Comparing IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE


Meridean Overseas

Updated On 21 June 2023 & Read Time 8 minutes



Language Proficiency Tests are conducted to check your proficiency in speaking English, evaluating these skills is important to determine your proficiency level for educational, employment, and immigration purposes. Some popular language proficiency tests are TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, and Cambridge English Exams. Each test has its own format, scoring system, and acceptance criteria.Therefore, researching and selecting the appropriate test based on your specific needs and goals is necessary.


Whether you’re  planning to study abroad or wondering about getting highly valued employment opportunities, language proficiency tests will always contribute to all settings for your personal growth and success in diverse environments. However, IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE stand out from the crowd since they are recognized and acknowledged by an enormous amount of organizations in both English-speaking and non-English-speaking nations. Now let’s understand these tests separately one-by-one.


IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

IELTS exam is recognized by over 11,500 organizations worldwide, designed to check your linguistic prowess. Understanding the test format and its sections is crucial, including 30 minutes of listening, 60 minutes of reading, 60 minutes of writing, and 15 minutes of speaking. The IELTS exam is graded on a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being the greatest level of proficiency. Each segment is judged independently, and an overall band score is obtained by averaging the four sections' results.


The IELTS exam has two types of tests - academic and general. The Academic edition is meant for people seeking admission to universities or professional registration, whilst the General Training version is intended for immigration and employment purposes. Despite the usual information, let’s dive deeply into the detailed pros and cons of the IELTS test.


  1. Pros - Include globally recogniton, academic & general versions, comprehensive assessment, real-life communication situations, and widely convenient test centers available.

  2. Cons - Include time-consuming test length, only 2 years of validity, scoring consistency is hard, familiarizing with test format is important, and a face-to-face interview with an examiner may make you anxious.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

TOEFL exam, offered by ETS, is also a widely recognized language proficiency test usually conducted for academic purposes when you wish to study at English-speaking universities. TOEFL iBT assesses English language skills in terms of its following test format: 72 minutes approx. of reading section, 57 minutes of listening, 17 minutes of speaking, and 50 minutes of writing section.


The TOEFL exam is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 30 for each section, with the results summed for an overall score on a scale of 0 to 120. The exam is available in both Internet-based Testing (iBT) and Paper-based Testing (PBT) formats. The iBT format is more popular and widely available, with more test dates and places available. The PBT format is mostly used if the iBT is not available.


Regardless of the traditional info, delve extensively into the TOEFL test's comprehensive pros and cons: 

  1. Pros - Widely recognized, designed specifically for academic contexts, flexible testing experience, and comprehensive assessment. 

  2. Cons - Relatively lengthy exam, limited retake opportunities and focuses mainly on American English accents.

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PTE (Pearson Test of English)

PTE exam is a computer-based English language competency test that evaluates your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Universities, colleges, and governments all across the world accept the PTE test. Language Academy PTE includes approx. 77-93 minutes of speaking and writing section combinedly, 40 minutes of reading, and 60 minutes of listening, along with an integrated skills section.


The PTE exam employs an automated scoring system that evaluates replies in accordance with established scoring criteria. Each section's scores are reported on a scale of 10 to 90, with 10-point increments. Contrary to the standard knowledge, thoroughly explore the PTE test's entire pros and cons:


  1. Pros - Quick test results, fair computer-based scoring system, comprehensive assessment, flexibility in test dates and locations, and authentic test format.

  2. Cons - Limited recognition, no direct human interaction, lack of familiarity, and lastly speaking tasks into a microphone.

Comparing IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE

Now that you’re familiar with IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, a comparison chart is also important to make an informed decision. By comparing these Language Proficiency Tests, you’ll know suitability for specific goals, test preferences, insights on how your performance is evaluated, plan your test schedule effectively, and self-comfort levels.


Take a look at the whole scenario by comparing IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE.





Test Format

Paper-based or Computer-based

Internet-based or Paper-based



Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking

Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing

Speaking and Writing, Reading, Listening, Integrated Skills

Speaking Assessment

Face-to-face with examiner

Speaking into a microphone, recorded and scored by human raters

Speaking into a microphone, automated scoring

Writing Assessment




Test Duration

Around 2 hours 45 minutes to 2 hours 55 minutes

Around 3 hours 10 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes

Around 3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes

Score Range

0-9 (Band score)

0-120 (Scaled score)

10-90 (Scaled score)

Score Validity

2 years

2 years

2 years

Test Availability

Widely available worldwide

Widely available worldwide

Growing availability worldwide

Accepted By

Universities, colleges, immigration authorities, employers

Universities, colleges, immigration authorities, employers

Universities, colleges, immigration authorities, employers

Test Recognition

Recognized globally

Recognized globally

Recognized globally


- Familiar and established test


- Face-to-face speaking assessment

- Widely recognized and accepted


- Comprehensive assessment of all language skills

- Fast results


- Fair and objective scoring


- Comprehensive assessment


- Flexible test dates and locations


- Limited availability of test dates


- Handwritten writing assessment

- Lengthy test duration


- Limited retake opportunities


- American English bias

- Limited availability in some regions


- Less familiarity for some test takers


- Speaking into a microphone 


To conclude, choosing the right language proficiency test is important and also now you know that all have some unique features that make them appealing. Whatever test you choose, make sure you practise enough, even if you believe your English skills are above average. This is because you are unlikely to receive the top scores if you do not thoroughly understand how each section of the test works and what examiners look for when assessing your performance. Best wishes!  



Q: What is the validity period of language proficiency test scores?

A: The validity varies for IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, which is usually for 2 years from the test date. Thus, it’s important to check specific validity requirements depending on where you’re applying, as they may have their own policies regarding the scoring validity.


Q: Can you take the language proficiency test multiple times?

A: Yes, you can retake these tests. There are no strict limits on attempts. It's worthwhile to be aware of the test frequency and any waiting periods or restrictions the testing company imposes. Additionally, note that some institutions may have policies regarding multiple test scores acceptance, so check their specific requirements.


Q: How long does it take to receive test results?

A: The time taken to receive test results varies for each test. In general, the IELTS exam takes approximately 13 days, TOEFL results can take 10 days, and PTE results can be available in 2-5 days. Hence, such timeframes may vary depending on the factors like test volume and specific test centres.


Q: Can you request a rescore or review of your test results?

A: You can re-score your test results for certain tests. IELTS exam, for example, offers a reexamination request service. TOEFL exam also offers a speaking and writing review service. Each service may differ in its procedures, fees, and availability.


Q: Can I cancel my language proficiency test registration?

A: Yes, most language proficiency tests allow you to cancel your test registration, but the policies and fees may vary. It's important to check all the policies along with the deadline to receive a partial refund towards future dates. 


We hope we have provided you with a comprehensive guide to choosing the right English language proficiency test. If you are still unsure or would like to get deeper insight, we encourage you to have a word with our team of expert counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). If you are unable to travel to our offices, we offer online counselling services via our website. Our dedicated counsellors will provide you with the best guidance regarding your application to study abroad. Don’t hesitate to contact us at or call us at 1800-1230-00011.


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