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IELTS vs PTE: A Comparative Guide for International Students

IELTS vs PTE: A Comparative Guide for International Students

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Confused about whether to take IELTS or PTE for your university application? This blog gives a detailed comparison between IELTS and PTE, highlighting differences in format, test variations, duration, exam format, modes of exam, and score comparison.

Mansi Bisht
Updated on:  25 Oct 2023  | Reviewed By: 
| 3.66K | 8  min read

When it comes to studying abroad, one of the crucial steps in the application process is demonstrating proficiency in the English language. Universities worldwide often require applicants to submit test scores as proof of their English language skills. Among the various English language tests available, two prominent options that consistently rise to the top are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE).

IELTS and PTE have emerged as the go-to choices for many students aspiring to pursue their education abroad. These tests evaluate the four essential language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. With similarities in their exam structure and purpose, it's essential to understand the nuances that set them apart.

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General differences between IELTS vs PTE

Both the IELTS and PTE evaluations are well organized to assess the overall English competency of a test taker. While IELTS has options for computer-based and pen-and-paper tests, PTE offers only computer-based tests. An overview of both tests will let you know the significant differences, which can be obtained from the following table:

Features IELTS PTE

Conducted by

IDP Education Ltd. 

Pearson PLC group

Test types

IELTS Academic, IELTS General Training, IELTS Indicator

PTE Academic


2 hours and 45 Minutes

3 hours


 No breaks. Although, the speaking portion can be taken up to a week before or after the rest of the test. 

Optional 10 minutes

Range of scores

0 - 9

10 - 90

Mean of accepted score




13 days after the test 

48 hours after the test


16,200 INR (198 USD)

15,900 INR (194 USD)


Read more about IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs Duolingo: which is better?


IELTS vs PTE exam format

As mentioned earlier, IELTS and PTE are almost similar in test format and syllabus. Both assess the test-takers reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. IELTS has UK and US variants of English as its test medium, while PTE offers UK, US, and Australian variants of English. 

See the tables below that give details on the test patterns of both the English language tests, and decide which test has an easier syllabus as per your abilities

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IELTS exam format

Section Tasks - IELTS Academic Tasks - IELTS General Training

Writing (60 minutes)

Summarize or explain the given data, Write an essay

Write a letter, Write an essay

Reading (60 minutes)

Reading 3 long texts

Reading some everyday literature from newspapers, brochures, etc. 

Listening (30 minutes)

A conversation between 4 people in an academic setting and a monologue on an academic subject

A conversation between two people in an everyday context or a monologue set in a familiar setting

Speaking (11 - 14 minutes)

General questions about the person and familiar topics, Speak about the topic written on the given card, More questions about abstract ideas and topics

PTE exam format

Section Tasks

Speaking & Writing (54 - 67 minutes)

Read aloud, repeat sentence, describe image, re-tell lecture, answer short question , summarize written text, essay

Reading (30 minutes)

Reading and writing blanks - drop down, MCQ - multiple answers, reorder the paragraphs, reading blanks - drop down, MCQ - single answer

Listening (30 - 43 minutes)

Summarize the spoken texts, MCQ - multiple answers, fill in the blanks, highlight correct summary, select missing words, MCQ - single answer, highlight incorrect words, write from dictation


IELTS VS PTE score comparison

IELTS measures the scores as bands of 0 - 9 with 0.5 increments of bands. It applies to each section; the collective average is taken as the IELTS band score. Universities abroad usually demand a minimum of 6 - 6.5 in IELTS. *Standard Error Measurement (SEM) is 0.23 of an IELTS band. 

PTE uses a Global Scale of English (GSE) of 10 - 90 marks. Each section has the same scale, and the collective average becomes the PTE score. A candidate must have a minimum of 55 - 60 out of 90 in the PTE to get admission to better universities abroad. The standard Error Measurement (SEM) is 2.3.

Equivalents of IELTS band scores and PTE GSE scores would look like:










(PTE-A stands for PTE Academic. Since there is no variant of PTE like IELTS General Training tests, both PTE and PTE-A signify PTE Academic)

Scores obtained in both tests are valid for two years. See the table below for the scoring criteria for each test:

  Scoring Criteria IELTS Academic

 Task achievement/task response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, fluency and coherence, grammatical range and accuracy, pronunciation 

Content, oral fluency, pronunciation, development, structure and coherence, grammar, general linguistic range, vocabulary


*Standard Error Measurement (SME) is the variation in a test-takers' score if taking it more than once.

Read more about: How to convert IELTS scores to other exams 

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IELTS vs PTE fees

IELTS and PTE differ in their application fees and acceptance rate as given below: 

  • list items IELTS vs PTE fees: There is no significant difference in the application fee for the IELTS and PTE. While the IELTS fee is 16,250 INR (198 USD), the fee for PTE is 15,900 INR (194 USD).
  • list items IELTS vs PTE acceptance rate: Thanks to its early establishment in 1989, the IELTS has a greater acceptance rate than PTE. More than 11,000 institutions across 140 countries accept IELTS scores. PTE has enjoyed growing popularity since its start in 2009. Currently, 3,000+ institutions across the globe accept PTE as proof of language proficiency.


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IELTS vs PTE: which is the right test for you?

Now it's time to decide which is the proper test for you. Although IELTS and PTE are equally efficient, you can choose one over the other in personal situations as listed below: 

  • list items If you prefer a pen-and-paper mode over the computerized test, you must go for the IELTS.
  • list items PTE is the best option if the concern is getting a fast result. 
  • list items IELTS speaking section will be on another day. PTE will save you time, for the test is wrapped up in one day. 
  • list items If you fear the evaluator's mood changes and biases, take PTE instead of IELTS, for the PTE is entirely computer evaluated.
  • list items PTE accepts Australian English too. So it is better to take PTE to study in Australia or New Zealand. 

In essence, because more people take IELTS should not force you to ignore PTE, which has its own merits over IELTS. Learn well about both tests, take ample time to list your personal concerns, and go for a test that suits your purposes well. If you need more guidance regarding the entrance tests, book a 30-minute call and take advantage of our expert’s help.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is PTE easier than IELTS?

It cannot be said which is easier among IELTS and PTE as the opinion is specific to the test-taker. IELTS and PTE assess the test-taker’s English skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Apart from the minor differences in exam structure and examination mode, there are not many differences between IELTS and PTE.

What score equals the IELTS band score of 7 in PTE? 

An overall PTE score of 66.3 can be equivalent to an IELTS band score of 7.0.

Is PTE accepted in Canada? 

Yes, PTE is accepted in Canada for study purposes but is not valid for work and immigration. However, PTE Core, which is expected to be launched later in 2023, has been accepted for work and immigration in Canada. 

Which is better - IELTS or PTE? 

Deciding which is better for you is highly case-specific. Since both tests are widely recognized and share the same pattern of assessment, you may go through the terms and conditions of both tests closely to decide which is better for you. Consider your priorities and cross-check them with both tests to select the more suitable test between IELTS and PTE.

How to get an IELTS equivalent of 8 in PTE?

To get an IELTS equivalent of 8.0 in PTE, a student must secure a score of at least 79 - 82 in all sections of PTE. 

In which countries the PTE is accepted? 

The PTE is accepted in many countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, etc. 

Which countries accept IELTS scores? 

IELTS is the most popular English test that has been accepted by many countries in the world, such as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, European countries, etc.

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