PTE vs IELTS – Which is Easier ? 

DEC. 9, 2019

Students who wish to come to Australia have to choose either of the two most popular English language proficiency tests: IELTS and PTE. I have always seen a sense of indecision whether to opt for the former or the latter. Throughout my training career as an IELTS and PTE trainer, I have come across many candidates who needed to submit their score for student visa, skill-assessment, or immigration. They would come to me and ask for my opinion about which test is easier.

There is a common belief among test-takers that PTE is easier than IELTS. About this I have to say that although some of the tasks on PTE are really easy, but not all of them are like that; for instance, tasks like read aloud, repeat sentence, answer short questions, multiple choice questions, and fill in the blanks may seem to be very easy to some test-takers. However, there are also tasks that seem challenging to them such as essay, re-ordering paragraphs, highlight correct summary, and summarize spoken text. Then why do students keep sharing their opinion regarding which test they found easier?

How it all starts? Basically there can be many reasons but all subjective. Let’s imagine there’s a candidate called Santosh who takes IELTS and gets 5.0 and 5.5 in his two attempts respectively. There was a gap of say two months between the first and the second attempt. Little frustrated, he decided to go for PTE the next time on the advice of one of his friends. After two more months, he takes the test and gets 54 which is equivalent to IELTS 6 band. Santosh thinks that PTE is easier than IELTS and advices his friends to do take it instead of IELTS. However, the actual reason behind his improved score is his continual preparation. Sometimes the time spent in understanding a new test’s format can result in delays too.

The best way to decide which test to take is to compare the tests based on their formats. The following table may help you understand the differences in the formats of both these tests.





The perception that PTE is easier than IELTS is partially based on the fact that PTE contains several seemingly easier tasks:

  1. Personal Introduction (The candidate can prepare an introduction and recite their learned version as it is in the test. This is an unscored section though.)

  2. Read Aloud (The candidate has to read text on the screen loud enough to get recorded in the microphone. Pronunciation and intonation are important criteria for scoring in this section.)

  3. Repeat Sentence (The candidate has to carefully listen to a sentence and just repeat it word for word in the microphone. Due to the use of compound and complex sentences of various lengths, this section often turns out to be more challenging than one’s expectations.)

  4. Highlight Incorrect Words (The candidate has to read the transcript of a recording on screen while listening to the recording in order to identify the words in the transcript that differ from what is spoken. With adequate practice, this section can be actually very easy.)

  5. Write from Dictation (The candidate has to listen to a recorded sentence and type is as it is. The recording is played only once.)



PTE and IELTS scores are comparable and this can be done using the following scale:



In my opinion, neither of these tests is easier or difficult and such comparisons should not be paid much attention to. However, there are certain criteria that can help you decide which one is better for you and this can be purely subjective and individualistic.

For example, if you are more comfortable with typing than with writing by hand, you should certainly go for PTE. Due to frequent and widespread use of computers and laptops for writing purpose, you might have lost touch with writing by hand. This option is also better for candidates whose handwriting is bad.

Moreover, if you feel uncomfortable talking to people in English and get nervous in such situations, this can negatively affect your speaking performance in IELTS. In PTE, you talk to a computer so you may feel relatively confident as you don’t have to maintain “eye contact” with the system.

However, in PTE speaking test, all the candidates perform speaking simultaneously so the noise in the examination centre may be disturbing and distracting. You might have to speak discourteously loud to get your voice recorded properly.

One final suggestion is that whenever you practice speaking for PTE, record your voice in your mobile to “see” how you sound in recording.

I hope this information will help you understand the distinction between the two tests and make an informed decision about which one could be better or easier for you. Wish you all the best!