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By Education Team | 17 Jan. 2020

Which English Certificate Should You Get?: TOEFL vs. IELTS vs. TOEIC

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Non-native English speakers have several choices when it comes to getting an English certificate. Most of these non-native speakers wish to either study at an English-speaking university or work in an international environment. The TOEFL, IELTS and the TOEIC are three standardized tests designed to gauge a person’s abilities in English. Which of these tests is best for you? Read on for information and advice.


“TOEFL” stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. The skills tested include speaking, writing, listening and reading in English. If you wish to gain acceptance into an English-speaking university as a non-native English speaker, TOEFL or IELTS are the two best options for you.

You may take the TOEFL online or on paper, though most test-takers choose the internet version. The test can take anywhere from 3-5 hours to complete and is taken in one day. Each of the four sections–reading, writing, speaking and listening–is weighted equally. Points from each section are added together to make up the final score on the exam.

There is no prerequisite for the TOEFL. You do not need to have taken another test previously, and you don’t need to have taken any specific college courses. The fee you pay varies depending on the country in which you take the exam.

Currently, the TOEFL is offered in thousands of testing centers in more than 160 countries around the world. However, you may take the test only once in a 12-day span. Over 10,000 colleges and universities around the world use TOEFL as a measure of a students’ English proficiency.


Like the TOEFL, the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) also measures writing, listening, reading and speaking skills in English. However, one major difference between the two tests is that the TOEFL is structured almost like an academic test with language similar to what you would see and read in an academic setting. Whereas, the IELTS is not academically-based and is considered a test of a person’s real-world communication skills. Both tests are challenging, however, and you should not believe that one is necessarily easier than the other.

IELTS is also used for immigration purposes. For instance, IELTS is the only secure English test approved by UKVI (United Kingdom Visas and Immigration) for people applying for visas both inside and outside of the United Kingdom. Some countries, such as Australia, accept either TOEFL or IELTS for immigration purposes.

The IELTS test is taken on paper, and the spoken part of the test is taken with an examiner. This is slightly different from the TOEFL because the TOEFL requires the speaker to speak into a headset. The IELTS test takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.


TOEIC stands for Test of English for International Communication. Like the two aforementioned tests, the TOEIC is designed to measure English proficiency. However, the TOEIC is specifically intended to measure English competency for people who wish to work in an international environment. If you want to work in business, TOEIC is probably the test for you.

There are several different forms of the TOEIC exam. One version of the test measures a person’s listening and reading skills. Another form of the test focuses on comprehension. These two versions of the test focus on activities to assess a person’s comprehension skills.

A third TOEIC test measures the speaker’s ability to speak and write. The writing test consists of tasks that assess proficiency in grammar, vocabulary, organization, variety of written sentences and quality of written sentences. The test-taker will also be asked to relate sentences to pictures and to give opinions supported by examples and logic.

The speaking part of the TOEIC exam contains tasks that assess intonation, pronunciation, stress, grammar, cohesion, and vocabulary. The relevance of the content and the completeness of written content are also assessed.

A good score on the TOEIC test provides a helpful certification for your resume or CV. Listing the TOEIC English certificate on a CV or resume shows that you have a certain amount of proficiency in English. This proficiency is recognized internationally by many recruiters and other businesspeople.

In short, the TOEFL and IELTS tests can be used for those who wish to study in an English-speaking country or obtain a visa to an English-speaking country. The TOEIC is mostly used for those who want to show proficiency in English for a workplace environment. If you are interested in taking TOEFL or IELTS, before you register to take either test you must check which tests are accepted by the schools where you will apply. You can study for these three exams by reading extensively in English, watching documentaries in English and improving your speaking abilities with a native speaker. Online tutorials are also available.