IELTS TOEFL, or PTE: University Preferences in 2024
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IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE: Which Test Do Universities Prefer?


University Test Preferences IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE

When planning to study abroad, selecting the right English proficiency test is crucial. Among the most recognized tests are IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE. Each test has its unique features, but an important consideration is understanding which test universities prefer. This article will explore the preferences of universities regarding IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, helping you make an informed decision for your application.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and PTE (Pearson Test of English) are all designed to assess the English language proficiency of non-native speakers. Understanding which test is preferred by universities can significantly influence your choice.

Test Acceptance and Preferences by Region

United States

TOEFL is widely accepted and often preferred by American universities due to its long-standing presence and alignment with American English. However, most universities also accept IELTS and increasingly recognize PTE.

  • Top Universities: Institutions like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford accept TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE.
  • Preference: While TOEFL remains the traditional choice, IELTS and PTE are gaining acceptance due to their global recognition.

United Kingdom

IELTS is the preferred test for UK universities, given its British roots and widespread acceptance across all educational institutions in the UK. PTE is also recognized, and TOEFL is accepted by many institutions.

  • Top Universities: Universities like Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London primarily prefer IELTS but accept TOEFL and PTE.
  • Preference: IELTS is the dominant choice, with PTE and TOEFL as alternatives.


Canadian universities have no strict preference, accepting all three tests: IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE.

  • Top Universities: University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and McGill University accept all three tests.
  • Preference: IELTS and TOEFL are equally preferred, with PTE also gaining recognition.

Australia and New Zealand

IELTS and PTE are commonly preferred due to their Australian and New Zealand affiliations. TOEFL is also accepted widely.

  • Top Universities: Australian National University, University of Melbourne, and University of Auckland accept IELTS, PTE, and TOEFL.
  • Preference: IELTS and PTE are more commonly preferred, with TOEFL as a secondary option.

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University Admission Tests: Specific Requirements

Test Requirements and Acceptance

IELTS TOEFL PTE universities acceptance varies based on specific requirements:

  • Minimum Scores: Each university sets its minimum score requirements, which can differ between undergraduate and postgraduate programs. For example:
    1. IELTS: Typically requires a minimum overall band score of 6.0-7.5.
    2. TOEFL: Generally requires a total score of 80-100.
    3. PTE: Often requires a score between 58-73.
  • Sectional Scores: Some universities also set minimum scores for individual sections (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking).

Preferred English Exams depend on the university and program, so it’s essential to check the specific requirements on the university’s official website.

Key Considerations for Selecting a Test

  1. University and Program Requirements: Research the specific requirements of your target universities and programs. Some institutions might have a clear preference for one test over the others.
  1. Test Availability and Convenience: Consider the availability of test centers and test dates in your location. This can impact your ability to take the test in a timely manner.
  1. Test Format and Personal Preference: Choose a test format that aligns with your strengths. For instance, if you are more comfortable with a computer-based test, PTE might be a good option.
  1. Regional Preferences: Take into account regional preferences. For example, if you are applying to universities in the UK, IELTS might be the preferred choice.

Comparing Test Preferences: A Table

RegionPreferred TestsTop Universities
United StatesTOEFL, IELTS, PTEHarvard, MIT, Stanford
United KingdomIELTS, TOEFL, PTEOxford, Cambridge, Imperial College
CanadaIELTS, TOEFL, PTEUniversity of Toronto, UBC, McGill
Australia/NZIELTS, PTE, TOEFLANU, University of Melbourne, Auckland

Global University Tests: Acceptance Trends

  1. Increasing Acceptance of PTE: PTE is gaining acceptance due to its modern, computer-based format and quick results, making it a convenient option for students and universities alike.
  1. Wide Acceptance of TOEFL: TOEFL remains a strong contender, especially in the US and Canada, where it has been a traditional choice for many years.
  1. Dominance of IELTS: IELTS is highly preferred in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, with growing acceptance in the US and Canada.


When choosing between IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, consider the specific preferences and requirements of the universities you are applying to. Each test has its strengths and acceptance varies by region and institution. Thorough research and understanding of IELTS TOEFL PTE universities preferences will help you select the most suitable test for your study abroad plans.

For personalized guidance on selecting the right path, feel free to get in touch with us, study abroad consultancy, and avail of our wide range of services for students on destinations like study in USAstudy in Australiastudy in Singaporestudy in Switzerlandstudy in New Zealandstudy in Germanystudy in UKstudy in Canada and many other countries.

By aligning your choice with university preferences and your own test-taking strengths, you can enhance your chances of meeting the admission requirements and achieving your dream to study abroad. Good luck with your test preparation and university applications!