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Should you take the IELTS or TOEFL Test and which one is better?

Many of us here at accadis are really looking forward to our third year, mostly because that means we’re getting to spend some time abroad, at one of accadis’ partner universities. But while, in our minds, we’re already relaxing in sunny Spain, discovering South Africa’s secrets or exploring culture-rich China (or any other place), there is still one obstacle we have to overcome before booking our flights: the language proficiency certificate. Taking a test such as the IELTS or TOEFL is mandatory as you’re going to attend English lectures at all partner universities. To help you decide which test is more suitable for you, I’m going to give you a brief overview.


The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an international standardized, paper-based test for English language proficiency for everyone whose native tongue is not English. It is used for migration, work and university purposes and is not only the most popular English language proficiency test but also the most widely accepted (which is why I prefer IELTS). As it is largely based on British English, taking the IELTS test is favourable if you are planning on going to the UK or Commonwealth States such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand or India. accadis does not have a partner university in the latter ones, but you might consider going there for work or for an internship. When gathering information about the IELTS, you will soon find that there are two different versions: the Academic Version and the General Training Version. Since you want to study abroad, the Academic Version is what you should go for.

What does the IELTS Test consist of? The IELTS test consists of four different sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. In total, the test is going to take less than three hours and your results should be ready about two weeks later. To be able to study abroad, you have to score at least 6.5 out of 9.

Where can you take the IELTS? There are 17 locations in Germany, amongst others in Frankfurt, Berlin, Freiburg and Munich, where you can take the IELTS test so I’m sure you will find one near your home town.

How much does it cost? The IELTS test costs 226 €.

How can you prepare for the test? You can book an additional preparation course if you are really unsure about your level of English and the preparation you need. If you don’t want to do that, you can simply buy an IELTS preparation book and study on your own. As I mentioned earlier, the IELTS test is very popular, so you should book your test date in advance.

The TOEFL Test

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is also an international standardized test for English language proficiency for non-native English speakers. The main difference between IELTS and TOEFL is that TOEFL is based on American English and, since 2005, is an internet-based test (iBT), which means that all sections of the test are taken while sitting in front of a computer screen rather than another person. Understandably, some people are put off by the idea of interacting with a computer during the test’s speaking section. It is widely accepted as well, especially in the United States of America, however many universities still do prefer the IELTS to TOEFL.

What does the TOEFL Test consist of? Like IELTS, TOEFL consists of the four sections Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. It takes four and a half hours at the longest, but you might have to wait for your results for about two months. You can score 120 points in total and have to reach at least 80 to be allowed to study abroad.

Where can you take the TOEFL? There are many test centers across Germany, including Frankfurt, so it won’t be hard to find one where you can go. You can find exact locations and test dates online.

How much does it cost? The fee for the TOEFL test is US$ 240, which are about 212 €, so it is slightly cheaper than IELTS.

How can you prepare for the test? Similar to IELTS, you can book a preparation course or simply study on your own by using a TOEFL preparation book. Maybe you can ask other students if they still have a preparation book and borrow it so you don’t have to buy a new one.

In the end, it really is your choice to make. As you can see, both tests are not too different from one another (and unfortunately, they are both only valid for two years), although rumour has it that TOEFL is a bit more stressful than the IELTS test.

Whichever exam you choose to take, if you are even going abroad, let me just say one last thing: Good luck and enjoy your studies abroad!!!


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