Comparison between TOEFL® and TOEIC®

As several future candidates wonder: Should you choose to take the TOEIC or the TOEFL?

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The TOEIC, or the Test Of English for International Communication is an exam aimed at both students and executives. It can be required as part of a student’s academic journey (e.g. to apply for a Master’s degree) or by an employer, for recruitment purposes or as part of the career of a future employee. While the TOEFL assesses academic English, the TOEIC evaluates professional English.

The TOEIC exam lasts 2 hours. It only tests candidates’ listening and reading skills. This is the main reason why the TOEIC is considered easier than the TOEFL. The final mark (between 5 and 990) evaluates whether a candidate is able to understand an English workplace environment. Unlike the TOEFL, the TOEIC exercises only address workplace themes. No technical prerequisites are demanded.

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The TOEFL or the Test Of English as a Foreign Language is an exam mainly aimed at students. They usually have to take the test as part of a student exchange or so that they can study abroad, mainly (but not only!) in English-speaking countries. This test can also be required by a Mexican or Chinese university willing to make sure that their future student has a sufficient English level to enroll in a given degree program.

The TOEFL exam lasts about 4 hours. It tests the candidates’ ability to understand, speak and write in academic English. The final mark (between 0 and 120) determines whether a candidate would be able to take academic courses in English. The TOEFL exercises only address topics relating to university life: taught subjects (history, sociology, sciences, etc.) but also students’ everyday life (discussion with course mates or lecturers on topics such as the organisation of courses, campus life, etc.) No technical vocabulary is required.

TOIEC or TOEFL? 2 different tests for 2 different candidates

Very often, the candidate must take either the TOEIC or the TOEFL. However, if you have the choice between the two, 2 main elements should help you make up your mind:

  • Why do you want to take a test? If you want to become more employable, choose the TOEIC. If you want to open a few doors for yourself academically, choose the TOEFL.
  • What are your own preferences? The two tests are different. Choose the one which you feel more comfortable with, you will be more likely to get a good mark!
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