The Difference between PTE, TOEFL, and IELTS – Which English test is the best one for you?

One of the travails of being an Indian student planning to pursue education in a foreign country is that due to our roots as non-native speakers of the English language, we often have to give expensive English language tests to demonstrate our proficiency over the language and our ability to understand all that the course will include.

It may seem ridiculous to a lot of us who have done their entire education in English – and in this case one could apply for a waiver from these tests as well – but more often than not, giving these tests is a necessary evil (especially since the results are only valid for 2 years and the test cost in the range of 200 dollars).


As for the question of which is the best test among these – or rather, which is the best one for you, well here we simplify it for you:


The IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. It has long been in use as an English language test usually for entry into the commonwealth countries, majorly, the United Kingdom, other European countries, Australia, and even Canada.

It differs from the TOEFL in that it follows the Queen’s English and the scores are provided on a 9 band scale, though beyond that the sections of the actual test are similar, them being reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Of course, as one who has given the test, I would say that the IELTS is comparatively much easier than the TOEFL, and it gets over comparatively quickly as well.

A score of 6.5 or above is a must to gain entrance into your program of choice.


TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is usually necessary for American graduate schools and MBA programs. The four individual sections are reading, writing, speaking and listening, similar to the IELTS, but here the test-giver is marked out of 30 in each section, and the final score is then out of 120.

A score of 90-95 on 120 is generally the minimum required to get into your preferred program. For Ivy League colleges (such as Columbia), the cut-off is at 113, but that is an altogether different story.


The PTE stands for the Pearson Test of English. It was recently launched by Pearson, one of America’s most prominent educational publishing houses. It is widely accepted in most American MBA programs today, but as it is a comparatively newer test, most colleges which accept a PTE may also accept either an IELTS or TOEFL score.

Look into your college of choice and inquire which test they require before proceeding with any of them. Some colleges are strict about accepting only TOEFL scores, while others may only consider IELTS scores, while yet others may be willing to accept any of these tests; after all, the test is only to check your prowess over the English language and to see whether you will be able to handle studying in it.

Remember to mail the universities and see if you can get a waiver by noting down your accomplishments in the English language – if they accept then this not only saves your fee, but also saves your time which would have been spent studying for it. However, take it as a guideline that the TOEFL works for most colleges in the USA, while the IELTS is good for most places in the UK.

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Pritesh is a writer, reader, photographer stricken with wanderlust, Football aficionado, Demon-slayer, Monster-hunter, entrepreneur supreme. He creates worlds with words and he is currently working on three novels and a collection of short stories. When he isn't writing, he can be seen inhaling copious amounts of coffee and arguing with the many voices in his head.


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