Sahil Dahal

Whether you're a student planning to pursue higher education abroad, a professional seeking career opportunities in an English-speaking country, or an individual aiming to improve your language skills, this series will guide navigating the TOEFL vs IELTS vs PTE dilemma.

So, let's explore and compare these renowned English language proficiency tests to determine the right fit for you.


The IELTS examination is considered one of the most universally recognised assessments for English proficiency globally. It is acknowledged and approved by over 10,000 institutions and immigration authorities worldwide.

As per, the number of IELTS tests taken in 2018 alone exceeded 3 million. The comprehensive nature of this examination is the crucial factor behind its broader acceptance compared to TOEFL and PTE. The test spans two days and encompasses four sections: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

In the IELTS Academic examination, the test is structured into four distinct sections:

  • Listening: This section entails listening to four recordings delivered by native speakers. Subsequently, you must respond to 40 questions. The allotted time for completing this module is 40 minutes.
  • Academic Reading: In this segment, you must read three texts and answer 40 related questions. The duration allocated for this module is 60 minutes.
  • Academic Writing: This module comprises two tasks. The first task entails describing a graph, table, chart, or other visual information using your own words. The second task involves writing an essay on a given point of view, argument, or problem. The time allocated for this module is 60 minutes.
  • Speaking: The speaking section consists of three parts. During the test, you will converse with the examiner about yourself, describe or express your opinion on a specific topic, and delve into more detailed discussions on the subject matter. The duration of this module typically ranges from 11 to 14 minutes.





40 questions

Approximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes of transfer time)


40 questions

60 minutes


2 tasks

60 minutes


3 parts

11–14 minutes


PTE, which stands for Pearson Test of English, is a comprehensive examination that combines both writing and speaking sections. It is conducted exclusively through online platforms. The number of educational institutions acknowledging and accepting PTE scores is progressively growing.

Likewise, certain governments, such as Australia and New Zealand, have begun recognising PTE results for their visa application procedures.PTE Academic, the Pearson Test of English Academic, is structured into three sections:

Speaking & Writing: This portion involves completing tasks such as introducing yourself, reading aloud, describing an image, summarising a text, writing an essay, and more.

The duration for this segment ranges from 77 to 93 minutes.

Reading: In the reading section, you will be presented with tasks such as filling in the blanks, answering multiple-choice questions, and reordering paragraphs. The allotted time for this part is between 32 to 40 minutes.

Listening: In the listening segment, you will listen to or watch audio or video clips and answer questions. The duration for this part falls within the range of 45 to 57 minutes.




Speaking & Writing

54-67 Minutes

Personal introduction

Repeat sentence

Read aloud

Re-tell lecture

Describe image

Summarize written text

Answer short question

Essay (20 mins)


29-30 Minutes

Reading & writing: Fill in the blanks

Reading: Fill in the blanks

Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers

Multiple-choice, choose single answer

Re-order paragraphs


30-43 Minutes

Summarize spoken text

Fill in the blanks

Multiple-choice, choose single answers

Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers

Select missing word

Highlight correct summary

Highlight incorrect words

Write from dictation


TOEFL, another highly recognised English proficiency test, is especially popular among universities and colleges in the United States for evaluating the language skills of international students.

Like IELTS, TOEFL includes four main sections; currently, all are administered online, except for certain countries.TOEFL iBT, the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test, is divided into four sections as follows:

Reading: This module requires reading 3 or 4 passages extracted from academic texts. Subsequently, you must answer approximately 30-40 questions. The time allocated for this section ranges from 54 to 72 minutes.

Listening: In this section, you will listen to 4 recordings and respond to about 28-39 questions. The duration of this module spans from 41 to 57 minutes.

Speaking: During the speaking module, you are tasked with expressing your opinion on a familiar topic and providing answers based on reading and listening tasks. This section has a duration of 17 minutes.

Writing: The writing section comprises two tasks. In these tasks, you must write essay responses supporting your opinions. The duration allocated for this module is 50 minutes.


TOEFL Exam Pattern

TOEFL Reading Section

Duration: 35 minutes

Questions 20

TOEFL Listening Section

Duration: 36 minutes

Questions 28

TOEFL Speaking Section

Duration: 16 minutes

Questions: 4 tasks

TOEFL Writing Section

Duration: 29 minutes

Questions: 2 tasks


Total Duration: 116 minutes

Difference between TOEFL Vs. IELTS Vs. PTE


Test Sections

Test Format

Test Duration



Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing

Internet-based or Paper-based

About 3 hours

Widely accepted by US universities and colleges, as well as institutions worldwide.


Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing

Paper-based or Computer-based

It takes about 2 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours

Recognised and accepted by more than 10,000 institutions and immigration bodies globally


Speaking, Writing, Reading, Listening


About 3 hours

Increasing acceptance by institutions worldwide, recognised by certain governments for visa processes

Which English language proficiency test should I take?

The choice of which English language proficiency test to take depends on your specific needs and requirements. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Purpose: Determine the purpose of taking the test. Is it for university admissions, immigration purposes, employment opportunities, or personal evaluation? Different tests may be more suitable for different purposes.
  • Institution or Organization Requirements: Check the specific requirements of the universities, immigration bodies, or employers you are applying. Some institutions may prefer or require a particular test, so it is essential to confirm their preferences.
  • Test Format and Sections: Consider the format and sections of each test. Are you more comfortable with a computer-based or paper-based test? Do you prefer a test that includes separate sections for reading, writing, listening, and speaking or one that integrates them?
  • Test Availability: Check the availability of test centres and dates in your area for each test. Make sure you can schedule and take the test at a convenient time and location.
  • Familiarity and Preparation: Assess your familiarity with the test formats and your preparation time. Research the resources available for each test and consider which one you feel more confident preparing for.

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What are the main differences between TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE?

The main differences lie in the test format, sections, scoring systems, and acceptance by institutions. TOEFL is predominantly used by universities and colleges in the United States, while IELTS and PTE are accepted globally. TOEFL is offered in both internet-based and paper-based formats, whereas IELTS and PTE are conducted on a computer. The sections and scoring criteria also vary among the tests.

Which test is more widely accepted by universities and institutions?

Both TOEFL and IELTS are widely accepted by universities and institutions globally. However, the acceptance may vary depending on the specific institution or country. It is advisable to check the requirements of the institutions you are applying to and see if they prefer one test over the other.

What is the test duration for each exam?

TOEFL lasts about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the format. IELTS takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours, while PTE lasts around 3 hours.

Are there any differences in the test sections?

Yes, there are differences in the sections. TOEFL includes reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections. IELTS also consists of reading, listening, speaking, and writing sections. PTE includes speaking, writing, reading, and listening sections.

Can I take these tests multiple times?

Yes, you can take these tests numerous times. However, there may be limitations on how frequently you can retake the test. It is advisable to check the specific policies of each test to understand the limitations and requirements for retaking the exam.

How long are the test scores valid?

The validity of the test scores varies for each test. TOEFL scores are typically valid for two years, while IELTS and PTE scores are also valid for two years.

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