Deciding which English Test to Take: TOEFL vs IELTS vs PTE

Study in Australia, UK, USA
One of the hurdles to cross in the process of applying to a university is clearing an exam that tests your English language skills. The tests commonly used for applying to universities are TOEFL, IELTS and PTE. All three tests measure your ability as a non-native speaker to listen, speak, read and write in English.

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language, while IELTS is an abbreviation of International English Language Testing System. The PTE is short for Pearson Test of English. Although IELTS is the most commonly accepted test, universities accept both the other tests just as well.

Read below to learn more about the English proficiency tests, or get in touch with our in-house English experts by contacting us today.


IELTS is the most commonly opted test for applying to Australia, UK & USA universities. The IELTS exam involves two parts, one a 150-word report in a chart or table format, describing a process or comparing information. The second part, IELTS writing, involves writing a 250-word essay.

  • If you are more comfortable with the British or Australian accent, vocabulary, spellings and expressions, IELTS is the test for you.
  • IELTS uses a wider variety of question types such as MCQ, gap fill and matching questions.
  • IELTS is shorter than TOEFL or PTE and gives the chance to write the essay part of your answer.
  • You can see all the questions in the beginning of the test itself.
  • It is also rated by a person as opposed to the computer.
  • The proficiency level ranges from bands one to nine, with the latter score being that of an expert.
  • The test results are available within 13 days from the test date.


PTE is a computer based academic test that measures a candidate’s English listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. It is a Pearson test which is relatively new but popular and it originated in Australia.

  • PTE is 3 hours in duration.
  • Its questions are in a variety of formats including MCQ, essay writing, graphs and figures.
  • It is considered the most transparent test as it is conducted and rated online by the computer and there is no human interaction in the test.
  • The proficiency level ranges from 10-90, with the latter being that of an expert.
  • PTE scores are available with five working days from the test date.


TOEFL is the oldest of the lot and is developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). TOEFL results are accepted by thousands of universities in hundreds of countries such as USA, UK, Canada and Australia. This test can be taken on paper or on the internet and measures the listening, reading, grammar and writing skills of candidates.

  • TOEFL is based more on US English, and if you are more comfortable with the American accent, vocabulary, spellings and expressions, you can opt for it.
  • TOEFL is the longest test of the three that lasts up to 4 hours.
  • The proficiency level ranges from 0-120.
  • It is an MCQ based test
  • The scores are available to view online within 10 days after the test date.