IELTS & PTE English exam papers comparison

Paper IELTS Computer IELTS PTE
LISTENING CD played once only. Delivered through headphones Testing listening, grammar, vocabulary
READING Time management an issue with range of question types. Time management an issue with range of question types.  Shorter paper, drop-down menu to choose questions.
WRITING Task 1 letter writing Task 1 letter writing Task 1 summarise text into only 1 sentence
SPEAKING Under 15 mins, face to face conversation Under 15 mins, face to face conversation Representing presenting in a tutorial group

Compare IELTS & PTE exams

Paper IELTS Computer IELTS PTE
Exam Environment Invigilated silence soundproofed booths noisy room
Length of exam 2 hours 45 mins, plus Speaking 15 mins 2 hours 45 mins, plus Speaking 15 mins  3 hours, with optional 10 mins break
Results 13 days, online 5 – 7 days 5 working days
Negative Marking NONE in Listening or Reading papers. Writing, under minimum word count NONE in Listening or Reading papers. Writing, under minimum word count SOME 2 listening sections and 1 reading section. Writing, over and under word count targets.

English E Learning Links

English exam success generally relies on a good, overall level of English skills combined with an awareness of specific English exam strategies. Therefore, the links below will help you with both aspects of achieving English exam success.

Overall level of English skills

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/plus/

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/

https://www.futurelearn.com/subjects/language-courses/learn-english

Specific English exam strategies

https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/prepare/courses/road-ielts

https://www.flo-joe.co.uk/ielts.htm

What is the TOEFL exam?

Although it is another type of academic exam, the TOEFL exam design and format is very different to that of PTE, and more in line with Academic IELTS. 

EXAM FORMAT for each papers to be taken.

https://www.ets.org/toefl/test-takers/ibt/about/content

EXAMPLES of each paper:

https://www.ets.org/toefl/test-takers/ibt/prepare/tests/reading

https://www.ets.org/toefl/test-takers/ibt/prepare/tests/listening

https://www.ets.org/toefl/test-takers/ibt/prepare/tests/speaking

https://www.ets.org/toefl/test-takers/ibt/prepare/tests/writing

FREE APP which you should have a look at:

https://www.ets.org/toefl/test-takers/ibt/prepare/app

BEFORE, tackling a sample test:

https://www.ets.org/s/toefl/free-practice/start.html

TOEFL ‘at home’ as an academic alternative to IELTS

Has your Academic IELTS exam date been re-scheduled because of COVID-19 exam centre closures?

Have you considered ‘switching to’ the TOEFL exam, the US equivalent of IELTS? This exam is now available to be delivered/completed at home!

Please follow these links for more information:

https://www.ets.org/s/cv/toefl/at-home/

https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/

https://www.prepscholar.com/toefl/blog/toefl-exam-pattern/

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.ets.MTPO&hl=en_US

https://www.youtube.com/user/TOEFLtv

English exams & Covid-19, as of 17th March 2020.

IELTS: Currently, whether or not to run exams is at the discretion of individual exam centres. Cancelled as following:

  • Aberdeen – Tests currently suspended until 4 April 2020
  • Southampton – Tests currently suspended until 21 March 2020
  • INTO Glasgow – Tests currently suspended until 18 April 2020
  • University of Sheffield – Tests currently suspended until 25 March 2020

PTE: varies around the UK so best to contact PTE direct.

How long do I have to write my exam essay?

In my experience, time pressure is often a huge concern for both IELTS and PTE candidates. The factors contributing to this stress are:

  • How to get started?
  • What to write?
  • Choosing the ‘right’ words?
  • Check spelling!

Therefore, your choice of exam is important in respect of how long is allowed for the essay-writing. Options are:

  • PTE which allocates 20 minutes to write, 200 – 300 words.
  • IELTS, both computer-delivered and paper-based, which allocate 40 minutes to write a minimum 250 words.

After that, both marking marking criteria are very similar so therefore time allowed becomes an important difference.

Computer-delivered IELTS, Edinburgh

New to Scotland, the established Basil Paterson Exam Centre now offers computer-delivered IELTS exams in its purpose-built computer exam suite.

General and Academic modules available, three times per month. More details and information on this link.

How to write English exam essay introductions.

The introduction is where the examiner first experiences students’ writing and they will form his/her judgement quickly. A poor introduction will require the writer to change the examiners mind in later paragraphs to score well. In addition, introductions are the place where the reader outlines the structure of their essay and can prevent examiners from becoming confused about the direction of an essay.

In the opening sentence of the essay students should state the topic and suggest a reason why the topic is important. Introducing the topic in the first sentence is critical if the reader is to be sure of what the topic of the essay is.

The second sentence is the ideas sentence. This sentence is probably the most critical of the essay and has two functions. This may take the form of rephrasing the question.

The final sentence is to allow the reader to understand the direction of the arguments and the overall structure the essay. The listing of key ideas is very important because it also helps keep the writer focused on the topic rather than drifting and writing about unrelated topics.

At the end of the introduction a reader should know what the topic is, why the topic is important, the key ideas as well as the structure and the aim of the essay. When all of these items are present, the reader is unlikely to become confused about the direction or the content of the essay.

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 Founder, Marian Anderson is an expert in English exam preparation

Who We Are

English for Emigration, founded by Marian Anderson, an expert in her field, helps you identify, and correct, any problems that may be preventing you from gaining your target scores in IELTS, or Pearson PTE exams, needed to progress your visa application.


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