English is sadly my only language even though my parents and majority of my relatives are bilingual, and I completed my bachelor's and master's in a university where the medium of instruction is English and in a country where English is one of the official languages.

Despite this, some departments/countries/universities insist on TOEFL/IELTS, which is expensive and a hassle.

Which of the two tests covers more countries/universities/depatments?

I mean, let's say we pick 10 random universities on Earth that require at least one for fluent English speakers, how many are we expecting will accept TOEFL? IELTS?

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    What would be the point of picking 10 random universities? Find out the policies of the programs you want to attend, then see how many of them require TOEFL/IELTS.
    – ff524
    Nov 7, 2016 at 4:30
  • 1
  • Keep in mind that many universities recognise this issue, and so they offer waivers of the language requirements. E.g. Oxford. Nov 7, 2016 at 4:32
  • @ff524 Most of the ones I want to attend won't require in my case. I may apply to others I haven't yet decided on applying. Of course the safest thing to do would be to take both exams, but I don't really wanna do that because of the expense, hassle and ridiculous nature of my having to take any of those exams
    – BCLC
    Nov 7, 2016 at 4:32
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    @JackBauer Have you asked them specifically? Some may offer waivers (or at least consider giving you one), even though they don't advertise this? Nov 7, 2016 at 4:38

2 Answers 2


Its my understanding that TOEFL is primarily U.S. based, and IELTS is more likely to be used in Canada, UK, and Australia.

Realistically, you should choose the universities you'd like to attend, then look at the English requirements. Some American universities accept IELTS(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_English_Language_Testing_System#United_States), and I'm guessing some European universities accept TOEFL. If you have to pay for both, do that. The cost and hassle is nothing compared to the cost of actually attending a University, and you're likely to score very well given that you speak English natively.

  • Just being able to speak English is not a guarantee that a candidate will gain top marks for either exam. You do need to prepare, study, and take mock tests. The candidate must be familiar with the format, and be aware of what examiners are looking for. It is, therefore, a waste of time and MONEY (attending a course, buying exam prep books, hiring a private tutor etc.) to sit for two different exams, whose formats are significantly different to one another.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 30, 2017 at 6:52
  • While yes, even native English speakers will need to study for an English proficiency exam, it will be much less study than a non-native English speaker. The amount of study time and money will be far less that what is expected of a first year grad student. Nov 9, 2017 at 15:12

Substituting is irrelevant. Many universities/programmes give their expectations for both TOEFL and IELTS.


  • TOEFL is US-based.
  • IELTS is UK-based.

some departments/countries/universities insist on TOEFL/IELTS.

Universities/programmes will more likely favour either TOEFL or IELTS, i.e. you don't have to take both exams for applying to one university, for instance. You select to take one or the other.

From experience, reaching the required level of English skills for a UK university is easier with the score they expect in IELTS, than the score they expect in TOEFL, for obvious reasons - encouraging applicants to UK universities to preferably take the UK test.

  • Can you provide evidence (e.g. by linking to admissions requirements of US universities) that "If you apply to US universities, they will likely be more - if not only - interested in TOEFL score."? Your statement is at odds with what I have seen, which is that almost all US universities accept either exam, and among the few that only accept one, it's not necessarily TOEFL. (See this question)
    – ff524
    Nov 7, 2016 at 15:57
  • That was also from experience, @ff524 . Might have changed since.
    – G-E
    Nov 7, 2016 at 16:00
  • If it is correct, you should be able to provide evidence to support your assertion, by linking to many examples of admissions policies of US schools that only accept TOEFL. But I think it's not correct at this point in time.
    – ff524
    Nov 7, 2016 at 16:02
  • Fair enough. Happy to take your feedback on board and retract.
    – G-E
    Nov 7, 2016 at 16:04

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