If you are a candidate considering or already preparing to apply for an MBA or Master’s program and need to take an English exam, watch UnimyPrep’s latest webinar in which Laura Wray from English Business Services (EBS) delves into the differences, details, and strategies of taking an IELTS vs TOEFL test.

One of the most common requirements for an aspirant planning to study abroad is proof of English language skills. An IELTS or a TOEFL test can open doors to many good programs and career paths. But how do you choose which one to take? There are many factors you should take into account.

Laura has extensive experience preparing candidates for their English exams. She works at EBS – a consulting firm that began its activity by facilitating university exchanges between Italy and the USA, helping candidates to complete the admission procedures and preparing them for the TOEFL test, as well as at the GMAT, GRE, and SAT.


If you wish to study in an English-speaking country you will need to take a language proficiency test. While schools usually accept both IELTS and TOEFL, some might prefer one to the other, according to Laura. Learn what the differences are to make a well-informed choice and pick the most suitable test for you.

Some people think that the IELTS is easier than the TOEFL, but it is not true. Simply, the two tests use a different approach to assess the language competency of students whose primary language is not English and who desire to study in an English-speaking school or university.

Your choice, Laura points out, will depend on a few things such as preferences, inclinations, background, and the score required by the universities you are applying to. What she means by preferences and inclinations is, firstly, whether you have been more exposed to American English or British English and therefore what kind of spelling you are used to.

IELTS, for example, uses a variety of accents like British, Scottish, Australian, Irish, etc., while TOEFL focuses on North American English. Laura goes into detail about the differences between formats, duration, cost, and score, so watch the full webinar to learn more.

How do we prepare?

You can prepare for the IELTS or TOEFL by yourself or through a course. With the latter, you can get timely feedback, language improvement, score prediction, and overall faster preparation. That will not be the case if you choose to prepare alone unless you are confident in your fluency. The only “pros” of self-preparation - there are no additional costs besides books. Having help and feedback can make a great difference, so carefully consider your level of knowledge and choose accordingly.

Question Types

In the TOEFL reading and listening questions, you will find exclusively the multiple-choice format. In the IELTS you have a greater variety of questions: fill-in blanks, complete flow charts or diagrams, provide short answers, label maps and objects, assign titles to paragraphs, and complete notes. Grammar and spelling mistakes count as wrong answers, even if you have answered correctly; you must fill in the blank with the exact word or words pronounced by the speaker(s).



In both IELTS and TOEFL you will answer questions on details and interpretation of academic passages of similar lengths (3-4 passages).


In both tests, you will have to answer questions that assess your ability to comprehend and elaborate on university lectures and understand conversations among native speakers on university life and study issues.

In the TOEFL you will hear almost exclusively standard American English pronunciation. In the IELTS you will hear virtually all kinds of pronunciations: British, Scottish, Irish, American English, Australian, Indian, as well as foreign speakers such as Chinese or Spanish.


In the TOEFL, you must answer four questions, the preparation and speaking time is strictly set. This does not happen in the IELTS, where the speaking section is more of a conversation with an actual examiner.


Preparing and applying for an MBA or a Master's is an exciting time in the life of every aspirant. Making sure you know what each test demands can help you easily choose the best option for your preferences and capabilities. Watch the full webinar to learn about test-taking techniques, format specifics and don’t miss the Q&A at the end to hear Laura answer some interesting questions from candidates.