In this blog post, we compare the internet-based ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language’ (TOEFL iBT) with the International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic module) in terms of the contents of each exam, and their scale and history.
After analysing the TOEFL iBT and the IELTS Academic module section by section, we found that the IELTS academic module is better than the TOEFL iBT in the reading, listening, and speaking sections, and that the TOEFL iBT is superior to the IELTS academic module in the writing section. We also found that the TOEFL iBT is much more popular than the IELTS in Japan, although the opposite is true worldwide.
Globally, TOEFL iBT and IELTS academic module are some of the criteria of university entrance examinations and company employment examinations. They are very similar, as they both have the same four sections: reading section, writing section, speaking section, and listening section.
However, when the Educational Testing Service (ETS) conducted score comparison research between the TOEFL iBT and the IELTS academic module over a sample of 1,153 students who had both TOEFL iBT and the IELTS academic module scores, the total test correlation was 0.73. This means that they do not necessarily measure the same abilities.
Educational Testing Service, founded in 1947, is the world’s largest private nonprofit educational testing and assessment organisation.
Comparison of TOEFL iBT and IELTS academic module by section
TOEFL iBT is composed of four to six academic English passages. Its format is multiple choice. Passages of the IELTS academic module are taken from academic textbooks, newspapers, or magazines.
Its formats take on more forms, including short answer, multiple choice, heading matching, True/False/Not Given, completing a summary, locating the information, and others. In daily life, you often read newspapers and magazines and you use your abilities to solve various types of problems.
IELTS academic module measures such ability better than the TOEFL iBT because its question types vary.
The format on the TOEFL iBT is all multiple choice and are spoken in a Northern American accent. The formats on the IELTS academic module are multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, label a diagram, and other formats. They are spoken in a British accent, Australian accent, Canadian accent, and other accents.
TOEFL iBT is only related to university life, while the IELTS academic module is related to daily conversation and academics. When you go to foreign countries, you meet people that speak in different accents, and you need to be able to have daily conversations with them. The IELTS academic module measures such abilities better than TOEFL iBT.
TOEFL iBT and IELTS academic module both have two tasks. One of the tasks on the TOEFL iBT is an integrated task that includes listening and reading. The other task requires test takers to write an essay of 300 words. The tasks on the IELTS academic module are to write a 150-word essay and a 250-word essay.
In everyday life, you need to utilise writing, listening and reading skills at the same time. The TOEFL iBT measures such abilities better than IELTS academic module because it has an integrated task.
The TOEFL iBT has six tasks. The first two tasks require test takers to give their opinion or describe something familiar. The next two tasks are to summarise information from a text and a conversation. The last two tasks are to summarise information from a short conversation. You have to speak to a computer when you take the TOEFL iBT.
The IELTS academic module has three sections. You have to speak with a qualified examiner when you take the IELTS. Firstly, you give a brief introduction of yourself. Secondly, you talk for one to two minutes about a given topic. Lastly, you answer the question your examiner asks further questions on the given topic.
The skill of talking with people is required in daily life, and the IELTS academic module measures this ability better than the TOEFL iBT.
In the reading section, listening section, and speaking section, we decided that the IELTS academic module is more effective than the TOEFL iBT, and the TOEFL iBT is superior to the IELTS academic module in the writing section.
Overall, we came to the conclusion that the IELTS academic module is better than the TOEFL iBT in terms of the contents of the test, particularly the tasks that are able to measure students’ English ability in daily life.
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