It is becoming increasingly more common for students to head to other parts of the world so that they can study at some of the world’s finest universities. There is no denying that this is a great way to expand your cultural and educational horizons, but getting into these schools of higher learning is not as simple as just having a good transcript. As much as these universities want to welcome foreign students, they have requirements in place that help ensure that only the very best of the best get in. Students from Honk Kong are going to have to choose between IELTS and TOEFL English exams if they want to study abroad, but which one should they choose?
There is no easy answer to that question, as the best option really depends on where it is you would like to go to study. Different countries have a different opinion on which of the two they would prefer student’s to be in possession of. For example, if you plan on staying in Hong Kong to study, you will find that most major universities will accept both IELTS and TOEFL, although they will have certain scores that have to be achieved in each in order for your application to be seriously considered.
Where both of these exams are really put to the test, though, is when applying to schools overseas, particularly those in the United States. The IELTS English exam is the most commonly accepted test worldwide, and is also used as a barometer when applying for immigration or jobs that are available overseas. It is particularly popular in the UK, perhaps because the exam is put conducted by such esteemed organizations as the University of Cambridge. It is also written in UK English, which may also explain why it is so highly regarded in that part of the world.
While the IELTS English exam will be accepted at universities in Canada and the United States, the fact that it is in UK English means that the TOEFL exam is the one that is preferred by institutions in North America. Because of the minor differences between the two exams, some students consider it to be a good idea to take both, so that they can increase the number of overseas schools that they can apply to. What is a little off putting to students in Hong Kong is that the TOEFL English exam is done online, which means having to talk to a computer when sitting the test. That is a stigma that has to be overcome if your goal is to study in the United States.
All of that said, though, universities don’t really consider one exam to be more prestigious or relevant than the other, and they are not likely to deny your application based on which test you have passed. You can give yourself a little leg up, though, by taking the exam that is most widely accepted in the country you wish to study in. better yet, take both, and really allow the educational world to become your oyster.
This is one of the most difficult papers in the IELTS test to handle.
Why is it so difficult? Because on the surface it looks so easy! In reality, the structure of the questions is such that only an advanced reader can get high marks in this part of the IELTS exam. Of course, that is the whole idea of the IELTS test in order to differentiate between the level bands.
The IELTS exam reading section consists of three reading passages from a variety of sources such as newspapers books and magazines. Although the content is not specialised, the articles are fairly high level. Even though they may be scientific, they are of general interest and you do not need any prior knowledge of the subject to be able to answer the questions. One will probably contain a chart or diagram, and at least one will contain a complex argument
One of the main obstacles is the fact that the articles are quite long (about 900 words each). There is only 1 hour for the whole test, so its impossible to read the articles and understand every unknown word.
As with the rest of the IELTS test, you must have a good understanding of the types of questions you have to answer. There are ten types of questions including multiple choice, sentence completion, short answer questions, completing sentences, classifying, yes/no/not given, labeling paragraphs with headings, matching, identifying the location of information, and labelling a diagram or completing a summary.
You should also learn which reading skills you should use to answer each type of question. For instance, if the question requires you to label paragraphs then using skimming to get a general idea of each paragraph is the appropriate skill. For the sentence completion tye questions you need to use scanning to get a deeper understanding of the text.
Like the rest of the papers, the IELTS reading texts get more difficult as your progress through the test. Time is limited so if you cannot answer a question, do not waste time trying to find the answer but just leave it and go on to the next question. You can always come back to it and even guess if needed (there is no penalty for wrong answers).
When answering questions be careful about spelling and grammatical mistakes as these will reduce your marks. Be extra careful with plurals as well. And if the question says "write no more than 3 words" then do not write 4!
The IELTS reading test booklet is designed rather like the listening test but in contrast there is no separate answer sheet. You must write all your answers in the test booklet and there is no extra time at the end to transfer your answers. Be sure to write your answers legibly and if you need to change your answers, indicate clearly which is your "final" answer.
To start with, both IELTS and TOEFL are acknowledged and accepted by most universities and institutions for higher studies across the globe. .. There are many who ask which one is better, or which one is easier, though the choice purely relies on the target country of work or study. Understanding the differences between TOEFL and IELTS can help in this regard.
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IELTS & TOEFL Requirements for Hong Kong Universities
In Hong Kong most universities accept both for entry into their undergraduate and post=-graduate programs. HKU, for instance, requires a minimum overall Grade 6.5, a TOEFL iBT score of 80 or a TOEFL Paper Based Test Score of 550 for entry into its MBA Degree Course. Other faculties, such as science, as for a lower IELTS score of 6.
TOEFL vs IELTS
Both TOEFL and IELTS are exams taken by students from countries where English is not the main language. These exams are aimed at judging the English skills of a student and if or not they can meet the required standards of esteemed institutions in countries where English is the main language. IELTS is the most popular English entrance test in the world - but some universities and colleges in the USA only accept TOEFL so always check with the course director before booking your test. IELTS is also accepted for Immigration and their is a specific module for this: The General Training Module.
About the IELTS Exam
IELTS is conducted by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, British Council and IDP Education Pty Ltd. In short, the test is conducted in UK English and quite popular in the UK.
About the TOEFL Test
As for TOEFL, it is conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is quite popular in the US and Canada. For this reason, most students take both tests to be able to relocate to any country they get an opportunity in. Only the Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT) is conducted in Hong Kong - which means that students have to speak to a computer. This can be off putting for many students as talking to a machine is not a real life situation and there is no visual feedback.
The two English exams have entirely different structures and demand different skills for their respective candidates. However, both these tests are no different with reference to recognition and esteemed universities across the globe accept the results from either exam.
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