IELTS vs PTE: A Comparative Guide for International Students

    Updated on: 15 May 2023

    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:




    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


    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



    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: 

    • 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).
    • 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: 

    • If you prefer a pen-and-paper mode over the computerized test, you must go for the IELTS.
    • PTE is the best option if the concern is getting a fast result. 
    • IELTS speaking section will be on another day. PTE will save you time, for the test is wrapped up in one day. 
    • If you fear the evaluator's mood changes and biases, take PTE instead of IELTS, for the PTE is entirely computer evaluated.
    • 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.

    First published date: 11 May 2023

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Mansi Bisht
Meet Mansi, an expert in the field of study abroad with half a decade of experience in content management and finance. Her background in Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) has equipped her with skills to scale the business to greater heights.

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