IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE – Which is better?


Getting a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree abroad is the cherished dream of many students. Most of the educational institutions abroad offer courses in the medium of instruction with English as the primary language. The very first criterion for international students in the admission list of colleges and universities abroad is the result of English proficiency tests like TOEFL or IELTS or PTE. These tests assess students’ reading, writing, listening and vocabulary skills in English if he is a non-native English speaker.

Both IELTS and TOEFL exams arethe most accepted English proficiency exams in the world. PTE scores are also accepted worldwide. However, these tests are different in their exam structure, format, audience and syllabus.


Your choice of exam, whether IELTS or TOEFL or PTE, will depend upon your choice of college, or country of migration, your score, and your personal preferences.

What is IELTS Exam?

IELTS or the International English Language Testing System is a collaboration of Cambridge Assessment English, British Council, IDP, and IELTS Australia. The IELTS exam is available in two formats-IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

IELTS Academic test is for those candidates who want to go for higher education or wish to get professional registration, while the IELTS General Training, has to be taken up for immigration purposes, especially if you are planning to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.

The proficiency level can be determined on a scale from one to nine. Band 1 is for the general user while Band 9 is for an expert user. The examination can be taken either on paper or computers in an official IELTS test centre. Speaking test is carried out personally with a trained IELTS examiner.

What is TOEFL exam?

The TOEFL or the Test of English as a Foreign Language is the oldest and the most popular of English proficiency exams.Itis undertaken by an independent non-profit organisationcalled Educational Testing Service (ETS). Its results are used and accepted by over 9,000 universities and colleges in as many as 130 countries,including the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and the like.

This test can be taken in either of the two formats, paper (PBT)or on the internet(iBT). This test is conducted more than 50 times in a year by ETS.

What is PTE Exam?

PTE or Pearson’s Test in English is a computer-based academic test for study or immigration purposes. It is also available in 2 formats-PTE Academic, which checks for a candidate’s English skills to study abroad or for immigration; PTE General helps candidates practice their knowledge of English.

Major differences between the three exams

  • The IELTS exam mostly covers British, Canadian and Australian English. So, if you are planning to study, work or immigrate to these countries, this exam is for you. The TOEFL covers American English,and its scores will be required for pursuing MBA or post-graduate courses in the US.
  • PTE scores can be required by both Australian and US colleges as per their admission criteria.
  • Both ELTS and TOEFL results are evaluated by personal examiners, while PTE test scores are determined by the computer itself.
  • TOEFL test scores are available online within 10 days after the test. PTE scores are available with five business days,and IELTS scores are posted within 13 calendar days.
  • PTE is a computer-based, so it is less time-consuming. TOEFL is more of a multiple-choice format. IELTS gives you the option to write down your essay answer and is shorter than TOEFL.

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