MUET vs IELTS vs TOEFL: Which English Test To Take?

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Are you looking to master the English language? Are you interested in polishing your skills in grammar and vocabulary? Or maybe, you are looking to study abroad and you need to take an English test in order to become an eligible candidate. If so, then perhaps it may be time for you to consider taking either MUET, IELTS, or TOEFL. While all three of these programmes are competent in ensuring you receive the appropriate and relevant knowledge you need, how do you know which one is most suitable for you? 

To help you answer your questions, here is an in-depth guide to which English test you should take!

What is MUET?

Malaysian University English Test, or MUET, is an English language proficiency test. The programme was established by the Malaysian Examination council that are mainly given to students who are enrolled in a pre-university programme in Malaysia. MUET is applicable for students planning to enrol for their degree programme at a local university. The test is designed to evaluate your speaking, reading, listening, and writing skills.

However, this programme is not recognised in universities overseas. For an international university, you would need to look at either IELTS or TOEFL.

What is IELTS?

IELTS is an acronym for International English Language Testing System. It is considered to be the world’s most popular English proficiency test. Recognised by over 11,000 organisations in 140 countries, IELTS is developed in 1989 to help individuals study, work, or migrate over to a country where English is considered the native language. The test is meant to examine the students’ reading comprehension, listening and writing skills, as well as their speaking abilities in the English language. 

As students, the IELTS test types subjected to you would be the Academic IELTS

What is TOEFL?

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) was developed by the Educational Testing Service in 1964. It is a standardised test used to measure the English language skills of non-native English speakers. Like most English Language tests, it surveys the comprehension, writing, listening, and oral tests. This certificate is recognised in over 11,500 organisations worldwide. It is designed for individuals who wishes to migrate overseas to either study at a university or work abroad. 

However, the significant difference between TOEFL and IELTS is that the test itself is completed online. Not to mention that the examination format and duration vary between the two as well. 

What are Exam Structures for MUET, IELTS, and TOEFL?

In order for you to comprehend this information clearly, as well as to compare the examination structures much easier, we have laid out a table below for you.






Duration: 75 minutes


Word count: 3300 – 4150


Number of questions: 40

Duration: 60 minutes


Word count: 2,150 – 2,750


Number of questions: 40

Duration: 54 – 72 minutes


Word count: 2,100 – 2,800


Number of questions: 30 – 40


Duration: 75 minutes


Word count: 80–135 


Number of questions: 2 Tasks

Duration: 60 minutes


Word count: 150 – 250


Number of questions: 2 Tasks

Duration: 50 minutes


Word count: 250 – 300


Number of questions: 2 Tasks


Duration: 50 minutes


Number of recording:


Number of questions: 30

Duration: 30 minutes


Number of recording: 4


Number of questions: 40

Duration: 41 – 57  minutes


Number of recording: 3 – 4


Number of questions: 28 – 39


Duration: 20 minutes


Word count: N/A


Number of questions: 2 Parts

Duration: 11–14 minutes


Word count: N/A


Number of questions: 3 Parts

Duration: 17 minutes


Word count: N/A


Number of questions: 4 Parts

For more information regarding the exam structure, contact us now!

Differences Between MUET, IELTS, & TOEFL

There are several key differences between these 3 English tests. To make it easier for you to compare and decide between what is more suitable for you, below is a table comprised of their differences. 





Examination method

Paper & online

Paper & online



3 hours & 50 minutes

2 hours & 45 minutes

4 hours


Band 1 – Band 6 

Band 1 – Band 9

IBT: 0 – 120

Examination availability

3 times a year


March, July, November

4 times a month

2 – 4 times a month

Examination validity

5 years

2 years

2 years

Countries recognised

Malaysia & Singapore only

  • UK
  • USA
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • UK
  • USA
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • European countries

For more information on this section, do not hesitate to contact us!

Where to Take Your Tests and How Much It Will Cost

Moving forward to the examinations, you may be wondering where they will be held, and most importantly, how much they will cost. 


Where to register for MUET examinations:

Option 1: Register at your respective institution. The organisation you are currently under may provide you with information once registrations for the exams are open. The person-in-charge will then provide you with the relevant information you need to register for your exam. 

Option 2: Register online as a private candidate. To register yourself online, you may head over to Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia’s website

Should you be in need of an elaborate guide, feel free to click here to access a PDF file with all the relevant information. 


Where to register for IELTS examinations:

Option 1: Register physically with British Council. There are two branches of British Council in Malaysia; one in Kuala Lumpur and another in Mutiara Damansara. 

To contact them, you may click here.

Option 2: Register online with British Council. If you are planning to take your examinations online, you may book your slot through the website


Where to register for TOEFL examinations:

Option 1: Register on the Official TOEFL iBT test website. Since the exam is online-based, it is easier to go straight to the official site and register there. The site contains all the relevant information you would need to know in order to complete your registration for the exam. 

You may find the link to the registration forum over here.

For more information on the costs of all of these english test, contact us now for more information!

How to Pick the Best One for You?

So, how can you know whIch exam is best suited for you? Here are some tips and advice on how you can choose which English exam is the best for you!

  • Be sure if you want to study in Malaysia or Abroad.

If you plan on studying your degree programme at a Malaysian university with no intentions of studying abroad, MUET is a great option for you. It is cheaper, and provides you with all the relevant knowledge to improve your English. 

IELTS and TOEFL are accepted and recognised in several universities abroad (*see above for the list). Do take note that TOEFL is more commonly accepted in American universities whereby IELTS is more widely accepted in the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. However, most international universities still accept from either programmes. To be sure, do check with the university you are planning on joining before taking either IELTS or TOEFL. 

  • Know where your strength is

While the overall programme is relatively the same, these three English tests differ slightly in their format. For example, you may find yourself doing better with MCQs as opposed to writing short answers – or the other way around. Perhaps you may have difficulty writing long texts, or maybe you find it easier to elaborate your points as opposed to restricting your word count. 

Your end goal here is to pass your certification and polish your English language skills, so it is vital for you to play where your strength is. In order to know whether MUET, IELTS, or TOEFL has the right exam structure to your strength, do take a look at their past papers, or simply contact us now!

  • Make a Financially Smart Decision

Regardless of the quality of the programme, the first thing you have to consider anytime you are enrolling into a course is its fees. Take your time to figure out your current financial disposition and choose the one that suits it best. 

With all that said and done, we’d like to wish you a good luck for the rest of your academic journey! Should you have any questions from this article, do not hesitate to contact us today

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About The Author

Karisse Hannah 

Journalism and Advertising major. Passionate about reading and writing, and an advocate for the truth.

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