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PTE vs IELTS: Find Out Which English Language Test Should You Take in 2021

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In the quest for higher education abroad, testing for English language proficiency is a key qualifier for all candidates to gain admission to an international university of choice. IELTS Academic and TOEFL® iBT have been the go-to examination for study-abroad aspirants.

The IELTS is jointly administered by The British Council, IDP and Cambridge Assessment English and the TOEFL which is conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS).

However, lately the Pearson Test of English (PTE) has been gaining popularity as well.

When it comes to deciding English language tests, one of the key questions which aspirants struggle with is: Which test to go for? which is easier?  IELTS or PTE.

This article provides a comparison between IELTS and PTE along all the significant aspects and thus, would help you answer the question of which test would be the best fit based on your skills and requirements.

PTE vs IELTS: An Overview

IELTS has the option of a classical pen and paper test as well as an option to take a computer-based test, which are available in different slots. Thus, a test-taker can choose the mode of examination which they are comfortable with.

In comparison, PTE offers only the computer-based test. PTE exam pattern reveals a lot about its testing objectives and mechanism of testing skills.

Both the exams test the same fundamental language skills viz. Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening. And neither of the test is easier than the other, except the differences in mode of examination and the pattern.

The total time for both the exams is 3 hours. The IELTS is divided into four sections with comparatively longer tasks while the PTE comprises of numerous short tasks across three sections. PTE compared to IELTS has a heavier emphasis on Speaking and Writing and even TOEFL for that matter.

Suggested: Requirements of PTE Exam for Canada Student Visa!

PTE vs IELTS: Exam Pattern & Structure

While preparing for language examinations, understanding the nuances of the examination pattern, its sections, structure and the time requirement is critical when planning for success. This section is focused on providing exactly that information.

In the IELTS 4 test sections which are sequenced in the following order:

  1. Listening

  2. Reading

  3. Writing

  4. Speaking.

While the PTE consists of three test sections which are sequenced as follows:

  1. Speaking and Writing (Combined Section)

  2. Reading

  3. Listening

The details of the various sections for PTE and IELTS are summarized in the table below:

 

PTE

IELTS

Listening

In a section which varies between 45 and 57 minutes answer a series of questions which are based on audio and video clips.

Students need to answer 40 questions in 30 minutes across four recordings

Reading

In 32 to 40 minutes complete objective exercises such as MCQs, filling up blanks and sequencing paragraphs of texts

Students have to answer 40 questions in 30 minutes across 3 texts

Writing

 

 

These two sections are merged in the PTE over a period of 77 to 93 minutes.  Students have to complete diverse tasks such as introducing themselves, reading aloud, describing images, summarizing texts, writing an essay among others.

There are two essays to be written in 60 minutes. The first being the analysis of a visual graph/data while the second is an argumentative task to discuss a point of view.

Speaking

This task of 15 minutes, requires students to speak to the examiner about themselves, an opinion about a topic and finally discussing abstract concepts

PTE vs IELTS: Score Comparison

IELTS is graded on a scale of 0 to 9 with a gap of 0.5 for each section and then averaged for the four sections where universities accept scores north of 6.0 and 6.5.  Candidates are awarded a band score for each section and an average score based on the band score of each of the sections.

PTE scores candidates on a scale of 10 to 90 using a global scale of English where universities prefer a minimum of 55 to 60. Like in IELTS, candidates who give the PTE get a detailed section-wise breakdown.

The table below from the official website of PTE compares PTE score in bands with IELTS.

PTE Academic IELTS

30

4.5

36 5.0
42 5.5
50 6.0
58 6.5
65 7.0
73 7.5
79 8.0
83 8.5
86 9.0

Overall, the PTE is a machine evaluated examination and the margin for error in the evaluation is almost negligible.

What is the validity of the IELTS and PTE scores?

Both IELTS and PTE scores remain valid for a period of two years.

Exam Cost and Acceptance

Both IELTS and PTE cost similar for an examination. The IELTS costs INR 14,000 while the PTE costs INR 13,700 inclusive of GST.

IELTS is still far more universally applicable with an acceptance across 10,000 universities spanning 140 countries The PTE has been picking up in popularity since it was introduced in 2009. The trends indicate that PTE is gaining more acceptance in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland specifically.

How Do I Choose Between IELTS And PTE Based on Academic Criteria?

Every candidate wants to find which test would be a best fit for them. We urge candidates to give at least one mock test in each before and note their PTE scores compared to IELTS deciding finally which is a best fit.

The primary factor is the acceptance of the test score by the targeted university or country. Some universities only accept specific test scores for language proficiency. Also, the language proficiency test score plays a vital role during the student visa process too. Immigration departments of different countries specifically mention which are the accepted test scores.

There are few nuanced differences between IELTS and PTE. We break down further criteria based on two broad categories of nuances: academic and administrative. Academically there are four key criteria for you to keep in mind when choosing:

  1. Comfort with Examination Type: If you are comfortable with the written examination format then IELTS would be comfortable while if you are sure you have the agility to manipulate a digital UI then PTE would be preferred.

  2. Agility in Solving: If you are capable of solving a lot of questions quickly then PTE compared with IELTS would be the examination to choose.

  3. Comfort with Writing: If you can manage writing analytically very quickly then IELTS would be a good bet given the heavy focus it places on this skill.

  4. Your Speaking Accent: The PTE evaluates the speaking section with pronunciation as the prime criteria. Hence if you do speak with a thickish accent then IELTS would be the preferred option.

The overall suggestion is that based on your evaluation of the above four criteria and the faring in the mock test, you can choose which examination would be ideal for you.

How Do I Choose Between IELTS And PTE Based on Administrative Factors?

In addition to the above academic factors, there are certain administrative or operational advantages of taking the PTE especially if you need to give the test within a few days and report scores to a university within a week. The super short booking time for PTE and the average results delivery within two days could provide the edge over IELTS especially when you have deadlines to meet.

The availability of test centers is definitely higher for IELTS and can be a crucial factor if you’re giving the examination in a gap of a few days and need to travel to a nearby city for the test.

Additionally, the PTE can be retaken within five days of the previous attempt which is something to think about if you're especially nervous about giving the examination for the first time.

Even if you are able to answer the question of which is easy?  IELTS or PTE.  Either way you must keep in mind that each examination requires students to prepare to take on the pattern and structure posed for each which requires intensive practice over some time even if the score in the mock tests is pretty high.