International Students

IELTS vs PTE - Which test should I choose?

by on July 26, 2021 | Top Stories, Learning English in Malaysia

IELTS vs PTE - Which test should I choose? -

If you’re a student planning on pursuing your higher education, chances are you’ll need to meet the English language proficiency requirements of the higher education institution you’re applying to. So which test should you choose? For students, you will need to take either the IELTS Academic or PTE Academic – here we compare two popular tests available in Malaysia.

IELTS Academic PTE Academic
About the test IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and is an English test for study, migration or work. However, if you’re taking the test for the purpose of studies, you’ll need to sit for IELTS Academic.

IELTS is jointly managed by Cambridge English Language Assessment, the British Council and IDP.
PTE stands for Pearson Test of English. Like IELTS, it is an English test for study, migration or work. However, if you’re taking the test for the purpose of studies, you’ll need to sit for PTE Academic.

The PTE Academic test is run by Pearson, the world’s leading learning company. Pearson is present in nearly 200 countries and our purpose is to help everyone achieve their potential through learning.
Where is the test accepted? IELTS is recognised by over 10,000 organisations worldwide, including educational institutions, employers, governments, immigration authorities and professional bodies.

Click here to search by keyword, organisation type, country, state or city to find institutions that accept IELTS.
PTE Academic is accepted by thousands of universities worldwide, including prestigious institutions such as Harvard Business School, University of Oxford, Monash University and Yale. PTE Academic is also accepted for visa purposes by the Australian, UK and New Zealand governments.

Click here to search the full list of institutions that accept PTE Academic.

PTE Academic can also take you to study in Malaysia, click here to discover how.
Test format The candidate will take the first three parts of the test all on one day in the following order: listening, reading, writing and speaking. There are no breaks between the first three tests.

You will take the speaking test either on the same day, or 7 days before or after that, depending on local arrangements.

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
PTE is a computer-based test. There are three main parts to the test: speaking and writing (together), listening and reading. There are twenty different question formats, ranging from multiple choice through to essay writing and interpreting information.

The test duration is about three hours with an optional 10-minute break.
Good to know:

IELTS is a standard pen and paper-based exam; the computer-based exam (only for the first three parts) are available at selected countries and centres and for selected candidates only. The speaking test is an interview, conducted face-to-face by a real person.
Good to know:

PTE is conducted entirely on a computer. You will use a headset equipped with a microphone. Your answers will be typed using a keyboard. An erasable notebook is provided for you to take notes.
How long before you receive your results You will receive your test results 13 calendar days after the test day. Results can be viewed online. PTE Academic scores are ​typically available within 48 hours and are accessed online from your MyPTE account.
Assessment method In IELTS, specially trained examiners conduct the speaking section of the exam. You need to interact and have conversations with them as part of the assessment. To assess your writing section, an examiner will read through your writing tasks and gives you a grade. PTE is a completely computer-based test that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to mark your answers, including the speaking section. This removes some of the nervousness that comes with speaking face to face and assesses you objectively and consistently every time, making it a fairer way to assess English proficiency.
About the test score In IELTS, you will be given a score from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – listening, reading, writing and speaking. The average produces your overall band score. You can score whole (e.g., 5.0, 6.0, 7.0) or half (e.g., 5.5, 6.5, 7.5) bands in each part of the test. The PTE Academic Score Report includes your overall score, communicative skills scores and enabling skills scores.

The overall score reflects your overall English language ability. The score is based on performance on all items in the test. The range for the overall score is 10-90 points.
Test score required for undergraduate degrees in Malaysia Entrance into undergraduate degree programmes typically require a band 6.0.

Some universities require a higher minimum score of 6.5 overall, with a score of at least 6.0 in each individual band.

There are universities which accept a band 5.0 and above for their undergraduate programmes.
Entrance into undergraduate degree programmes typically require a score of 50-57.

Some universities require a higher minimum score of 58 overall, with a score of at least 50 for all communication skills.

There are universities which accept a score of 41 and above for their undergraduate programmes.
Validity Up to two years from test date. Up to two years from test date.
How to book the test You can book and pay for the test online or fill out an application form to submit at a test centre along with payment. The test can be booked online. All you need to do is sign in and create an account, select your preferred location and confirm the date and time of your test. Payment is made online.
How much to take the test RM795 RM710
Where to take the test The British Council offers IELTS tests in 9 states across Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor Bahru, Melaka, Perak, Terengganu, Sarawak and Sabah.

IELTS tests are also offered by IDP at several centres across the country.
PTE Academic is available in several centres in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Selangor and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Preparation There are many resources available when preparing for IELTS. These include free and paid online practice by independent websites as well as a wide range of IELTS preparatory books and practice tests.

IELTS preparatory classes and workshops are also available at the British Council, IDP and language centres.
PTE Academic has a variety of great free and paid preparation resources and packages all aimed at helping you prepare. It’s important to keep in mind that not every resource will suit you but varying your study methods can help keep you engaged.

A great way to prepare for a test is to join a class. PTE classes and workshops are available at selected language centres.

Make sure you’re ready! Try a Scored Practice Test to build your confidence and get some real practice for your PTE Academic test. This test is scored the same way as the real test and is the best way to check if you're ready to sit the test or to help identify areas for improvement.

IELTS Preparatory Courses

Where it’s offered Course details Fees
Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)
Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)
16-hour workshop RM960
International Medical University (IMU)
International Medical University (IMU)
One-day mock-test prep 8am to 5.30pm RM400 (regular) RM200 (students)
International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW)
International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW)
One-day workshop (9am-5pm) RM400 (inclusive of training pack)
Limkokwing English International
Limkokwing English International
The programme is made up of four levels; each level takes 12 weeks to complete Not available
Raffles College of Higher Education
Raffles College of Higher Education
11 weeks Contact university
Sunway University
Sunway University
10 weeks, 30 hours RM800
University of Nottingham, Malaysia
University of Nottingham, Malaysia
16 hours (4 hours per day) over 1 week RM481


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