In today’s globalized world, where cross-border communication and international mobility have become the norm, demonstrating proficiency in the English language has never been more crucial. Two of the most widely recognized and accepted assessments of English language skills for various purposes are the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). While both tests evaluate English proficiency, they serve distinct purposes and cater to different needs.

This essay embarks on a comprehensive comparison of TOEIC vs IELTS, shedding light on their respective structures, objectives, and applications. By exploring the differences and similarities between these two renowned exams, we aim to provide a clear understanding of which test might be the most suitable choice for individuals seeking to validate their English language abilities and pursue their academic or professional aspirations on an international scale.


1. Introduction To TOEIC. Why Is It Important To Pass This Exam?

The TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) is developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, New Jersey. The TOEIC test is designed to gauge the English language proficiency of those working in an international environment. 


introduction to toeic
What is TOEIC?


The TOEIC test links to Japan in that during the 1970s, the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry required ETS to design a test for corporations to use. They wanted to know at which level non-native English speakers can use English in the workplace. More than 14,000 organizations in 150 countries have used TOEIC as a way to test candidates’ English language competence. 


1.1. About the TOEIC test format 

The TOEIC test has two separate sections: TOEIC Listening and TOEIC Reading test. Test takers will be given 45 minutes and 75 minutes to complete the Reading and Listening sections respectively. 


1.2. Why is it important to pass the test?

The TOEIC is a professional English exam. The test helps corporations and institutions to know the English proficiency level of candidates.


2. Introduction To IELTS: Why Is It Important To Pass This Exam?

The IELTS, which stands for the International English Language Testing System, is an increasingly recognized standardized English exam. The test is designed to measure the English proficiency level of those wanting to go on studying or working in an English-speaking environment. 

Most examinees are students wishing to continue studying abroad and people wanting to begin their international careers. Up to now, over 10,000 organizations, both public and private have accepted IELTS. 


introduction to ielts
What is IELTS?


There are around 3 million people sitting for the IELTS test every year, making it now become one of the most popular language tests in the world. 


The IELTS exam includes two versions: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. While the former is for students wishing to enter higher education institutions abroad, the latter is for professionals who want to work abroad to certify their English level.


The IELTS exam is split into four skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The Speaking test will take place in a face-to-face interview with an IELTS examiner. The IELTS band scores range from 0 to 9.


2.1. About the IELTS test format 

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are two forms of the IELTS test. The Listening and Speaking sections of IELTS Academic are similar to those of IELTS General Training. Meanwhile, the Reading and Writing sections of the two versions are different.  


Materials and topics in undergraduate, graduate, or university programs are often included on the IELTS Academic test. The IELTS General Training contains materials and topics from daily books, magazines, and newspapers. The British or Australian accents are often used in the IELTS listening section, so candidates should practice listening to these accents at home. The IELTS is not a pass-or-fail exam and candidates will only get an overall score from 1 to 9.


2.2. Main reasons to sit for the IELTS test 

The IELTS certificate is essential for those who want to study or live abroad. Additionally, it is useful to apply for immigration. 


3. Differences Between TOEIC and IELTS 

IELTS and TOEIC differ in their purpose. While IELTS is for individuals wanting to study abroad or emigrate to an English-speaking country, TOEIC is more for business purposes. 


Another main difference between IELTS and TOEIC is their structures. IELTS tests all four skills including Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking; whereas, TOEIC often tests only two skills including Listening and Reading. 


toeic vs ielts


Besides, IELTS is often chosen by students from South America and the Middle East, while TOEIC is preferred by students from Japan and French. 


The IELTS exam comprises various kinds of questions such as True or False, Multiple Choice, Matching Heading, Matching Information, Summary Completion, and so on. TOEIC is only a multiple-choice test. 


The table below shows how TOEIC scores are converted into IELTS score band and CEFR Level:


0-250 0-1.5 A1 (beginner)
255-400 2-2.5 A1 (beginner)
3-3.5 A2 (elementary)
3.5 B1 (intermediary)
405-600 4-4.5 B1 (intermediary)
5 B2 (upper intermediary)
605-780 5.5-6 B2 (upper intermediary)
6.5-7 C1 (advanced)
785-990 7.5-9 C2 (Expert)

(Source: Global Exam)


4. TOEIC vs IELTS: Which Exam Should We Choose?

If you wish to study or live abroad, you should first consider the IELTS exam. The IELTS Academic would be appropriate for prospective university students. In addition, those who just want to test their English level can also take the IELTS test since it is a thorough test and a good reflection of your practical English skills. 


TOEIC is the most suitable exam in the working environment. With over 3 million test-takers annually, TOEIC is more commonly used by companies worldwide for assessing the English language proficiency of potential employees. If you are seeking a job where you can use your English skills, the TOEIC test may be a good choice. 


Besides, both IELTS and TOEIC certificates are valid for two years. 


Whether to choose IELTS or TOEIC depends on each student’s goals. Regardless of which test you opt for, it is important to have thorough preparation for the test day. If you want to master the TOEIC exam, try our TOEIC Practice test on our website now!