IELTS VS PTE Academic – Which English Proficiency Test Is Best for Study Abroad?

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In today’s modern age studying abroad has become one of the best options for individuals willing to enhance their skills, and academic knowledge, gain independence, etc. From providing the greatest career and academic opportunities, studying abroad can also provide a life-changing, memorable experience which can leave a great impact on an individual’s life. It can also open a pathway to settle abroad in a well-developed country. Let’s say one day you decide that you want to pursue your dream of studying abroad as a non-native English speaker.

The first task you will then have to face will be clearing an English language proficiency test. Although there are a variety of tests which are conducted and accepted by various universities worldwide the most renowned English language proficiency tests are: -

  1. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  2. Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
  3. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  4. Cambridge English Exam (FCE)

The most widely chosen tests by students all over India are IELTS and PTE Academic. Both these tests provide excellent feedback on the English language proficiency of individuals and are used in more than 70 countries and over 10000 colleges worldwide. Students often find it confusing and rightly so, of what test to choose to fulfill their dreams. In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of both these tests so any student can easily decide which test is the right option for them.

IELTS Academic Test

IELTS or the International English Language Testing System is a standardized test designed to assess the language proficiency of non-native English speakers. It is widely accepted by universities, employers and immigration authorities in various English-speaking countries. IELTS is jointly owned and managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. These organizations work together to ensure the test’s reliability, security, and global consistency.

The IELTS test measures the proficiency level in four language skills: Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes), and Speaking (11-14 minutes). It assesses a candidate’s ability to understand and use English in academic and everyday contexts.

The IELTS test was first introduced in 1989. It was created in response to the increasing demand for a standardized English language proficiency test that could be used for immigration, work, and study purposes. Since its inception, IELTS has become one of the most widely accepted and recognized English language proficiency tests globally. Over the years, IELTS has undergone various updates and improvements to maintain its relevance and reliability in assessing language skills and cater to the needs of students.

IELTS Score System Along With Their Meaning: -

Bands Meaning
Band 9 Expert
Band 8 Very Good
Band 7 Good
Band 6 Competent
Band 5 Modest
Band 4 Limited
Band 3 Extremely Limited
Band 2 Intermittent
Band 1 Non-user
Band 0 Absent

An overall score of 6 with no bands less than 6 is required for a Bachelor’s, while an overall score of 6.5 is required for a Master’s.

Pros and Cons of the IELTS Academic Test

The following are the Pros and Cons of choosing IELTS: -

Pros Cons
Accepted by over 11,000 organizations worldwide, making it a popular choice among students and professionals. Can be expensive if the exam has to be taken multiple times by a candidate.
Conducted multiple times a month, the IELTS Test can fit the schedules of those candidates who are often very busy. The IELTS Test can often invoke anxiety in some candidates which can cause a bad impact on the test performance.
Its standardized format helps the students know what to expect and exactly how to prepare. Speaking can be a frightening task for some candidates as they have to answer an examiner face to face.
Two different test formats to cater to the needs of both students and professionals. While IELTS Test centers are available in cities throughout the country, there might be many remote areas where the test takers might reside and since the speaking module is held on different days, unnecessary and extra travelling for some students can hamper the test performance.

PTE Academic Test: -

The Pearson Test of English or PTE is another standardized English language proficiency test designed to assess the speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills of non-native English speakers. Just like IELTS, PTE too is widely accepted by universities, employers, and immigration authorities in English-speaking countries. PTE is owned and administered by Pearson, a leading education company. Pearson developed the PTE Academic test to provide a comprehensive and objective evaluation of English language skills.

PTE Academic is a computer-based test and the student must clear the three parts i.e. Speaking and Writing (54 – 67 minutes), Reading (29 – 30 minutes), and Listening (30 – 43 minutes) to clear the PTE Academic test.

PTE was first launched in 2009 by Pearson and since its inception, PTE Academic has gained acceptance from universities around the world. Widely known for its computerized format, automated scoring system, and efficiency in delivering results quickly. It offers a comprehensive evaluation of listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills.

PTE Academic Score System Along With Their Meaning: -

Range Meaning
90-100 Expert
80-89 Very Good
70-79 Good
60-69 Modest
50-59 Limited
10-49 Low

60 overall and no score less than 50 is required for students looking for enrollment in all courses.

Pros and Cons of the PTE Academic Test: -

The following are the Pros and Cons of choosing the PTE Academic Test:-

Pros Cons
PTE Results are often available within 48 hours of giving the test which can be a game changer for students who have to meet strict application deadlines Some candidates might have difficulty with its computer-based format as they might be more comfortable with pen- paper-based tests.
Accepted by many universities and colleges around the world. Since the speaking and writing sections are graded by a computer, the correct and accurate assessment might not be made.
Since the results are generated by a computer there is no question of human error or even bias. The listening section can be very difficult to understand for those candidates who are not familiar with different accents used around different English- speaking countries.
Lots of test dates to choose and also the PTE test unlike the IELTS Test can be completed in one day and a single sitting. Not available in a lot of locations which makes the test-takers often travel to different cities to give a test.

Differences between IELTS and PTE Language Proficiency Test

The primary difference between IELTS and PTE is the test format. While IELTS is both paper-based and computer-based, PTE Academic is only computer-based. Both tests assess the candidate’s reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, but both of them have entirely different formats.

Scoring System: -

IELTS uses a band score system which ranges from 1 to 9, while PTE on the other hand uses a scaled score system which ranges from 10 to 90.

Acceptance by Universities: -

Both IELTS and PTE are widely accepted by universities and employers worldwide. However, some institutions may prefer one test over the other, so it is essential to research the requirements of your target institution before deciding which test to take.

Test Content and Difficulty Level: -

The content and difficulty level of the two tests are also different. Even though both tests assess a candidate’s reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, the content and types of questions are different. For example, the PTE test uses more visual and audio materials, while the IELTS test uses more academic texts.

In-Depth Comparison of Both IELTS and PTE Academic Tests

Parameters IELTS PTE
Conducted by IDP Education Ltd. Pearson PLC group
Test Types IELTS Academic, IELTS General Training PTE Academic
Duration 2 hours and 45 Minutes 2 hours
Break No breaks. The speaking portion can be taken a week before or after the test. Optional 10 minutes
Range of scores 0 – 9 10 – 90
Result -Paper-based- 13 days -Computer-based- 3-5 days 2 days
Cost ₹17,000 ₹17,000
Validity 2 years 2 years

Which English Proficiency Test Should You Consider?

As you can see both IELTS and PTE have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. IELTS is based more on academic texts while PTE uses more visual and audio cues. The students should first consider their personal strengths, study preferences, and even their target institutions while deciding which test to choose. For instance, let’s say that a student prefers faster results, and computer-based visual and audio cues, PTE should always be the right option for them.

On the other hand, if a student is more comfortable with a paper-based format and prefers a more traditional approach, IELTS should be the right option for them. In general terms, IELTS has been in use as a proof of English language proficiency for more than 3 decades and with time has always kept up with the changes in trends in the use of English all around the world. PTE on the other hand is relatively new but still is accepted in 70+ countries and more than 3000 universities.

Hence, the main aspect which a student has to consider while deciding which test to choose should be what their needs are which can be related to their personal preferences, study type, and their target university. IELTS should be preferred by those students who are comfortable with written test formats, while PTE suits those who are comfortable with digital interfaces. Consider your accent as well; IELTS is preferable if you have a good accent, as the PTE Speaking section assesses pronunciation very strictly.

The requirements of a student’s target institutions must always be kept in mind as some institutes may prefer one test over the other. The fee for both these English language proficiency tests is the same i.e. ₹17,000.

It must be noted that both exams present their own unique set of challenges. IELTS can be very demanding, particularly in writing, where higher literary skills are required and expected. The Academic Reading section in IELTS involves more complex texts compared to the General Training Reading test. PTE might seem slightly easier to those students who focus more on the application level without delving extensively into fundamental concepts.

As you by now would’ve become familiar with everything relating to the test format, scoring system, exam duration, pros and cons, etc. You can now decide for yourself which test is the right fit for you. Remember, the difficulty level of both IELTS and PTE Academic tests is different for each student, as some might be comfortable with IELTS’ more academic approach while some might be comfortable with PTE’s Audio and Visual, computer-based format.

Both of these tests are a test of your English proficiency so, if your English proficiency ranges between moderate to good, with proper guidance you can easily crack these tests which is where we, Cosmo Consultants come in.

Cosmo Consultants – Best PTE Coaching Center

We at Cosmo IELTS/PTE School provide proper guidance to students who have a dream to study abroad and are serious regarding their goals. Our comprehensive study plans, expert trainers, and personal guidance have helped hundreds of students like you to clear their IELTS and PTE exams and fulfill their dream of studying abroad in their dream universities.

We have branches in different parts of the country and have helped students from all walks of life take their English Language Proficiency tests, choose the right university, obtain student visas and even help with pre-departure necessities. Contact us directly to book a free counselling session.

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