There are three major tests all across the world which assess the English proficiency of the students, i.e, IELTS (International English Language Testing System), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and PTE (Pearson Test of English). IELTS is an exam system established in 1989 and is managed jointly by British Council, IDP Australia and the University of Cambridge. PTE however, is a recent addition and is being conducted only since 2009.
One of the major differences between the two exam systems is based on the accents they both cater to. While the IELTS exam mainly refer to the British and Australian accents which is similar to the neutral English that is spoken in India, the PTE exam covers mainly the American accent, with colloquial use of American English. This can pose a problem for those who do not have much exposure to different accents in English.
Another difference between the two is the acceptability of the exam by the universities. IELTS is widely accepted by more than 10,000 universities across the world, but PTE being a new introduction is not very popular amongst the educational institutes. IELTS caters to almost all the study courses in foreign universities, whereas PTE is more suitable for students wishing to opt for management courses.
PTE exam is conducted via computer, thus anybody who is not very quick at typing maybe at a disadvantage here. On the other hand, IELTS is a written exam where the student can have face-to-face interaction with the examiner.
The format of both the exams varies. In IELTS, there are four modules. Listening, Reading and Writing are conducted on the same day, while Speaking might be scheduled a week prior or later. All the four modules are distinct and assess students on different parameters. In PTE, though the Listening and Reading modules have the same format, Writing and Speaking modules are conducted together. With the microphone on and in front of a computer screen 8 type of questions like reading aloud, repeating the same text in same intonation, describing any image, re-telling a lecture, answering short questions, summarizing the text and typing a 200-300 words essay in just 20 minutes. However, in IELTS writing module, a student ideally has 40 minutes to write a 250 words essay and 20 minutes to describe the data in words. In IELTS speaking module also, general questions are asked to a student and only a cue card has to be described in 2 minutes along with few more questions related to the cue card itself. IELTS students definitely have an edge here as they are not bombarded with multiple questions in a span of just 90 minutes meant for their Speaking and Writing modules. In IELTS, the questions are limited and the student can easily plan and write the tasks.
The study material for PTE is quite limited; given that exam is only a recent addition. Not many blogs and preparation courses can be found for the same. However, study material for IELTS is available in the form of numerous books, preparation courses and online websites.
For immigration purposes, IELTS’s General Training module has far more acceptance than the PTE General module.