Home Undergraduate Admissions TOEFL & IELTS Languages Requirement for International Students

TOEFL & IELTS Languages Requirement for International Students

How to Register for TOEFL Exams

Communication is one of the main things a student will succeed in academic pursuit as an international student. As effective communication skills advance chances of being accepted in some countries for international studies, it is also a barrier to many. Here in this article, I will focus on the differences between TOEFL and IELTS international Language requirements for students studying abroad

While the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) remain the two main English language proficiency tests accepted at universities across the world, it is important that every international student seeking admission prepare beforehand to meet the universities’ test requirements.  In achieving this, you must know that a particular score on one of these tests could help you study English at the institution of your choice.

Though the two languages differ, you must know which to test, and the required score a university can take.

Main differences between TOEFL and IELTS

  • TOEFL typically requires that you simply utilize either US English or UK English during your test and not combine the two, whereas IELTS seems to be a bit more flexible
  • TOEFL consists substantially of multiple-choice questions and the IELTS has further variation in how questions are formed and answers need to be given
  • The IELTS test is shorter than the TOEFL
  • The IELTS speaking section is done face to face with a monitor


Universities that want a TOEFL score generally ask you to meet a specific iBT score. iBT stands for the internet-Based test and is the ultimate reading of a TOEFL assessment.

It’s the favorite test for entry requirements of US universities, and it is the most extensively accepted English proficiency test for advanced education.

TOEFL scores

Although a university will ask for an overall TOEFL score, they may also take that you meet a certain number of points in each section.

Test sections of the TOEFL iBT

The TOEFL iBT test is split up by language ability in different areas. You’ll be tested across reading, listening, writing, and speaking and given a score for each that combine for an overall score.

Reading0-30High: 22-30 Medium: 15-21 Low: 0-14
Listening0-30High: 22-30 Medium: 14-22 Low: 0-13
Speaking0-30Good: 26-30 Fair: 18-25 Limited: 10-17 Weak: 0-16
Writing0-30Good: 24-30 Fair: 17-23 Limited: 1-16 Zero: 0

You must register and reserve a TOEFL test well in advance as there can be awaiting lists for vacancy in some areas. Registration for a test date closes seven days before that test, so always give yourself plenitude of time.

The TOEFL iBT takes around four hours to complete and consists of four skill sections. There’s a required recess to be grasped half through. The reading and listening segments can differ in length depending on the number of questions you pick up.

TOEFL reading section

This section is scored by a computer and consists of 36- 56 tasks predicated on reading academic textbooks and answering questions on your appreciation of them.

TOEFL listening Section

This section is also scored by a computer but consists of 34- 51 tasks based on listening to lectures, classroom conversations and exchanges, also answering questions on your understanding of them.

TOEFL Speaking Section

There are six tasks in this section that are scored by a mortal assessor. The section lasts for 20 minutes.

TOEFL Writing Section

This section is scored with a human and computer rating to get the best understanding of content and meaning. There are two tasks to complete in around 50 minutes.

IELTS Academic

All UK universities accept IELTS academic test scores as a certification of English language ability, however, the level required varies by each institution and their programs.

The IELTS academic is also widely accepted in Canada and Europe.

IELTS Scores

You’re awarded a band between zero and nine, including half scores, to express your English language level.

Band scoreSkill level
Band 9Expert user
Band 8Very good user
Band 7Good user
Band 6Competent user
Band 5Modest user
Band 4Limited user
Band 3Extremely limited user
Band 2Intermittent user
Band 1Non-user
Band 0Did not attempt the test

Test sections of the IELTS

The IELTS listening, reading, and writing sections are all taken on the same day. You can choose to do your speaking test on the same day as the other sections, or up to a week before or after.

IELTS listening section

In the listening section of the test, you’ll listen to four recorded monologues or conversations. This takes 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes for writing up your answer.

IELTS reading section

The reading section of the test takes an hour; it consists of three long reading passages with tasks. The texts given will be found in books, journals and newspapers with graphs and illustrations possibly included.

IELTS writing section

In the writing section, you’ll need to write a minimum of 150 words on the graph, table or diagram given. You’ll then have a short essay task of 250 words minimum.

IELTS speaking section

This section is relatively short and may only last around 15 minutes. You will need to talk at length about a familiar topic, and answer questions. This section is face to face with an examiner who will determine your score.

IELTS vs TOEFL scores

The overall scores from TOEFL and IELTS can be roughly compared as follows:


CEFR score equivalents

Many European students will be more familiar with the CEFR scale, which measures European language proficiency in the boundaries of letters and numbers.

In general, a student wanting to study abroad at undergraduate level must be studying the language of teaching of the institution at B2 level or above. A B2 level would equal an IELTS score in the range of 5.5-6.5, however, you can’t commonly use a CEFR level in place of a requested IELTS or TOEFL score.

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