in how the speaking section is carried out. For some people, it’s very relaxing to just record your answers into a computer because it feels like no one is listening as in TOEFL. You just try your best and forget about it until you get your grades. Because the IELTS test is done in an interview format with a native speaker present, you might get nervous or feel you are being judged. It may make you feel nervous as you see the interviewer taking notes!!
Finally, the speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL are graded holistically. The grader gives you a score based on the overall quality of the essay, including vocabulary, logic, style, and grammar. The IELTS by contrast is marked by individual criteria and you are scored individually for grammar, word choice, fluency, logic, cohesion, and a dozen other criteria. In other words, if you write well but have a lot of small grammar mistakes, your TOEFL score might be quite good because graders will ignore small mistakes if the overall essay is logical and detailed. The IELTS will not overlook bad grammar. On the other hand, if your grammar and vocabulary are strong but you have trouble expressing your opinion or organizing an essay, you could end up with a low TOEFL score but the IELTS will give you good marks for language use. So while it may sound like the IELTS is much tougher since it grades you on everything, in fact you can get quite a good score if you are strong in a number of areas. The TOEFL emphasizes the ability to put together a logical and detailed argument (or summary) and looks at clarity, word choice, and style above all. If you don’t feel comfortable writing essays but you think you have excellent grammar and vocabulary and overall are a decent writer, the IELTS will probably be easier for you.
Now with all the differences that are mentioned here and the abilities that different students have in English language, they are the only ones who can decide better for themselves whether take TOEFL or IELTS.