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IELTS vs PTE: Which English test is best for you?

IELTS and PTE are English proficiency tests, but IELTS is trusted and accepted by more countries and universities than PTE Academic. That makes IELTS the obvious choice for test takers worldwide.

In 2023, IELTS launched IELTS One Skill Retake across the world. People can retake one part of the IELTS test without redoing the other three skills. With PTE, test takers must book, pay and sit a full test, risking missing out on scores again.

What are the differences between IELTS and PTE-A?

We know you want to get the best possible test to demonstrate your language skills. Also, you want to get the scores you need for your visa or study. Let’s have a look at the differences between IELTS and PTE-A.

In short, the main difference between IELTS and PTE is that IELTS offers a choice between paper and computer. The PTE test is all computer-based and marked by a machine that can be biased. With IELTS, the speaking part takes the form of a face-to-face talk with an examiner, but with PTE, you speak to the computer.

I’ve spoken to a lot of students lately who have told me variations of the same concern: “I am a native or near-native speaker and I am still scoring very low on the PTE speaking tasks. It’s destroying my confidence! HELP!”E2 Language

Test differences: PTE vs IELTS

There are a number of differences between IELTS and PTE Academic. In short, IELTS is fairer because it allows you to resit one part of the test. IELTS also prevents biased marking by a machine, because IELTS combines automarking with real human examiners. One of the biggest differences is that IELTS has a computer and a paper test. PTE-A is only available on a computer.

  • IELTS is the only major test to offer One Skill Retake. With IELTS, you can one component of the test: Listening, Reading, Writing or Speaking. If you fail PTE Academic, you need to book, pay, and sit a full test again. Compared to PTE, IELTS offers you a fair second chance to get the score you need.

  • You can use your IELTS results at more than 12,000 organisations. Your PTE scores are only accepted by a few thousand organisations and academic programs globally. In short, IELTS is accepted by more immigration departments, universities, professional bodies, and employers than PTE Academic.

Compare official scores between IELTS and PTE

PTE made changes to the way its scores are linked to IELTS. Compared to IELTS, it is more difficult to get a higher score with PTE.

PTE Academic released a new report comparing PTE results to IELTS. The report details that at an IELTS 7.0 to an IELTS 9.0, PTE test-takers will need a higher score to be equivalent to IELTS. You can read what you need to know and what others have said here.

Convert PTE to IELTS scores

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Find a test centre where IELTS One Skill Retake is available, and have the chance at improving your score.

Which test is easier PTE or IELTS?

So, neither of the tests is easier than the other. However, IELTS is more accessible and has an easier exam structure.

When you sit the PTE exam, there are many integrated questions. It combines listening and speaking in the same portion of the exam. Or reading and writing in the reading part of the test. In contrast, IELTS has four distinct sections where you can focus on each task (listening, reading, writing and speaking) separately.

What makes PTE more difficult? The PTE exam comprises numerous short tasks across three sections. PTE mixes different question types, which some students might find confusing. For example, PTE A combines speaking and writing, and you only have between 54 and 67 minutes to complete this.

More differences: PTE vs IELTS comparison

A man comparing two English tests: IELTS and PTE. In short, IELTS is the better test.

And, you may want to think about these differences between PTE and IELTS

  • During the test, in PTE-A, you can only navigate forward through questions. You must correct mistakes before moving on to the next question. The individual questions are also timed. However, in IELTS on computer you can skip questions and come back to them later to complete. Or you can check your answer at a later time. IELTS doesn’t time the individual questions.

  • Another important difference is the marking of the test. PTE-A is automatically machine scored. With IELTS the reading and listening test are auto-marked, but the speaking and writing test are looked at by a real human. That’s because bias can occur by machine scoring some parts of the test. MIT university in the US researched how this bias can occur.

  • Another key difference is the Speaking test. With IELTS, you do a speaking exam face-to-face with a real human. The PTE-A test requires you to speak into a microphone with others doing the same around you.

Check the full list of differences between PTE and IELTS

Why IELTS is the trusted choice

35 years of English testing experience. More than 4 million tests taken worldwide.

Worldwide Recognition

  • list?.image?.title12,000 organisations worldwide in more than 140 countries accept IELTS.
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS is used around the world for a variety of purposes, including for work, study, and migration.
  • list?.image?.titleIELTS is the only test recognised by select professional industries for registration.

Your IELTS, your choice

  • list?.image?.titleThere are two IELTS tests to choose from, depending on your needs – IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training.
  • list?.image?.titleChoose which format you’re more comfortable with – IELTS on paper or IELTS on computer.
  • list?.image?.titleIf you are planning to take an English test for the UK, you can take IELTS UKVI or IELTS Life Skills A1 or B1.

IELTS One Skill Retake

  • list?.image?.titleIELTS is the only major English test to offer One Skill Retake.
  • list?.image?.titleRetake one skill of the IELTS test without having to take a full test to improve your score.

Face-to-face Speaking test

  • list?.image?.titleSpeak with a human examiner in the IELTS Speaking test, in a private and quiet room, so you can focus more.
  • list?.image?.titleYour examiner can slow down, repeat and clarify questions, and won’t ‘time out’ on you.