The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) are three widely-accepted standardized tests measuring English language ability for non-native English speakers. What is the difference between them?

Before you dive into IELTS prep, let’s take a look at the difference between IELTS Academic, TOEFL and PTE Academic.

IELTS Academic vs TOEFL vs PTE Academic  

 IELTS AcademicTOEFLPTE Academic
Duration2 hours 45 minutes3 hoursAbout 3 hours
TypePaper test, or computer test in select locations around the world.Computer testComputer test
Score Range0-90-12010-90
Score Validity2 years2 years2 years
Sections1. Listening
2. Reading
3. Writing
4. Speaking
1. Listening
2. Reading
3. Writing
4. Speaking
1. Speaking and Writing
2. Reading
3. Listening

Detailed difference in assessing four skills

From the chart above, we can see that IELTS Academic, PTE Academic and TOEFL assess takers all of the four skills. Here are the detailed difference of the four sections in these tests.

Get a higher IELTS score? Start your online IELTS prep today with Magoosh.


IELTS Academic ListeningTOEFL ListeningPTA Academic Listening
Length: 40 minutes

Content: 1 social conversations, 1 social speech, 1 academic conversation, and 1 academic speech.

Accent: Mostly British accent
Length: 41-57 minutes (standard time is 41 minutes)

Content: 3-4 lectures, 6 questions each (standard length of 3 lectures)

Accent: Mostly North American accent.
Length: 45-60 minutes

Content: 8 recordings in academic settings

Accent: A variety of accents


IELTS Academic ReadingTOEFL ReadingPTE Academic Reading
Length: 60 minutes

Content: 3 academic passages
Length: 54-72 minutes (standard time 54 minutes)

Content: 3-4 passages (standard length of 3 passages)
Length: 30-40 minutes

Content: 5 academic passages


IELTS Academic WritingTOEFL WritingPTE Academic Writing
Length: 60 minutes

A. Describe information in a table, graph, chart, or diagram

B. Write an argument discussing a given topic
Length: 50 minutes


A. After reading a passage and listening to a speaker discuss it, write a summary

B. Write an academic essay on a given topic
Length: About 40 minutes


A. After reading a text, write a one sentence summary of the passage

B. Write an essay on a given topic


IELTS Academic SpeakingTOEFL SpeakingPTE Academic Speaking
Length: about 15 minutes

Type: Face to face interview

Content: Conversation about daily topics, personal speech about a given topic, and discussion with examiner about the topic
Length: 17 minutes

Type: Record on a computer

Content: Answer questions about familiar topics, based on listening prompts, and based on both reading and listening
Length: About 40 minutes

Type: Record on a computer

Content: Personal introduction, read aloud, repeat sentence, describe image, re-tell lecture, and answer questions

IELTS General and PTE General

Both IELTS Academic test and PTE Academic test are designed for students who want to study in English speaking countries. The IELTS and the PTE also have a general test for people who want to work or live in those countries.

The format and content of IELTS General is slightly different from that of IELTS Academic.  (Check out the difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General. )

Unlike PTE Academic, PTE General consists of a written paper and a spoken test which is marked by examiners. The content of PTE General assesses takers’ communicative language ability because it is based on real life settings and materials.

Based on these differences between IELTS, TOEFL and PTE, choose the one suits your need and work hard for it!

UPDATE: Although the IELTS is primarily available on paper, it is also available as a computer-based test in some parts of the world. If you have access to the computer-based IELTS, then you should compare the IELTS computer interface to the TOEFL iBT one. From there, consider which one you are most comfortable with.


By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

Most Popular Resources


  • Kuangyan

    Kuangyan creates IELTS blogs at Magoosh. She is passionate about language education and has a MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from New York University. Kuangyan has experience of teaching English both in China and in US. In her free time, she drinks mocha, does yoga, takes photos and travels to different places to explore the exciting world.