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International English tests: TOEFL & IELTS Explained

Nov 24, 2015Exámenes de inglés

¡Somos su aliado en inglés de negocios, contáctenos hoy mismo!

¡Somos su aliado en inglés de negocios, contáctenos hoy mismo!

When it comes to international English tests, the two most popular options are TOEFL and IELTS. But often times, students are overwhelmed with the information on these two international English tests, making it difficult to choose which is appropriate for them.

Because of this reason, Bogotá Business English takes a look at the two options. Next, we are going to explain the differences between these two international English tests, and we will give you practical advice on preparation!

Which should you take, TOEFL or IELTS?

international English tests“What should I take into account at the moment of choosing one of these international English tests?” Students often ask this question and  our response is always the same: it depends on your goals!

In general, TOEFL is preferred for the United States, while IELTS is the best choice if you plan to study in Europe. Although the tests are quite similar, here is a summary of their main differences:

  • IELTS measures the proficiency of the British language, while the TOEFL tests one’s language ability in US English.
  • TOEFL has more multiple-choice questions, while in IELTS students have to copy words after hearing audio tracks.
  • It is often easier to prepare for TOEFL since the format remains the same year after year. The wealth of practice material and advice from past years continues to be useful.
  • TOEFL scores range from 0 to 120, while IELTS has scores between 0 and 9.
  • Taking the IELTS lasts for just under 3 hours, and the TOEFL takes over 4 hours to complete.
How to prepare:

First, you must already have a high degree of English! If you don’t, we recommend taking general English classes, and eventually progress up to exam preparation. It’s essential that you buy a study guide, as well as have access to several practice tests. If you need recommendations on what books to use, please contact us today!

For both international English tests, the sections are quite similar. Here is some advice on each section:


The reading sections usually come from academic lectures, thus we recommend that you read English written at a high level (native). This may sound simple, but read every single day to prepare yourself!  

We advise you to search for university texts, academic articles, and even read newspapers. Make sure you are able to understand everything, and able to summarize the main points of the article.


Listening section often requires comprehension of what is said and writing or answering multiple choice questions about the listening.  Youtube is a great resource, in addition to the audio CDs that come with study guides. Practicing your listening with a friend or a Bogota Business English teacher is also a great idea. As you listen, focus on comprehension and analyzing the arguments made.


international English testsAlthough you may have a high degree of English, the speaking section tends to be one of the most difficult for first-time test takers. Depending on which test you take, you usually have only a few seconds to prepare your response to an argument.

Practice creating clear and concise ideas, and then record yourself. You’ll be able to see your own mistakes. Chatting with friends or practicing speaking in guided exercises with a teacher are also great practice.


Writing is usually in essay format so make sure you understand the format of an essay. Writing is always difficult, so we recommend that you practice every single day.

A good idea to form your essay is to start with a list of your ideas. Write down your main idea. Then, follow with an outline of how you structure your essay. This helps to clearly organize your thoughts.  Finally, write the essay, adding details to expand on your outline.

What Bogotá Business English Can Do for You?

Here at Bogotá Business English, we understand international English exams, and more importantly, we know how to get a great score. Preparation can be difficult, and preparing with a passionate, dedicated teacher well help push you towards success on your IELT, TOEFL or other international exam!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally publish on July 27th, 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.


¡Somos su aliado en inglés de negocios, contáctenos hoy mismo!

¡Somos su aliado en inglés de negocios, contáctenos hoy mismo!

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