Wednesday, January 5, 2011

IELTS or TOEFL?



What is IELTS? And what is TOEFL? Please visit http://www.ielts.org/ and http://www.ets.org/toefl/ for further information. Which is better? Or some people will ask which is easier? It depends on the person that who wants to take the exam. Which system he/she can do better, that is the correct choice. For me, I had some experiences for both IELTS and TOEFL. So here I will elaborate the points from my view, not bias to any of the systems.

Firstly, the contents, both IELTS and TOEFL are sharing of 4 similar contents. Which are listening, reading, writing and speaking. But the way of marking is different. In TOEFL, 30 points are the maximum points for each content and 120 points are the total marks for all 4 contents. Normally for master we have to achieve the overall 88 points and above. Meanwhile, IELTS is using average band 9.0 for the highest band for all contents. Which mean that, each content in IELTS has a maximum of 9.0 scale. An average band 6.5 and above is normal standard to further study for master.

Now, i will tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of these two systems.

First, the IELTS, the system has some advantages such as using a marking with the nearest decimal, for example, a candidate has obtained the following result, listening 6.5, reading 6.5, writing 6.0 and speaking 6.0, so the total is 25 points, divided to 4, equals to 6.25. In this case, this candidate will get band 6.5 after been rounded. But not to TOEFL, the exact marks are totally from the numbers of the correct answer except writing and speaking. These two contents for both systems are marked by at least two qualified examiners.

IELTS test is held in a ballroom or hall. Normally, listening, reading and writing sessions will be held on the same day but speaking test will be run on the other day following the schedule. The test is paper based, and it is common to Malaysian who had some experiences sat the tests such as UPSR, PMR or SPM with the same way. But not to TOEFL, it is a totally computerize. It is quite difficult to read from monitor rather than read from paper, isn't it? That is for me.


Next, speaking test in IELTS will be run by an examiner, face to face basis but for TOEFL, the test will be recorded. You have to speak in normal rhythm to the microphone (it is so sensitive), and it has 45 - 60 seconds only. So, think fast, very fast. You have to do a lot of practices (for non-native speaker). The questions for IELTS are quite general and straight forward, but in TOEFL, there are 3 types of conversations. First, question about our normal life; i.e. how people in your country celebrate a birthday or what kind of food you would prefer to eat etc.. Second, there are two or three persons in a conversation, they will discuss any topic. A paragraph will appear after that, and the task is to describe all the important contents from the both situations. Finally, a discussion question, you will give an opinion about something and defend the statement in just 60 seconds.

For IELTS listening test, you must familiarize your hearing sensitivity to several accents from English, Scottish or Australian languages. These a quite tough to the first timer to recognise the words. Here, a lot of practices will give a lot of help. Meanwhile, a lot of exposure to the American movies could help for TOEFL listening test because they used an accent that we always heard from television. An advantage to TOEFL but there are too many conversations that make you so feebly and tired. There are 6 conversations in differents topic such as astronomy, architecture, science, history etc.. Each conversation is consisted of average 4000 words!

As a conclusion, you will need a lot of energy if you take TOEFL. In 4 hours, there is only 10 minutes breaks, this is the tough part. Read through monitor is easy but to find an answer, not that easy. IELTS have a simple way, but there are many tricks to familiarize, for listening test avoid daydream even just a nap otherwise you will lose the answer and the pace. Remember it is difficult to track the next hint answer. Currently, these two tests are recognised worldwide included in America and UK. If you ask me which one? I would prefer IELTS just because it has a rounded to the nearest decimal which for me, is a free marks but very helpful. Remember these tips are for non-native speaker and someone who is just at the intermediate level only. For those had an excellent english, just do some simple exercises, and you will be there. Good Luck.

by firrbudi @ TIMA : 06 January 2010

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