IELTS, PTE, and TOEFL are standardized English proficiency exams. Students are often confused about choosing the right exam for them to meet the university’s score requirements. It is essential to understand these exams’ crux and look at their basic structure, scoring pattern, relevance, and difficulty level before deciding.

Types of English language proficiency tests:

Language proficiency tests are used to assess the examinee’s expertise in a particular language. English language tests are used to evaluate the proficiency of non-native English speakers who wish to enroll in English-speaking universities for various graduate and post-graduate courses.

Why do you need a language proficiency test?

You need to take the English language proficiency test if you plan on pursuing your education abroad, irrespective of the course. You also need to take the exam if you are looking for an employment opportunity in English-speaking countries to demonstrate practical communication skills to your employers.


The international English Language test is one of the language proficiency tests that university applicants or job seekers can attempt. It is one of the most popular language tests due to its wide acceptance by universities and employers worldwide. The IELTS band scores are calculated between 0 to 9, and the minimum score you need will depend upon your requirements, which includes education or work.


The Educational Testing Service manages the English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test. More than 150 countries accept TOEFL scores. The test consists of four sections. It mainly includes Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing and can be taken in two modes- paper-based or computer-based. The TOEFL test duration is about 3 hours and is valid for two years. The scores are marked on a scale of 0-120, and each section has a score range of 0-30.


Pearson English Language Test is gradually gaining prominence among prospective university applicants. This test uses artificial intelligence to provide an unbiased score. The test is offered globally in more than 70 countries, and the results are declared within 48 hours of taking the exam. It can be used by university applicants or for student visa and immigration applications. The test lasts for about 3 hours, and the students are scored on a scale of 10-90, 10 being the lowest score.

Factors to consider while deciding to appear TOEFL, IELTS or PTE:

When it comes to choosing the right exam for you, here are a few factors that you need to consider before you decide your career ahead:

  1. Acceptance:

The acceptance of all three tests depends upon the country you plan to go to for your studies. The top US universities widely accept TOEFL, but it is not readily accepted in the UK. IELTS, on the other hand, is widely accepted in UK, Australia, and New Zealand. However, some US universities are also beginning to take IELTS test scores for their application process. PTE is primarily taken in countries like Australia, UK, Ireland, USA.

Moreover, it is quickly gaining prominence in other countries. Out of all the three, IELTS is the most widely accepted exam due to its availability in multiple countries. Top universities also get it. Here is a blog that will provide you with practical strategies to prepare for IELTS if you choose to take this exam.

  1. Duration:

TOEFL and PTE last for about 3 hours, while IELTS duration is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes.

  1. Availability of scorecard:

PTE results are available at the earliest, within 2-7 days, whereas the IELTS and TOEFL scorecards are generated around 13-14 days after taking the test.

  1. Accessibility:

It would help if you made sure the test you plan to choose has a testing center in your locality convenient for you. TOEFL is the most widely available exam today as it is offered in more than 4000 test centers, followed by IELTS, which is available in around 1100 centers. The PTE, which is the newest of all, is only available in about 250 centers. You need to make sure that you find out your nearest test center before choosing the exam.

  1. Exam pattern:

TOEFL and IELTS’s reading section has comparatively longer comprehensions. It lasts for about 60-80 minutes and 60 minutes, respectively. The reading sections of PTE, on the other hand, is shorter and can be completed in 30-40 minutes as it is an integrated exam and tests your writing skills along with the reading skills. The speaking section is very different for all three exams. The IELTS speaking section lasts for about 15 minutes and is conducted in person, face to face. While for PTE and TOEFL, the candidates can record their responses. The TOEFL speaking section duration is of 20 minutes, while it is the longest for PTE as it again combines the speaking and writing section, thus lasting for around 40 minutes. The writing section is different for the three exams, and the one in IELTS is considered the toughest among the three and lasts for about 60 minutes. For the other two exams, the writing section tests skills like reading and listening along with writing.

Each of these exams has its eligibility criteria and unique benefits after clearing their exams. Ensure that you go with the one that is more convenient for you to have a good score. Also, check with the prospective universities for the acceptance criteria before attempting any of these exams.

Author Bio 

Abhyank Srinet is a passionate digital entrepreneur who holds a Masters in Management degree from ESCP Europe. He started his first company while he was still studying at ESCP and managed to scale it up by 400% in just 2 years. Being a B-School Alumni, he recognized the need for a one-stop solution for B-School to get in touch with schools and get their application queries resolved. This prompted him to create MiM-Essay, a one-of-a-kind portal with cutting edge profile evaluation and school selection algorithms, along with several avenues to stay informed about the latest B-School Updates.

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