toefl vs ielts vs pte

English Language Proficiency is one of the important criteria for international students wishing to pursue their studies abroad. As English is the not first language in our country these tests are essential for most universities. TOEFL and IELTS have been popular choices in the past; however new entrants like PTE are also gaining popularity. With so many options students may get confused on which to choose.


Hence, to help students understand the aspects better and make the right decision, we have made a comparative analysis of three of the important and popular English Language Tests: TOEFL, IELTS and PTE.


They are all three proficiency test with the same objectives and same test sections, i.e. Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. There are certain unique features which set them apart from each other. The Speaking test in IELTS is a conversation with a certified IELTS Examiner, which is recorded on an audiocassette or a digital recorder. On the other hand, candidates speak into a microphone and the computer captures the audio in both the TOEFL and PTE Academic.


Comparing The Tests:


TOEFL: Test of English Language as a Foreign Language, or popularly known as TOEFL, measures the examinees’ ability to use and understand English at the university level. It scales how well one can combine the listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.


IELTS: IELTS or the International English Language Testing System is a standardized English Language Proficiency Test jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.


PTE: Launched in 2009, PTE (Pearson Test of English) is the newest of the lot that tests and certifies the English language usage of non-native English speakers. PTE is accredited by the QCA and administered in association with Edexcel, UK’s largest examining body.


Versions of the Tests


TOEFL: has both Paper based (PBT) and Internet Based (iBT) the latter is more popular.

IELTS: General and Academic- students need to take the academic version

PTE: General, Academic and Young Learner Test – again students need to take the academic version


Basics of the Tests:


The TOEFL iBT has more than 50 test dates per year and is conducted in 4,500 test centres across 165 countries. The test can be retaken unlimited times, but cannot be taken more than once in a 12-day period. Also, a candidate cannot register for another test date that is within 12 days of the existing appointment. TOEFL scores are accepted in more than 8,500 colleges, agencies and other institutions in over 130 countries. However, it is not accepted by UKBA and UK Universities.


IELTS score is accepted as evidence of English language proficiency by over 8,000 organisations globally. The test is conducted at more than 900 test centres and locations across more than 130 countries. Each year, IELTS is conducted on 48 fixed dates


Being a relatively new test, the numbers of candidates taking PTE or the number of organizations accepting it might be lower than that of TOEFL and IELTS, but it is catching up fast. Top UK and US universities and government organizations accept PTE Academic scores. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) for Tier 4 and Tier 2 visa applications and all the universities in Australia also accept it. The PTE Academic test is conducted in a number of test Centre’s across 46 countries. Biggest advantage of the PTE is that there are multiple dates across the year and easily available unlike the other two.


Scoring and Results


All the three tests, TOEFL, IELTS and PTE, have a different scoring pattern. TOEFL scores the candidates on a range of 0 to 120. IELTS evaluates the test takers using scores from 1 to 9. PTE Academic grades the students on a scale of 10 to 90.


The score reports for TOEFL and IELTS are received within two weeks and after 13 calendar days respectively. On the contrary, for PTE, results are available online in just five days.


The PTE also sends score reports for free whereas TOEFL and IELTS forward score to four and five universities respectively for free and additional reports are charged.