TOFEL and IELTS: What do I need to know? Posted by Gabriele on Feb 28, 2013 in English Language
As an ESL students, who is beginning to advance into more advanced classes you may begin to here these acronyms TOFEL and IELTS used more and more. At first these may have sounded like very strange English words to you, but hopefully you realized they are acronyms. In fact, they are acronyms for two important and well known tests of English language knowledge and ability. Today I am going to briefly review these two tests and discuss their differences so that hopefully the next time you hear these acronyms you will know exactly what they are, why they are important, and if you may have to take one of these tests some day.
TOFEL stands for Test Of English as a Foreign Language. It is a test of an individual’s ability to use and understand the English language for academic or school purposes. This test is most often used to determine if a non-native speaker’s English language proficiency is good enough of study in an English-speaking university. Taking the TOFEL is now a requierment for all non-native English speakers by almost all American colleges and universities.
The TOFEL looks at 4 areas of language skill: reading, listening, speaking and writing. Each of these areas is tested in a specific amount of time (20-90 minutes depending on the area) and all areas are taken consecutively on the same day. Each area is scored individually (0-30 points) and a total TOFEL score is also given. A TOFEL score ranges from 0-120 points. The minimum acceptable score for TOFEL varies from college to college, but usually a score of 80 is the very minimum required to attend an English-speaking university. Some universities require a higher test score. The TOFEL is usually given electronically, on a computer, but there are still some paper and pencil versions of this test that are given. Passing the TOFEL is the first step toward attending an American university for many foreign students. Other tests of general knowledge are usually also required for college admission.
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. This is also a test of an individual’s ability to use and understand the English language. There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic Version and the General Training Version. The Academic Version is similar to the TEFOL in that it is intended to provide information about an individual’s ability to understand English for an academic or school setting. The General Training Version of the IELTS is used to assess English language proficiency for people who need English for work or immigration reasons. The IELTS is used frequently in Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa. The Academic Version is also accepted at many American universities although the TOFEL remains more prominent. Obtaining a passing score on the IELTS is required for immigration to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
The IELTS looks at 4 areas of language: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Each of these areas is tested for a specific amount of time (11-60 minutes depending on the domain). All but the speaking module must be taken in the same day, the speaking domain or module must be taken within 7 days of the other domains. IELTS scores range from 0-9. Each number score also corresponds to competence level; for example 9 = Expert User, 6 = Competent User, and 1 = Non User. The minimum score needed on the IELTS Academic Version for college admission in America varies from college to college, but usually a score of 6 is the minimum. When the IELTS is used for the purposes of immigration, required scores generally vary as well, with a minimum of 5 required by New Zealand and a minimum of 6 required for Australia in order to immigrate.
Gaining a strong understanding of the English language is required before taking either of these exams. Just as a reminder, Transparent Language has many resources for you to help you improve your English, so be sure to check these out if you think you will have to take one of these exams in the future. There are also specific test-prep programs available to students once they have a firm foundation in English and need to practice for the TOFEL or IELTS.
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.