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If you are an international student in Australia that needs to take the English Proficiency test for course requirements or immigration purposes, you probably already asked yourself this question. Both exams are widely accepted but which one is the best for you? Let’s find out.

It is important to understand the differences between IELTS (The International English Language Testing System) and PTE (Pearson Test) and how each test works and the pain points of each one so that you can choose the right exam that will give you more chances to succeed.

It is common that students usually take the test that their friends took or heard but that can be misleading as everyone has different abilities and strengths when it comes to a second language. Doing your research about the exams before deciding can save you a lot of money – each test costs $375 AU – and study time if you prepare well. Choosing one exam and then changing your mind to take the other can be very hard as the exams are very different from each other.

The advantages of each test

The structure for both PTE and IELTS is the same: they are divided into four different sections: Reading, Speaking, Listening, and Writing. So, let’s dive into the differences between the tests.

IELTS offers paper-based and computer delivered tests for a few sessions of the exam. That means that during parts of the exam, such as the Speaking session, you would still have interactions with real humans rather than just talking to the computer as it happens on the PTE. IELTS also offers private rooms that are free from noise and other distractions.

The PTE is a computer-based exam that involves no human interaction at all. It is marked by a computer so everyone is subject to the same rules and marking criteria, with no possibility of any sort of bias. The PTE also allows you to use some tricks and memorisation techniques as you will not be talking to a human being. This characteristic allows you to make minor mistakes and not be heavily penalised as long as you keep your fluency going.

The pain points

The IELTS` main pain point is the Writing section, which is famous for being exigent in terms of vocabulary and grammar usage. Many students do well in the Speaking, Listening and Reading part of the exam but when it comes to writing their scores can be significantly lower.

On the other hand, the main pain point of the PTE exam is the Speaking session. The session is very long and requires different skills as they present different formats of questions that demand practice in order to get familiar to the test. For example, the speaking session involves reading aloud questions, talking about specific texts, images or charts in front of you. The PTE exam requires practicing different models of question and concentration to give your answers on a microphone that will be recording everything. The PTE environment also requires focus and concentration as many students will be taking the test at the same time.

In terms of results the IELTS results can take up to 13 day for the paper-based test and up to 5 days for the computer delivered one. The PTE can take up to 5 business days but usually within the first 2 days the results are released by e-mail.

Check below a chart comparing the overall characteristics of each exam.



Paper Based or Computer delivered

Only computer based

Evaluation: manual scoring assessment

Evaluation: automated scoring assessment

Test duration: 3 hours (Speaking might be conducted on separate day)

Test Duration: 3 hours on the same day

Human interaction on speaking session (even on the computer delivered exam)

No human interaction. Need to speak to the microphone

Results: up to 13 days for paper-based test and up to 5 days for computer delivered

Results: up to 5 days

Those are the main aspects of each exam and how they operate. PTE is often said to be easier than IELTS in general terms but you have to consider your English strengths and weaknesses, especially the Speaking and Writing sessions, to see which exam would be easier for you.

If you are in doubt about which test is better for your English level and skills, it might be beneficial to take a mock test for both exams. With the results in hand you will be better suited to analyse which one you performed better and which is easier to prepare to. As a bonus we will provide below a few websites that can help you on your preparation. Check it out and good luck!

Bonus – Study websites


Offers many real life exam exercises and provides you with algorithm score.

79 Score
Great platform for mock tests and offers the first mock for free.


Gives tips and tests to better prepare for the exam

IELTS Advantage
Focuses on vocabulary for the exam. The website is friendly and also offers many videos.


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