Have you ever dreamt about working or studying abroad, preferably where they speak English? Let’s face it, most of us Filipinos speak it well enough already, right?

But did you know that passing an English proficiency test is a common requirement for working or studying abroad? And no, this isn’t your fifth-grade English grammar quiz either.

The two most common ones are called TOEFL and IELTS, and they can make or break your dreams to work or study abroad. 

Now, how are they different? Most importantly, how can AHEAD help you get a passing mark on either of them?

Let’s find out.

American or British English?

IELTS is based on British English while TOEFL relies on American English. If you are from South Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam, or Indonesia, you’re probably more familiar with American English. On the other hand, if you are from Mainland China, Malaysia, Thailand or Myanmar, you might lean towards British English. 

But what really matters is what sort of English they use in the country where you plan to work or study. You’ve got to find out what that is, and then take the test that corresponds to it.

Computer-Based or Paper-Based?

As with most exams, you can opt to take either a computer-based or paper-based handwritten one for both the TOEFL and IELTS. 

How do you know which one suits you better? Well, if you’re comfortable with computers and can type quickly, the computer-based exam is up your alley. On the other hand, if you prefer to shade your answers and/or write them down by hand, you might be better off with a paper-based exam.

Do note, however, that TOEFL exams tend to be computer-based, but don’t worry, we at AHEAD can give you good tips for either format. 

Specific Test Features 

Since TOEFL exams tend to be computer-based, you’ll be given a microphone and a recorder to test your listening and speaking skills. 

In contrast, IELTS exams often involve distinguishing between a variety of English accents. Here, good handwriting could also help swing the odds in your favor.

Fortunately, regardless of whatever course you take, AHEAD will coach you accordingly. From maximizing TOEFL’s microphone and recorder to tips on nailing good handwriting techniques and IELTS’ various question types, we’ve got you covered.

Test Portions and Scoring

TOEFL has four sections:

  • Reading (around 60 minutes) – 3-4 passages with 10 questions each
  • Listening (around 45 minutes) – 5-7 passages with 5-6 questions each
  • Speaking (17 minutes) – 4 tasks
  • Writing (55 minutes) – 2 tasks

The entire exam will take around 3 and a half hours and a 10-minute break is provided at some point.

IELTS also has four sections:

  • Listening (40 minutes) – 4 passages with 10 questions each
  • Reading (60 minutes) – 3 texts that are about academics, everyday topics, work, or general interests
  • Writing (60 minutes) – 2 tasks about graphics, arguments/problems, everyday situations or general interests
  • Speaking (11-14 minutes) – A face-to-face interview with an introduction, a topic to talk about and discussions

The IELTS generally takes a shorter time to complete than the TOEFL, about 2 hours and 45 minutes. The pace is also quicker.

At AHEAD, of course, we have simulated exams to help you get a good feel for the structure of each exam and how you would fare given the allotted time limits for each one. Best of all, we will give you pointers on how to do well in each section.

So, how do you interpret your scores afterwards? The IELTS and TOEFL exams have their own scoring systems, but each score corresponds to more or less the same proficiency level as shown below: 

While there are many foreign universities that accept a score of 70 TOEFL points or an IELTS score of 6.0 (which corresponds to a B2 upper intermediate proficiency or the competent user level), there are other universities that require higher scores, such as 100-110 TOEFL points or an IELTS score of 7.5-8.0 (which corresponds to a C1 advanced proficiency or the very good user level).

We at AHEAD strive to help our students succeed in all their endeavors, whether they pursue them here or abroad. Getting the necessary TOEFL or IELTS score is an important step towards the latter, and with our help, you’ll always be AHEAD anywhere in the world.

Edited by Serena

By Dave Go