Planning to study abroad, work, or migrate? There is one important milestone that you need to achieve towards that goal – providing proof of your English proficiency results. It is natural to debate between these three tests when choosing which English proficiency test to take. While some universities prefer one exam over another, students might find one test easier to attempt as compared to the other two. The whole pattern, scoring structure, and methods vary and have their own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, let us take a closer look at the battle between IELTS vs. TOEFL vs. PTE and find out which one will come out victorious.

Pearson Test of English (PTE)

The PTE is a single consolidated test that originated in Australia, and it includes sections for Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. It is an *Academic level test, and is conducted entirely online at test centers 7 days a week, and 4 time slots a day. The number of institutes that accept and recognize PTE scores is increasing, in particular, in Australia.

  • The PTE is 1.5 hours to a max of 2 hours and 10 min in duration.
  • Its questions come in a variety of formats and require various skills and strategies
  • It is considered the most transparent test as it is conducted and rated online by the Computer, and therefore, no human interaction is involved in marking and scoring of the test.

The test itself is based on skills, strategies, templates and timing for a computer, and therefore, does not require a high level of English competency to achieve a PTE 65 (IELTS 7 Band) within a two -week period.
However, typing speed is incredibly vital; usually, students are required to type at least 10-15 words per minute to meet the minimum words required to avoid a zero score; this can be a disadvantage to
students who are not proficient in typing speed or use of technology as well; these though can be learned and improved over a relatively short(erg) period of time.

  • The proficiency level ranges from 10-90; (this is equivalent to a PTE 1-9 band) with the latter being that of a native speaker or expert user.
  • PTE scores are available within one to five working days from the test date.

The International English Language Testing System–IELTS

Another popular test taking method is still the IELTS, which has been around since the late 1980s.The test consists of 4 modules as well: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. However, test takers are able to choose between a General or Academic Version; each is required for various purposes, but Academic can substitute for the General. However, the related scores to PTE are based on the IELTS ACADEMIC test only! (There is currently no General PTE test offered in Australia)

Below are other key points of consideration

  • IELTS is the test for applicants who are familiar with the British or Australian accent, grammar, vocabulary, and expressions. Also, it is a valid test of a person’s competency level.
  • IELTS uses a wider variety of question types, and all questions are worth equal value of 1 mark.
  • IELTS is longer currently taking about 2.5 hours, and an additional 12-15 minutes for the Speaking.
  • You can see all the questions at the beginning of the test itself; you can even go back and forth between questions; PTE does not allow this as there is no Previous button on the PTE exam computers.
  • The Writing and Speaking are also marked by two separate examiners as opposed to the computer.
  • The proficiency level ranges from bands one to nine, with the latter score being that of an expert. In most cases to achieve a 7 band or higher could require between 3-6 months, if not more of studies. The advantageous aspect though all skills acquired can be used in real life.
  • The test results are available within 13 days from the test date; much longer than the PTE

* Test takers can do either on line for the Listening, Reading, and Writing, and speaking face to face, or All paper based; the IELTS though paper based and computer tests are not available as frequent as the PTE. Therefore, some students prefer this as they do not have sufficient computer skills.

Test of English as a Foreign Language–TOEFL

The oldest English proficiency test which was established in 1964 also provides scores for reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The results are accepted by hundreds of universities worldwide such as the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.

  • TOEFL is based more on US English, and if you are more comfortable with the American accent, vocabulary, spelling, and expressions, you can opt for it, but be aware not all institutions in Australia will recognize this score!
  • TOEFL is the longest test of the three lasts up to 4 hours.
  • The proficiency level ranges from 0-120.
  • TOEFL is multi -questions leveled test
  • The scores are available to view online within 10 days after the test date

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE Scoring

The major differences between IELTS and PTE are their scores and location in which a person desires to use the scores; America or Australia or even the UK or overseas. TOEFL scores are fairly easy since its four sections are divided into equal parts, with each part’s score being 30. On the other hand, PTE and IELTS give consolidated scores for the entire test, including all sections. In IELTS, the scores are further calibrated from 1-9 bands, based on marking system of 1 mark for each correct answer in the Listening and Reading sections, and therefore, usually out of 40 marks, and a score 30 and above, in the Academic, is considered a 7 band. While PTE gives scores from 0 to 36 marks, and getting at least a total of 65 is deemed a 7 band. Although there is no standard equivalence between the two, when we draw PTE vs. IELTS score comparisons, it is safe to assume that getting a 7 band in IELTS is equal to scoring 65 in PTE. Similarly, 9 IELTS bands are Considered the equivalent of scoring 86 and above in PTE.


With a duration of 60 minutes, candidates must complete the reading paper which consists of 3 passages with a total of 40 questions. The questions vary from multiple-choice, matching information, identifying information (true or false) and diagram labelling. (once again this is for the Academic Modules)


The reading section of the test consists of 3-4 multiple-focus passages (compare/contrast, cause-effect). Each passage consists of 10 questions. The time allotted to this section can vary between 54-72 minutes, depending on the number of passages given in the test.


This section of PTE will last for 29-30 minutes. You will have to read through passages and fill in the blanks, re-order paragraphs, and attempt single and Multiple Answer MCQs during the test. There are 5 modules to complete in this section.

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE Listening


The listening consists of 40 questions divided into 4 different tasks, each lasting 30 Minutes total. The candidate listens to 4 different recordings, played only once. The recordings will be in a variety of voices with native-speaker accents


The paper consists of 3 to 4 lectures, and some lectures contain classroom discussions. At the end of the lecture, candidates are asked 6 questions. You’ll get to listen to 2-3
conversations, each being 3 minutes. You’ll be asked 5 questions at the end of each conversation.


The listening section of PTE can go on for anywhere between 30-43 minutes. Here, you will be summarizing Spoken Text, filling in blanks, selecting single and multiple answers, highlighting Correct Summaries and Incorrect Words, and writing sentences. Its pattern is quite different from the other two tests.

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE Speaking


In this test, there are three tasks that need to be done. Task one is an introduction wherein the examiner asks the candidate for a personal introduction. The second task, a task card is given to the candidate containing a topic to speak on. Task three is related to the previous task. The topic from task two is discussed in-depth and in a conceptual way


This portion of the test consists of 4 tasks. Candidates will be assigned 1 independent task to express their opinion on a topic they are familiar with. They have 30 seconds to prepare the response. Apart from that, candidates will have 3 integrated speaking tasks based on reading and listening. The total time allotted for this section is 17 minutes.


PTE’s Speaking and Writing sections are combined so we will take a look at the next segment. There are 5 modules in the Speaking, followed by 2 in the Writing.

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE Writing


The writing test consists of two sections with a total test time of 60 minutes. Section one consists of various types of visual information like graphs and diagrams. The candidates are expected to elaborate on the visual information in precisely 150 words. Section two consists of a topic to write on where candidates elaborate on an argument or a topic in not less or more than 250 words and given 40 minutes for this task, which represents 66% of the overall writing score.


Candidates have two tasks in this section of the test.
Section 1- A task based on what is read and heard. They’ll have 20 minutes to complete this.
Section 2- An independent task to support an opinion on a topic. 30 minutes is allotted to complete the task.


The writing sections of PTE can last anywhere between 40- 60 minutes. The exam will start off by asking you to give a personal introduction. Then, the modules are called Summarize Written Text, followed by Write the Essay; each have 1 or 2 of the prior.

Major differences between IETLS, TOEFL, and PTE

  • While TOEFL is ONLY computer-based, IELTS is both paper and computer-based. PTE, on the other hand, is a fully computerized test with results released in 1 to 5 days.
  • The speaking sections for these three exams are so different. In IELTS, you have to appear for a personal interview. This isn’t the case in TOEFL and PTE, where you can speak to the computer during your online test itself. Therefore, volume and mic placement are essential to a candidate’s success. Also, in PTE, all students talk at the same time, but with different versions. This means the room is incredibly noisy and can be very distracting with no practice.
  • TOEFL & PTE are taken in standard American English. The essay section of the TOEFL is longer. It demands a fast typing speed. PTE, writing an essay is as easy as it can get.
  • In IELTS, you have to give short answers and then longer and ranges from informal to a formal conversation, which is not the case in TOEFL, which requires you to attempt MCQ-type questions. But PTE has a combination of both.

Final Say

All three tests have a different edge and are accepted by universities worldwide. Therefore, pinpointing which one suites your needs is best. The only limitation is the universities you would like to apply to might require one over the other; also, universities are allowed to set their own entry marks for each test as well. While some institutions accept all three English tests, others might only accept IELTS, PTE, or TOEFL, or only one of them. Even if you can choose between these tests, you should first see what exam dates and test centers are available near you. Traveling to another city is an option, but if the distance is too long, you might be inclined to choose a center that’s closer to you.

Overall, here at Apeiro Training Services, we specialize in our PTE preparation programs. We have had thousands of reviews and many of our students over the last 8 years have achieved a perfect 90 in all 4 bands! If you have the ambition and willpower to work hard and prepare yourself, you can ace any English proficiency test and start your international studies on the right foot.

For more information, you can visit our website or talk to us We’d be happy to assist you further in making your dreams come to fruition.