If you’re thinking about taking an English proficiency test for immigration or study purposes, you’ve probably wondered “IELTS or PTE?” at least once. Hopefully this article will help you make your decision.
Mrs IELTS has been teaching at the local school for decades. She’s old, traditional and well-respected. She knows her grammar back-to-front and is a walking dictionary. She insists that you use pencil and paper in class and there are certainly no games. She’s very good at what she does and everybody knows it.
Ms PTE has just graduated from college. She’s fresh, fun and very smart. Because she’s young you can use laptops or tablets in class, which is exciting. Her English tests are a bit ‘friendlier’ than Mrs IELTS’.
Word in the playground has it that Ms PTE’s English tests are easier than Mrs IELTS, but is it really true?
The short answer to this question is NO. The difficulty of IELTS compared to PTE is the same. Neither test is easier than the other. They are both demanding and require fundamental skill building as well as knowledge of the test format.
The only real differences are:
- PTE is delivered via a computer while IELTS is completed with pen and paper (but this is changing!).
- PTE has 20 different, shorter tasks while the IELTS has 5 longer tasks.
When thinking about whether to choose IELTS or PTE consider the following questions:
IELTS or PTE: Am I digitally literate? That is, can I use a computer?
If no, then take the IELTS because a number of the PTE tasks require you to have computer skills. For younger people, this comes naturally but for older people you may be safer in Mrs IELTS classes.
IELTS or PTE: Do I have a strange accent?
If you were raised in Pakistan but then moved to Australia and then moved to the UK you may want to think about doing the IELTS because the human examiner will be able to understand your accent better. Of course, if you speak clearly then you can take either tests, but if, for some reason, you are failing your PTE speaking and scoring low on “oral fluency” you want to consider Mrs IELTS classes as she has had a lot better experience listening to strange accents.
IELTS or PTE: Do I need my results quickly?
If you need your results quickly then take the PTE. There turnaround on test results is impressive. Ms PTE, unlike Mrs IELTS, grades her students’ exams in her lunch break. (Graduate teacher!)
IELTS or PTE: I only have a short time to prepare. Which test is easier to cram for?
If you only have a short time to prepare then you shouldn’t take either test. Both tests are difficult and you shouldn’t try to ‘wing’ it.
In saying that, if you really do need to cram, both are about the same. The IELTS is arguably easier to cram for because the number of questions are fewer, but then again the PTE has a great practice website.
To conclude, if you think that the PTE is easier than the IELTS then you’re wrong and you may be disappointed. Both tests are rigorous. If you fail to prepare adequately then you should expect to be disappointed. The tests are barriers and they’re barriers for a reason. Universities and immigration want to know that you are skilled in English.
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Update: E2Language teacher Jay took both PTE and IELTS, and explains the difference between the two.
Written by: Jay Merlo