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Difference between IELTS, TOEFL and PTE

Many English Proficiency tests can help one to get admission to their desired university abroad. 3 major widely accepted tests are IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE. These are very similar, but some things set them apart.

One can get confused with which exam to give to apply to their choice of college, and some universities give preference to one test over the other. That’s why it’s essential to understand the difference between the three. There are many other factors to be taken into consideration.

IELTS is considered one of the most widely accepted English Proficiency exams. It’s accepted by more than 10000 institutions all over the world. It is believed that the holistic nature of the exam makes it a favorable option.

TOEFL is another popular alternative that is more in demand in the US to test a candidate’s English language potential.

PTE is a reasonably recent entry that is gaining popularity in several countries because of its more accessible scoring scheme.

Which is better?


Score scale





0 to 90

2 hr 45 mins


UK, Europe & Australia


0 to 120

3 hrs


USA, Canada & Europe


10 to 90

3 hrs


Australia, USA & Canada

Pros and Cons





Suitable for people who are familiar with British English

A relatively cheaper alternative than the other two

A completely automated online test

Offers separate exam for general candidates for immigration purposes

Test of speaking skills a bit more objective

Can be completed with much ease in the given time

Better evaluation of a candidate’s speaking expertise

Better chances of scoring high

Results are announced quickly compared to the other two

It gives the option of paper-based tests and computer-based tests both

Accepted widely in the USA and Canada

Written test only contains a single long-form answer





Might be overwhelming for people who aren’t comfortable with in-person exams

It uses the same test for general immigration candidates as well

Relatively new and not as widely accepted yet

At least 2 days are needed to get done with your IELTS exam

Might be a little difficult for people who aren’t familiar with computer-based tests

The speaking and listening parts are prone to error

The written part with the essay structure makes it a little difficult

Registration window is pretty short

Expensive option than the rest

Major differences

  • IELTS is paper- and computer-based, whereas TOEFL and PTE are entirely computerized.

  • In IELTS, you have to appear for a personal interview. For TOEFL and PTE, one can answer to the computer itself.

  • IELTS considers British English, whereas the other two accept American English.

  • The TOEFL essay section requires faster typing speed because of its lengthier structure. It’s considered easier for the other two.

  • IELTS asks for short answers. TOEFL has MCQ questions, whereas PTE consists of a combination of both.

If you prefer online interviews, non-fiction readings, and MCQs, then opt for TOEFL.

If you want a quicker result and prefer a more accessible and shorter essay section, go for PTE.

But if you are confident about your speaking and communication skills and prefer short answers over MCQs, IELTS is best for you.

Ultimately, it all depends on you and your preparation as to whether you will get a good score.

We know and understand that the application process can be overwhelming; that's why we are here for you. The study abroad experts at Hello Study Global are there for you every step of the way. From the SAT to college applications, we will guide you to success

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