IELTS, TOEFL and PTE: 7 Crucial Differences to Choose the Best!
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Key Differences Between IELTS, TOEFL and PTE

toefl and pte

When it comes to proving English proficiency for academic or professional purposes, three main tests stand out: IELTS, TOEFL and PTE are the commonly used tests to measure English language proficiency to gain admission to a university. All the aforementioned tests differ in their specifics, organization, and ways of grading. Everyone may require the services of an English certification test at some stage of their life, and it is significant to comprehend the variation between the three most popular tests, IELTS, TOEFL and PTE.

What Are IELTS, TOEFL and PTE?

It will be quite beneficial to grasp the significance of every test before delving into the distinctions between them.


IELTS is one of the prominent tests that is taken to measure the fluency of English as a foreign language. This is recognized by schools, colleges, universities, employers and other immigration departments all over the world. The test covers listening, reading, writing and speaking functionalities of the individuals being tested.


The TOEFL is chiefly employed by colleges and universities in North America, although its administration is increasing on an international scale. It assesses your reception and production of the English language for university purposes, targeting the academic context.


Students complete the Pearson Test of English (PTE), which is a computer-based test that measures your English. PTE is well famous for its fast results and it is compatible with being used by universities, governments and organizations all over the world.

Read More: Things to Keep in Mind While Taking Your First Study Abroad Entrance Exam

Key Differences Between IELTS, TOEFL and PTE

To make the right decision, one must compare the main distinctions of IELTS, TOEFL and PTE. Here are the main aspects where they differ:

Test Format

ExamTypesSectionsDurationModeSpeaking Test
IELTSIELTS Academic, IELTS General TrainingListening, Reading, Writing, Speaking2 hours and 45 minutesPaper-based or Computer-basedFace-to-face interview
TOEFLTOEFL iBT, TOEFL PBTReading, Listening, Speaking, Writing3 hours and 30 minutesInternet-basedRecorded responses
PTEPTE AcademicSpeaking & Writing, Reading, Listening3 hoursComputer-basedRecorded responses

Scoring System

TestScoring ScaleIndividual Scores
IELTS0-9 band scaleEach part is also given an individual band score and the final average score is obtained from the entire examination.
TOEFL0-120 pointsEach section is scored out of 30 points.
PTE10-90 pointsScores for each communicative skill and enabling skill.

Test Features and Content

Listening Section

  • IELTS: Features conversations, monologues, and academic lectures.
  • TOEFL: Includes academic lectures and conversations with note-taking allowed.
  • PTE: Consists of academic lectures, and audio clips with a variety of accents.

Reading Section

  • IELTS: Academic and general training texts, including articles and extracts.
  • TOEFL: Academic texts and excerpts.
  • PTE: Includes multiple-choice, re-order paragraphs, and fill-in-the-blanks.

Writing Section

  • IELTS: Task 1 (descriptive/letter) and Task 2 (essay).
  • TOEFL: Integrated task (reading/listening/writing) and independent task (essay).
  • PTE: The summarization of written text and essay writing.

Speaking Section

  • IELTS: Involves a face-to-face interview with an examiner.
  • TOEFL: Recorded responses to six tasks.
  • PTE: Recorded responses including reading aloud, repeating sentences, and describing images.

Acceptance and Recognition

  • IELTS: This option is adopted by more than 10,000 prestigious academic institutions all over the world, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States of America.
  • TOEFL: Endorsed by most institutions in the USA, currently, it is used by over 11,000 universities and organizations around the world.
  • PTE: more widely acknowledged, officially admitted by the rising number of universities and governments for immigration status.

Test Preparation and Materials

  • IELTS: Offers official practice materials, online courses, and face-to-face classes.
  • TOEFL: Provides official practice tests, online courses, and preparation books.
  • PTE: Includes official practice tests, preparation courses, and study guides.

Test Frequency and Availability

  • IELTS: Available multiple times a month, paper-based tests may have fewer dates.
  • TOEFL: Available more than 50 times a year at authorized test centres.
  • PTE: Flexible dates throughout the year, with frequent availability.

Choosing the Right Test for You

When comparing IELTS, TOEFL and PTE, consider the following factors to determine which test suits you best:

Academic or Professional GoalsIdeal for those aiming for education or migration to the UK, Australia, or Canada.Best for students targeting universities in the US.Suitable for both academic and migration purposes, recognized globally.
Test Format PreferenceFace-to-Face Interaction: If you prefer a face-to-face speaking test, IELTS is the best choice.Computer-based Format: For those comfortable with a fully computer-based test.Computer-based Format: For those comfortable with a fully computer-based test.
Time ConstraintsQuick Results: PTE provides results within 48 hours, which is faster than IELTS and TOEFL.Test Duration: IELTS is the shortest test, while TOEFL and PTE are longer.Test Duration: IELTS is the shortest test, while TOEFL and PTE are longer.



Emerging as the prominent choices for non-native English speakers IELTS, TOEFL and PTE are the options one must select based on necessity, preference, and aims. This paper aims to provide a comparison between IELTS, TOEFL and PTE with the hope that it will help you choose the most appropriate test to use in demonstrating your ability to use English. Whether it is for academic reasons or immigration, proper and intensive preparation for the test that you want to take will have a higher chance of achieving the test.

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1. Which test is easier, IELTS, TOEFL and PTE?
A. The difficulty of IELTS, TOEFL and PTE depends on individual strengths and weaknesses. IELTS might be easier for those who prefer face-to-face interaction, while TOEFL and PTE might be better for those comfortable with computer-based tests.

2. Can I take IELTS, TOEFL and PTE online?
A. Currently, TOEFL and PTE offer at-home testing options due to the pandemic. IELTS offers computer-based testing at designated centers but not at home.

3. How long are the scores valid?
A. IELTS, TOEFL and PTE scores are valid for two years from the test date.

4. How much does each test cost?

  • IELTS: Approximately $215-$240, depending on the country.
  • TOEFL: Around $180-$200, depending on the country.
  • PTE: About $150-$210, depending on the country.

5. Can I use my test scores for immigration purposes?
A. Yes, IELTS, TOEFL and PTE scores are accepted for immigration purposes in various countries. Check specific immigration requirements for the most accurate information.

6. What if I need to cancel or reschedule my test?
A. Each test has specific policies for cancellations and rescheduling:

  • IELTS: Cancellation or rescheduling must be done more than five weeks before the test date to receive a partial refund.
  • TOEFL: Can be rescheduled or cancelled up to four days before the test date, with a fee.
  • PTE: Rescheduling or cancellation allowed up to 14 calendar days before the test.

7. How can I prepare for IELTS, TOEFL and PTE?

  • IELTS: Utilize official practice materials, attend preparation courses, and practice with sample tests.
  • TOEFL: Make use of official practice tests, study guides, and the products on the web.
  • PTE: Practice with resources that are released by the test makers; books, exams, and classes.