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Which Test Should You Take? IELTS Academic or PTE Academic?

If you are someone who is planning to do your studies abroad, you will have many questions. For instance, which English Language test should you take? IELTS Academic or PTE Academic? Choosing the right test for you might appear to be a daunting task. We understand that it is a big question for you as you will be spending both a considerable amount of time and money for preparing and writing the exam. The objective of this article is to give you clarity about IELTS and PTE so that you will have a better understanding of which test suits you better.

IELTS or International English Language Testing System is one of the most popular English proficiency tests in the world today. It is accepted by over 10000 institutions and 140 governments world-wide. It is managed by three renowned partners, the British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment and the IDP Education in Australia. There are two variants for the test; IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Choosing the right test for you depends on what it is that you want to do. You should be doing IELTS Academic if you are looking to gain admission to a university or institution. Visit www.ielts.org to know more about the tests. 

Pearson Test of English (PTE) is relatively a newcomer and is owned by Pearson PLC. Launched in 2009, PTE Academic is endorsed by GMAC, the institution responsible for the GMAT exam. Nearly 6,000 organizations including colleges, universities, and governments across the world have recognized the PTE. There are different types of tests available depending on your requirements. The most common tests are PTE Academic and PTE General. Since we primarily deal with education, we shall be discussing in detail about the PTE Academic in this blog. Visit www.pearsonpte.com to know more about other tests available. 

How to take the tests?

IELTS tests can now be taken on a computer and as well as on paper.

Test takers opting for IELTS on paper will take the Listening, Reading and Writing sections on a paper with either pen or HB-pencils. The Speaking test is carried out face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner. The results of the paper-based IELTS test are announced after 13 calendar days.

Test takers opting for IELTS on a computer take the Listening, Reading and Writing sections on a computer. The Speaking test remains face-to-face with a trained IELTS examiner. Computer-based IELTS gives you the convenience to choose from more test dates and results are announced within 3-5 days.

PTE on the other hand is a completely online test and the results are usually announced within 5 business days. Many of our students at Abe Services received their results the very next day.


Test Modes 
Name of the Test  Mode 
IELTS Academic  Both paper-based and computer-based tests are available. Face to face session with an IELTS examiner for the speaking test. 
PTE Academic  Only computer-based tests are available. 


How are the tests structured?

IELTS Academic

IELTS Academic is for candidates who want to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels and for those who seek professional registration.

The test has 4 components.

Academic Reading– The section has 3 texts with a total of 40 questions. These texts could be taken from newspapers, magazines, books or journals. You can expect 11 different types of questions from multiple-choice, identifying Information (T/F/NG), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, notes/summary/table/flow chart completion, labelling a diagram and short answer questions. 

Academic Writing– There will be two tasks in this session. For the first task, you will have to describe a chart, graph or a table and for the second one, you will have to write your response to an argument, point of view or problem as an essay. It is suggested that candidates spend more time on the second test as it contributes more to the writing score.

Listening– You will be listening to 4 recordings of native speakers. After listening to them, you will have to answer about 40 questions. The types of questions include short answer questions, sentence completion, classification, matching, notes/summary/ table/flow chart completion or labelling a diagram, a plan or a map. 

Speaking- This session has 3 parts. The examiner might be asking you about yourself, and your take on different topics. Usually, this part of the test will be conducted on a different day.

PTE Academic

PTE Academic is for candidates who want to study at undergraduate or postgraduate levels in reputed institutions around the world.

Pearson Test of English (Academic) has three parts,

Speaking and Writing (77-93 minutes). In this session, you will have to complete different sessions including a personal introduction, describing an image, summarizing written text, etc.

Reading (32-41 minutes)- Here you will have to complete tasks like answering multiple-choice questions, fill in the blanks and reordering paragraphs.

Listening (45-60 minutes)

You will be asked to answer questions after listening to audio/ video clips.


Name of the Exam  Test Sections  Duration 
  • Reading 
  • Writing 
  • Listening 
  • Speaking (Face to face with an examiner)
2.40 Hours + 11-15 mins (speaking)
  • Speaking and Writing
  • Reading
  • Listening 
Approximately 3 Hours 


How are the tests scored?

IELTS results are scored on a nine-band scale. It gives you a score for each section on a scale of 0-9. In addition to that, it gives you a score for your overall language ability.

PTE on the other hand is scored on a scale of 10 to 90. And gives a score for each section of the test in addition to the overall score.

IELTS and PTE Scores 

IELTS  PTE  Proficiency Level 
9 N/A Expert 
8.5 89 Very Good 
8 84 Very Good 
7.5 76 Good 
7 66 Good 
6.5 56 Competent 
6 46 Competent 
5.5 36 Modest 
5 29 Modest 
4.5 23 Limited 

How much do IELTS and PTE cost?

Name of the Course  Fee 
IELTS  INR 14,700*
PTE INR 13,700*


Which one should you choose?

Choosing a test that suits you best can depend on many things. Check with the university you are applying to and see what English Proficiency Tests they accept. Both IELTS and PTE are widely accepted but it’s better to be safe and confirm it with the university before you give the test.

Which test is easier?

This may vary from one person to the other. We have made a table below comparing each section of the tests. It is important that you find out your strong points and weak areas so that you can choose the right test.

Test Comparison 


Name of the Test  Test Section  What’s the difference? 
IELTS  Speaking  IELTS Speaking test is done face to face with an IELTS examiner. If you are someone who gets very nervous when speaking with a person in English, this is not a test for you. On the other hand, if you love speaking with a person, which is more of a conversation, you will probably ace the IELTS Speaking module. 
PTE  Speaking  For PTE Speaking, you talk to a computer. There is no room for any kind of unwanted human biases as you will not be having any kind of human interaction. 
IELTS  Writing  IELTS paper-based test could be a trouble if you are not used to writing on paper with a pen. If that is the case, you can take the online version of IELTS, which enables you to write on a computer. 
PTE  Writing  This is a computer-based test and all the answers have to be keyed-in to a computer. If you are not used to typing or find it difficult to use a computer, this is probably not a test for you. 
IELTS  Reading  Same level of difficulty. Both computer-based and paper-based tests are available. 
PTE  Reading  Same level of difficulty. Only computer-based tests are available. 
IELTS  Listening  Same level of difficulty. You will have to write down the answers on paper or a computer, depending on the platform you have chosen.
PTE  Listening  Same level of difficulty. You will have to type your answers into a computer. 


Out of all the two tests, IELTS has been around for a while and is widely accepted throughout the world and is flexible with the mode of exam. One drawback which a person might face is that the speaking section of the test is conducted in-person and not over the computer. This can be difficult for people who are not comfortable with giving in-person interviews.

PTE has an advantage here as the speaking section is computer-based. There won’t be any room for any human biases and you can expect a very fair evaluation.  

When it comes to writing, many of our students have reported that the PTE writing section is easier to score than the IELTS writing section. If you are not used to writing with pen and paper, it is better that you opt for PTE or the online version of the IELTS. 

Overall, most of our students have found PTE a lot easier than IELTS. With proper guidance and practice, you too can get your required score for your PTE or IELTS. We have a team of expert trainers here at Abe Services to help you ace any language tests. 


Abe Services
Abe Services | March 29, 2021

Being a pioneering overseas education consultancy in India, we at Abe Services aims to provide valuable insights for students seeking higher education opportunities across many international destinations. With the help of a highly dedicated and skilled team of academic experts, we keep ourselves in track with the latest trends and updates in the world of overseas education. We hope that our informative articles will help students embark on a promising academic journey abroad.

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