Is it your dream to study abroad, work or migrate to an English-speaking country, but English is not your first language? If that is the case, then you must clear the English proficiency test. The test’s purpose is to assess your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
Well, the first question you should ask yourself is which test to take? IELTS, TOEFL or PTE? There are several factors to consider before making a choice. Let’s look into them in detail.
What is TOEFL?
TOEFL also known as the Test of English as a Foreign Language, is a standardized English language proficiency exam for non-native English speakers. It is a computer-based exam, launched back in 1964 and was administrated by the Educational Testing Service. TOEFL is a highly recognized and accepted exam by most institutions around the world. It can also be used for student visa applications and work requirements.
The TOEFL exam has two formats, TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT, however, TOEFL iBT is preferred over the TOEFL PBT by most candidates. The test is designed to assess all four levels of communication skills: Reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
FEE: In general, the cost varies from $185 to $300. There could also be some additional costs for rescheduling, late registration, or score review. (Exam fees vary per country worldwide)
What is PTE?
PTE or also known as the Pearson Test of English Academic Test is a relatively new English proficiency test launched by Pearson Inc. in 2009. Just like TOEFL, it is conducted online. The English proficiency test uses AI technology to grade the exams. Candidates preferred PTE, because of its quick result element, you can have your results in just 48 hours after taking the exams. Also, language proficiency is available in over 70 countries in the world.
There are three types of PTE, which include PTE Academic, PTE General and PTA Young Learn Test. In addition to this, there is no age requirement so candidates from any age group can take this exam.
Furthermore, the PTE places more emphasis on how the test-taker uses English in communication because it is designed to evaluate real-life English language skills. It has four modules: speaking, writing, reading, and listening.
Fee: in general, the fee of PTE ranges from $170 to $290. (Exam fees vary per country worldwide)
What is IELTS?
IELTS or the International English Language Testing System, unlike the other two, is a paper-based exam, however, it is possible to take it online. It was launched by the British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment, and the international development program of Australian Universities and Colleges in 1989. When it comes to the English proficiency test, IELTS takes the cake. After all, IELTS is famous all around the world with test centres available in over 140 countries and is trusted by 11,000 organisations around the world.
The IELTS English proficiency test offers two formats to its candidates: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Test. These two tests are different from each other, especially in the writing and reading test sections and their purpose.
FEE: The cost varies from $170 to $300. The cost slightly differs in some countries for paper-based and computer-based tests. (Exam fees vary per country worldwide)
Each of these tests is designed to evaluate a candidate’s English language skills. So, the most often asked question is, which is the easiest one? There’s no definite answer to this question, to know which test suits you the best you must dig a little deeper to get a better understanding. So, let’s just do that!
Structure of English Proficiency Test
|English Proficiency Test||Listening||Reading||Speaking||Writing|
|TOEFL iBT||You will listen to 4 recordings and then answer 29 to 39 questions.
Duration: 41 to 57 minutes.
|You will need to read 3 to 4 passages, then, you have to answer the given 30 to 40 questions.
Duration: 54 -72 minutes
|In this part, you will need to give your opinion on a familiar topic and give answers based on the reading and listening tasks.
Duration: 17 minutes
|This section has two tasks. You will write an essay and support your opinion in it as well.
Duration is 50 minutes
You will listen to 4 recordings of native speakers and then give answers to the 40 questions.
Duration: 40 minutes
|You will read 3 texts and answers the 40 questions
Duration: 60 minutes
|It consists of 3 parts:
● Introducing yourself
● Speaking on a given topic
● Giving your opinion on the issue from part 2
Duration: 11-14 minutes
|This differs in IELTS Academic and IELTS General. In both cases, you need to complete two writing tasks.
Duration: 60 minutes
|PTE||You will need to answer several questions after listening to or watching audio or video clips.
Duration: 45-57 minutes
|This part contains multiple-choice questions, filling in the blanks and reordering paragraphs.
Duration: 32-40 minutes
|In the speaking & writing, you will complete a series of tasks such as introducing yourself, reading aloud, summarizing a text and others
Duration: 45-57 minutes.
Most institutions, companies and governments recognize and accept the IELTS, PTE and TOEFL. You can see the increasing demand for these exams by the testing centres available in various countries. For example:
- There are 1200 IELTS testing centres available in different countries.
- There are 4,500 TOEFL testing centres available in different countries.
- PTE only has 350 testing centres available as it is relatively new.
As a result, the PTE Academic gives its test year-round, which means it conducts the test daily, unlike the PTE General, which is only scheduled five times a year. The TOEFL exam offers 60 pre-scheduled test dates each year, and the IELTS offers 48 pre-scheduled test dates each year.
In conclusion, the PTE academic is more frequent than all the other English proficiency tests and the TOEFL exam, which has 4500 testing centres available worldwide, tops the other two language exams in terms of testing centre availability.
Exam frequencies comparison of the IELTS, PTE, and TOEFL
|Test conducted per year||48||PTE Academic: daily
PTE General: only five times test days
|Testing Centre around the world||1200||350||4500|
The IELTS, PTE, and TOEFL exams have different scoring systems
PTE Scoring System
The computerized scoring method used by the PTE employs an automated scoring algorithm. Additionally, it is based on a global scoring system and can be interpreted using the CEFR levels. It gives scores on a scale from 10 to 90, with 90, obviously, representing the highest level of language skills. They say that this system of scoring helps students to gauge their language abilities accurately.
TOEFL Scoring System
TOEFL is the oldest test format, and it provides scores for reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Each module of the test is marked from 0 to 30, and the overall score of the test is 120 marks. TOEFL uses a centralised scoring network for its reading and listening test section and a combination of automated AI scoring and highly trained professionals for its writing and speaking test section.
IELTS Scoring System
The IELTS test uses a band scoring system and is unquestionably the most widely used format in the world. Scores are distributed in “bands” from 0 to 9. All four parts of the test are awarded a band score. IELTS scores are always calculated to the nearest 0.5. For example, if your band score is 6.75, it would be rounded off to 7. A band score of 9 means the test-taker has exceptional skills in the English language.
Take note that the scoring methods and point totals for these three language proficiency tests vary. It has no impact on the credibility and accuracy of its language proficiency test, nevertheless. Additionally, the validity of all test results from these exams is two years.
Advantages and Disadvantages of TOEFL, PTE and IELTS?
Advantages of TOEFL
- Straightforward questions in TOEFL
- With multiple examiners comparing notes to assure a fair result, the speaking exam scoring is much more objective.
- More readily accepted in USA and Canada
- It is very accessible
- It is slightly less expensive than the other two tests
- TOEFL validity: 2 years
Disadvantage of TOEFL
- TOEFL doesn’t have a general test, which is why is it harder for those taking it for immigration.
- The test dates for TOEFL fill up fast, so candidates need to register as fast as possible. Otherwise, you will have to pay late registration fees.
- The duration is the longest among the three tests, at least 4 hours.
Advantage of PTE
- Test results are the fastest – within 48 hours.
- PTE’s writing test is easier as you are required to write only one long-form response
- PTE can be finished within a single date.
- There is no physical examiner through most of the tests as it is completely automated.
- PTE validity: 2 years
Disadvantages of PTE
- Being relatively new, PTE is still not accepted at many major universities.
- Speaking test is evaluated and scored by the computer, so there are chances of getting a low score
- It can only be taken online
Advantages of IELTS
- It has two types: Academic and General for both academic and immigration purposes
- It has two formats: computer-based and paper-based tests.
- If the language of the British Queen matters to you then it is the test for you
- IELTS validity: 2 years
Disadvantages of IELTS
- The prospect of speaking face to face for some candidates can be overwhelming.
- It takes two days for candidates to finish the test since the speaking test is conducted on a separate date
- The writing test is considerably hard as compared to other tests.
- IELTS results are less detailed than those for the other two tests, therefore test-takers may need to significantly improve in order to increase their score by even one band.
Which English Proficiency Test Should I take?
IELTS is no doubt the most famous among the three. However, all three of them have some advantages and disadvantages that can help you choose between IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE.
At the end of the day, it depends on the candidate if they find the exam difficult or easier. If you are prepared, then the exam will be easy for you. And when it comes to choosing which test you should take, I would recommend checking your university requirements and making your choice according to them. Also, keep in mind the test dates and test centres available to you so it will be more convenient for you.
And in case you are stuck or need any kind of help reach out to us at Edvise Hub.