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IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE Which is easier?

Comparing IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE: Which Test is Easier?

In today's globalised world, proficiency in the English language is a valuable asset that can open doors to many opportunities. If you are a non-native English speaker looking to study, work, or migrate to an English-speaking country, you must wonder, IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE which is easier.

Each test offers unique advantages and caters to distinct needs, empowering test takers to effectively showcase their English language abilities. Understanding the differences between these tests is crucial for making an informed decision that aligns with your goals and preferences.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of each test, exploring their formats, scoring systems, advantages, disadvantages, and acceptance regions. By the end, you'll have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, helping you choose the test that best suits your needs.


When it comes to English language proficiency tests, three names stand out: IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE. These tests have become the go-to assessments for individuals aspiring to study, work, or immigrate abroad. 

Each test has unique features, advantages, and disadvantages, catering to different preferences and requirements. Whether you're an ambitious student or a career-driven professional, understanding the differences between IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE is crucial to making an informed decision about which test to take. 

1. IELTS- International English Language Testing System


  • Purpose: To assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers.
  • Managed by: British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standardised test designed to assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers.

IELTS offers two test types: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The Academic test is designed for those seeking higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment, while the General Training test is more suitable for those looking to migrate to an English-speaking country or gain work experience. 

The test assesses four key language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, and is available in both paper-based and computer-delivered formats. It is recognised by more than 12,000 organisations in over 140 countries, including top universities, governments, and professional bodies.  

2. TOEFL- Test of English as a Foreign Language


  • Purpose:  assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers for academic and professional purposes.
  • Managed by: The Educational Testing Service (ETS), 

The purpose of the TOEFL exam is to assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers, specifically focusing on academic English skills required for university coursework and communication in English-speaking academic settings. 

The TOEFL exam consists of four modules: Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking. The Reading module assesses the ability to comprehend academic reading material, while the Listening module evaluates understanding of spoken English. The Writing module requires test takers to demonstrate their writing skills, and the Speaking module assesses spoken English proficiency through various tasks and prompts. 

Recognised by more than 11,000 institutions in over 150 countries, TOEFL plays a crucial role in the admission process for universities, colleges, and organisations globally. It provides a comprehensive assessment of English language proficiency, helping individuals demonstrate their readiness to succeed in academic environments where English is the primary language of instruction. 

3. PTE- Pearson Test of English


  • Purpose: Assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers for academic, professional, and migration purposes.
  • Managed by:  Developed and managed by Pearson PLC.

The Pearson Test of English (PTE) is a standardised English language proficiency test developed by Pearson PLC. It includes PTE Academic, PTE General, and PTE Young Learners, each designed for specific purposes. 

PTE Academic is a computer-based test aimed at non-native English speakers seeking to study abroad, while PTE General (formerly known as London Tests of English) is designed to reward positive achievement in English language learning. 

PTE Academic is the world's leading computer-based English language test, trusted by universities, colleges, and governments worldwide. It assesses the readiness of non-native English speakers to participate in university-level English language instruction programs. It assesses academic-level speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills with a focus on real-life academic settings. The test is divided into three parts: speaking and writing (taken together), reading, and listening.

Why do You Need to Give an IELTS, TOEFL Or PTE?

In today's globalised world, proficiency in the English language is a valuable asset that can open doors to many opportunities. IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE are esteemed assessments that validate individuals' English language skills, catering to various academic, professional, and migration needs.

Here are specific reasons why you may need to take one of these tests:

  1. Admission to universities and colleges: IELTS is widely accepted by universities in the UK, Australia, Canada, and many other countries, while TOEFL is preferred by institutions in the United States. PTE Academic is also recognised by numerous universities globally, offering flexibility in test choice for academic admissions.
  2. Visa applications: Countries like Australia, the UK, and New Zealand require specific English language proficiency scores for student visa applications. IELTS and PTE scores are commonly accepted for visa purposes, ensuring applicants meet the language requirements for studying abroad.
  3. Scholarships and funding: Many scholarship programs worldwide consider IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE scores as part of their selection criteria, emphasising the importance of strong English language skills in securing financial support for academic pursuits.
  4. Immigration purposes: Countries like Australia and Canada use English language proficiency tests, such as IELTS and PTE, as part of their immigration points system. Achieving high scores can significantly impact an individual's eligibility for permanent residency.
  5. Employment opportunities: Employers in English-speaking countries often require job applicants to demonstrate their English proficiency through tests like TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. Strong language skills are essential for roles that involve communication with clients, colleagues, or the public.

Understanding the specific requirements and preferences of your target institution, employer, or country is essential for selecting the most suitable test and preparing effectively to achieve your desired score. Each test offers unique advantages and caters to distinct needs, empowering test takers to effectively showcase their English language abilities.

What is the Basic Difference between IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE?


Three major tests stand out when assessing English language proficiency: IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE. While these exams share the common goal of evaluating an individual's command of the English language, they differ in various aspects, such as test format, scoring systems, and global acceptance.

1. IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE: Overview

In this section, we will explore the basic differences between IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, providing a foundation for individuals to make an informed decision when selecting the most suitable test for their specific needs and preferences. 

Exam Format Speaking Evaluation Real Person vs Robot Result Processing Time
IELTS Computer or Paper Evaluated by a human examiner Real person assessment 13 days
TOEFL Internet-based (iBT),
paper-based (PBT),
or computer-based (CBT)
Evaluated by AI and human raters Robot assessment 7 days
PTE Academic Computer-based Evaluated entirely by an automated system Robot assessment 2 days

2. TOEFL vs IELTS vs PTE: Test Sections

All three tests - TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE - are composed of four sections that assess the same language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. However, the format and structure of each section varies between the tests. 

Section No. of Questions Total Time Qualifying Score
Reading 30-40 54-72 minutes Typically 80-100
Listening 28-39 41-57 minutes
Speaking 4 tasks 17 minutes
Writing 2 tasks 50 minutes
Total 87-120 ~3 hours
Reading 40 60 minutes Typically 6.0-7.0 bands
Listening 40 30 minutes
Speaking 3 tasks 11-14 minutes
Writing 2 tasks 60 minutes
Total 80 2 hours 45 minutes
Reading 15-20 32-41 minutes Typically 50-60
Listening 17-20 45-57 minutes
Speaking 6-7 tasks 30-35 minutes
Writing 2 tasks 20 minutes (part of speaking & writing section)
Total 60-79 2 hours

While the sections test the same skills, the number of questions, time allotted, and question types differ between the exams. TOEFL and IELTS are more similar in format, while PTE has a unique structure with the Speaking and Writing sections combined.

Advantages and Disadvantages of IELTS, TOEFL and PTE

When comparing the English proficiency tests IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, it is essential to understand their unique features, advantages, and disadvantages to make an informed decision.

Each test, whether it be the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE), has its own set of strengths and weaknesses that cater to different preferences and requirements. Individuals can better grasp which test aligns with their goals and proficiency levels by delving into the specifics of these tests.

Let's explore the distinct characteristics of IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE to gain insights into their advantages and disadvantages. 

Advantages Disadvantages Widely Accepted Regions
Score Range
A longer test duration provides more time to think Test dates fill up fast, requiring late registration fees
  • USA
  • Canada
80 - 120
Over 4000 test centers worldwide Strictly computer-based
Slightly less expensive than IELTS and PTE No separate test for general purposes like immigration
Questions are easier, and chances of getting a good score are higher  
Preferred by those familiar with British English Many find face-to-face speaking tests daunting and prefer speaking into a microphone
  • UK,
  • Australia,
  • New Zealand
0 - 9
Widely accepted in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Speaking test on a separate date requires candidates to free themselves for two days.
Separate exam for General candidates for immigration/work purposes Writing tests are considered fairly tough to score well on compared to other tests
Face-to-face speaking tests prepare candidates better for real-world situations Scores not as detailed as TOEFL and PTE
Computer-delivered tests are offered most frequently in India  
Option to write on paper  
Results generated within a week Speaking test evaluated by computer, higher chances of getting a low score due to accent
  • Worldwide
10 - 90
Writing section is easier compared to IELTS and TOEFL The listening section uses tougher recordings from English lessons
It can be finished in a single day Many universities still do not accept PTE scores for admissions
No physical examiner is present, and the speaking test is computer-based  
In general, easier than IELTS and TOEFL  

Choosing IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE which is Easier 

While PTE Academic may be considered the easiest of the three tests due to its computer-based format, unbiased AI grading, and lack of waiting time between sections, TOEFL and IELTS still offer significant advantages:

TOEFL is the most widely accepted English proficiency test, recognized by over 11,000 universities and institutions worldwide. It is a well-structured and accurate test that provides instant results. TOEFL scores are valid for two years and the test can be completed in under 2 hours.

IELTS, on the other hand, is preferred by students who have been learning British English and is the most frequently offered test, making it convenient for those with limited time. IELTS is also widely accepted by universities, immigration authorities, and employers globally.

Ultimately, the best choice depends on the candidate's target country, university preferences, and comfort level with the test format. It is advisable to check the specific requirements of the intended destination before deciding on a test. While PTE may be the easiest option, TOEFL and IELTS remain highly accepted and offer their own unique advantages.

While several consultancies can guide you on this, you can visit us at MiM-Essay for a better understanding.


In conclusion, the decision between IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE hinges on various factors, including your target country, university preferences, comfort level with the test format, and desired score.

It's essential to thoroughly research the requirements of your intended destination and consider your strengths and weaknesses before making a decision. Remember, the test you choose can significantly impact your academic and professional opportunities, so choose wisely. Good luck on your journey to mastering the English language and achieving your goals!

Which English proficiency test is the easiest: IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE?

While the difficulty level may vary for each individual, many find PTE Academic to be the easiest due to its computer-based format and AI grading system.

Is there a difference in scoring between IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE?

Yes, there are differences. IELTS scores range from 0 to 9 bands, TOEFL scores range from 0 to 120, and PTE scores range from 10 to 90.

Know Your Author
Photo of Abhyank
Abhyank Srinet
Study Abroad Expert

Abhyank Srinet, the founder of MiM-Essay, is a globally recognized expert in study abroad and admission consulting. His passion is helping students navigate the complex world of admissions and achieve their academic dreams. Abhyank earned a Master's degree in Management from ESCP Europe, where he developed his skills in data-driven marketing strategies, driving growth in some of the most competitive industries.

Abhyank has helped over 10,000+ students get into top business schools with a 98% success rate over the last seven years. He and his team offer thorough research, careful shortlisting, and efficient application management from a single platform.

His dedication to education also led him to create MentR-Me, an AI-powered platform that offers personalized guidance and resources, including profile evaluation, application assistance, and mentoring from alumni of top global institutions.

Continuously adopting the latest strategies, Abhyank is committed to ensuring that his clients receive the most effective guidance. His profound insights, extensive experience, and unwavering dedication have helped his clients securing of over 100 crores in scholarships, making him an invaluable asset for individuals aiming to advance their education and careers and leading both his ventures to seven-figure revenues.

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