IELTS vs PTE: Which Test Is Better For You?


In today’s globalised world, demonstrating proficiency in English language is crucial for individuals aiming to study or work abroad. Two widely recognised English proficiency tests, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), offer pathways for individuals to showcase their language skills. This blog will provide an extensive comparison between IELTS and PTE Academic, covering various aspects such as test structure, recognition, scoring, and factors for you to consider when choosing the right test.

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IELTS vs PTE in Singapore | IELTS or PTE | IELTS and PTE | Know their differences and decide the one for you!

Understanding IELTS and PTE

What is IELTS Academic?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a renowned English proficiency test designed to evaluate candidates’ language skills across four key areas: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Established in 1989, it is administered by the British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge Assessment English. IELTS Academic offers a comprehensive assessment of English language proficiency which features topics tailored for individuals seeking admission to universities or professional institutions.

What is PTE Academic?

Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) is a computer-based English proficiency test designed for non-native speakers seeking admission to university courses in English-speaking nations. Managed by Pearson, it comprises three main parts: Speaking and Writing (together), Listening, and Reading, catering to the diverse language skills essential for academic success in an English-speaking environment.

IELTS vs PTE: Recognition and Acceptance

IELTS Academic

IELTS is widely recognised and accepted globally, boasting over 30 years of history as a pioneer in the four-skills English language testing system. Its longstanding presence has solidified its reputation as a benchmark for language proficiency assessment. With acceptance by over 11,500 organisations and universities across 140 countries worldwide, IELTS offers candidates extensive reach and credibility when pursuing educational and professional opportunities.

PTE Academic

PTE Academic, although a newer entrant to the market, has rapidly gained acceptance in various countries since its launch in 2009. Accepted by over 3,000 institutions across the United States, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Singapore, and other countries, PTE Academic provides candidates with access to a growing network of educational and professional institutions. While newer compared to IELTS, PTE Academic’s recognition continues to expand, reflecting its relevance and efficacy as an English language proficiency test.

IELTS vs TOEFL - Differences in Test Format and Structure

1. Writing

In IELTS, the Writing section spans 60 minutes and encompasses two distinct tasks, including crafting an essay and interpreting a graph or chart.

Contrastingly, PTE Academic evaluates writing skills through a single integrated task. You will be required to summarise written text into a short paragraph and a single sentence, followed by responding to a prompt.

IELTS vs PTE - Writing section

2. Speaking

In IELTS, the Speaking component involves a face-to-face interview with an examiner, assessing candidates’ ability to communicate effectively. This section comprises three tasks: introducing yourself, speaking on a given topic, and discussing the topic.

PTE Academic’s Speaking section is computer-based on the other hand, prompting you to respond to on-screen prompts. Evaluation criteria encompass your speed, voice quality, intonation, and pronunciation, among other factors. Pearson’s test employs technology to process recorded voices and assign scores accordingly. This section will be done together will the writing section.

IELTS vs PTE - Speaking

3. Reading

Both IELTS and PTE Academic assess reading comprehension skills, but they do so in different formats and question types.

IELTS has a 60-minute reading section with three passages and 40 questions, featuring various texts like articles, essays, and excerpts from books.

In contrast, the reading section of the PTE Academic test lasts 30 minutes and includes five different question types. Notably, one of these types, “Reading and Writing: Fill in the Blanks,” evaluates both reading comprehension and writing skills.

IELTS vs PTE - Reading

4. Listening

IELTS will present you with a range of audio recordings, such as conversations and monologues, followed by comprehension questions. This section lasts 30 minutes, during which candidates listen to audio recordings and respond to various question types like short answer, summary, and multiple choice.

Whereas PTE Academic’s listening section ranges from 30 to 43 minutes, and features eight distinct question types. Questions are based on audio or video clips and allow test-takers to take notes while listening.

Both tests evaluate listening skills through audio recordings with corresponding questions.

IELTS vs PTE - Listening

For more detailed information about the IELTS exam format and how to prepare for it, visit here.

IELTS vs PTE: Scoring System

The scoring mechanisms for IELTS and PTE Academic offer distinct approaches in scale and reporting, catering to varied preferences and needs of candidates and institutions. Both IELTS and PTE scores remain valid for 2 years.

IELTS utilises a 9-band scale to report the overall and section scores. This scale ranges from 0 to 9, with most universities accepting minimum scores of 6.0 and 6.5 on average. Scores are calculated based on a scale where 1 represents the lowest band, and 9 indicates the highest band achievable.

On the other hand, PTE Academic provides scores on a scale from 10 to 90, offering detailed insights into candidates’ language proficiency. Universities typically prefer a minimum score of 55 to 60. PTE uses its unique Global Scale of English, with 10 as the lowest score and 90 as the highest, reflecting a granular assessment of language skills.

0 to 40 to 29

Which Test is Better For You: IELTS or PTE?

Before choosing the right test for yourself, we strongly encourage candidates to undertake at least one IELTS and PTE mock test and compare the scores. By taking the mock test, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to make a more informed choice.

The primary consideration should be to verify whether your target university or country accepts the IELTS or PTE test scores. Many universities and immigration departments specify the language proficiency tests they accept, along with the minimum scores required, which is especially important during the student visa application process. Therefore, verifying the accepted tests beforehand is crucial. 

There are several other distinctions between IELTS and PTE that you should take into account when making your decision:

  • Comfort with Writing: IELTS places significant emphasis on analytical writing skills, making it a suitable choice for candidates proficient in quick, analytical writing.
  • Administrative and Operational Advantages: PTE Academic offers advantages in terms of test booking, result delivery, and retake options. It provides quicker booking times and faster result delivery, with the option to retake the test within five days. Nevertheless, IELTS offers the flexibility of both paper and computer-based tests. 
  • Resources Available: You will require a variety of resources and materials when preparing for the test. You may even enrol in preparatory courses taught by highly experienced tutors. In Singapore, for instance, IELTS would be preferred due to the availability of many excellent preparatory courses provided by reputable test centres like Spring Training.
  • Test Format Preferences: If you prefer the traditional pen and paper format because you can peruse the questions with ease and answer them in your preferred order within the time limit, IELTS would be more suitable for you. Conversely, if you are accustomed to reading and answering off a screen, then PTE would be the best fit.

Prepare for your IELTS Test with Spring Training

Ultimately, your choice of test depends on personal preference and the certification accepted by your desired university.

For those opting for the IELTS test, we are here to help you. At Spring Training, we offer a convenient test location and provide you with comprehensive preparation materials to support you every step of the way. With our assistance, you can confidently approach the IELTS test, achieve your desired score, and embark on the next exciting chapter of your academic or professional journey.

Author: Verlin You

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