If English isn't your first language yet you want to study abroad, it's highly possible that you will need to pass a language exam to be admitted to a foreign university that offers English-taught degrees.
Which English proficiency test should you take, though? The answer relies on a number of variables, including which test or exam the university where you want to apply recognizes, which test locations are close to you, how much you're ready to pay, etc.
However perplexing it may appear, don't worry. We'll contrast three of the most well-known English language tests in this article:
- Academic IELTS
- iBT TOEFL
- Academic PTE
Our intention? You'll know exactly which exam to select
after reading this article, and you'll be prepared to look for an appropriate
exam date and sign up.
Here are a few prestigious colleges and universities that accept the above-mentioned English language examinations before we continue:
King's College London in the UK and Columbia University in the US
University of Tilburg in the Netherlands
Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Belgium's KU Leuven
English language test formats
The IELTS Academic exam is divided into four sections:
30-minute listening period. Four native speakers' recordings will be played for you to hear. You'll then have to respond to 40 questions.
Academic 60 minutes for reading. After reading three texts, you'll have to respond to forty questions.
60 minutes for academic writing. There are two of them. For the first, you must use your own words to describe a graph, table, chart, or other visual piece of information. For the second, you must compose an essay in response to a claim, issue, or argument. For both assignments, formal writing is required.
11 to 14 minutes of speaking. There are three sections: a conversation about yourself with the examiner; a description of or an opinion on a particular subject; and a discussion of more abstract ideas or concepts.
Four components make up the TOEFL® iBT exam:
54 to 72 minutes of reading. You'll read three or four scholarly passages. You'll then have to respond to 30 to 40 questions.
Duration: 41–57 minutes. After listening to four recordings of native speakers, you will have between 28 and 39 questions to respond to.
I spoke for 17 minutes. You must share your thoughts on a well-known subject and offer responses based on reading and listening exercises.
50 minutes spent writing. There are two of them. You'll have to provide essay responses that back up your claims.
The TOEFL® Reading and Listening portions might have a variety of questions. Why? Because the quantity varies according to the size, nature, and level of difficulty of the text(s) and audio recording
Three sections make up the PTE Academic or Pearson Test of English:
Writing and Speaking: 54 to 67 minutes. A number of assignments will be given to you, such as writing an essay, reading aloud, describing a picture, summarizing a text, and others.
29 to 30 minutes for reading. You'll be required to finish assignments like filling in the blanks, responding to multiple-choice questions, and rearrange paragraphs.
Duration: 30 to 43 minutes. After watching or listening to audio or video recordings, you will be required to respond to a series of questions.
student taking an exam in English
How long does it take to finish the IELTS, TOEFL®, and PTE exams?IELTS Academic: two and a half hours
iBT TOEFL®: 3 hours
PTE Academic: beginning on November 16, 2021, two hours
Test scores and required grades for university admission
Each exam has a unique grading scheme. A scale from 0 to 9 is used to assess the IELTS Academic exam. A score is given for each test component (or section). To get an overall score, the 4 scores are then averaged and rounded.
The TOEFL® iBT test has a score range of 0 to 120. There is a 30 point limit for each section. You must respond to at least 1 question in Reading and Listening, compose at least 1 essay, and finish at least 1 Speaking exercise in order to obtain an official score.
The Global Scale of English is used to assess the PTE Academic exam, which ranges from 10 to 90.
It is entirely up to each institution or college to decide what grade you must have to be admitted. Most academic institutes demand:
- a minimum IELTS Academic score of 6.0 or 6.5. Some colleges accept test scores between 5.0 and 5.5.
- a TOEFL® iBT minimum score between 70 and 80. Scores as low as 65 are accepted by some universities.
- a PTE Academic minimum score of 55 to 60. Scores as low as 50 are accepted by some universities.
How long is the validity of each English test?
- IELTS, TOEFL®, and PTE scores are good for two years after the results are made public. After that time, you will need to retake the exam if you need to demonstrate your English proficiency.
What is the cost of each language test?The cost of the IELTS Academic exam varies depending on the nation and testing center where you take the test because prices are established in your local currency:
- In the USA, $215 to $240
- 210 to 234 USD or 162 to 180 GBP in the UK
- Norway: 2,950–3,000 NOK (331–337 USD)
- In Germany, 229 (255 USD)
- 236 USD in Australia, 340 AUD
- In the USA, 205 USD
- For the UK, 210 USD
- In Norway, 290 USD
- In Germany, 255 USD
- In Australia, $300
Academic PTEsimilar tale Depending on the nation in which you take the test, prices will change:
- 200 US dollars
- In the UK, 155 GBP (201 USD)
- Spain 255 USD
- $231 in German Marks
- 246 USD in Australia, 357 AUD
To register for an exam and discover the nearest testing location, you should always visit the official IELTS, TOEFL®, and PTE pages. Remember that if you decide to register later, the cost will go up.
The contrasts between British and American spelling are discussed by a female teacher.
Does the exam measure American or British English?
You may choose either British or American English when taking the Academic versions of the IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE.
But be sure to maintain consistency throughout the exam. Don't, for instance, switch to "color" and "specialize" later in the exam if you started out using "color" and "specialize." You can decide.
Where are English language proficiency exams accepted?
All three English language tests are well-liked and accepted by numerous organizations throughout the world:
More than 10,000 institutions in more than 140 nations accept IELTS. Particularly well-liked IELTS countries are the UK, Australia, Ireland, and South Africa.
More than 11,500 institutions and other organizations in more than 160 countries accept the TOEFL® score. Universities from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany typically favor TOEFL® above other exams.
Additionally, many of universities throughout many nations accept PTE Academic. Particularly well-liked there are Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.
Universities and colleges frequently recognize two or more English language competence exams. Check the language exams that a certain university accepts if you intend to go, so you'll know which English test to take.
Where, how, and how do I take each exam?
Where can I take the Academic IELTS test?
The IELTS Academic test can be taken in a testing facility either on a computer or on paper. If you sign up for the computer-based IELTS, you can select from a wider range of exam dates.
You will be able to take IELTS Academic online from the convenience of your home beginning in early 2022.
The computer, paper-based, and online tests are all identical in terms of their format, substance, and scheduling. Speaking tests are conducted either in-person or by video chat with IELTS-certified examiners.
The TOEFL® iBT is offered where?
In authorized testing facilities, the TOEFL® iBT is available as a computer-based test, but there is also a Home Edition (which can be taken on a home computer) and a Paper Edition (for regions without internet access). On a computer at home, the Speaking portion will be completed.
Where do I sign up for PTE Academic?
In the past, test centers could only provide the PTE Academic exam in a computer-based format. However, starting on November 16th, 2021, you can sign up for PTE Academic Online as well.
It has the same structure, degree of difficulty, and score as the standard PTE Academic, but you can take it at home.
How hard are the PTE, TOEFL, and IELTS exams?
Choosing which English proficiency test is harder is tricky. However, you can quickly determine your current English proficiency by using the free resources provided by IELTS, TOEFL®, and PTE on their respective websites.
Remember that how well you study for an exam matters more than how challenging it is or what others have to say. These exams are not intended to be challenges, but rather a chance to demonstrate that you have the English language proficiency necessary to live and study abroad.
By passing an English language test, you demonstrate that you have the drive and work ethic necessary to succeed in undergraduate (Bachelor's) or graduate (Master's, PhD) courses.
Typical methods for getting ready for an English language test
How much time should be devoted to studying for the exam?
Your current level of English has a big impact. Some students already possess highly developed English abilities; for them, the test merely serves as a means of obtaining official certification.
Others must start studying far in advance because the exam will be a real challenge for them. From my experience, I'd advise that, if it's possible, it's best to start studying and practicing a year or two before the exam. If not, you can still make significant progress in a short period of time, but it will take a lot more work, discipline, and stress.
Online exam preparation
On the official websites for the IELTS, TOEFL®, and PTE, you can discover free practice materials. Make sure to practice the Academic Reading and Academic Writing sections if you plan to use the IELTS resources that are available online. The IELTS General Training test, which is not intended for students interested in higher education (Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD courses), uses the General Reading and General Writing sections.
These free online resources are a fantastic method to assess your present level of English and gain an understanding of what the exam will be like. Other websites also provide free practice tests, but you should always verify that the materials are current and adhere to the format of the test.
Additionally, you can purchase books, DVDs, and other materials from the official English exam websites. Online courses that you can purchase include those for the TOEFL® and PTE.
helpful learning tools
There are several methods for getting ready for your English proficiency test. If you're still in high school or college, ask your professors if they have any books or other resources that would be helpful to you.
In my case, the high school English textbook we used was specifically created to help us prepare for an English exam, so we were constantly practicing Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Ensure you don't pass up the chance if it arises.
Additionally, you can locate an instructor that specializes in getting kids ready for tests of this nature. Some of them work alone, while others teach classes at for-profit English language schools. That's always a fantastic alternative, if the cost is reasonable.
teenager honing her English language skills before a test
Tips for getting ready for the Reading section
You anticipated this: keep reading! You only need to read as many English texts as you can; you are not even required to read books.
You might have to provide complex answers to questions throughout the Reading part. They'll check your comprehension of the content and see whether you can pick up on topics that are inferred but not explicitly stated. It is advisable to examine various content kinds (descriptive, persuasive, informational), as well as different writing styles (formal, casual), and attempt to comprehend what the author is trying to convey both explicitly and indirectly, as well as what the author chooses not to say.
Start reading English articles on subjects you are interested in as a wonderful method to practice. Start reading information written in English, especially content produced by native English speakers, if you enjoy reading about sports, politics, nature, or any other topic. Examine academic texts as well to observe how they differ from other written materials and where you might have trouble comprehending them.
What to do to get ready for the listening segment
Start watching online videos and movies without subtitles to develop your listening abilities. It could be a little challenging at first, but with practice it will become much simpler. You'll be shocked at how quickly you advance.
Use English-only subtitles rather than those in your mother tongue if you find this to be too challenging. Find a word you're unfamiliar with? Great! Find out what it means and master it. Make sure you are aware of the contexts and how it is used. You won't need to pause the audio or video again the next time you hear it.
Picking random English songs and attempting to write down the lyrics while listening to them is another excellent way to practice. You might be astonished by how many words are different when compared to what you initially heard while listening to the song.
Make sure you don't always choose straightforward audio or video content. Listen to native speakers, experiment with other accents (American, British, Australian, etc.), and exercise patience because listening is a skill that takes time to master.
The best way to get ready for the writing section
You can get ready for the writing portion of the test by practicing your reading. If you don't even know how a text appears or sounds, how can you possibly write one that is great? Your vocabulary will grow as a result of reading, which is a terrific benefit for any future international student.
Even if writing could be challenging, just get started and don't overthink it. Try to sum it up in one or two paragraphs what you enjoy. Next, try to improve it by using better adjectives, breaking up big sentences into two, and ensuring that concepts are connected well. The grammar is it okay? How does the punctuation look? Spelling? Is the main concept obvious? You must keep each of these in mind when you write your text.
There is also fashion. Writing an informal text when a formal one is requested would be a grave error. or the opposite. A persuasive text uses a different strategy than an informative text does. You must be aware of these facts. You also need to understand how essays are organized and what makes an excellent essay from a terrible one.
For all of this preparation, a lot of writing, reviewing, refining, and writing is required. It can be annoying and you might not like it, but it would be a pity to be a great English speaker without being proficient in writing.
What to do to be ready for the Speaking portion
The Speaking portion is regarded by many students as the most difficult. Why? because it's difficult to speak with an examiner when you're nervous. You can make mistakes, forget your thoughts, or struggle to finish what you're saying. That's alright. As with any other ability, speaking requires practice to master.
You'll be relieved to learn that only the IELTS exam necessitates face-to-face communication with the examiner. You can use a microphone to record your responses on the TOEFL® and PTE. As long as your university accepts them, you can select one of the other two tests if you really don't want to interact with people in person.
Speaking will still be required of you, so practice, practice, practice! The biggest difficulty is frequently the fear of making a mistake. But that's okay. When someone learns something new, they frequently make mistakes. You must get over your nervousness and continue speaking even if you are aware that you mispronounced a word or omitted the proper adverb.
Gaining vocabulary is a great way to boost your self-assurance. It can be frustrating and discouraging to struggle to find the right words to express something you want to say. To get around this, try coming up with a new sentence (or sentences, if necessary), which clarifies the missing word or enables you to omit it. Although it doesn't sound great, it lets you continue speaking and speaking practice.
As you pick up new words, your hesitation will decrease, and one day you'll be pleased to know that you can speak English freely.
Which English proficiency test ought I to take?
Do you anticipate us to say this or that test? Sorry to let you down. If you've read this far, you already know that the IELTS, TOEFL®, and PTE exams are comparable in terms of their format, cost, and accessibility.
Your options may be constrained by the university you want to apply to. Some institutions only accept IELTS or TOEFL®, or perhaps just one of the three English tests, while others accept all three.
Even if you have a choice between these exams, you should first check to see which test dates and locations are closest to you. It is possible to travel to another city, but if the distance is too great, you might be tempted to select a location that is closer to you.
Additionally, test out free online resources to see if any exams stand out as being simpler. This is a simple decision-making method.
IELTS Academic, TOEFL® iBT, or PTE Academic are all equally valid options. They are all excellent exams that let students pursue their dreams of traveling the world. You can succeed on any English proficiency test and get your international studies off to a strong start if you have the drive and ambition to study hard and prepare yourself.