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Which English Proficiency Test Is Right For You?

The three widely-accepted English proficiency tests are as given below:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE)

 Different Versions of the Given Tests

  • IELTS has two versions: Academic and General Training.
  • The categorization of the TOEFL is on the basis of test format: TOEFL PBT (TOEFL Paper-based Test) and TOEFL iBT (TOEFL Internet-based Test).
  • PTE has three versions: Academic, General, and Young Learner Test.

Thus, the classification of both IELTS and PTE is on the basis of test-takers. The academic version, for both the tests, is for the students seeking university admissions. The general versions, however, is for non-academic purposes. It is to gauge the communication skills in a realistic manner. The PTE Young Learner Test aims at testing the ability of children in using the language structures. It also helps in testing their ability to use language at the higher levels to complete communicative tasks.

Major Differences

IELTS Academic

Duration: 2 Hours 45 Minutes

Criteria: Paper Based

Scores: 0-9

Score Validity: 2years

Modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking

Exam Fee: INR 11,300

Note: The speaking module is conducted on a different date.


Duration: It varies from 3 Hours 10 Minutes to 4 Hours 20 Minutes.

Criteria: Computer Based

Scores: 0-120

Score Validity: 2years

Modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking

Exam Fee: $170 (Approximately INR 11,300)

PTE Academic

Duration: 3 Hours

Criteria: Computer Based

Scores: 10-90

Score Validity: 2years

Modules: Speaking and Writing, Reading, Listening

Exam Fee: Standard Fee INR 11,300

Late Fee INR 14,125

Other Differences

The IELTS exam is conducted face-to-face with the Rater. While there are test-takers who find this pattern of examination quite comfortable, there are many others who feel nervous and stressed out about the same. However, in the other two exams, that is, the TOEFL and the PTE Academic, a test-taker has to speak into a microphone while the computer captures the audio.

Note: In the TOEFL, there is an evaluation of your speaking skills by a human Rater while in PTE they are evaluated by a computer program.

Score Acceptance

In general terms, there is a wide acceptance of the IELTS score in the European and Australian universities while the TOEFL score is much more acceptable in the US universities and schools. The PTE Academic, the latest of the three, is making good headway into being accepted by MBA programs all over the world. Nevertheless, the acceptability of scores is completely dependent on the institution you are applying to.

IELTS General and PTE General

The designing of both the IELTS Academic test and the PTE Academic test is, primarily, for the students who are keen on studying in the English speaking countries. Both these tests also have a general test for people who are considering to work or to live in those countries.

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The format and content of IELTS General are slightly different from that of IELTS Academic.  Unlike PTE Academic, PTE General consists of a written paper and a spoken test.  The marking of these is made by examiners. The structure of PTE General aims at assessing the communicative language ability of the test takers. Thus, the basis of a given exam is real life settings and materials.

Final Words

Before you apply for any program, you must gather all the information pertaining to the score acceptability of different exams. There is no room for an assumption that there will be an acceptance of score of a particular exam by the university you are applying to as every university has its own particular requirements. Furthermore, you must know that your scores may vary greatly in all the tests, despite the fact the test authorities claim to deliver equitable scoring. The wisdom, therefore, is to choose the exam that suits your testing personality best.

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