Difference between IELTS, TOEFL and Cambridge English

Difference between IELTS, TOEFL and Cambridge English

Difference between IELTS, TOEFL, and Cambridge English? We hear many people who have IELTS, TOEFL, and Cambridge certifications, especially those who want to study abroad.

The question now is, what is the difference between IELTS, TOEFL, and Cambridge English? What defines each of the English proficiency tests? Why do some people choose IELTS instead of TOEFL?

In this post, you will learn the difference and similarities between tests. 

Let’s start with reasons to get English certification.

  • To monitor your English progress.
  • To get scholarships and certifications.
  • To work or apply for residency in an English-speaking country.
  • You wish to study at an institution of higher education abroad.

How to Know which English proficiency tests to take?

It may be difficult to find the correct answer with a lot of information online or have heard somewhere. You will learn the main difference between IELTS, TOEFL, and Cambridge English and how to know each.


  • TOEFL and IELTS test with an utterly academic focus, making them perfect for those preparing for university.
  • Both American and English universities generally accept both IELTS and TOEFL, so the decision to take one or the other will be determined by the level of compression of the accents (American and English) and the slight grammatical differences between the two.
  • Some Cambridge exams include a fifth area called “Use of English”
  • If you want to enter a school or university or get a job, you need a specific qualification, either with IELTS or TOEFL.
  • The three tests assess your performance in four skill areas: writing, reading, speaking, and listening.

What are the differences?

  • IELTS requires greater use of memory, comprehension skills, and students are faced with different question styles
  • In the IELTS, you do a face-to-face interview with an examiner, who asks you general questions (age, nationality, hobbies), and then discuss a topic.
  • TOEFL is primarily multiple-choice; students will need to think analytically to consider the differences between their options.
  • TOEFL is more accepted in the United States and Canada, and for its part, the IELTS and Cambridge come from the University of Cambridge. Therefore they are more used in England and in other English-speaking nations such as Australia and New Zealand.
  • Cambridge English performs the speaking part in pairs or groups of three. General questions and a monologue are asked (1-2 minutes), then students have to discuss among themselves for 1-2 minutes.
  • The Cambridge and IELTS include different accents in the listening section, while TOEFL only includes American accent audio.
  • If your interest is to certify yourself with Business English or something more practical, one of the Cambridge exams will be your best option. Cambridge English is less academic, and the subjects are broader and more varied.

Above are the main differences between IELTS, TOEFL, and Cambridge English. 


In some cases, IELTS is used for work reasons or a residence permit in countries like UK, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. It is accepted by all educational institutions in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada and is accepted by more than 1000 Universities in the United States.


TOEFL is the most preferred English test of universities in the United States, France, and Germany, and for graduate programs in Canada. It has a more systematic evaluation method, limiting the student to listen and answer.

Cambridge English

Cambridge English is a set of exams offered by ‘Cambridge English Language Assessment. They are recognized in more than 135 countries by colleges, universities, and employers. The test range from the most basic to the most advanced levels but has a higher requirement for other tests.

These exams are based on real situations, which help the student to develop communication skills in English.

Which test should I take?

We assume that you have to know the difference between IELTS, TOEFL, and Cambridge English tests. 

It will be best to decide which country you want to study because it will determine the test you will take. Go through past tests and know the structure of the test. There is no secret to getting a good score than more training and study. And don’t focus on learning only English.  


No test is better than another. All are valid to prove your level of English. The test you have to take depends on your goals and the school or program you want to enter. Remember, the best exam is the one that is best for you.

If you still have questions about which exam is perfect for you, please ask your question using the comment box.

About Emmanuel Dominic 269 Articles
Emmanuel Dominic is the Founder and CEO of Examspot, a passionate educationist, avid reader, and data scientist. With a bachelor's degree in Economics and Development Studies, Emmanuel shares practical tips and strategies for excelling in exams such as WAEC, NECO, IJMB, JUPEB, and more. His well-researched blog posts provide valuable insights on exam techniques, study habits, and stress management, empowering students to achieve outstanding results.

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