IELTS VS PTE: A Complete Comparison

When it comes to proving English proficiency for study or immigration purposes, two popular tests come to mind: the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE). Although both tests assess the same language skills, they differ in many aspects, from test format to scoring method. Let’s look at a detailed comparison to help you choose the test that best suits your needs.

1. Test Format:

  • IELTS: The IELTS exam includes four parts: listening, reading, writing and speaking. The speaking test is face-to-face with an examiner, while the other sections are taken on paper or a computer, depending on the chosen test format.
  • PTE: The PTE test is entirely IT-based and has three main parts: speaking and writing (combined), reading, and listening. The Speaking and Writing sections involve speaking into a microphone and typing answers, while other sections are multiple-choice and drag-and-drop.

2. Test Duration:

  • IELTS: The total duration of the IELTS test is approximately 2 hours 45 minutes for the paper-based test and approximately 2 hours 45 minutes to 4 hours for the computer exam. 
  • PTE: The PTE exam usually lasts about 3 hours, including breaks. This exam is known to be shorter in duration than IELTS, making it the preferred choice for candidates with time constraints.

3. Scoring System:

  • IELTS: IELTS scores are expressed on a scale of 0 to 9 for each section, with the total score calculated as the average of the four sections. Grading criteria are based on accuracy and appropriateness of language use. Each level corresponds to a level of English proficiency, from non-user (score 1) to expert (score 9).
  • PTE: PTE scores are reported on a scale of 10 to 90, increasing 1 point. Grading criteria are more precise, with points awarded for specific language skills and proficiency levels. Each score corresponds to a CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level, allowing candidates to assess their skills against internationally recognized standards.

4. Test Availability:

  • IELTS: The IELTS test is widely available worldwide, with test dates held several times per month in various locations. It is administered by the British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge Assessment English.
  • PTE: The PTE exam is also administered in many countries, although its availability varies by location. Candidates can schedule their tests online and choose from various test dates.

5. Flexibility Of The Test:

  • IELTS: Candidates can choose between the academic or general IELTS test, depending on their purpose (for example, university admission, immigration or professional registration).
  • PTE: The PTE exam is designed primarily for academic purposes but is also accepted for immigration and career purposes in some countries. It measures practical language skills and is recognized by universities, governments, and employers worldwide.


The IELTS and PTE English proficiency tests are reputable and reliable measures of language ability. Your choice between the two will depend on many factors, including test format preferences, test availability in your area, and the specific requirements of the agency or organization position you desire. Regardless of which test you choose; adequate preparation and practice are essential to achieving your desired score and advancing your academic or career goals.


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