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How to Prep For the IELTS with a TOEFL Study Schedule

How to Prep For the IELTS with a TOEFL Study Schedule

There’s no denying it: The IELTS and TOEFL are similar in a lot of ways. But can you really prep for the IELTS with a TOEFL study schedule? The short answer is “yes.” The longer answer is “yes, but…”

First, though, why would you want to prep for the IELTS with a TOEFL Study Schedule?

There are a few reasons to use a TOEFL study schedule to prep for the IELTS. First off, you may find a TOEFL study plan that fits your scheduling needs perfectly, better than any IELTS plan you can find. Additionally, if you’re studying for both exams, it might be convenient to use just one study plan for the two tests.

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With that in mind, you really need to be aware of both the similarities and differences between these two exams.

IELTS Reading vs. TOEFL Reading

Both the TOEFL and the IELTS cover the same four skills in four sections. You’ll find a Speaking section, Reading Section, Listening Section, and Writing Section on either exam.

The IELTS Reading and TOEFL Reading sections have striking similarities: informative passages followed by multiple choice question sets. But hold on — it’s not necessarily that easy to simply substitute IELTS Reading prep for TOEFL Reading prep in a study schedule.

The thing is, IELTS has a much wider range of question types and formats compared to the TOEFL. Not only does IELTS Reading have a wider variety of formats for its multiple choice questions, it also has some questions that aren’t multiple choice at all. The addition of short answer questions shows a much wider variety of question types for IELTS Reading vs. TOEFL Reading.

What does this mean, when it comes to using a TOEFL study plan to prep for IELTS Reading? It means that variety matters much more when you do a set of IELTS questions. Suppose, for instance, that your TOEFL study plan calls on you to do 28 practice Reading questions. In that case, two 14-question passages from your TOEFL prep will do. But if you do 28 practice reading questions (or at least¬†approximately¬†that many) with IELTS Reading, you need to make sure you’re choosing question sets that expose you to a good variety of IELTS Reading Question types. To get a feel for how this works, go to’s sample test materials page¬†and look at their Reading section. They have a very complete listing of IELTS Reading question types, with example questions.

IELTS Listening vs. TOEFL Listening

When you’re substituting IELTS Listening practice for TOEFL practice in a study schedule, you once again have to consider the greater variety om materials on the¬†IELTS exam.

Like IELTS Reading, IELTS Listening also has more¬†question types and formats, compared to the TOEFL. TOEFL Listening audio tracks all deal with academics or school life. In contrast, IELTS Listening tracks deal with a wide variety of subjects and situations. There are business talks, public announcements, “daily life” conversations related to things like shopping and travel, mock radio broadcasts, and so much more. And of course, IELTS Listening accents¬†are far more varied in comparison to the almost purely American-accented TOEFL.

Like IELTS Reading, IELTS Listening practice should be substituted for TOEFL practice carefully. Make sure you aren’t just duplicating the approximate quantity of listening questions in a¬†TOEFL study plan. You also need to include a good cross-section of different question types, different kinds of audio tracks, and different common IELTS accents.

IELTS Writing vs. TOEFL Writing

In this section, the two exams come the closest to being exactly alike…for one task at least. IELTS Writing Task 2 and TOEFL Writing Task 2 are¬†almost 100% the same. In fact, these two writing tasks are so similar that many IELTS Writing Task 2 prompts can be used as TOEFL prep too. So whenever a TOEFL study plan calls for you to do a certain number of TOEFL Writing Task 2s, you can simply replace those tasks with Task 2s from the IELTS.

On the other hand, IELTS Writing Task 1 and TOEFL Writing Task 1 only have superficial similarities. Yes, both tasks require you to write in response to external sources. But on the TOEFL, you’re dealing with an academic passage and audio from a university lecture. On the IELTS, you’re either making a written summary of a graph/table/chart (IELTS Academic), or you’re given a real-life written communication task (IELTS General Training).

IELTS Speaking vs. TOEFL Speaking

Here, the exams could not be more different. IELTS Speaking is a live interview with an actual human being. TOEFL Speaking requires you to give a series of speeches into a microphone, sometimes in relation to passages or audio tracks from the exam computer.

Consequently, a TOEFL study plan’s Speaking requirements¬†do not work for IELTS Speaking materials. So if you revise a TOEFL Study plan for the IELTS, just get rid of the original Speaking¬†requirements altogether. Then, add interview role plays and studies of common IELTS Speaking interview questions.


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