How to start your preparation for IELTS and TOEFL?

If you are planning to appear for IELTS or TOEFL, what is the right time to study and take the test? Know more about these English Proficiency Tests that can help you to get admission to foreign universities.
How to start your preparation for IELTS and TOEFL?

IELTS and TOEFL are English Language proficiency tests that aspirants need to clear in order to study aboard. These are widely known and accepted tests that seal your fate to a foreign university. Therefore, if you are planning to study abroad, you need to appear for any of these tests to prove your ability in English Language.

Now, the question arises when should you start preparing for the test and what’s the right time to take the test? One more question that often confuses students is how long one should study to crack these English Language exams?

Before answering the aforementioned questions, let’s quickly get an overview of these two tests:

TOEFL & IELTS: Overview




Conducting body

Conducted by Educational Testing Services (ETS) to test candidates English as a foreign language skill

 Conducted by British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment and IDP IELTS Australia

Accepting countries

USA, Europe, Australia and Canada. However, the criteria might vary from institute to institute

Europe, Australia, Canada, Singapore and USA

Exam structure

Tests candidate’s ability to speak, read, write and listen in English

4 sections of speaking, listening, reading and writing

Score Range

0 - 120


Score Validity

2 years

2 years

Chances given

The test can be taken multiple times provided there is a gap of 12 days between to tests

Can be taken multiple times

It is clear from the aforementioned table that both the tests are quite similar in manner and structure. In terms of repetition also both the exams follow same pattern. So, when should you start your preparation and write the exam? 

TOEFL & IELTS: Preparation Timetable

The only thing to watch out for both the exams is the validity of 2 years unlike the validity of GRE/GMAT score which is for 5 years. The validity of the score is of great importance as the timeline for study abroad aspirants who are planning to go aboard is about 12 to 18 months. Now, for some courses you may have to provide the score for visa application while for some courses you might need the test score to prove proficiency in English Language. In addition, for admission processes, candidates need to have the scores 12 months ahead of the intake process. For visa process, the score is required only at the time of visa application, which will be about 4 months before the academic sessions.

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Now, it becomes clear that you must be ready with the scores before 12 months of the start of the sessions. If you are planning to take admission to a foreign university, make sure to start preparing a year ahead for the IELTS or TOEFL exam.

If you are planning to take any of these tests, make sure to practice with these books to kick start your IELTS and TOEFL preparation:

Cambridge Grammar for IELTS with Answers and Audio CD

IELTS GT Essays and Letters from the Past Exams

IELTS Academic Readings for Exam Practice

Official TOEFL Vol 1 (With DVD)

Official TOEFL Vol II (With DVD)

400 Must - have Words for the TOEFL

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