IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE | How to decide?

Vishesh Chogtu
Modified on 2021-12-10 
Read time: 7 mins

IELTS, TOEFL and PTE are standardized English Language Proficiency Tests that are compulsory for international students to complete the pre-requisites put forward by the university of any country. These tests are mandatory for students whose first language is not English. These tests basically prove the student’s writing, listening, reading and speaking skills. Since English is a globally recognized language, it is essential for students to know the basics. 

International education is commonly approached, hence students should have the knowledge of the tests they need to appear before enrolling for any program at a university. Since most universities conduct their programs in English, they should be aware of the language basics fully. Depending on the university’s listed requirement, students need to choose the English test. Most universities either accept IELTS, TOEFL or PTE tests for the English Proficiency requirement. 

What is IELTS?

IELTS is short form for The International English Language Testing System. The exam is managed by the British Council, DP. The IELTS exam was established in 1989. The IELTS score secured by students is valid for 2 years. If a student is not is not satisfied with the results of the exam, they may reappear for the same. The exam is conducted 4 times per month throughout the year. The test score band ranges between 1 and 9, where 1 measures a non-speaker and 9 measures a fluent speaker. The exam is categorized in two different sections, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Thinking. IELTS Academic is for candidates who wish to pursue higher education, whereas IELTS General Thinking is for candidates who wish to migrate or settle in a foreign country. 

IELTS Exam Fee

The IELTS exam registration fee is Rs. 14700 from 11th July 2021 onwards. 

IELTS Exam Format

IELTS exam is conducted in either a paper-based exam or a computer-based format. The first three sections of the test have to be taken on the same day in the following order: listening, reading and writing. The speaking test will either be held on the same day or within a span of 7 days. 

Listening Test

The listening test is curated to evaluate various listening skills. It assesses how well you understand specific information and ideas, recognize opinions, attitudes and purpose of the speaker and also follow the development of a particular argument. 

Candidates listen to four different recordings of native English speakers and then answer the questions to certain questions. There are approximately 40 questions and the test takes around 30 minutes. 

Reading Test

Students are required to read effectively and quickly. They will be asked to read three passages and answer questions related to it. 

Three long texts are provided to students from books, magazines, journals and newspapers under academic reading. The passages may be descriptive, factual, discursive or analytical. There are 40 questions and the test takes 30 minutes. 

Under general training reading, extracts from books, magazines, advertisements, notices, company handbooks and guidelines are provided for students to read. These materials are the ones that you encounter in your daily lives in an English-speaking environment. 

Writing Test

The writing test evaluates a candidate’s writing skills.

Under academic writing, students need to write summaries or describe and explain information in their own words on the basis of a graph, diagram or chart provided. The second task involves writing an essay. 

Under General Training writing, students will be presented with a particular situation and will be asked to write a letter in a personal or semi-formal format explaining the situation. The second task involves writing an essay. 

The IELTS Academic Writing and General Training test both are 60 minute tests that involve 2 questions each. 

Speaking Test

The speaking test is a video call test that assesses the speaking skills of students. It includes short questions, speaking on a given topic at length and a structured discussion. The time for this section varies anywhere in between 11 minutes and 14 minutes. 

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. The exam is designed to test the understanding and usage of English by students. The exam is conducted by ETS and comprises four sections i.e. Reading, listening, speaking and writing. Each section has a score range of 0 – 30. Over 9000 top universities of the world accept TOEFL test scores as a pre-requisite for English Language Proficiency. 


The TOEFL exam fee in India is Rs. 13780 and apart from that, candidates need to pay extra for late registration, exam rescheduling and score review. 

TOEFL Format

TOEFL is a language proficiency test that assesses the the language skills of students across four sections.


Candidates are required to read 3 to 4 passages of around 700 words and are required to answer anywhere in between 30 and 40 questions. This section evaluates the student’s reading and understanding abilities of students. Various subjects are covered in this section, and students get 54 minutes to 72 minutes to solve these passages. 


The writing section involves two tasks namely TOEFL integrated and TOEFL independent. The duration to complete this section is 50 minutes and students are required to write 500- 600 words compositely across two writing tasks. This is the last section and is quite difficult to get through. Students are gain scored on a scale of 0-30.


The Listening section has two aspects i.e. lectures and conversations. Within 41 – 57 minutes, students are required to answer 28-39 questions. The section comprises 4 – 6 lecture excerpts along with 2 – 3 conversations on various general topics that are relevant to university life. 


This section comprises one independent and three integrated speaking tasks. Just like other tasks, it is measured on a scale of 0-30. 

What is PTE?

The full-form of PTE is Pearson Test of English. It is an English Language Proficiency Test for international students who are non-native English speakers and wish to study abroad. It tests the reading, writing, listening and speaking skills of candidates. The exam is conducted by the Pearson PLC Group. It is a computer-based test that focuses on day-to-day English. There are three types of PTE tests i.e. PTE Academic, PTE Academic UKVI and PTE Home.

PTE Exam Fee

Indian students applying for PTE are required to pay a fee of Rs. 13700. The fee is only applicable if students pay the fees atheist 14 days in advance.

PTE Exam Format

The PTE Academic exam comprises three sections i.e. Speaking & Writing, Reading and Listening. The exam is curated to assess the language skills of students. 

Speaking and Writing Section

The section comprises question types like personal introduction, read aloud, repeat the sentence, describe image, re-tell lecture, answer short question, summarize written text and essay. This section goes on for a duration of 77-93 minutes. 

Reading Section

Candidates get up to 40 minutes to complete this section. The following topics are covered:

  • Reading and Writing, Fill in the blanks.
  • Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer 
  • Re-order Paragraphs
  • Fill in the Blanks 
  • Multiple Choice, Single Answer

Listening Section

Candidates get a total of 45-57 minutes to complete this section. The following questions are included in this section.

  • Summarize spoken text
  • Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer
  • Fill in the Blanks
  • Highlight Correct Summary
  • Multiple Choice, Single Answer
  • Select Missing Word
  • Highlight Incorrect Words
  • Write from Dictation

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE Comparison 

The following table highlights the distinguishing factors of these English Language Proficiency Tests.

TypesAcademic General Training TOEFL iBT TOEFL iBTSpecial Home EditionPTE Academic PTE Academic UKVI
Conducted byBritish Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment EnglishEducational Testing ServicePearson PLC Group 
Duration2 hours 45 minutes3 hours 3 hours
Score1 to 91 to 12010 to 90
AcceptanceOver 9000 international colleges11000 universities, agencies and other institutionsA large number of prestigious universities such as Harvard, INSEAD and Yale. Also accepted by Australian and New Zealand governments for visa purposes. 
Fees INR 14700US 180$INR 13700


Which is easier IELTS, TOEFL or PTE?

Ans. Since PTE is a computer-based exam and the computer program decides the score, it is unbiased and considered easier. It doesn’t have any waiting time, hence is faster. 

Is IELTS difficult?

Ans. IELTS is nothing more difficult than any other exam. The questions are quite straightforward and are designed to evaluate the language skills and not to trick you or test anyone’s opinions.

How many times can I take the TOEFL exam?

Ans. You can take the test many times i.e. as many times as you wish until you get the desired score. 

Which is the Best IELTS, TOEFL or PTE?

Ans. IELTS is more accepted in Europe as well as Australia, while TOEFL is commonly accepted in the USA to enrol for MBA programs. The PTE Academic, is the newest of the three exams is making a headway into being accepted by MBA programs across the world. 

Should I give IELTS or PTE?

Ans. It doesn’t matter whether you give IELTS Academic, TOEFL iBT or PTE Academic. All these exams are great for students who wish to pursue further studies abroad and are accepted by thousands of universities around the world. 

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Vishesh Chogtu

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