English Proficiency Test Comparision: IELTS vs PTE vs TOEFL vs OET vs CAE. Which One is Right for You?

If you are planning to work and stay in an English-speaking country or have applied to an English-speaking academic institution, you must prove your ability to understand English language as a non-native English speaker. There is a wide range of English proficiency tests available to you.

The Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Occupational English Test (OET), Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) and Pearson Test of English (PTE) are some widely-accepted standardized tests measuring proficiency in the English language for non-native English speakers.

Some years ago, there was only TOEFL in the segment, but now it faces tough competition from the other ones. However, each one of them states that it’s a test of English Language in a universal sense.

English Language Proficiency Test Options Available:


Established in 1989, the IELTS test is accepted by many academic institutions in the UK, the US, Australia and Canada. The test is managed jointly by the British Council, the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and IDP Educational. IELTS is the most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and immigration applicants.

Who accepts IELTS in Australia?

The IELTS is recognised by a number of government, business, and educational organizations throughout Australia. Some of these organizations are: The Chartered Accountants Australia (CAA), The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), Department of Home Affairs (DHA) etc.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the second major English language proficiency test which is geared towards candidates applying for English-speaking academic institutions. TOEFL is administered by the ETS (Educational Testing Service).

Who accepts TOEFL in Australia?

The Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA), CPA Australia and Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) accept TOEFL scores as an evidence of the English language proficiency required for initial registration. The Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA) recognizes TOEFL score to meet the English language competency element of the Migration Skills Assessment for both the Welfare Worker and Welfare Center Manager.

Engineers Australia and the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC) also accept TOEFL to meet the English language competency element of the Migration Skills Assessment.


Designed in the late 1980s, the Occupational English Test is an international English language proficiency test for the healthcare sector. The OET tests the language communication skills of health professionals who want to register and practice in an English-speaking environment.

Who accepts OET in Australia?

OET is recognised by the DHA (Australian Department of Home Affairs) for various visa categories, primarily including student and work visa. Various Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) Boards accept OET as a proof of English language proficiency for registration purposes.


Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is backed by teaching and research from Cambridge University and is aligned with the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) for an international standard for describing language ability.

Who accepts CAE in Australia?

The Cambridge English: DHA accepts the Advanced test for Students, Temporary Graduates, Former Resident, Skilled, Work and Holiday Visa programs.


The Pearson Test of English is a computer-based English language of proficiency test aimed at non-native speakers of English looking to study abroad. It tests writing, reading, listening and speaking.

Who accepts PTE in Australia?

The PTE is accepted as an evidence of English-language proficiency by most of the government, educational, and business organizations in Australia.

IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs OET vs CAE Comparision Table

Test Validity Fees Test Dates Centers Result Types of Test Qualifying Marks Modules Tested
IELTS 2 Years AUD $330 Every Week IDP & British Council i.e. 2 Centers Within two weeks after the exam date Paper Based Test 6.5 Bands Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening
TOEFL 2 Years USD $300 Every Week Many Available after the ten days of the exam Internet-Based Test 73-Bachelor’s
79- Master’s
Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening
PTE 2 Years AUD $330 Metros-6 days/month, Other Cities-4 days/month Pearson VUE’s Test Centers Within five working days of the test Computer Based Test 51 Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening
OET 2 Years AUD $587 - to sit all four sub-tests Seven Times in a Year (Jan, Mar, May, June, Aug, Oct, and Nov) Many Within 16 business days after the exam date Paper Based Test At least B- Grade in each of the four subjects Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening
CAE Doesn’t have an expiration date AUD $330 Every Month Many Within 4 to 6 weeks (Paper-based), and within 2 to 3 weeks (Computer-based) Computer or Paper-Based 180-210 Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking


PTE, IELTS, OET, CAE and TOEFL: Practical Considerations:

To know about which test’s length, format and content are best for you is important, but there arise some more practical questions when it comes to choosing between all these tests.

Before deciding which test to take, you need to seek the answers to two important questions:
• Is a testing institute/centre available nearby you? and
• Is the test accepted by the institutions or schools where you are looking to apply?

If all these tests are available in your area and recognised by the institutions you have targeted, it is time to know about the differences between the tests themselves. Here are key elements to consider:

Length of Each Test

TOEFL and CAE are the longest of the five tests, typically take around 4 hours each to complete. The PTE takes 3 hours, the IELTS generally requires 2 hours and 45 minutes, while OET takes 2 hours and 55 minutes. The IELTS can be split over two separate testing days.

How Is Each One Scored?

The IELTS, OET, CAE and TOEFL use human scorers, whereas the PTE uses automated scoring with no human raters.

Some students may prefer a real person test and interpret their responses, while others feel comfortable with minimum subjective automatic scoring.

The speaking section of the IELTS includes an actual face-to-face conversation with a test proctor. Depending on your choice that can either be a more stressful experience or a more natural one than a computer-based test.

Difference of Content

All three tests measure a student’s speaking, listening, reading, and writing ability, but they do it in different ways.

The TOEFL is a typical American-style standardized test, containing two essays, six brief spoken responses, and many multiple-choice questions or fill in the blanks.

The IELTS has almost the same format, with two essays, multiple-choice and fill in the blank questions, and an oral interview.

Being the newest of the three, the PTE avoids a lot of typical standardized test format. The test includes just one essay and about twenty different types of questions and tasks.

Since communication plays a major role in the healthcare sector, OET is designed to assess the speaking, writing, reading and listening skills of the health professionals. It provides a reliable assessment of all four skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) while emphasizing on communication in healthcare professional settings.

CAE is less academic with broader topics and varieties of writing tasks. In the speaking section, you are expected to collaborate with a partner in something like a real and natural discussion. For these reasons, people might find CAE less boring.

Cost of IELTS, PTE, OET, CAE & TOEFL Comparision

The specific cost of each test varies by location, but in Australia, the cost for TOEFL is $300, for the PTE is $330, and IELTS is $330. The registration fee for OET is $587 to sit for all four sub-tests. The cost of CAE is $330.


When it comes to results, TOEFL scores are available after the ten days, for IELTS within two weeks, and for the PTE within five working days of the test. The results of OET are available after 16 business days of the exam date. The result of CAE (paper-based) comes within 4 to 6 weeks after the exam while for the result of CAE (computer-based) is usually declared within 2 to 3 weeks.

Wondering what to do after completing your English proficiency test? Explore our top courses to study abroad or just fill in the contact us form! Our AECC Global's expert counselors are here to guide you in helping you choose a course and institution that matches your career inspirations. Get in touch now!

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