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pte and IELTS differences

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PTE vs IELTS: Comparisons, the key differences and more!

The key differentiator between PTE vs IELTS exams is that PTE exams can only be given on a computer. On the contrary, IELTS requires your physical presence for a paper-based exam— with rare exceptions for online tests in India.

Even the evaluation processes for both tests are worlds apart. PTE-A uses artificial intelligence to award scores (offering an unbiased and error-free approach), whereas IELTS is evaluated manually. Other differences include which one’s more widely accepted, what are the costs involved, the number of tests allowed annually, and more.

Find out all the key differences between IELTS and PTE-A in this read.

PTE vs IELTS—Which Exam Should You Choose?

PTE-A (Pearson Test of English – Academic), IELTS (International English Language Testing System), and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are three of the most widely-accepted standardized tests to migrate or study overseas.

What is the IELTS test?


IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is jointly owned by British Council, IDP Australia, and Cambridge English Language Assessment. IELTS is accepted by more than 10,000 employers, universities, schools, and immigration bodies around the world.

A great IELTS score is the stepping stone to study or work in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.

What is the PTE test?

PTE is a widely accepted English language proficiency test for student applications and immigration visas across the world. It uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) scoring offering an unbiased approach and a faster turn-around time for results.


A Comparative Study: PTE vs IELTS

PTE computerized tests range from MCQs to essay writing and reading to speaking your answers into a headset. It's like taking an online test, however, it's not the best choice for slow typers.

IELTS usually is a standard pen and paper-based exam but also offers computer-based tests.


PTE Academic test


Test Types

PTE Academic test - Single test having 3 parts: speaking and writing (together), listening and reading

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

Includes Listening, Academic Reading, General Training Reading, Academic Writing, General Training, Writing, and Speaking.

Score Report

Includes overall score (10 to 90 points), a score for each communicative skill (listening, reading, speaking, and writing: 10 to 90 points), and a score for each of the enabling skills.

The overall band score (0-9) is the average of the scores assigned to each of the sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Overall Score

The overall score is not an average calculation of the communicative scores.

Average of the 4 sections scores, rounded to the nearest whole or half band

Scoring Accuracy

Automated scoring against the Global Scale of English (Thermometer-style scale)

Human assessment (subject to manual errors)

Test Fairness


Medium to High


Available within five business days

IELTS Paper test: Test Report Form available 13 days after your test

IELTS Computer test: Results available in 3 to 5 days after your test

Speaking Test

You speak into a microphone

Face-to-face speaking test with an examiner


INR 13,300 (USD $160)

INR 14,000 (USD $185)

Test Authority

Pearson PLC

British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.

Global Acceptance

Select universities and governments but popular in many countries around the world.

A wider range of acceptance. More universities and governments worldwide enlist this language test on their website.


Based on experience and feedback from numerous test takers, we will consider 16 key aspects of comparison that will give a clearer picture while choosing an appropriate test.

PTE vs IELTS: Test Types

PTE Academic

Test Format

Time Given

Task Types

Speaking & Writing

77 – 93 minutes

Repeat sentence

Describe image

Re-tell lecture

Answer short question

Summarize written text

Essay (20 mins)


32 – 40 minutes

Reading & writing: Fill in the blanks

Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers

Re-order paragraphs

Reading: Fill in the blanks

Multiple-choice, choose single answer


45 – 57 minutes

Summarize spoken text

Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers

Fill in the blanks

Highlight correct summary

Multiple-choice, choose single answer

Select missing word

Highlight incorrect words

Write from dictation


PTE test duration: 3 hours (short optional break 10 mins) 

The PTE test is completed in a single sitting of 3 hours.

IELTS Academic

Test Format

Time Given

Task Types


4 recordings

30 minutes

Multiple choice

Matching information

Plan, map, diagram labelling

Form, note, table, flow-chart, summary completion

Sentence completion

Short-answer questions


3 reading passages

60 minutes

Multiple choice

Identifying information

Identifying writer’s views/claims

Matching headings

Matching features

Matching sentence endings

Sentence completion

Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion

Diagram label completion

Short-answer questions


2 Parts

60 minutes

Part 1 –Identify information and trends in a graph, chart, table or diagram, and explain it

Part 2 – Write an essay on a given topic


3 Parts

11–14 minutes

Part 1 – Introduction and interview

Part 2 – Talk about a particular topic

Part 3 – Discussion on the topic given in Part 2


IELTS test duration: 2 hours 45 mins.

The IELTS speaking test can be scheduled anytime within 7 days which is often inconvenient for test-takers who are working on a tight deadline for immigration and university admissions.

Score Report: PTE vs IELTS

How is PTE scored?

Create infographic of the scorecard: https://pearsonpte.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Score-Guide-21.04.21-for-test-takers-1.pdf

Tests are scored based on Item types. Scores are allotted against the Global Scale of English (Thermometer-style scale) which allocates pre-defined points to different item types. 

Communicative skills scores

The communicative skills measured are listening, reading, speaking, and writing

Enabling skills scores

The enabling skills are grammar, oral fluency, pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, and written discourse.

Item Scoring

Correct or incorrect: 1 point for correct answers, zero points for incorrect answers

Partial credit: If responses are correct, the maximum score is awarded, but if responses are partly correct, score points less than the maximum score is awarded


PTE Scoring Example:

Item Type: Read aloud

Number of items: 7

em Scoring: Partial

Communicative skills scored: Reading and writing

Traits scored: Traits include content, pronunciation, oral fluency, form, grammar, vocabulary, etc

Native-like5, Advanced4, Good3, Intermediate2, Intrusive 1, Non-English 0

How is IELTS scored?

Section band scores


The IELTS Listening test contains 40 questions.

Correct answers are awarded one mark. 


The IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions. 

Correct answers are awarded one mark. 


Examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria:

Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2)

Coherence and Cohesion

Lexical Resource

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The criteria are weighted equally and the score on the task is the average.


Examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria:

Fluency and Coherence

Lexical Resource

Grammatical Range and Accuracy


PTE VS Scoring:

Skill Level






Very Good



Very Good



















PTE vs IELTS: Overall Score

PTE Academic Overall Score

IELTS Overall Score

The overall score is not an average calculation of the communicative scores.

Average of the 4 sections scores, rounded to the nearest whole or half band

10 to 90 points, a score for each communicative skill, and a score for each of the enabling skills.

0 to 9, in 0.5 band increments


Scoring Accuracy

PTE is highly accurate in the writing section, but not so much in the speaking section. Pronunciation scores are often low in the PTE speaking module. But can be tackled with speaking coaching that PTE offers. 

IELTS, test takers report writing section assessment involves firm scrutiny. Test-takers who were unhappy with their scores were given the option of reassessment and some have been revised with leniency, giving better scores.

PTE since no one has the time or energy to apply for reassessments!

Test Fairness: PTE vs IELTS 

PTE is fair in its scoring system since the tests are algorithm-based and have a high predictability factor.

PTE Test Fairness

  • PTE has developed proprietorial automated software for PTE assessment.
  • Test takers feel less stressed/anxious because there is no person judging their performance while they are trying to answer.
  • Question formats are typical, there is no scope for any human bias in the scoring.

IELTS Test Fairness

  • IELTS encourages test takers to react in a real-life simulated situation. 
  • Test takers communicate with people and not computers
  • Specialized human examiners grade your tasks

Declaration of Results: PTE vs IELTS 

PTE delivers quick computer tabulated results.

IELTS Paper test: Test Report Form available 13 days after your test

IELTS Computer test: Results available in 3 to 5 days after your test

PTE-A results:  Within just 48 hours of taking the test

PTE results: Within 2-5 days

Speaking test: How does PTE differ from IELTS?

Speaking tests vary between IELTS and PTE-A. 

The PTE-A speaking test requires you to speak in a microphone, while the IELTS speaking test requires you to speak to a human examiner.

What's the better choice mainly depends on what are you comfortable with - The microphone or speaking face-to-face with a human?

Which is cheaper for Indians: PTE or IELTS?

Both tests are almost the same, however, prices could vary depending on your country.  Here's what PTE and IELTS cost in India:

PTE Costs


USD $160

USD $185

INR 13,300

INR 14,000

Test Authority

Both the IELTS and PTE are run by credible institutions with many years of assessment expertise and experience.


PTE Academic: Run by Pearson PLC, the world’s leading British MNC for publishing and education.
Headquarters: London

IELTS: Jointly conducted by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.

Global Acceptance: PTE vs IELTS


PTE Academic scores have similar global recognition including prestigious institutions such as Harvard Business School, INSEAD, and Yale. It is also approved for all UK, Australian, and New Zealand student visa and migration applications.

IELTS scores are accepted in more than 140 countries and with more than 10,000 organisations for study, work, or immigration visas (including UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, and Canada).

The IELTS Advantage:

  • Accurate assessment, in a monitored, consistent and secure environment.
  • Clearly defined Test criteria.
  • Certificated examiners/ panel of language specialists, with substantial relevant teaching experience
  • General topics of testing, easy to understand questionnaire format, a fair chance to answer maximum questions.
  • Practical approach, focus on daily communication abilities.
  • Choice of 2 test types:  academic and non-academic 
  • Unique opportunity of a one-on-one, face-to-face speaking test that recognises the human aspect of your communication skill and not just grammar or content of the answers.
  • Extensively researched diversity sensitive test designs for candidates from different cultures and origins.
  • Double marking system to standardise significant differences in writing, speaking, reading and listening scores. 
  • Reassessment option by senior examiner.
  • Strict confidential verification test taker’s identity
  • Unique test versions - test takers can never get the same test twice
  • Printing Test Report Forms on security-enhanced paper
  • Online Results Verification Service.

The PTE Advantage:

1. Artificial intelligence based Unbiased Evaluation

Your English language skills are assessed by an algorithm checking out a substantial number of previous responses eliminating any form of human bias.

2. Fast results

PTE uses market leading scoring technology, to give incredible fast results, typically within just 48 hours of taking the test in more than 350 test centres in over 70 countries.

3. Free Unlimited score linking 

PTE proudly send your scores to as many organizations as you like, without an additional fee which helps in fast-track acceptance for study and migration applications globally.


The most important factors to help you choose your exam, have been outlined here with clarity and fairness in the table below. When you take the exam, let your individual preferences guide you. Believe in yourself and prepare well. Remember it is not only the test you choose, but also your foundation of good English that will fetch you high scores and bring you that one step closer to realising your dreams.

Other Important FAQs

Which is easier, PTE OR IELTS?

Both tests have challenging components in different sections. IELTS writing sections are difficult because of higher literary standards, as it's a more widely accepted test. IELTS Academic Reading tests may contain texts with greater complexity as compared to the General Training Reading test. 

PTE seems to be a popular choice for those who find it easier to express themselves on a digital platform. It is being accepted globally due to its automated process which is the need of the hour during a global pandemic. 

Can I move forward, skip questions in the test and come back to them later? 

In PTE Academic you can only navigate forward through questions after you correct mistakes because there is no coming back. For spoken answers, you are only able to record your response once.

IELTS, on the other hand, gives you the option to navigate back and forth through the questions, even within the different modules of Listening, Reading and Writing, giving you the flexibility to correct your answers and improve your score.

If I want the test scores just for visa purposes, which test should I take?

IELTS offers an Academic English test along with a General Training test that is designed for migration purposes. For immigration to Australia IELTS is your fair choice because IELTS Australia is a co-owner of the Test Authority and the scores will carry more weightage.

Is Pte valid for Canada PR?
What is the equivalent score of PTE to ielts?
What is PTE Academic?

Topics: Study, Work, Canada, Study-in-Canada