When it comes to choosing between the IELTS and the TOEFL, there are many elements to consider, among which are cost, length of time needed to prepare, whether you can take the test online, and many others! Sometimes you may just want to know how a given section of the test compares with the two tests. In this case, you probably want to know how the reading sections compare!
In general, the IELTS Academic reading test may be more challenging, as you will need to be able to write out your answers to the questions, whereas with the TOEFL Reading, the answer is already on the page to some extent. For this reason, spelling is also important for the IELTS in the reading section.
This is, of course, a generalization, because some elements may be easier for one person, whereas for another they may be more difficult. In this post, we will have a look at this a little bit more in-depth, as well as see how the other sections compare.
TOEFL vs IELTS: Reading
It is difficult to determine which test is easier overall, as different people may find different sections of each test easier or more difficult. The IELTS Academic and the TOEFL test both assess reading skills, but they may do so in different ways.
The IELTS Academic reading test consists of three sections, each containing one or two reading passages, and it has a total of 60 questions. The passages are taken from a variety of sources, such as books, magazines, and newspapers. The test is designed to assess a wide range of reading skills, including understanding main ideas, details, opinions, and attitudes.
There are several types of questions that may appear in the IELTS Academic reading test. These include:
- Multiple choice questions: These questions ask you to choose the correct answer from a list of options.
- True/False/Not Given questions: These questions ask you to determine whether a statement is true, false, or not mentioned in the passage.
- Matching questions: These questions ask you to match a list of headings, names, or other information to specific paragraphs or sections of the passage.
- Summary completion questions: These questions ask you to complete a summary of the passage by choosing the correct words from a list of options.
- Short answer questions: These questions ask you to write a short answer in response to a question about the passage.
- Sentence completion questions: These questions ask you to complete a sentence by choosing the correct words from a list of options.
- Table/chart/diagram completion questions: These questions ask you to complete a table, chart, or diagram by choosing the correct information from a list of options.
It is important to note that not all of these question types will appear on every IELTS Academic reading test. The specific types of questions and the number of questions will vary depending on the passage.
The TOEFL reading test also consists of three or four reading passages of 10 questions each. The passages are taken from academic sources. The test is designed to assess the ability to understand written English in academic settings.
Here are some of the types of questions you may see on the TOEFL test in the reading section:
- Factual information: Recognising information that is written in the text or identifying which information is not in the text.
- Inference and rhetorical purpose: in these questions, you will need to be able to infer information or ideas from the text and/or infer why the author includes specific information.
- Reading vocabulary: in these questions, you will need to be able to understand the meaning of certain words in the text.
- Sentence simplification: you will need to be able to identify sentences that have the same meaning as sentences from the text.
- Insert text: in these questions, you will need to decide where a certain sentence would fit best in the text. This type of question tests your ability to understand the logic and flow of the text.
Ultimately, it is important to focus on improving your reading skills, regardless of which test you are taking. You can do this by reading a variety of authentic English-language materials, such as books, magazines, and news articles, and by practicing with reading comprehension exercises.
It is also helpful to develop good reading strategies, such as skimming and scanning, to help you more efficiently and effectively understand the material you are reading.
TOEFL vs IELTS: Writing
In terms of the writing section, the TOEFL requires you to write two essays. One is called an “integrated” task because it combines reading and listening skills with writing. The second task asks for your experience or opinion on a certain topic.
The IELTS also requires you to write two essays: one on summarizing information from charts, graphs, tables, or diagrams in your own words; the other on giving your opinion and supporting it.
The prompts for the TOEFL writing section are generally more straightforward and focus on specific topics, while the prompts for the IELTS writing section may be more open-ended and require more analysis and critical thinking.
Ultimately, which exam is “easier” will depend on your strengths and weaknesses in English. If you feel more comfortable with academic English and are able to write clear and well-organized essays, you may find the TOEFL writing section to be easier.
On the other hand, if you have strong general English skills and are able to think critically and analyze complex topics, you may find the IELTS writing section to be easier.
IELTS vs TOEFL: Listening
The IELTS listening test consists of four sections, each containing a different type of listening material, such as a conversation, a monologue, or a lecture. The test is designed to assess a wide range of listening skills, including understanding main ideas, details, opinions, and attitudes.
The TOEFL listening test contains two sections. The first section has lectures, while the second has conversations. The test is designed to assess the ability to understand spoken English in academic settings.
In general, the IELTS listening test may be more challenging for non-native English speakers, as it includes some writing tasks.
Ultimately, it is important to focus on improving your listening skills, regardless of which test you are taking. You can do this by listening to a variety of authentic English-language materials, such as podcasts, lectures, and news programs, and by practising with listening comprehension exercises.
IELTS vs TOEFL: Speaking
The IELTS speaking test consists of three parts. In the first part, you will be asked general questions about yourself and your life. In the second part, you will be given a topic to speak about for one to two minutes. In the third part, you will be asked to discuss the topic in more detail. The test is designed to assess a wide range of speaking skills, including fluency, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and coherence.
The TOEFL speaking test consists of four tasks. In the first task, you will be asked to speak about familiar topics, such as your home or your family. In the other three tasks, you will be asked to listen and/or read in combination with speaking, just as you would in real-world circumstances.
In general, the IELTS speaking test may be more challenging because you will be tested by an in-person examiner – so you may be more nervous! The TOEFL, on the other hand, may be easier, because you do your speaking into a microphone on the computer.
Ultimately, it is important to focus on improving your speaking skills, regardless of which test you are taking. You can do this by practising speaking in English as much as possible, by using a variety of vocabulary and grammar structures, and by speaking about a wide range of topics. You can also get feedback on your speaking skills from a teacher or tutor, and use that feedback to identify areas for improvement.
You might want to know a little bit more about how these tests compare – if so, check out the post I wrote comparing the two.
If you are going to be studying in the UK, I would recommend you check out the post I wrote on which test you should take.