Pursuing a course in a foreign country involves hard work that begins the moment you start considering your course options. However, before you can start applying, you need to clear the exam that tests you on the English language. Foreign universities require applicants from non-English speaking countries to submit proof of their proficiency in speaking, writing, hearing, and understanding English.
The three prominent tests in the domain are namely TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE.
TOEFL is a graded examination for non-native English speakers who wish to enrol in universities with English-centric disciplines. IELTS, on the other hand, is the most popular proficiency test for the English language for global migration and education. Lastly, PTE is a computer-based English language test, which tests a candidate’s English learning abilities.
Let’s take a detailed look at TOEFL vs IELTS vs PTE.
What is TOEFL?
TOEFL, or the ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language’ has been developed by an international, non-profit organisation called Educational Testing Service (ETS).
TOEFL results are valid in over 130 countries across the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK, and are accepted by over 9,000 colleges and universities. It can be taken in the form of pen-and-paper or through the internet. TOEFL PBT is the pen-and-paper variation of the test and is available at locations that find it difficult to access the internet.
TOEFL iBT can be taken on the Internet, and is popular due to its quick processing. TOEFL is conducted more than fifty times in a single year, and you can finalise your test location and date on the ETS website.
What is IELTS?
IELTS stands for ‘International English Language Testing System’ and can be taken for both work and study environments where English is the primary communication language. It is available in two formats, IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic.
The latter is opted by those who wish to go for higher education or require a professional registration, while IELTS General Training is opted by those who wish to apply for immigration into countries such as UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
What is PTE?
PTE stands for the Pearson Test of English, which is a computer-based test that covers reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Similar to IELTS, PTE also offers PTE General and PTE Academic, where the former is used for immigration purposes while the latter is used for admission into educational institutions.
PTE is accepted across colleges in Australia, UK, and Europe, and can also be used for immigration into Australia.
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Differences Between TOEFL, IELTS and PTE
While all the three tests serve the same purpose, there are some basic differences in terms of length, cost, difficulty level, and test format. Let’s take a look at them one-by-one.
1. Differences in Length
IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE test candidates on their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, with some variations in the length:
|Parameters||IELTS Academic||TOEFL iBT||PTE Academic|
|Duration||2 hours, 45 minutes||3 hours, 10 minutes to 4 hours, 20 minutes||3 hours|
|Range of Score||0-9||0-120||10-90|
|Validity||2 years||2 years||2 years|
2. Differences in Cost
All three tests cost near about the same, and only debit/credit card payment is accepted. The precise cost-break up given below:
|IELTS Academic||INR 12,650/-|
|TOEFL||TOEFL iBT: INR 11,265/-
TOEFL PBT: INR 12,577/-
|PTE Academic||Standard: INR 13,300/-
Late Booking: INR 16,625/-
3. Differences in Difficulty Level
The jury is out on which test is easier or difficult to score, however, there are some views on each test.
Since PTE is a computer-based test where a computer program rates the test, it is unbiased and is hence considered easier. In addition to this, PTE doesn’t have any waiting time between sections, so it consumes less time and is faster. However, for the very same reason, it doesn’t give you time to think as well.
On the other hand, IELTS gives you the option to write down your essay, but since it involves a human rater, the results might vary on account of bias. TOEFL has a multiple-choice format and is considered average in difficulty level.
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4. Differences in Test Format
The content of all three tests will assess your proficiency in English speaking, reading, listening, and writing, but they have different formats:
TOEFL follows the typical American test format, with six spoken responses, two essays, and multiple-choice/fill-in-the-blank questions. The IELTS follows a similar format, with multiple-choice/fill-in-the-blank questions, two essays, and one spoken interview to test speaking and listening.
PTE, being the newest of all three tests, follows a slightly different format. It has one compulsory essay, followed by different questions and tasks which test your grammar, speaking, listening, and overall comprehension.
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5. Differences in Availability of Score Reports
The three exams also vary on the duration before the score reports become available. For the TOEFL, the scorecard is provided within 10 days of appearing in the examination. The official report for the scores obtained on the IELTS exam is published after 13 days of giving the examination. The PTE examination is the fastest in this regard, and applicants can receive their results in only 5-7 days.
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6. Differences in Acceptability in Different Countries
While IELTS is inclined towards the UK or Australian English, TOEFL and PTE are more inclined towards American English. IELTS score is more likely to be accepted in Europe and Australia, while TOEFL has better reception in American universities. PTE, even though being relatively newer in the space is accepted in Europe, Australia, and some Ivy League institutes like Harvard and Yale.
On the basis of the above comparison, you can decide which test best covers your needs the most and can then decide on picking it. While each test has its own benefits, it will help if you pick a test depending on its acceptability in the programs and universities you are targeting.