Dreaming of studying abroad? Then you might already know that you need to take up an English language test as a part of your admission requirements. It is also a mandatory requirement while applying for your student visa. 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), and Pearson Test of English (PTE) are some widely-accepted standardized tests measuring proficiency in the English language for non-native English speakers.
Let’s dive right in…
List of English Language Proficiency Tests
For over 30 years, the IELTS paper-based module has been one of the prominent English language tests that help students achieve their dream of studying abroad. With the advancements in technology, students can now take the IELTS test online via computers and receive their results quickly within 7 days. Students need to complete reading, writing, and listening in one sitting. Besides, the speaking test has to be taken before the listening test or after taking the other 3 tests.
- IELTS is recognized globally by immigration bodies and institutions to process student applications.
- The tests are graded on a scale of 0-9; the higher the score, the better your command of the language. Some universities, immigration bodies, and organizations have a minimum IELTS score for eligibility.
- IELTS is developed in such a way that it delivers an accurate and fair assessment of your knowledge.
- IELTS tests evaluate your proficiency in 4 major sections: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.
IELTS Online Test Process:
The IELTS online exam comprises four sections; reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
IELTS Listening (30 minutes)
Students will listen to 4 texts or conversations between native speakers, and they are asked to produce answers based on the conversation they heard. These questions will analyze students' ability to understand ideas, factual information, opinions, and the purpose of the conversation. The listening test comprises 3 stages.
1st part - A casual conversation between two humans.
2nd part - A detailed speech.
3rd part - A conversation between people of different hierarchies (employer and employee)
IELTS Reading (60 minutes)
The Reading test in IETS consists of forty questions. During the test, a variety of questions will be put forth to test students' reading skills. The reading materials include 3 lengthy texts in the academic version, either factual, analytical, or descriptive. The texts are usually derived from journals, magazines, and newspapers.
IELTS Writing (60 minutes)
The Writing test of the IELTS Academic version consists of 2 tasks. All the chosen topics are suitable for students from all walks of life entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses.
Task 1: Students will receive a diagram/chart/table and are asked to summarise the context in their own words (formal tone).
Task 2: Students must write an essay based on an argument or problem statement during the test.
IELTS Speaking (11 to 14 minutes)
The Speaking test consists of 3 parts in IELTS. Each assesses a student's spoken English. Altogether it takes between 11 to 14 minutes to finish 3 parts of the speaking test. As a part of the practice, all speaking tests will be recorded by the proctor.
- Stage 1 - Students will be asked to speak about themselves and for similar questions such as their family, studies, and interests. Ideally, this part consumes up to 4 to 5 minutes.
- Stage 2 - In the next part, students will be given a topic prior to 2 minutes of the stage 2 process. Here, the proctor gives students 60 seconds to think and answer one or two questions from the given topic.
- Stage 3 - Here, students will be provided with an opportunity to converse about some abstract ideas and thoughts. The time taken for this part is around 5 minutes.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the second major English language proficiency designed to help students understand and communicate effectively and efficiently in a university setting or environment. TOEFL tests are usually 4 hours long and have an optional 10-minute break in between. TOEFL tests are predominantly designed for students who wish to study abroad.
- TOEFL tests are graded on a scale of 0 - 120
- The test comprises 4 parts: Listening, Speaking, Writing, and Reading.
- The tests are graded by mentors online and anonymously, making it an unbiased and fair grading system.
- This is the only English language test that combines AI technology with real-life graders.
- Your test scores are valid for 2 years from the date of results, the test pattern also allows you to retake the test an unlimited number of times, but it can be attempted only once in 3 days.
TOEFL Online Test Process
The TOEFL online exam comprises four sections; reading, listening, speaking, and writing.TOEFL Reading Section
The objective of this task is to assess a student's reading skills. It involves reading comprehension on various topics including Psychology, Arts, Science, and History, etc. Every passage has around 14 questions. Most Universities accept international students who have scored a minimum of 20 marks in the reading section.
Time limit: 60-80 minutes
Questions: 36-56 questionsTOEFL Listening Section
In the listening section of TOEFL iBT, each lecture has a time limit of 5 minutes with 6 questions to be answered. The conversation section is around 3 minutes, followed by 5 questions that are to be answered. Most universities accept a listening score of anything over 21.
Note: Audio clips will be played only once for each question.
Time limit: 60-90 minutes
Questions: 34-51 questionsTOEFL Speaking Section
The TOEFL iBT speaking section comprises six tasks under 2 categories, i.e. Independent tasks (Tasks 1 & 2) and Integrated tasks (Tasks 3 to 6). During the admission process, universities consider students who have scored over 22 marks in the verbal/speaking section.
Independent Speaking Task
Under the speaking test, students will be asked to perform tasks 1 and 2 (a combination of reading, writing, and listening). For both tasks, students get 15 seconds to prepare and 45 seconds to answer.
Integrated Speaking Tasks
For tasks 3 and 4, the following steps are involved:
- Step 1 – 45 seconds to skim through a passage.
- Step 2 – One minute to listen to an audio clip.
- Step 3 – Half a minute to prepare.
- Step 4 – One minute to answer the questions raised by the proctor.
For tasks 5 and 6, students will listen to an audio clip (around 2 minutes). Soon after hearing the audio clip, the proctor will initiate a 20-second timer where students will have to recollect the audio clip to answer the questions.
Note: The proctor will begin a timer of 60 seconds as soon as the students start to respond to the questions.TOEFL Writing Section
The TOEFL iBT test's final section is the writing section, where students will be asked to draft a couple of essays. One is integrated, and the other is an independent essay. The total duration of this task is around an hour.TOEFL Integrated Writing
Students will be provided with three minutes to read a passage of around 300 words under integrated writing. Following that, the proctor will play a lecture. Based on the lecture and the passage's input, students must frame an essay of around 220 words.TOEFL Independent Writing
Independent writing allows students to write their own thoughts and opinions. As a part of the task, students will be asked to write a 300-word essay in 30 minutes.
The Pearson Test of English is a computer AI technology-based proficiency test aimed at non-native speakers of English looking to study abroad. It tests writing, reading, listening, and speaking.
- PTE test evaluates your listening, reading, writing, and speaking proficiency in the English language.
- Tests can be taken up at any time. You can schedule your test 24 hours prior, 365 days. The results are typically available within 48 hours from the time of completion.
- PTE is the first-ever completely AI-based English language test recognized by universities.
- PTE tests are conducted globally at specified centers.
Designed in the late 1980s, the Occupational English Test is an international English language proficiency test for the healthcare sector prescribed for aspiring doctors and healthcare professionals to ensure efficient communication with patients and internal requirements. The test comprises real-life tasks and scenarios that evaluate international students' communication and comprehension skills.
- OET has been developed for 12 healthcare professions like Dentistry, Medicine, Physiotherapy, Optometry, Veterinary Science, and a few others.
- OET tests can be done at an offline centre or online at a designated test venue. They are both of equal value, weightage, and pattern.
- OET tests your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.
- It is trusted and recognized by universities and hospitals in the UK, the US, Australia, Dubai, New Zealand, and Ireland.
- The OET test is graded on a scale of 0 to 500 and from A to E (a higher score represents a better understanding of the language).
IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs OET - Comparision Table
|Test||Validity||Fees||Test Dates||Centers||Result||Types of Test||Qualifying Marks||Modules Tested|
|IELTS||2 Years||$210 (11,900 PHP)||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||$225 (13,921 PHP)||Every Week||Many||Available after the ten days of the exam||Internet-Based Test||73-Bachelor’s
|Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening|
|PTE||2 Years||$210 (11,900 PHP)||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||$455 USD (26,100 PHP)||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|
IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs OET - 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 recognized 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 is the longest of the four tests, typically taking 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, 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 abilities, 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 formats. 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 health professionals. It provides a reliable assessment of all four skills (listening, reading, speaking, and writing) while emphasizing communication in healthcare professional settings.
Cost of IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs OET Comparision
IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE vs OET - Results Comparision
When it comes to results, TOEFL scores are available after 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.
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