Test Your English: Review of TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic English Exams


As a member of the Japanese Student Association, I can share a load of personal stories about English exams. My friends and I have been researching our opportunities personally. Simultaneously, we never refuse listening to one’s new experience with passing either of the popular English tests. While I wanted my scores to prove my proficiency in the English language, I had to follow others’ advice. Other association members had had more success with IELTS and that’s why I chose it. There are multiple factors which help you to pick the best option. Here are the details of the IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE tests structures and possible outcomes. Although they’re MSQ based, their contents differ. You also have to compare the complexity of the test vs its acceptance by different establishments either.

Why IELTS is My Favorite Option of All and its Specifics

IELTS Academic is one of the most popular English tests throughout the world. It is an International English Testing System by Cambridge University. You can easily get ready for passing it thanks to multiple free materials which are accessible online. Moreover, I’ve seen several IELTS apps, even though they fit the general exam more. Nonetheless, IELTS Academic is a perfect solution for those who struggle to attend any educational institution abroad. You’ll hardly find a university which cannot consider your IELTS exam results. Although some will prefer TOEFL, I believe that IELTS is still more prospective. I’ve passed IELTS a couple of times myself and I don’t regret it. It’s also great that the test results are valid only for a couple of years. You’re never to relax or lose your knowledge of English!

IELTS test

A lot to pay, you’d say? I don’t think so – IELTS has a specific structure and demands that you study grammar really hard. It’s a perfect motivation to train your writing, listening, speaking, and reading skills continuously. As far as I’ve realized, neglecting one skill will affect the other eventually. For example, I’ve always been good at speaking and weak at listening. If I don’t emphasize the listening practice, my speech becomes worse. I’ve paid attention to it after listening to YouTube vloggers from Britain. Their content would automatically help me to speak better. However, I listen to them for another reason. My initial goal is to understand different English accents better. And the practice luckily makes my speech more flawless either. Let’s cover the fundamental parts of the exam. Each of them has a different duration. 

You get 30 minutes for Listening, 60 minutes for Academic Reading, and 60 minutes for Academic writing. Speaking depends on the quality of your dialogue with the examining specialist, which can last for 10-15 minutes. This part has to let you speak with the native speaker. 

The duration for the stages of the General Training IELTS is the same. The latter is also suitable for people with educational but career or migration ambitions. Each of the exam parts gives you a certain score from 1 to 9. Eventually, the average score indicates your English level, but Academic and General Training IELTS can require different bands to let you succeed.

How Does TOEFL Differ from its Popular Brother IELTS?

This is where the difference in comparison to other exams stands out. For example, let’s imagine that you are used to different examination formats. Some people may seek paper exams and face-to-face testing while others are tech-savvy individuals. Even though you may sign in for the computer-based IELTS, you can still choose TOEFL for more comfort. TOEFL is a favorite variant among those that appreciate digitization. The plus is that both tests have a similar structure, which means it will be easier for you to adapt to either of them. Some students may opt for Academic IELTS when they suddenly change their destination country and they have to pass TOEFL now.

TOEFL means Test of English as a Foreign Language. Its regulations depend on the guidelines by the Education Testing Service. In comparison to TOEFL, its band can reach up to 120 and the duration for the reading and listening parts is longer. 

TOEFL is the most well-appreciated English exam among American universities. IELTS and other tests fit Britain, Canada, and other English-speaking courtiers more.

 Simultaneously, you don’t have to worry because all of these tests are welcomed worldwide. Everything correlates with the policy at the specific university. That’s why, if you doubt which test to choose, refer to your dream institution first. You also have to note that the scoring system for IELTS and TOEFL is more complex than in PTE.

What Does PTE Stand for and Why People Appreciate It World-Wide

We interpret PTE as the Pearson Test of English which has been created by the Pearson PLC group. The test analyzes your competence with the same language skills. Its uniqueness lies in three types of the test at the same time. You are to pick from PTE Academics, PTE Academic UKVI, and PTE Home. This notion has been the most confusing to me. However, when I started searching for the explanations, everything appeared to be easy. If you’re going to study, your variant is PTE Academic UKVI. For those who seek work and travel opportunities – PTE Home is enough. 

PTE tests are also different because of the number of tasks – which is 20 in total. And the score ranges between 10 and 90 here. 

Students and candidates for the job position choose an exam by the waiting time either. Some exams are ready with the results in one day while the others take almost two weeks to wait. Judging by my personal experience of passing IELTS, I have to be fair – waiting for so long makes you anxious. The longer you wait for the exam results, the more you recall your replies and worry about their correctness. Furthermore, you have to acknowledge that passing the exam takes you two days too. At the same, the total time for IELTS is 2 hours 45 minutes. So, coming the next day is an advantageous opportunity to relax a little bit. TOEFL and PTE last for 3 hours generally, though TOEFL can last up to 4 hours. You also wait 10 days for TOEFL results and 5 days for PTE results. 

One of the most troublesome topics is the price for every exam. 

IELTS is the most expensive one – it costs 215 dollars. TOEFL and PTE are slightly cheaper – their fees are 185 dollars each. 

Thus, the fact that IELTS is more pricey doesn’t stop anyone. The IELTS’ statistics shows that the test attracts around 3 million participants a year. Another problem is that being unable to receive the desirable band from the first try can cause you financial complications. Not all participants find it easy to pay even 185 dollars. That’s why paying for the second attempt to pass the test is a challenge for many people.

Nuances Which Can Force You to Choose a Specific English Exam

  • Psychological factor. Remember – it’s your duty to evaluate your examination priorities. What is your final goal? Or how do you want the exam to be? You’re always welcome to pass people-friendly exams like IELTS if it is easier for you. Some participants experience anxiety when communicating with experts at the exam. The others are absolutely different – cooperating with a living human cheers them up! You can also find PTE exams more likable if you simply need to get some minimum score. For example – you’ve failed with one task. But you receive 19 others to reach the perfect band! With IELTS and TOEFL the rules are more strict. If you receive a low score for one task, it will affect the general band. 
  • Waiting time. Such a detail as an average score makes students stress a lot. This is why I chose IELTS – its instructions caused me less anxiety than TOEFL. On the other hand, I had ensured that my university had been able to accept IELTS results. You must check enrolling conditions and requirements first. I know a girl who had to pass another English exam and was almost late for sending her documents! All due to the lack of attention to the submission guidance which demanded TOEFL exam results. Consequently, some of you may ask what is the reason for being so picky with students’ exams. The issue is that colleges and universities want to guarantee that you’re able to apply English language skills differently.
  • Score meaning. You may also wonder – “what happens if I fail?” None of the tests above can indicate any failure. The tests simply measure your level of the English language. For example, if you want to receive an overall IELTS band 8 and get 7, it’s a subjective failure. Having 7 instead of 8 doesn’t mean being worse at English. Your level is simply a little bit lower than the one you wanted to get. You can pass IELTS and other tests again and again until the results are satisfying. The situation is different when 8 is a necessary band in the requirements of your institution or employee. That’s why you have to try passing each examination part as perfectly as possible. You’ll never guess when your reading skills will save the average band if your speaking is much worse.
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Akari Saito
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Akari is an undergraduate Marketing student in New York. Though born in Tokyo, Akari’s heart belongs to the Big Apple. In her free time, she enjoys drawing anime and cartoons, reading, and learning as much as she can about whatever niche topic she’s interested in at the moment. She never gets tired of enjoying her collection of Dragon Ball characters.