Major Differences between PTE, IELTS and TOEFL

English Language Proficiency is one of the prime criteria for international students desiring to pursue their studies at an English-speaking university. While TOEFL and IELTS  are the more popular ones and are accepted by most number of universities, there are other tests like PTE which are newer entrants in this field. While there exist certain similarities in the basic nature of TOEFL  , IELTS and PTE, all the three tests have certain varying characteristics which make each of them unique. Students need to know their strong points and deficiency and choose the test which will help them score better.

About IELTS exam

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the most widely accepted test aimed at checking English proficiency of people who aspire for higher education or migration (work/emigration) to nearly all of English speaking countries. There are more than 1,100 test locations to choose from worldwide with more than 42 locations within India and 48 test dates per year.

There are two versions of the test –

Academic – for people applying for higher education or professional registration

General Training for those who wish to migrate to Australia, Canada and the UK, or apply for secondary education, training programmes and work experience in an English-speaking country.

The test covers all four language skills i.e. Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (11–14 minutes). The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

About TOEFL exam

The TOEFL iBT test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. And it evaluates how well you combine your reading, listening, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.

TOEFL has two versions- iBT and PBT. iBT stands for internet Based Test and PBT stands for Paper Based Test

TOEFL test has more than 4,500 testing centers in over 165 countries – so students shouldn’t have to travel far to take the test. It is accepted by more than 9,000 institutions, immigration authorities and scholarship agencies in over 130 countries – truly making the TOEFL test a student’s passport to the world. Some of the countries are US, Canada, UK, Australia.

There are 4 sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) which take a total of about 4 ½ hours to complete, including check-in.

About PTE exam

PTE is a 3 hour long, computer-based assessment of a person’s English language ability in an academic context.


The test assesses an individual’s communicative skills of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking skills through questions using authentically-sourced material. In addition, the test provides feedback on enabling skills in the form of Oral Fluency, Grammar, Vocabulary, Written Discourse, Pronunciation and Spelling.

Test sessions are run in over 50 countries around the world. There are two versions of the test –

  • PTE Academic: It is undertaken by students who wish to study abroad to evaluate their English language proficiency. In the PTE Academic exam format, there are four sections just like IELTS exam- Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing The PTE Academic exam is held in more than 200 location and over 360 days in a year. The PTE Academic score is valid up to 2 years.
  • PTE General: It is undertaken for immigration purposes such as work. This exam has 2 primary sections that are further divided into 6 parts. The PTE General exam is held thrice in a year in the months of May, December and June. The PTE General exam score is valid up to lifetime.

Difference among them

  1. On the basis of evaluation: An IELTS examiner assesses the speaking aptness of the candidates by making live conversation, which is then recorded in some recording device but there is no such system of recording in PTE and TOEFL.
  2. On the basis of Programme: The IELTS is completely a paper-based examination. Hence, it uses the diagram, graph or chart for the writing section. Whereas, PTE & TOEFL are completely computer-based examination and therefore uses many innovative techniques to test the writing skills.
  3. On the Basis of Time Duration: IELTS has set time for each paper, and candidates can move forwards and backward whereas PTE has section timings and can move forward only. Apart from this PTE promises to deliver the result in a span of 5 days, on the other hand in TOEFL & IELTS you receive the result after 10 days.
  4. On the Basis of Requirements: All the three tests provide reading material for the preparation which is easily available in the online sites.
  5. On the Basis of Marking and Grading: The IELTS gives scores to the candidate on a scale know as band scale which ranges from 1 to 9 in each section. The four sections are individually averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score.

In TOEFL candidates are scored from 0-30 in each section and the total score is 0- 120.

In PTE Academic Score Report includes overall score, communicative skills scores and enabling skills scores which is based on overall performance. The range of the overall score is 10-90 points. It displays score in a graphical form which gives a quick and clear idea of the strength and weaknesses.

  1. General Guidance: In general observation the IELTS score is more acceptable in Europe and Australian part. And, the scores in TOEFL is demanded in the USA. The PTE is still a new testing system so it is acceptable by most of the universities.

To get more details about specific course in specific country you can contact your nearest GKWORKS partner.