All you need to know about IELTS, TOEFL and PTE exam


Do you hail from a Non-English-speaking nation? Are you going to studying abroad? Alternatively, have you been applying for a foreign visa? If yes, you most probably have thought about appearing for one of the standard English proficiency tests.

Some of the most common English proficiency tests include TOEFL, PTE and IELTS. To choose anyone between them has been a question of debate since the time of tests introduction.

Various factors play a prominent role in deciding which one of the three tests one person should take to ensure their admission to top foreign schools worldwide.

Need for an English Proficiency test

The primary aim behind introducing English proficiency tests is to access the applicant’s English speaking, reading, listening, and writing capabilities. Each of these tests has its method of accessing the candidate’s skills.

Read along to find more about IELTS, TOEFL and PTE exams and decide which one better suit your choices.

English Proficiency Tests


TOEFL, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language, is an English proficiency test, one of the significant tests taken to measure the candidate’s English language proficiency. The test is administered and designed by the Educational Testing System (ETS).

Worldwide, 10,000+ universities accept the TOEFL scores. A brief overview of the test is present below.

Duration3 hours
FormatAll the sub-tests takes place within a day.
CostINR 13,411.98/-
ComponentsReading, Writing, Listening and Speaking
Range0 to 120
Validity of Score2 years
TypesTOEFL iBT (internet-based test) TOEFL PBT (Paper based test)


IELTS or the International English Language Testing System is another famous test worldwide. The test is co-owned by British Council, IDP of Australian Universities & Colleges and the Cambridge English Language assessment. The test is offered in India by both the IDP and British Council.

IELTS used to be a pen-paper-based test. However, it has started offering computer-based tests to its applicants with time. In both formats, the speaking test takes place in person.

Duration2:30 hrs.
FormatTest gets completed in 2 days – Day 1 – Reading, Writing and Listening Day 2 – Speaking test (one-to-one)
Cost INR 13,250/-
ComponentsReading, Writing, Speaking and Listening tests
Range0 to 9
Validity of Score2 years
TypesIELTS General Training IELTS Academic Pen-paper based testComputer-based test


The PTE exam, or the Pearson Test of English, is one of the newest additions in English proficiency tests worldwide. With every passing day, PTE is gaining recognition in the international education community.

PTE’s new integrated test format simultaneously tests a candidate’s skills. The test is also available in India. Several universities such as Harvard, Columbia University, Kings College and many Ivy League schools have started accepting PTE’s scores, thus, increasing the exam’s credibility and popularity.

Today, colleges across Europe and Australia have also started accepting their scores.

Duration3 hrs. (approx.)
FormatThe test completes in one day.
Both writing and speaking tests are combined.
CostINR 13,700/-
ComponentsWriting & Speaking, Listening and Reading
Range10 to 90           
Validity of Score2 years
TypesPTE General (for immigration) PTE Academic (for universities) Computer-based test

Also read: How to Write an IELTS Essay?

IELTS, TOEFL & PTE in brief


While dealing with all three tests, one thing to keep in mind is that the purpose of all these tests is to test the applicant’s English proficiency. Let us get a glance at what all these three tests have in store for a candidate.

● Listening

IELTS listening test takes about 30 minutes to get completed. It is comparatively shorter than that of PTE and TOEFL’s tests. Moreover, candidates are expected to make notes during TOEFL’s listening test to answer specific questions after completing the recording.

● Reading

Reading sections of both TOEFL iBT and IELTS Academic is longer. Therefore they may last anywhere between 60-80 minutes. Comparatively, PTE’s reading section is shorter, lasting for 30 to 40 minutes.

PTE’s reading test also comprises a writing test, thus testing candidates’ reading and writing skills, whereas, in TOEFL and IELTS, candidates are asked to answer objective type questions.

● Speaking

Speaking test in TOEFL takes about 20 minutes where the candidate is asked to answer questions in the English language. Generally, these questions are regarding easy and familiar topics.

IELTS speaking test ranges from 11 to 14 minutes. Here, apart from answering questions regarding some popular topics, candidates are given an issue, and then they have to speak over it for a few minutes. Further, they have also to answer some questions based on that topic. PTE does not have a separate Speaking test.

● Writing

In TOEFL, candidates get a particular topic, and they have to write their opinions or views regarding the respective topic. They get 50 minutes to complete the test.

Further, IELTS’s writing test consists of two different tasks. In the first part, the candidates are asked to write an essay, while in the second part, candidates are given data and must write its summary. They have to complete this test in about 60 minutes.

PTE’s writing and speaking tests are combined. The test goes around for 77 to 93 minutes. Apart from answering questions, one has to write their introduction, essay, and long texts summarisation.

Difference between IELTS, TOEFL & PTE


To choose one of these three programs, a candidate must know the three programs’ primary differences. Below are a few differences between the IELTS, TOEFL and PTE that will help you decide which program is best for you.

  1. Length – Candidates appearing for any one of these exams have to finish their test within the prescribed time limit. IELTS Academic duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes, whereas TOEFL iBT and PTE are of 3 hours each.
  1. Mode – IELTS Academic primarily follows the pen and paper-based format. However, both PTE and TOEFL iBT use a computer-based test format.
  1. Cost – All three test costs near about the same. However, one is allowed to pay only by using debit or credit cards. These tests prices are revised frequently; therefore, it would be best to check the latest cost structure before applying for the exam.
  1. Score Range – All three test have different score range and merit criteria. While IELTS Academics ranges between 0 to 9, PTE Academic and TOEFL iBT ranges between 10 to 90 & 0 to 120, respectively.
  1. Difficulty level – Like any other exam, the difficulty level of any exam depends upon various factors such as the candidate’s preparation and exam’s syllabus.

To gauge the difficulty level of these three English proficiency tests, one needs to consider certain factors. For instance, IELTS follows the pen and paper format and thus, it examined by a human examinee. As there is no set manner of writing an essay, these examiners check papers based on their personal experience and skill set, thus, causing the results to vary. 

Which test should you give?

question mark

There are several factors upon which your selection between these three tests depends. Generally, the schools in the US and Canada accept the TOEFL’s scores. At the same time, IELTS has is opted by candidates going to schools in UK, New Zealand, and Australia. IELTS is also one of the most widely accepted around the world.

In contrast, PTE is a new kid around the block. Hence, it is still not accepted as an apt proficiency test by several nations. PTE is quickly gaining popularity because of its accessible and accurate test format. Therefore, you should always check the program’s website to see if they accept PTE as the English popularity test.



All three English language tests have their own set of pros and cons. Before opting for any of these three tests, one should always check if the program they appear for is biased towards any one of these three tests or not. Further, if the school does not have any such preference, they should appear for the test that best suits their requirements and skills. One should also consider which test’s test centres are nearest to their residence.

There are several free to use resources available online which can be used by the candidates to gauge their skills and understand these test’s requirements to prepare accordingly.  The candidates can also use these sample tests to decide which test they want to give.

It does not matter which test you opt for. The purpose of all these tests is to allow schools to gauge the candidates’ English proficiency skills. Choosing the right kind of exam plays an essential role in deciding your success and future. Therefore, one must research and practice well before aiming to crack one of these three English language exams.