Thinking of studying abroad? If you’re considering an English-taught degree, you’ll likely have to prove your English language proficiency first.
There are three major English language exams you can take. They are the IELTS Academic, the TOEFL® iBT and the PTE Academic.
Here we’ll discuss the IELTS, TOEFL and PTE Academic in detail so that you can decide which is the best test for you.
An acronym for International English Language Testing System, IELTS takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The test is structured into four parts: Listening (30 minutes), Academic Reading (60 minutes), Academic Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (11-14 minutes).
If you’re studying in the UK, the test will cost 162-180 GBP. It costs between 215-240 USD if you’re studying in the US and 340 AUD in Australia. After completing your test, you will be graded on each section on a scale of 0-9. The four scores are then added together to make an average, which will then become your overall score. You’ll have to obtain a minimum score of 6.0 for most universities; however, some may accept scores as low as 5.0.
The IELTS is valid for 2 years. You’ll need to retake the exam if you have to prove your skills again after this period.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL® iBT) is another four-part test. Taking around 3 hours to complete, it includes sections on Reading (54-72 minutes), Listening (41-57 minutes), Speaking (17 minutes) and Writing (50 minutes).
Each section has a maximum of 30 points, taking your overall score up to a maximum of 120. In order to receive an official score, you must answer at least one question in the Reading and Listening sections, write a minimum of one essay and complete at least one Speaking task. You’ll usually be required to have a score of at least 70-80 but some universities may accept scores as low as 65.
The cost of TOEFL depends on the country you’re studying in. In the USA, it’s 205 USD. It’s 210 USD in the UK, 290 USD in Norway and 255 USD in Germany. In Australia, it costs 300 USD. Again, the test is valid for 2 years. If you need to prove your English skills after this period, you will have to retake the exam.
The Pearson Test of English (PTE) is a shorter exam at around 2 hours. It is split into three sections: Speaking & Writing (54-67 minutes), Reading (29-30 minutes) and Listening (30-43 minutes). Usually, test takers get their results back within 48 hours.
Its grading system uses the Global Scale of English to give a score between 10-90. Most universities will require a minimum score of 55, however, some may accept scores as low as 50. Again, the costs depend on the country you’re taking the test. It costs 200 USD in the USA, 155 GBP in the UK, 255 USD in Spain, 231 USD in Germany and 357 AUD in Australia.
Again, the PTE is valid for 2 years. After which, you will need to retake the test if you have to prove your English skills once again
IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE
Most major universities in the US, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Australia accept at least one of these three English language tests. Before you study abroad, it’s important to check which exams the university of your choice will accept.
Always use the official IELTS, TOEFL and PTE pages to find your closest exam centre and register. The above prices quoted may increase if you register past the deadline.
Deciding on the best English language test for you will depend on various factors. These include which test/exam is recognised by your university, costs and budgets and the availability of exam centres near you. Another important thing to do is to check out the free online materials to see if you find one exam easier than the other.
Good luck with your English language test! We hope you have a wonderful time studying abroad.
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