The process of studying abroad can be intimidating. You look to family, friends, and teachers for guidance and for help in selecting the right English-language test. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®) are the two most widely used English proficiency tests for college admissions. When deciding which to take, review each test's website and the admissions requirements of the schools you will apply to in order to see which is the most appropriate. Because TOEFL® is the most commonly used English proficiency test for the U.S., we offer here some information about that test.
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TOEFL: About the Exam
What is the exam used for? TOEFL iBT® stands for Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language.
The test is used to measure your ability to use and understand the English language in an academic environment. TOEFL scores are often used by universities and colleges as an admission requirement.
Where can students take the exam? The TOEFL iBT® test is administered via the Internet and is offered at more than 4,500 authorized test centers throughout the world.
Learn more about the test centers and dates
How much does it cost to take the exam? Fees to take the TOEFL range from $160 to $240 and vary depending on your country.
How do you register for the exam? You can register online, by phone, by mail or in person at a TOEL iBT Resource centre.
Learn more about test registration
What does the exam assess? The TOEFL iBT® test assesses students' proficiency in English and their reading, speaking, listening and writing skills.
When should you take the exam? Each Institution has specific deadlines for submission of test scores. You should therefore get in contact with the institution you are interested in and allow appropriate time for the receipt of scores by the Admissions Office.
Can you take the exam multiple times? Yes, you can retake the test as many times as you wish, but you cannot take it more than once in a 12-day period. If you already have a test appointment, you cannot register for another test date that is within 12 days of your existing appointment.
How does the scoring work? There is no passing or failing test score: higher education institutions set their own TOEFL requirements. You will receive four section scores and a total score:
- Reading Section (Score of: 0–30)
- Listening Section (Score of: 0–30)
- Speaking Section (Score of: 0–30)
- Writing Section (Score of: 0–30)
- Total Score (0–120)
What is the length of the exam? The entire TOEFL iBT test session (including check-in) is approximately four and one-half hours. The test itself is four hours. Check-in time is 30 minutes.
What is the breakdown of test sections? The TOEFL test consists of the following 4 sections which take approximately 4.5 hours to complete:
- Reading, 60 - 80 minutes: Read three passages from academic texts and answer questions
- Listening, 60 - 90 minutes: Listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations and answer questions
- Speaking, 20 minutes: Express an opinion on a familiar topic; speak based on reading and listening tasks
- Writing, 50 minutes: Write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing
IELTS: About the Exam
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is used the measure the English language abilities of non-native speakers who wish to study or work in an English speaking environment. More than 2.2 million IELTS tests were taken last year with an increasing number of test takers interested in studying in the USA.
IELTS Acceptance: IELTS is accepted by over 9,000 organizations worldwide, including more than 3,000 institutions in the U.S. A list of all US colleges and universities that accept IELTS can be downloaded from the IELTS website by clicking on 'IELTS USA Recognition List.' This list is updated at the beginning of each month.
Test Fee: IELTS test fees vary by country and are based in your local currency, which means you don't have to deal with exchange rates. Find your local IELTS test center by going to the IELTS Test Center for information about the local IELTS test fee in your country.
Test Centers: IELTS is offered in over 1,000 testing locations in more than 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit the IELTS Test Center to search by country and city to find detailed information about IELTS test venues and upcoming test dates. Information about how to register is available on each test center's information page.
Test Versions: There are twp versions of the IELTS test – Academic and General Training. IELTS Academic is used for higher education and professional registration, and IELTS General Training is used for immigration or employment purposes.
Test Format: IELTS is a paper-and-pencil English test that includes 4 sections – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, and is approx. 2 hrs and 45 mins in length.
The following times are allotted for each section of the test:
- Listening – 30 minutes plus 10 minutes to transfer responses to the answer sheet, 40 questions
- Reading – 60 minutes, 40 questions
- Writing – 60 minutes, 2 tasks
- Speaking – 11 – 14 minutes, 3 parts
The Speaking test is conducted face-to-face with a trained and certified IELTS Examiner, which offers a more true-to-life assessment of your English speaking abilities. IELTS uses a variety of native-speaker accents on the test, such as American, Australian, British, Canadian, and New Zealand.
: IELTS is offered on 48 fixed dates each year on Saturdays and some Thursdays. There is no limit on the number of times you can take IELTS, but we recommend taking time to work on your English before registering to take IELTS again.
Band Scores: There is no pass or fail on IELTS since the test measures all levels of English proficiency on a band scale from 1 Non user (lowest) to 9 Expert user (highest). Test takers receive a band score on each section of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, and an average overall mean band score. IELTS scores are given in whole and half bands.
: If you have questions about IELTS in the USA, contact the IELTS USA office located in Los Angeles, CA at firstname.lastname@example.org