TOEFL vs TOEIC | What is the difference

If you have been working hard at studying the English language, there is no better way to measure your success than by passing a professional exam. However, depending on what you’d like to use your new proficiency in English for, it can take a lot of work to decide which exam to take. When it comes to TOEFL vs. TOEIC, you may wonder, what is the difference?

According to ETS, the differences between the TOEFL and TOEIC exams are found in the measurements of language proficiency based on the relevancy of use. For example, the TOEFL exam evaluates how well the student can communicate in English academically. At the same time, the TOEIC measures how well the student can speak English in a global workplace context.

In this article, we’ll go over the uses and benefits of both the TOEFL and the TOEIC exams and the benefits of each. We’ll also advise when you should take one over the other and wrap up with answers to some frequently asked questions on the subject!

What is the Toefl Exam?

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?

The acronym “TOEFL” stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language.” It was established in the early-to-mid 1960s as a standardized test that could measure the ability of non-native speakers of English to allow them to enroll in primarily English-speaking universities.

Many colleges still require the TOEFL exam to be passed before gaining admission into English-speaking classes. There are some exceptions, including Commonwealth nations, but for the most part, the TOEFL exam is a must-do for anyone hoping to be enrolled in a university that uses English as a primary language, so that hopefully helps when we think of TOEFL vs TOEIC | what is the difference?

Around 2.3 million people take the TOEFL yearly in the 4,500 test centers spanning more than 190 countries. The test itself does cost $185 in US currency to take it whether you pass or not, but since the grading system is used by more than 11,000 agencies, institutions, and colleges around the world, it is well worth it.

The TOEFL has two different formats in which it can be taken. These are the Internet-Based Test and the Paper-Based Test.

Paper-Based Test

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?

Paper-Based Test
Photo by Armin Rimoldi:

The paper-based test can be delivered to countries where the internet version is unavailable and contains four sections. The first of these is the Listening section, comprising around 42 questions. About 30 of these will be short conversations, while the last twelve are based on lectures.

The second section of the TOEFL is the exam’s Structure and Written Expression portion. It contains 40 exercises where the student may be asked to finish sentences correctly and spot errors in sentence structures.

Related: Info about the paper-based TOEFL

The third section of the TOEFL is the Reading Comprehension Section. This allows the student to measure their ability to understand written passages by responding to 50 questions about them.

The fourth and final section of the Paper-based test is the Writing Section. This section typically consists of just one question, which presents an essay topic for the student to write about, consisting of around 250 to 300 words on average.

The Paper-Based Test is scored between 0 and 677. To pass, students must have a minimum score of 310. It is important to note that the Writing Section of the Paper-Based Test is recorded separately and not added to the final score.

The Paper Based Test, as offered at testing centers, was discontinued in the year 2017 but lives on in the form of a Paper-Delivered Test. The Paper Delivered Test is essentially the same as the Paper Based Test, but without the Structure and Written Expression Section and with more limited availability.

Internet-Based Test

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?

Girl working at a laptop on a table
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels:

The Internet-Based Test, or iBT, is similar to the Paper-Based Test except for the fact that it is taken on a computer. It is offered weekly at authorized test centers and can even be scheduled ahead of time after logging into a website and creating an account.

Like the Paper-Based Test, the Internet-Based Test measures students’ reading, listening, and writing abilities. One added portion of the exam is the Speaking Section.

The speaking section is made up of four tasks, allowing test-takers to evaluate their ability to speak quickly and clearly and convey newly learned information in English.

The Internet-Based Test can be taken in an authorized testing center, as previously mentioned, but there is also a Home Edition which is remarkably similar. A proctor watches the test-taker through the built-in camera of a qualified computer.

The scoring of a TOEFL iBT test is scored between 0 and 120 points. A ten-minute break is allowed between the listening and speaking sections.

Benefits of the TOEFL Exam

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?

Benefits of the TOEFL

In order to fully understand why the TOEFL test is valuable and when the best time to take it may be for you, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the test’s benefits!

These can be found below:

  • No Pre-requisites Required – One of the barriers to accomplishing your academic goals can be the requirement for tests or courses to be taken in a specific order. You may be barred from taking a test you believe you are ready for because you haven’t taken the required earlier classes. However, the TOEFL does not have any pre-requisites
  • Can Be Retaken After 3 Days – The disappointment that follows failing an exam like the TOEFL can sometimes be compounded if you have to wait to retake it. Luckily, though, the TOEFL only has a short waiting period of three days between attempts to take the test, leaving you just enough time to study without too much of an inconvenience!
  • Manageable Test Length – The time period that the TOEFL exam takes to complete was once almost 5 hours on average. However, with the benefit of the Internet-Based test, the TOEFL can be taken in around 4 hours!
  • Note-Taking – It is possible to take notes without being penalized in any way during the TOEFL exam, which is a massive weight off of many test-takers minds.
  • Can Be Taken At Home – One of the benefits described earlier in this article is that the internet-based Test of the TOEFL can be taken from the comfort of your home, albeit with a proctor watching through a webcam.
  • Can Be Taken At Home – One of the benefits described earlier in this article is that the internet-based Test of the TOEFL can be taken from the comfort of your home, albeit with a proctor watching through a webcam.

What is the TOEIC Exam?

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?


The acronym “TOEIC” stands for “Test of English for International Communication.” It is meant to evaluate the proficiency in the speaking of the English language of non-native speakers.

However, unlike the TOEFL, the TOEIC is specifically created to measure how well the test-taker can apply English in everyday use in an international workplace context.

The Educational Testing Service of the US created the TOEIC Exam. In France, some universities require a score of at least 785 on the TOEIC before awarding any diploma. In Greece, a good TOEIC score is accepted by the organization responsible for admitting new employees into the government workforce. 

The TOEIC Exam comes in a few different forms. These are the TOEIC Listening and Reading Tests and the TOEIC Speaking and Writing Tests.

TOEIC Listening and Reading Test

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What's the difference?

Two women sat listening and talking
Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

The Listening and Reading portion of the test is primarily multiple-choice in format, with each question accounting for five score points. The bulk of the time taken up in this portion of the test is found in the Reading section.

Related: Best TOEIC resources

Some examples of the testing questions found in this section are photographs presented, which the test-taker must then describe in English or comparing and contrasting emails written in English.

Interestingly, the TOEIC Listening, and Reading Test is scored in colors corresponding to points. The highest three colored certifications one can receive are gold, blue, and green, while the lowers are brown and orange. It is worth noting that the certificates awarded upon completion of the TOEIC are considered unofficial.

TOEIC Speaking and Writing Test

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?

Speaking and reading
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Speaking and Writing portion of the TOEIC is more flexible, allowing test-takers to receive separate scores for both Speaking and Writing and even opt out of one or the other.

The tests do not require the test-takers to know any special business terms in English, but they do target the test-taker’s ability to communicate in a business setting. Intonation, vocabulary, relevance,

and even supported arguments are all measured in the questions found here.

While the Speaking Test only takes around 20 minutes, the Writing Test is given an entire hour.

The test scores are awarded on a range of 0 to 200.

Benefits of the TOEIC Exam

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?

Benefits of the TOEIC

Let’s check out the benefits of taking the TOEIC Exam.

  • Score Vs. Pass or Fail – Rather than being shown a passing or failing grade, the TOEIC exam allows test-takers to see their scores. This is an excellent benefit for those looking to see which areas of their English speaking can improve and work toward new educational goals.
  • No Prerequisites Required – Like the TOEFL Exam, the TOEIC is intended for those who are not native English speakers and therefore does not require any prerequisite or qualification before taking the test.
  • More Casual English – Many students, consider the context of the English phrases tested and used in the TOEIC Exam to be more practical and more accessible to both use and understand more formal English in the TOEFL Exam.

Flexible Sections: The TOEIC does not require you to take every one of the Listening, Speaking, Writing, or Reading Sections. Instead, many universities will only require scores for two of the four exam sections!

Related: The TOEIC Tests

When to Take the TOEFL and TOEIC Exams

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?

Because the TOEFL exam is used to help applying students get into English-speaking colleges or universities, the application deadlines of these schools must be taken into account when deciding when to take the TOEFL.

You should give your TOEFL test scores plenty of time to reach the university. Therefore, consider taking the TOEFL at least six months, if not a whole year, before the application deadline of your chosen university. This also allows you to take advantage of the multiple times the TOEFL will allow you to retake the test.

The TOEIC test, on the other hand, is only held 12 times a year. Taking this test depends on what you would like to use it for; most often, test-takers are trying to reach a TOEIC score to get an English-speaking job or add the score to their resume for future career opportunities.

Because this is the case, you should plan on taking the TOEIC exam at least a year before graduating from a university. Remember, you have to pay a fee to take both the TOEFL and the TOEIC exams, even during retakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

TOEFL Vs TOEIC | What is the difference?

If you still have questions about the differences between the TOEFL and TOEIC exams, check out our list of frequently asked questions and answers below!

Is TOEIC easier than TOEFL?

The TOEIC is considered not only easier but cheaper to take than the TOEFL. For one thing, it can measure your English-speaking abilities in a more widely used conversational context. For another, you get to choose which sections you take.

Is TOEIC accepted in the USA?

Yes, the TOEIC is accepted in the United States as a qualification for jobs and as a substitute for the TOEFL or even the IELTS in many American universities.

Is TOEFL hard to pass?

The TOEFL is easy when compared to United States standardized tests, such as the ACT or SAT. However, when compared to other English-speaking tests, the TOEFL is one of the more difficult ones, amounting to around 4 hours of testing and covering more than four different areas of English-speaking education.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, when we think about our title question, TOEFL vs TOEIC | what is the difference, the TOEFL’s main difference from the TOEIC is that it is meant to be used for non-native speakers trying to gain admission to English-speaking colleges. At the same time, the TOEIC evaluates more conversational English skills for use in the global workplace.

While the TOEIC is considered easier, it is less widely accepted in English-speaking universities than the TOEFL. When taking the TOEFL, be mindful of the university application deadlines and plan to take the test at least a year in advance; when taking the TOEIC, the only thing to consider is how quickly you need your scores to feature on your resume!

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