IELTS vs PTE: Which English Language Test is Right for You?

IELTS and PTE are renowned English proficiency tests for non-native speakers. Widely accepted by universities, employers, and immigration agencies globally, they assess effective English communication.

IELTS, jointly owned by the British Council and IDP offers two formats: Academic for study purposes and General Training for work or immigration. PTE, owned by Pearson, is available in the Academic format, evaluating reading, writing, listening, and speaking through a computer-based test.

A notable distinction is the test format: IELTS is paper-based, while PTE is computer-based, providing quicker results. Additionally, IELTS scores on a 0 to 9 band scale, while PTE employs a 10 to 90-point system. Both tests follow specific criteria to evaluate language proficiency.

While IELTS maintains widespread recognition, PTE is gaining popularity due to its rapid results and computer-based approach.

Test Formats

The test format is one of the most significant differences between IELTS and PTE. IELTS offers a traditional paper-based format, while PTE is entirely computer-based.

In IELTS, the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections are all paper-based, while the Speaking section is conducted face-to-face with a certified examiner.

On the other hand, PTE is entirely computer-based, with all four sections – Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing – conducted on a computer.

Another difference is the exam pattern. In IELTS, test-takers can skip questions and return to them later, so they don’t waste time. With PTE, test-takers must answer the question before moving on to the next one.

The exam duration is also different. IELTS takes 2 hours and 45 minutes, while PTE takes 3 hours. However, the duration may vary depending on the test center and other factors.

Scoring Systems

IELTS and PTE have unique scoring systems to assess test takers’ proficiency. Understanding the scoring system is crucial for test takers to know how well they have performed in the exam.

IELTS Scoring System

The IELTS scoring system employs a 9-band scale, ranging from 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest), to assess proficiency. Each band represents a level of ability in English. The overall band score is calculated by taking the average of the four individual scores in each section: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

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PTE Scoring System

On the other hand, PTE utilizes a scoring system of 10-90, with 10 representing the lowest and 90 reflecting the highest achievement.

The scores are calculated based on the test taker’s performance in each section: Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. The scores are then combined to give an overall score.

Score Comparison

Comparing the scores of IELTS and PTE is not straightforward due to the differences in their scoring systems. However, some tools are available to help test takers compare their scores. For example, Pearson’s PTE Academic Score Guide compares PTE and IELTS band scores.

The guide shows that a PTE score of 50 is equivalent to an IELTS band score of 5.5, while a PTE score of 90 is equivalent to an IELTS band score of 9.

Score Range

The score range for IELTS is 1-9, while the score range for PTE is 10-90. Test takers should aim for a score that meets their specific requirements, such as admission to a university or immigration purposes.

Test Components

When comparing IELTS and PTE, it’s essential to understand the test components that make up each exam. Both tests assess the four main language skills: Speaking, Reading, Listening, and Writing.


The Speaking test component in IELTS and PTE assesses oral fluency, pronunciation, and the ability to communicate effectively in English.

In IELTS, the Speaking test is conducted face-to-face with an examiner, while in PTE, it is done via a computer. In both tests, candidates are asked questions and given prompt responses.


The Reading section in both IELTS and PTE assesses the ability to comprehend and analyze written English.

In IELTS, the Reading test consists of three passages, while in PTE, it consists of five. Both tests include various question types, such as multiple choice, matching, and true/false.


The Listening component in IELTS and PTE assesses the ability to understand spoken English. In IELTS, the Listening test consists of four sections, while in PTE, it consists of eight.

Both tests include various question types, such as multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks, and summarizing.


The Writing section in both IELTS and PTE assesses the ability to communicate effectively in written English.

In IELTS, candidates must write two essays, while in PTE, they must write one. Both tests assess grammar, vocabulary, and the ability to organize ideas effectively.

Acceptance and Recognition

Both IELTS and PTE are widely accepted and recognized in many countries. However, IELTS is more widely recognized and accepted than PTE.

IELTS is recognized by 10,000+ global entities, including universities, governments, and organizations in English-speaking nations like Canada, the United States, New Zealand, the UK, and Australia.

In contrast, PTE is accepted by fewer organizations than IELTS, but it is gaining recognition and acceptance, especially in academic circles. It is accepted by over 6,000 organizations worldwide, including universities in Australia, the UK, and India.

It is important to note that acceptance and recognition of the tests may vary depending on the institution or organization. It is recommended to check with the specific institution or organization to determine which test they accept.

IELTS vs PTE: Key Differences

While IELTS and PTE are English proficiency tests, the two exams have key differences. Here are some of the main differences:

Test Format

The test format sets IELTS and PTE apart. IELTS offers two versions: Academic, for university study, and General Training, for work or migration to English-speaking countries. In contrast, PTE has a single version accepted for academic and non-academic purposes.

Test Sections

Another difference between IELTS and PTE is the number and type of test sections. IELTS has four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

PTE has three sections: Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. In PTE’s Speaking and Writing section, test takers must speak into a microphone and type their responses on a computer.

Scoring System

IELTS and PTE also have different scoring systems. IELTS uses a band score system, which ranges from 0 to 9. PTE uses a point system, which ranges from 10 to 90. Both exams assess a test taker’s ability in four areas: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

Test Duration

The test duration is also different for IELTS and PTE. IELTS takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes, while PTE takes about 3 hours.

Test Availability

IELTS is available in over 140 countries, while PTE is available in over 50 countries. IELTS is also more widely recognized and accepted by universities and employers in English-speaking countries.

Test Features IELTS PTE
Test Versions Academic and General Training Only one version
Test Sections Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening
Scoring System Band score system ranges from 0 to 9 The point system ranges from 10 to 90
Test Duration Around 2 hours and 45 minutes Around 3 hours
Test Availability Available in over 140 countries Available in over 50 countries

Pros and Cons of IELTS and PTE

Both IELTS and PTE have their advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these can help test-takers make an informed decision about which test to take. Here are some pros and cons of each test:



  • IELTS is widely recognized and accepted by universities, employers, and governments worldwide.
  • The test is available in paper-based and computer-based formats, allowing test-takers to choose the most comfortable format.
  • IELTS has a face-to-face speaking section with an examiner, which some test-takers may prefer over a computer-based speaking test.


  • IELTS can be more difficult for some test-takers, particularly those unfamiliar with the British English accent or those who struggle with handwriting.
  • The test can be more expensive than some other English proficiency tests.



  • PTE is entirely computer-based, which some test-takers may prefer over a paper-based test.
  • The test provides immediate results, which can be helpful for test-takers who need their scores quickly.
  • PTE has a re-speaking section, which involves repeating a sentence played through headphones. This section can be easier for some test-takers than a traditional speaking section.


  • PTE is not as widely recognized or accepted as IELTS, particularly in some countries.
  • Some test-takers find the test more difficult, particularly those who struggle typing or speaking into a microphone.
  • PTE does not have a face-to-face speaking section, which some test-takers may prefer over a computer-based speaking test.

Choosing Between IELTS and PTE

Both exams are widely accepted and recognized by universities, employers, and immigration authorities worldwide. However, some differences may make one a better choice than the other for specific individuals.

Objective and Fair Testing

IELTS and PTE are designed to test a candidate’s English language proficiency objectively and fairly. However, some argue that PTE is a more objective test as it uses computerized scoring, whereas human examiners score IELTS.

On the other hand, IELTS allows test-takers to skip questions and return to them later, which may be seen as a fairer approach.

Ease of Test-taking

Some may consider PTE easier regarding test-taking ease as it is entirely computerized and does not require face-to-face interaction with examiners. PTE results are typically available within 48 hours, whereas IELTS results may take up to two weeks.

Test Format and Question Types

The test format and question types of IELTS and PTE also differ. IELTS consists of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, with a mix of multiple-choice, short-answer, and essay questions.

On the other hand, PTE has three sections: Speaking and Writing, Reading and Listening, focusing on multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions.

Test Fees and Preparation Materials

The fees for IELTS and PTE can vary based on your test center and location. Generally, PTE tends to be a bit pricier than IELTS. You’ll find plenty of helpful preparation resources for both exams, such as practice tests, study guides, and online courses.

Preparation for IELTS and PTE

Preparing for IELTS and PTE demands a personalized study approach. Achieving a high level of English proficiency is crucial, and understanding the test formats is key.

Start by getting acquainted with the exam structures for IELTS and PTE. Taking practice tests helps evaluate your current proficiency level.

For effective preparation, seek expert guidance to create a study plan that includes skill practice, test strategies, and time management.

Both exams assess reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Regular practice and feedback from experts are vital to enhance these skills.

Immigration and Visa Applications

Immigration authorities and visa application processes widely accept IELTS and PTE. The Canadian government recognizes the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is required for most immigration programs.

The Canadian government also accepts the Pearson Test of English (PTE) for immigration purposes.

The IELTS test is available in two versions: General Training and Academic. The General Training version is required for immigration purposes. The PTE test is also accepted for immigration purposes and is available in Academic and General versions.

For those applying for a study permit in Canada, the IELTS test is required for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program. However, students can also take the PTE test for SDS program applications.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has provided a list of approved language tests for Canadian immigration purposes. IELTS and PTE are included in the list.

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