In order to set up a preference for any one of the two language proficiency tests i.e IELTS and PTE, let us first compare them. Though both the tests are designed to assess the English language capability of a non-native English speaker.

What they stand for?

IELTS is an abbreviated form of the International English Language Testing System.

PTE is an abbreviated form of the Pearson Test of English. It is conducted by Pearson PLC group.

The validity of the result:

IELTS: The validity of the result for IELTS is 2 years.

PTE: The validity of the result for PTE is 2 years.

The test costing:

IELTS: The cost of appearing for the IELTS exam is around $225.

PTE: The cost of appearing for the PTE exam is between $150 to 210 depending on the country from where a candidate appears for the exam.

Format and the Pattern of the exam:

International English Language Testing System also known as IELTS is a paper-based exam. The time duration allowed to complete the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The IELTS exam is divided into four sections: the Reading section, Writing section, Listening section and Speaking section. The test of the first three sections i.e. Reading, Writing and Listening are conducted on the same day whereas the test of the Speaking section is held on another day, usually, within the week of the other three tests.

IELTS comes in two different variants: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training exam. There are 85 questions in all in the IELTS exam. The IELTS exam is held 5 to 6 times in one month, thus a candidate can reappear for the IELTS exam  5 to 6 times in a month. There is no limitation on the number of attempts for the IELTS exam. 

On the other hand, the Pearson Test of English (PTE) is a computer-based exam and it takes three hours for the test to be completed. The PTE exam comprises of three sections: Reading section, Listening section, Speaking and Writing sections are combined to form one section. There are 71 questions in all in the PTE exam. A candidate has to mark the answers on the computer itself and the headsets are provided for listening & speaking section. 

The PTE test comes in two variants: PTE Academic and PTE General. The test is available frequently within a short duration which means that a candidate can reappear for the exam within 5 days after appearing for the exam and there is no limit on the number of attempts for the PTE exam. 

Who assesses the exam?

The IELTS exam is assessed and marked by the IELTS certified examiners and the PTE exam is evaluated by software. 

Declaration of the result:

IELTS: The result of the IELTS exam is declared within 13 days from the day of the test. 

PTE:  The result of the PTE exam is declared within 6 days from the day of the test.

Bands or Scoring:

The IELTS score is based on the band range 1 to 9  where each section is scored individually and the final bands are the mean of the all the four sections. Whereas the PTE score is based on the candidate’s performance in all the parameters of the English language and the range of overall score is from 10 to 90 points. The PTE score report includes the total score, communicative skills scores and the enabling skills scores. Below given chart depicts the level of the user on the basis of the IELTS bands and the equivalent PTE score.

Level  of the Candidate IELTS Bands (based on 1 to 9 bands) PTE Scores (based 0 -90 points)
Expert 9 86 and above
Very Good 8.5 83 to 86
Very Good 8 79 to 83
Good 7.5 73 to 79
Good 7 65 to 73
Competent 6.5 58 to 65
Competent 6 50 to 58
Modest 5.5 43 to 50
Modest 5 36 to 43
Limited 4.5 30 to 36
Extremely limited less than 4.0 less than 30

Countries where the exam is acceptable:

Both IELTS and PTE exam are acceptable in all the countries worldwide such as Canada, U.K, Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A, etc. But the preference of the exam depends on the university a candidate is applying as each university has different criteria. 

What Most People Choose and Why?

On the basis of the comparison of the two exams above, people prefer PTE exam to IELTS exam as they find it more comfortable to respond back to a computer than a human examiner. Since they talk back to the computer system, people feel they are more in control and confident while speaking without any hitch or hesitation which is there when a person is talking to a human. The chances of being judged by a human examiner are higher than the computer system. 

Another advantage people feel they have with the PTE exam is that the PTE exam is assessed and evaluated by software, so the marking is fairly calculated. And the situation is contrasting in the IELTS exam where the evaluation of the exam is done by humans.

Also, the level of PTE exam is slightly easier than the level of the IELTS exam. Besides that, the results of PTE are declared much earlier than the IELTS exam. PTE exam is more frequently available than the IELTS. In addition, PTE exam is less costly than the IELTS exam. 

Even though PTE may have advantages over the IELTS exam, I would rather recommend to one and all, no matter which exam a candidate sits for, make sure to study thoroughly as no exam is easy to ace until one are prepared well for it. Do take mock tests of PTE and IELTS to analyse language abilities and check with the university for the preference of the language test. Also, consider the fact that how comfortable you are with the computer-based exam. It is only after that a candidate should decide and choose the right exam.