The demand for English language proficiency tests have increased multi-fold with increased demand for travel to English speaking countries for education and work, since globalization, . At first, test takers had just two options: IELTS or TOEFL. Then in 2009 Pearson launched the Pearson Test of English (PTE). Ever since PTE's popularity and acceptance level has grown and its fast becoming the English proficiency test of choice for institutions, governments and test takers.
The availability of such variety of English proficiency tests; test takers spend a lot of time researching and choosing the English proficiency test that would be suitable for them. In this blog we hope to make this decision easier for you.
IELTS was launched way back in 1989. It incorporated the best research in linguistics and language proficiency tests at the time and it was developed further by including new question types and sections. However, it was developed in an environment which did not have the modern technologies of today such as internet, smart devices, artificial intelligence to name a few. As such, the test is still pen and paper based, with same question types and format from a decade ago. It still takes two days to give the test and you have to wait two weeks to get the result.
Most of the test takers today are millennials, who have been exposed to smart computer devices and internet since birth. Many of our students complain that they have terrible hand writing or speak accented English and feel vulnerable that native English speaking test checkers might show bias or negligence based on their hand writing or accent. For this reason, we have witnessed many test takers travelling to their native countries to give the IELTS test and avoid bias.
Furthermore, since IELTS took its present shape in late 1990s, the research into linguistics and language proficiency tests have grown with improved methodologies that incorporate modern technologies. IELTS due to its wide acceptance and absence of competition has become complacent. This is evident from the fact that they had not made any effort to incorporate these new advances in language testing and technologies into their test format.
PTE was launched in 2009. It incorporates the latest research and technologies in its English language testing methodology. It was one of first test to apply Notional-Functional Syllabus and Schema Theory to language proficiency testing. This means, it tests how efficiently you are able to use English skills in everyday academic settings. Hence, it is likely to be far more advanced and accurate than other 20th century language proficiency tests.
The test is given entirely on computer. The entire test takes only 3 hours at the most on a single day and you get results within 5 days. Furthermore, Pearson uses machine scoring system that utilizes modern technological advances in speech recognition, syntax analysis and artificial intelligence to score your responses. This provides for scores that are guaranteed to be free of human bias and consistent for comparison purposes.
The answer to which test is easy is relative to your English skills. If you have good English skills, than both are easy. If you have medium or less than reasonable English skills, both are bound to be tough.
However, in relation to scoring PTE has a clear advantage over IELTS. In IELTS only one skill is scored at a time and there is no partial scoring that is your answer is either correct and you score full points or your answer is incorrect and you score nothing. On the other hand, in PTE multiple skills are scored in one question. For example, in read aloud question type, test takers are scored both on reading and speaking because he/she utilizes both skills to give the response. Moreover, there is partial scoring, which means that you will score something just for attempting the answer. This is not just beneficial to students but also the right way to score responses in a language proficiency test. Hence, PTE scores are more accurate and reflect better the English proficiency of the test taker.
Well, here the clear winner is IELTS. IELTS has been around for much longer and has enjoyed almost complete monopoly in this market. Hence, it has acceptance from institution and governments for admission and immigration purposes. Furthermore, they have excellent infrastructure and partners all over the world, so they have a test center near test takers in all major markets.
Although, being a new entrant, PTE has achieved recognition from many major institutions in English speaking countries for admission purposes and from Australia and New Zealand governments for Immigration purposes.
PTE does not have as wide a network of test centers as IELTS. It is not present in all the countries that it should be in. PTE has primarily focused on building infrastructure in a few markets such as Australia, China and India.
PTE is still a baby and from what we hear it plans to aggressively pursue building infrastructure and obtaining recognition from more institutions and governments in the coming years.
This is a tricky question. You can approach it from various viewpoints.
If you are planning to study in or immigrate to Australia or New Zealand. It's hands down, PTE the right choice for you.
If you are planning to apply to universities and colleges in various countries than IELTS is the right choice for you.
If there is no PTE test center near your location than you have no choice but IELTS.
If you want to improve your academic English skills while preparing for the proficiency tests then PTE Academic is the right choice.
If you found this article helpful, please support our efforts by commenting below.