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Pre-requisite Language Proficiency Tests: TOEFL Vs IELTS Vs. PTE
English is truly a global language and a student wanting to study abroad has to prove his/her efficiency in this language. Whether we want to study in the US or UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada or even in European countries like Germany, France. It becomes mandatory to show one has academic proficiency in the English language. Tests like TOEFL, IELTS, PET have been designed to test the English language efficiency of students hoping to study in an international college. Scores from these tests are mandatory for admissions into both undergrad and graduate programs. Similarly, the reasoning tests are also mandatory to pursue high quality education aboard at various levels. Let’s understand the basic of the tests and the scores acceptable by the universities abroad in these tests.
Undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs around the world require students to demonstrate their ability to communicate in English as an entrance requirement. India is a non-native English speaking country. For all the Non-Native Speakers of English, TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and a recent Pearson’s Tests of English (PTE) are popular choice tests to prove one’s proficiency in English. Many American and English-speaking colleges and universities require non-native speakers of English to get a certain score on these tests before they are admitted into their actual academic programs.
Let’s understand these tests as a test taker:
The TOEFL iBT and PTE are delivered on computer via the Internet at secure test centres around the world whereas the IELTS is a paper based test.
All the three tests are designed to test your proficiency with the English language, especially your ability to communicate effectively in a classroom setting and fit into a predominantly English-speaking culture. These tests evaluate how well you can combine your Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking skills.
Although these tests ostensibly focus on the same skills, it is done in different ways; they may be similar in ambition and focus, but these tests differ broadly in their approach and testing criteria. The key differences are:
For Reading and Listening sections, TOEFL has multiple choice questions, whereas IELTS generally expects applicants to copy down words from text or conversations word for word. Multiple choice questions tend to require slightly better abstract thinking, but the IELTS favours people who can think more concretely. Expect to hear a variety of different accents on the IELTS Listening section. TOEFL, on the other hand, employs the standard American accent. For TOEFL, you should be proficient at taking notes. Test takers do not need any special background knowledge to answer the questions in the academic texts of Reading section correctly.
The speaking and writing sections of TOEFL are graded holistically. The score is based on the overall quality of the essay including vocabulary, logic, style and grammar. The IELTS by contrast is marked by individual criteria and scored individually for task response and achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resources, fluency and grammatical range and accuracy.
For IELTS you are required to take speaking test with an IELTS examiner, face to face (interview). For TOEFL the speaking test, student will be asked to listen to a lecture or academic discussion and voice your thoughts on the same into a microphone.
The scoring system is also different with IELTS rating between 0 and 9 Bands with halfway points in between. TOEFL gives a more numerical type grade. 30 points per section with a total of 120 points. Scores are reported online within 5 to 15 business days after the test. The test fee varies between is 9300 to 12000 INR for these tests.
Scores of these tests are valid up to two years after the test is taken.
It is suggested that you to take sample test for both the exams. Then you decide which one will be easier for you. As a student, you should consult the testing requirements of your target universities. Broadly speaking, if you’re applying for colleges in the British Commonwealth, go with IELTS. Otherwise, take TOEFL. In any circumstances, you must take the test which is accepted by the university and the cut-off scores. The optimum scores for these tests are above 6.5 for IELTS and 64 for PTE and 90 for TOEFL.