Are you thinking about taking an English proficiency test for immigration or study purposes, but you’re unsure which test to take: the PTE or IELTS? This article will get you asking yourself questions about which test is right for you!
Should I take PTE or IELTS?
Let’s say you’re applying for permanent residency in Australia and you need to take an English exam to prove your proficiency. Sound familiar?
You take the PTE Academic because word on the street is that it’s easier than the IELTS. One of your friends, for example, took the PTE and scored straight 90s or close enough. ‘It must be easier than the IELTS!’ you tell yourself, for your English is just as good as your friend’s.
So you book a PTE and sit the test. The results are ready in 48 hours and what you see shocks you:
Listening = 89 | Reading = 86 | Speaking = 59 | Writing = 90
(*These results are REAL by the way! I received them today from a shocked candidate.)
How can this be? You have basically aced the PTE. Your writing score is literally perfect and your listening and reading scores are almost perfect. Speaking, however, is a disaster.
The first thought that comes to mind is technical error. Your microphone must have been broken! Oh no! I demand a rescore!
Don’t. Do you know what the PTE do if you demand a rescore? They charge you an exorbitant fee and then run your speaking through the exact same computer algorithm which will no doubt yield the exact same result.
There really is no point in asking for a re-score. And they tell you this explicitly before you pay the fee to do it. Unless you said something during the test and the invigilator agreed with you that there was a technical error, don’t re-score; it’s a complete waste of time and money.
But if it’s not a technical problem, then what is it? I mean, you probably speak English at work; you might even speak English every day with your husband or wife? Your English is excellent!
Do these 3 things for choosing PTE or IELTS
#1 Take the PTE mock test at www.ptepractice.com
Pearson are a good organisation. They don’t want you to waste your money on the PTE. That’s why they provide you with an official mock test, which uses the exact same computer algorithm as the real exam.
In other words, the results you will get on the mock test will be nearly identical to the results you will receive if you paid $330AUD and took the real test. They’re accurate. And, the mock test is a tenth of the price of the real test.
(The only thing you need to consider with this mock test is that you should use a good microphone – not your in-built computer microphone. Your headphones from your phone will work just fine; just test them before you start.)
#2 Analyse your results from the mock test
Sometimes it’s dead-easy to see that that PTE is not for you. For example, the scores I showed you before are a red-flag for taking the PTE:
Listening = 89 | Reading = 86 | Speaking = 59 | Writing = 90
This person CLEARLY has great English, but the PTE doesn’t like her pronunciation. The PTE is STRICT on pronunciation.
It doesn’t matter how perfect your grammar is or how precise your vocabulary is, if you have a non-native English (and I mean non-British, non-Australian, non-American, non-Canadian, non-New Zealander) – if you have any accent at all, the PTE will penalise you.
#3 How good is your writing score?
The person above should take the IELTS – no doubt about it – especially if she can take IELTS General, because that’s an easier test altogether. The main reason she should take the IELTS is because her writing score is excellent.
The trouble with IELTS is writing. Just like the PTE is strict on speaking, the IELTS is strict on writing. REALLY STRICT. If your grammar, vocabulary and essay writing skills are limited, then you have a tough choice to make.
PTE or IELTS? Really it comes down to:
Improve my speaking for the PTE?
Improve my writing for the IELTS?
Find more insights into PTE or IELTS on the major differences and which test is easier here!
Which skill is easier to improve?
Improving PTE Speaking
Firstly, how old are you? How ingrained is your accent? Can you neutralise your accent? Do you have methods to complete the PTE tasks? How much practice have you done? Do you get nervous on test day? Do you have a speech impediment – like a stutter?
There are a number of questions that you need to ask yourself before you choose to take on the PTE rather than the IELTS. All of the above questions are legitimate.
Speaking is a difficult skill to improve. And the older you are, the harder it becomes because our brains ‘fossilize’; they cannot mimic native English pronunciation anymore. They get ‘stuck’ with the original accent.
E2Language can definitely help you out by providing you with an initial assessment (Study Plan consultation), feedback, tutorials and probably and just as importantly, METHODS. However, in some situations, it’s a no-go zone. One of our experts might instruct you to switch to IELTS instead rather than take on PTE’s speaking algorithm.
Improving IELTS Writing
IELTS is notorious for giving 6.5 to its candidates. Score such as this are common:
IELTS Listening: 9 | IELTS Reading: 8.5 | IELTS Speaking: 8.5 | IELTS Writing: 6.5
Getting an IELTS 8 for writing has become a near-impossibility for some. To improve writing you really have to get your sentences straight grammar-wise. You really need to sharpen your vocabulary. You really need to learn the structures for the five different IELTS essay types.
Most importantly, you need FEEDBACK. You need to know what you’re doing wrong; otherwise, you are roaming around in the dark now knowing what’s good and correct and what’s incorrect.
If you do choose to take on IELTS writing instead of PTE speaking then check out www.e2language.com for tutorials, writing feedback and just as importantly METHODS for the different tasks.
So here’s my two cents when it comes to choosing the PTE or IELTS.
Learn about the differences between PTE and the IELTS in this video on E2 YouTube channel below:
So, PTE or IELTS? Ask yourself:
1. Which is better: My speaking or my writing?
If speaking, choose PTE.
If writing, choose IELTS.
2. Which test do I need to take? PTE Academic, IELTS Academic or IELTS General?
If IELTS General, choose IELTS General. It’s easier.
3. Should I prepare before I take this test?
Absolutely. At least sign up for the E2Language “budget” package to learn the methods and get access to quality practice materials. It’ll help enormously.
Check this video as Jay answers some FAQS from students for IELTS, PTE or OET!
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Written by Jay.