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GRE vs IELTS: Know About Difference Between GRE and IELTS

Yocket Editorial Team
GRE vs IELTS: Know About Difference Between GRE and IELTS Image

If you are an international student from a non-native English speaking country seeking admission to graduate programs abroad, it is mandatory to have a score of IELTS and GRE. Being the two most common and widely accepted tests, both of them i.e GRE vs IELTS are different from each other but will play a major role in your admission process. Getting top marks in the tests will lead you to your dream college.

While the purpose of both GRE and IELTS are the same, they differ in some aspects. The GRE exam focuses on checking students' analytical, verbal and quantitative reasoning skills whereas the IELTS is a language test exam that can check your language ability skills. Most of the time, a student may get perplexed when it comes to knowing the difference between GRE and IELTS. Therefore, reading this blog will help you to get the information on GRE vs IELTS in different scenarios.

Latest Update for GRE Aspirants: The GRE General Test fee will increase by $15 USD and will therefore cost $228 USD for test takers in India from November 1, 2022

Table of Contents

Overview of GRE and IELTS Exams

Before we head towards the difference between GRE vs IELTS let us have a quick overview of the two tests:

What is GRE?

The Graduate Record Examinations or GRE is a graduate test accepted by most of the study abroad institutions for graduate programs. The examination is structured in a way that can effectively assess the students' quantitative and verbal skills.

This global standardised test is conducted by Educational Testing Agency (ETS) a US-based private non-profit organisation. The exam has two modes: paper-based and online mode.

GRE Preparation Tips

Yocket GRE Prep

What is IELTS?

International English Language Testing System or IELTS is a global level language test that can measure students' language ability. This test evaluates students' skills in four different aspects which are reading, writing, speaking and listening.

The exam was first conducted in 1989 and is jointly administered by some organisations i.e. British Council, IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English. The exam has two modes i.e. paper-based and computer-based.

How to Crack GRE?

Now that you know about the two exams, let's have a quick glance over the two.

IELTS vs GRE: Quick Glance

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a graduate level standardised test whereas IELTS is needed for international students to show their English language skills. Most universities look for your GRE score to make sure that you are able to do graduate coursework. On the other hand, IELTS test scores make sure that your English language skills are strong enough to do well in university academic instructions.

The following IELTS and GRE difference chart will give you a quick look at some crucial aspects related to both the exam along with highlighting their key differences between GRE and IELTS:




Total Students Appeared in 2021

Around 2 lakhs

30 Lakhs


5 times

48 times

Scoring Range






Total Time

3 hours & 45 minutes

2 hours and 55 minutes

Total no. of questions

  • MCQs: 80;
  • Unscored research section: 20

85 questions

Exam Fee

213 USD

200 USD


GRE scores valid upto 5 years

Two years

Suggested:Everything About GRE Exam Structure and Pattern

What is the Difference between IELTS and GRE?

Although the GRE vs IELTS are two different types of exams, their differences are never-ending. It is hard to find out between GRE vs IELTS which is better, as it varies in various aspects. So if this question of which is better GRE or IELTS comes to your mind, here we have listed all the important differences for both the tests:

  • Eligibility Criteria
  • Exam Pattern
  • Exam Duration
  • Exam Fees
  • Marking Scheme
  • Difficulty Level
  • Number of Attempts
  • Acceptance

Let's elaborate each of them in detail:

1. Eligibility Criteria

  • For IELTS, there are no specific eligibility criteria for the test. Generally, if you have completed your 12th level of education, you can apply for the exam. This exam is mostly taken by students who are from a non-English speaking country and want to continue their further education in study abroad institutions.
  • For GRE, you don't need to meet some specific eligibility criteria. Anyone interested in studying abroad can apply for the exam irrespective of your age or qualifications. Mostly those students looking to get a masters degree may appear for this examination.

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2. Exam Pattern

If you are finding the answer to a question, which is better GRE or IELTS? you get an answer by looking at the exam pattern of both tests. Here we have discussed the exam pattern of GRE and IELTS.

The GRE exam consists of three sections that are Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. Since the tests are conducted on two modes i.e Computer-based and Paper-based. Let's look at their exam pattern:




Analytical Writing

1 section: two tasks (60 minutes)

2 section: two tasks (60 minutes)

Verbal Reasoning

2 section: 40 questions (60 minutes)

2 section: 50 questions (70 minutes)

Quantitative Reasoning

2 section: 40 questions (70 minutes)

2 section: 50 questions (80 minutes)







What are the Types of GRE Tests?

On the other hand, the IELTS test will check your English listening, writing, reading and speaking abilities. This test is mainly for the evaluation of diverse skills and language proficiency of a student. The exam pattern of the test is given below:


Total Questions


40 questions (60 minutes)


40 questions (30 minutes)



Question (11-14 minutes)


2 Question (60 minutes)

3. Exam Duration

The exam duration of a GRE general test is of 3 hours and 45 minutes, while the subject test of GRE may take upto 2 hours and 50 minutes to complete.

Whereas to solve the IELTS test, you get a total time of 2 hours and 55 minutes along with a halfway point during the examination.

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4. Exam Fees

The examination fees of the GRE General test is 228 USD for international aspirants which is roughly around 18,794 INR for Indian students. However, the GRE application costs may vary from country to country.

On the other hand, the IELTS application fees also vary based on region. To apply for this test, you have to spend 199 USD 15,500 INR for registration. Apart from that, you may also have to spend some extra charges in terms of late fees, exam centre change, cancellation etc.

5. Marking Scheme

The IELTS vs GRE difficulty can be calculated based on their marking scheme. Here we have discussed the scoring range of both GRE and IELTS tests.

The GRE exam scores are divided into three different sections which are Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. The Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning section of the exam is calculated on a scale of 130 to 170. The mean score of Verbal Reasoning is 151 whereas for Quantitative it is 153. The last Analytical Writing ranges between 0 to 6 in half-point increments with the mean score of 4.0.

Whereas, the IELTS test contains four sections i.e. listening, writing, reading and speaking. The IELTS scores for the sections are calculated on a band score of 1 to 9.0. Generally, a band score of 6.5 or 7.0 is good for admissions in abroad universities.

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6. Difficulty Level

Based on GRE vs IELTS difficulty level, the GRE test is considered as much harder than IELTS as it has more difficult questions of vocabulary and reading passages. The mathematics questions of GRE are also of lower level compared to other exams.

On the other hand, the IELTS is generally easier than GRE if you have strong English skills. This test is mostly focused on testing your english skills rather than your knowledge of some mathematical equations.

7. Number of Attempts

You have the option to appear in the GRE General test once in every 21 days, which is upto five times within a continuous rolling of 12 months duration. This criteria is also applicable if you have cancelled your previously attempted GRE scores.

Whereas in IELTS, there are no limits for the number of attempts in the exam. You can appear in the IELTS test as many as 4 times a month or 48 times in a year.

8. Acceptance

The GRE is an internationally accepted exam for graduates and postgraduate courses across the world. Almost every study destination like US, UK, and Canada accepts these scores for their graduate programs.

However, the IELTS is an English Proficiency Test which is mandatory in every study abroad institution. This is a widely accepted test with more than 9,000 institutions in around 150 different countries.

All About GRE Analytical Writing Topics

Now that we know about the difference between IELTS and GRE in every aspect. Let's take a quick look at how you can pick up the right test:

How to Pick UP the Right Test Between GRE vs IELTS?

Since both of these tests have their own uses, one is for graduate admissions and the other is for students coming from non-native countries. But to pick the right one between the GRE exam vs IELTS for study abroad, you must start by taking practice tests. There is a high possibility that one out of the two may suit you the best. You may opt for Yocket's GRE Prep to boost your GRE preparation. 

The GRE test scores are mostly required for admission to graduate programs at universities abroad whereas the IELTS is a language test which is mandatory for every non-native student. Therefore, it is necessary to analyse your practice tests and appear for the one in which you are more confident.

Studying graduate programs from good study abroad institutions is a dream of students, but a dilemma occurs if you have the choice between GRE vs IELTS. Choosing between the two is a tough choice but with clarity about the exam offerings and the difference between IELTS and GRE, it becomes easier for you. The difference between GRE and IELTS mainly lies in the evaluation process of your aptitude level.

GRE Scores and Results

Since the GRE is widely accepted as a document in most of the graduate courses in countries like the UK, US, Australia, Canada etc. Apart from it, IELTS are accepted by almost every institution across the world. Adding both test scores in your application will help you to get an edge in your evaluation process. For further assistance, do get in touch with our Yocket professionals.

Also Read

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How Tough is GRE? Free GRE Resources

What After GRE?

GRE Exam Fees

GRE Score Validity

Frequently Asked Questions About IELTS vs GRE

Ques. Is GRE harder than IELTS?

Ans. Yes. The GRE test is harder than the IELTS test. The GRE's issues topic has a thirty-minute time limit and its successful responses are usually 500 to 600 words long. Whereas, IELTS writing task 2 has a time limit of around forty minutes, with a recommended word count of 250 to 300 words.

Ques. Which one is easier between GRE vs IELTS?

Ans. If we look at IELTS vs GRE difficulty level, in comparison IELTS is easy as it mainly evaluates language skills, thus it is easier to prepare for IELTS than the GRE.

Ques. How many universities accept IELTS scores?

Ans. More than 9,000 study Institutions worldwide accept IELTS scores for their admission process.

Ques. What is the difference between GRE and IELTS?

Ans. The GRE is a global level standardised test required for masters-level admission whereas IELTS is a language test needed by international students who are from non-English speaking countries.

Ques. How many times can I apply for GRE and IELTS in a year?

Ans. You can take an IELTS test 48 times in a calendar year whereas you can only appear for GRE five times in a year.

Ques. What is the validity of GRE and IELTS scores?

Ans. The GMAT test scores are valid for 5 years and IELTS test scores are only valid for two years.

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