Suppose you plan to study abroad from a foreign country but do not have English as your native language. In that case, you are required to clear an English proficiency test to get admitted to an international university. The problem occurs when you find out that there is more than one language test accepted by many universities and colleges worldwide. And you might have heard about some English proficiency tests like IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE. But how are these tests differ from one another, and which of these tests should one go for? While some countries favor one particular test, others accept the score of any of the exams. Thus, one should be very careful while appearing for one test over another. Here is everything that you are required to know about IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE.
About the Exams:
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
It is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests that makes you eligible for pursuing higher education or seeking employment in developed English-speaking countries. IELTS was developed more than 30 years ago and is used to test the English language skills needed in foreign countries. IELTS tests can be of two types, namely, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.
The IELTS Academic test is undertaken by those who wish to study or undergo training in countries where English is a primary communication language.
Those who wish to migrate to these countries should go with IELTS General Training. This test will review your English proficiency in a practical and everyday context. You can take any test depending on your ultimate goal.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
The TOEFL test is the world’s premier and oldest English proficiency test for higher education and migration. Around 11000 colleges and universities accept the TOEFL test scores in over 150 countries.
The TOEFL test is taken in two formats, either paper or the internet. However, the Paper-Based Test is only available in locations where an internet facility is not present. Otherwise, the candidate has to give the test via the internet only. Educational Testing Service (ETS), a non-profit organization, designed the test to examine non-native English-speaking candidates’ English abilities.
Pearson Test of English (PTE)
PTE is another test that is used to assess the English language skills of non-native English speakers. Pearson Language Tests launched PTE in the year 2009. It is a computer-based test, and several leading universities and governments around the world accept its results. The test is getting popular around the world because of its quick assessments.
How are IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE different from each other?
Going by the definition, these three tests appear similar, with all serving one common objective, assisting the test taker in seeking higher education or migration to a foreign country. But there are some noticeable differences in these tests, mainly in terms of exam pattern, test format, and countries that accept these scores. The IELTS is widely recognized in the UK and Australia, while the TOEFL and PTE are more prevalent in the US and Canada.
During the IELTS, your speaking skills are tested in a face-to-face interaction with a human examiner, while during TOEFL and PTE, speaking skills are assessed by talking to a microphone. The computer itself evaluates PTE test scores. Thus it gives the quickest result, while the IELTS and TOEFL scores are determined by human evaluation. Hence, PTE results are available within five business days, while TOEFL results are available in 10 days, and IELTS results are released within 13 days.
The exam pattern of IELTS, TOEFL and PTE:
There are around 1100 centers in 140 countries for IELTS, while TOEFL has 4500 test centers in 165 countries, and the PTE is available in 250 test centers in 50 countries. The IELTS Academic test can be given both online and on paper. There is no difference between the online and the offline test, but the offline test is usually preferred for locations/centers where there is no accessibility to the internet. The TOFEL exam is also available online and offline, but there is no speaking test for candidates who appear for the test offline/paper. TOEFL iBT is an internet-based test. Finally, the PTE Academic test is only available in a computer-based format. All tests have the same objective, i.e. to test the English language ability of the candidate. Thus exam pattern and syllabus are more or less similar to each other. There are four primary sections to test a candidate’s ability: reading, speaking, listening, and writing. A candidate’s performance in these parameters is used to obtain the final result.
IELTS Academic exam is divided into four sections and has a duration of 160 to 170 mins.
Reading: This requires you to read texts and answer accordingly. The duration of this section is 60 minutes.
- Listening: You will listen to recordings of the native speakers and then answer the questions. This section will last for 40 minutes.
- Writing: This section includes writing an essay on a given topic and another task that requires you to interpret data and present it in written form. The duration of this section is 60 minutes.
- Speaking: In this section, you will be speaking directly with the examiner to evaluate your English speaking skills.
TOEFL iBT also includes sections similar to IELTS Academics. However, this exam is 3 hours long, and questions under this section might differ from IELTS exam questions.
- Reading: This section includes reading passages and answering questions. The duration for this in 50 to 70 minutes.
- Listening: You have to listen to a recording and then answer questions. The duration of this section is 40 to 60 minutes.
- Speaking: This section is followed by the reading and listening sections, and you have to speak on a topic, which will be based on reading and listening tasks.
- Writing: You need to write two essays in 50 minutes.
PTE Academic is a 3-hour computer-based test. However, this test consists of only three sections in which writing and speaking are combined into one complete section.
- Speaking and Writing: This section will be 80 to 90 minutes long, in which you have to display your speaking and writing skills.
- Reading: This section is 30 to 40 minutes long. Answer questions that test your reading abilities.
- Listening: In this section, one needs to go through audio clips to answer questions. The duration of this section is 45 to 60 minutes.
What score is good to study abroad?
After completing the following tests, your performance will be graded, eventually deciding your visiting foreign countries’ eligibility. Each of the tests has different grading criteria, but ultimately, they all determine the same result, i.e., proficiency in the English language. In each exam, a higher score indicates better proficiency.
The IELTS grades you on a scale of 0 to 9. A minimum score of 6 is required to clear IELTS Academic.
TOEFL will rate on a range from 0 to 120, and a score of 70 or 80 is needed for consideration.
PTE uses a scale of 10 to 90. A score between 55 to 60 is required at the minimum.
You can also check the institution’s website that you are targeting to confirm what test score they are accepting and the minimum score required.
Which country accepts IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE scores?
Before you appear for any of these tests, you first need to research the country or the institution you plan to visit. The scores of IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE are accepted by thousands of institutions worldwide. Some universities require only one particular test score, while many institutions accept all 3 English proficiency tests. First, you need to choose the country you want to target and then determine what test score is accepted in that country. Then, you can start your preparation for the exams accordingly. Below are some countries in which these tests are popular.
IELTS is preferred in the UK, Australia, Ireland and South Africa
TOEFL is usually accepted in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany
PTE is popular in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.
Conclusion: TOEFL Vs IELTS Vs PTE
Now choosing any one test over another could be a difficult task. Given that most countries accept all three test scores, the syllabus and paper pattern is similar, and the examination fees are also the same. It all comes down to the individual to decide which institution and country he is looking forward to. The availability of test centres and dates also play an important role. Overall, all these English proficiency exams are excellent, and it eventually helps you fulfil your dream of studying abroad. It would be best if you started your preparation from the right foot, and ultimately, you will be able to ace your English proficiency test.
Author Bio: Abhyank Srinet is a passionate digital entrepreneur who holds a Masters in Management degree from ESCP Europe. He started his first company while he was still studying at ESCP and managed to scale it up by 400% in just 2 years. Being a B-School Alumni, he recognized the need for a one-stop solution for B-School to get in touch with schools and get their application queries resolved. This prompted him to create MiM-Essay, a one-of-a-kind portal with cutting edge profile evaluation and school selection algorithms, along with several avenues to stay informed about the latest B-School Updates.