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The difference between TOEFL and IELTS and how to prepare for them

The difference between TOEFL and IELTS and how to prepare for them

Tarek Floyd

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TOEFL and IELTS are the most popular English proficiency tests around the world. However, they differ from each other in many aspects.

Students who intend to study abroad often ask the question about the appropriate exam that they should take. So, before you make the decision, take a look at today’s article where we talk about the difference between these two tests, Plus a set of tips on how to prepare for them.

The difference between TOEFL and IELTS and how to prepare for them

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What is the difference between TOEFL and IELTS?

To begin with, the construction of scores in the TOEFL test is different from that in the IELTS test, as the IELTS test has a grading of scores from 1 to 9, while the TOEFL gives larger numbers that it collects from the four sections of the test.

Another fundamental difference, The speaking test in IELTS is through a real face-to-face oral conversation between you and the examinee, while in the TOEFL test the conversation is recorded through the microphone and evaluated later.

Also for the TOEFL, you can take the full test via the Internet (Computer Based Test), which is of course the option that is more popular with international students.

The IELTS test is more popular in the UK and Europe compared to the TOEFL which is more accepted in America, Canada and Australia. However, many international universities accept both degrees.

check: All details about GRE Exam

The objective of both tests is the same, which is to prove the student’s linguistic competence and ability to adapt to the English study and the university community.

It depends mainly on the student’s choice of study destination. The TOEFL gives the choice to take the test online, so it is more convenient and easier for some students who live in different regions around the world.

How do I prepare for the TOEFL or IELTS test?

Taking the TOEFL or IELTS exam can be intimidating for students due to its difficulty and one of the basic steps that guarantee your admission to a university abroad.

Perhaps one of the most important features of these two tests is that they use a practical-life approach in their questions, as these questions do not focus on complex grammar and difficult vocabulary that you will never use, but rather address aspects of the language that you use in your daily life, such as university or work.

If you are about to take one of these exams and feel like you don’t know where to start, read on to learn the most important steps to prepare for both TOEFL and IELTS:

1- Learn about the TOEFL or IELTS test:

Before taking one of these two exams, and starting to prepare for them, make sure you first get to know them, and understand their parts and parts well.

In addition to determining which is best for you, making such a decision depends on several factors, the most important of which is the university you are applying to or the country in which you want to study.

2- Determine your goal for taking the exam:

In order to be fully prepared, you must then define your goal for taking one of these exams. There are several reasons that might make you think about obtaining a TOEFL or IELTS certificate, perhaps the most important of which are the following:

  • To find out your level of English through an official exam.
  • To apply to scholarships or universities to study abroad.
  • To enroll in a course or search for a job.
  • with the aim of emigrating abroad.

When you know exactly why you want to take the exam, you will be able to better organize your study time.

For example, if you were to obtain certification for one of these two exams in order to work in a job that might require making many calls, then you will realize that it is important for you to get a high score in the speaking and listening sections, and therefore you will follow a study strategy that focuses on these two sections.

check: What is the IELTS Test ?

3- Put in your accounts a minimum score that you want to get:

Start by knowing the minimum mark you need (which is determined by the university or institution you are applying to).

Then select the mark that you want to get so that it is higher than the minimum in a reasonable percentage commensurate with your current abilities that you can measure through a number of online mock exams.

4- Create 3 perfect places to study:

Make sure to choose several places to study, preferably 3 or more, so that if you get bored in one of them, move to another place.

Follow these tips to prepare these places:

  • You can choose any type of place, it could be your bedroom, library, cafe, office at work, living room or any other place, the important thing is that you are comfortable in it.
  • Make sure to create a quiet atmosphere for studying, where there are no distractions.
  • Tell your family and friends that you are studying in this place so that they do not disturb you, and do not start studying before you turn off your phone and turn off all social media
  • Keep your study space tidy and clean, clean your office, and organize your files.
  • Buy a new notebook designed to prepare for your exam, and have your pens and everything you may need while studying before you start so you don’t waste your time during it.
  • Schedule your breaks and food, as this will help you focus better while studying.
  • Use some meditation and relaxation apps like Calm and Headspace that will help you calm your mind.

The difference between TOEFL and IELTS and how to prepare for them

5- Get a study guide:

You can purchase a paper or electronic copy of the TOEFL or IELTS preparation guide.

Read the written explanation about the exam and its sections, and get to know each section well before starting to solve any exercise or question. Before you start studying, you can do some exercises to get a general idea of ​​your current level.

6- Get help from a teacher or a colleague of yours:

You don’t have to study and prepare for the whole exam on your own, you can always get some help from your fellow students or teachers,

Here are some ideas to help you get support while preparing to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam:

  • Get a tutor to help you study and give you advice and guidance, as these people are experienced in explaining the rules and can provide specific and customized exercises for you to help you develop your skills.
  • Find other learners preparing to take these tests, and share different study and memorization strategies with them. Find support online through study groups spread on various social media.

7-Practice reading non-technical English:

The reading section of both the TOEFL and IELTS test includes reading texts and answering related questions, as these texts are mostly in simple English and understandable to everyone.

You can prepare for this particular section by following these tips:

Read for 30 minutes a day. Reading regularly helps you get used to the language and increase your comprehension.

There are a number of websites where you can find interesting texts in English such as Breaking News which uses different news to create texts and reading exercises, story Archives, which contains a wide range of stories from CNN.

Be sure to ask yourself questions after reading a number of paragraphs, such as:

  • What is the main idea?
  • Who are the main characters in the story?
  • What is the main knot or problem in this story or article?

Thus, answer these questions and check the correctness of your answers by reading the text again. In the end, summarize what you have read. You can write this summary or narrate it orally to train yourself on the writing or speaking section of the exam, thus killing two birds with one stone.

check: What is the TOEFL Test ?

8- Train yourself to listen to the English language:

In the listening section of the test, you will listen to several people talking, the audio clip could be a monologue (one person speaking) or a dialogue between several people.

You will then be asked to answer questions about the audio clip. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare for this section and develop your listening skills, through the following:

Always listen to English syllables with the intent to learn in your mind, as you can always ask different questions as you listen about the main idea, or the purpose of the passage, or the parts that the speaker focuses on, and so on.

Always make sure to listen to native English speakers so that you get used to the English accent and become easier to understand.

You don’t have to buy listening programs or subscribe to paid sites, you can start by watching YouTube clips of people speaking English, listening to TED Talks, watching foreign films, or listening to the radio. The important thing is to get used to hearing English from its speakers on a regular basis.

9- Train yourself to write at a specific time:

During the TOEFL or IELTS test, you will be given 50-60 minutes to write one or more texts on a specific topic, so it is important that you practice time-bound writing.

Start by choosing the topic and then set a timer for about an hour. Be sure to finish writing within the allotted time, and set aside five minutes to review what you’ve written.

10-Practice speaking English on your own and with others.

The speaking section of the TOEFL and IELTS tests is one of the most difficult parts of the exam that makes applicants feel nervous and afraid because they are not accustomed to speaking a foreign language with others.

Therefore, it is important to practice this part before applying for the exam, and you can do this alone or with others by following the following tips:

  • As you answer the various questions while studying for the exam, make sure to say the answer out loud rather than repeating it to yourself.
  • Talk to your pet or even your plants in English! Do not be embarrassed, this method is very useful.
  • Talk to yourself in front of the mirror, and if you have difficulty pronouncing a particular word, repeat it several times until you master it.
  • Check the correct pronunciation of words by pressing the speaker icon in electronic dictionaries.
  • Record your voice as you speak and then listen to it to correct mistakes.
  • Practice speaking English with your teachers, friends or other classmates.
  • Do voice chats on Skype to get used to talking on the phone and try to discuss specific things during the call to practice speaking on a specific topic.

11-Use Active and Passive Learning Strategies:

There are two types of learning methods that you should employ during the preparation process for the TOEFL and IELTS exams:

  • Active learning:

It defines a study goal and works to achieve it through solving exercises, working with a private tutor, and other study strategies.

  • Passive Learning:

It is also known as passive learning that takes place without much effort and without a specific intent to study. You can apply this type of learning while doing leisure activities and during leisure time. Read also: How to think in English to learn to speak fluently!

12- Provide empirical tests:

The last step in the preparation journey for the TOEFL and IELTS exams is, of course, to measure your preparation for the exam. This is done through the practice tests available on the Internet or in the exam guide.

Use the following tips when submitting a test TOEFL or IELTS test:

  • Take the test and review your mistakes.
  • If you encounter difficulty in some sections, repeat the steps of the previous study.
  • Take the test again a few weeks later, and compare your results.
  • Prepare the place for the exam, by creating an atmosphere similar to that of a real exam hall.

By following these steps, you are fully prepared to take the test and pass it successfully, to launch your academic career and achieve your ambition to study abroad.

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