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GRE vs TOEFL: Know the Key Differences Between Both

Apr 19, 2023

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GRE and TOEFL are two tests necessary when you plan to pursue education abroad but belong to a non-English speaking country. Now, clearing both tests is mandatory to secure admission, but they are not similar in nature by any means.

So before heading over to the best institution for GRE preparation or TOEFL, understand how these two exams are different from each other and their purpose to have a clear idea of what is important for you.

The purpose of taking TOEFL and GRE exams

Before providing insight into the difference between the two exams, let's walk you through the primary purpose of these exams. In contrast to the TOEFL, which measures your English language proficiency, the GRE is a test for graduate school admissions. Colleges want to check your GRE and TOEFL results to ensure that you can handle a graduate-level curriculum and that your English is good enough to cope at an English-speaking institution. 

About GRE exams

The GRE is a structured test that evaluates the knowledge and readiness of the applicant for graduate school. Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing are the three main portions of the GRE.

Furthermore, you will have two essays to write for the Analytical Writing section, each with a time limit of 30 minutes. For Analytical Writing, the score range is from 0-6, with each question having half-points.

Each of the two parts, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Reasoning, has 20 questions in two parts for a total of 80 multiple-choice questions. The grading scale for quantitative and verbal reasoning is the same, and their score range is 130–170. On the GRE, the results of the three sections are typically published independently rather than as a single composite score.

About TOEFL exams

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is an English language competency test devised by ETS, the organisation that founded the GRE tests. When International students want to enrol in an English-language school, their English proficiency is tested with the TOEFL. The four sections of the TOEFL include—Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing—with a duration of 3.5 hours. As a part of the evaluation process, you'll be given a score between 0 and 30 for each section. After adding these results, your TOEFL score will range from 0-120.

How do the GRE and TOEFL differ from one another?

If you're still unsure about which test to sit for, here is a detailed outline of all the key differences below.

The level of difficulty

The GRE test is considered significantly more difficult than the TOEFL test because it has more challenging vocabulary and reading comprehension problems. So it is always wise to get online GRE training to get a better hang of the preparation strategy and syllabus. It also saves time and avoids the hassle of travelling to coaching centres.

On the other hand, if you are proficient in English, the TOEFL will typically be easier than the GRE test. Instead of testing your understanding of written or mathematical topics, this test primarily assesses your proficiency in English. Also, getting TOEFL coaching would be advisable if your vocabulary is weak.




Examination pattern

Consists of three sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.  

Tests are conducted in both online and offline formats.

The TOEFL exam will assess your English listening, speaking, writing, and reading skills. This exam assesses a student's language proficiency and range of skills.

Exam duration

The general examination of GRE has a duration of 3 hours and 45 minutes and the topic test of the GRE has a duration of 2 hours and 50 minutes.

The TOEFL test lasts 3 hours and 30 minutes, including a 10-minute break during the examination.

Examination fee

For international candidates, the examination fee for the GRE General Test is USD 228 or Rs.18,769 for Indian students. 

However, this cost of examination varies from one nation to another.

The application fees for the TOEFL differ regionally. The standard fee is around USD200, which is about Rs.15,000.

In addition, you could have to pay additional fees for things like changing the exam location or cancelling the application. 

Marking system

The scores are divided into three classifications: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. 

The Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning part is scored between 130 and 170. 

On the other hand, the mean score for Verbal Reasoning is 151 and for Quantitative Reasoning, it is 153.

The TOEFL exam has four sections: speaking, reading, writing, and listening. 

The marks for every section range from 0 to 30.

A TOEFL score of 90 to 100 or more is considered good for entering prestigious universities.

Number of attempts

Students can take the GRE General Test up to five times in a continuous period of 12 months or once every 21 days. 

There are no restrictions on the number of attempts for the TOEFL exam. However, refrain from taking the test more than once every 12 days.


Should you take both the GRE and TOEFL tests?

There are circumstances where you'll need to take both the GRE and TOEFL since each graduate school has a different set of criteria for admission. Also, you'll probably need to take both exams if you're not a native English speaker and are applying to colleges requiring GRE scores. 

Additionally, you must thoroughly investigate the eligibility requirement for each graduate school you're applying to before you start registering for any test. This is because certain institutions may require results from one, both, or neither of the exams, as each school has its own set of admission eligibility requirements.

Wrapping up

If you plan to study abroad, then take both the TOEFL and the GRE tests, even though each has different purposes. The GRE assesses applicants' readiness for graduate-level study, while the TOEFL gauges their English language proficiency. These tests are essential as many institutions evaluate test results from the GRE, TOEFL, and other exams when considering the application for admission. So, you might need to take both tests depending on the criteria of the applied college. Additionally, you must research to determine the minimum score requirements for each graduate school you wish to apply to.

Having said that, preparation for such examinations is the key to attaining success in them. So, if you are looking for any assistance, feel free to contact the experts at KC Overseas. They will guide you to find the right solutions.

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