Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I keep on hearing this so many times when I talk to candidates aspiring to settle abroad. PTE is supposed to be easier than IELTS or so they have been told. It is easy to get dates. You don't have to book a month in advance as in IELTS. You don't have to go for the Speaking module on a separate day as it happens in IELTS. And to top it all, the PTE results will be available to you within 5 days of taking the test.  

And all those observations are true. There are many conveniences associated with PTE, primarily because it is the latest entrant in English Language Testing unlike IELTS which has been around for a while. 

But, PTE is not like IELTS at all and it tests the candidates in a completely different way. Sure, there are the same 4 modules – Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. However, that’s where the similarities end. And no, it is not easier than IELTS either. It is simply a different kind of test following a different format. And as we know, "different, different hota hai"

IELTS & PTE - in a very real sense - are as "different" from each other as chalk is from cheese. And your choice will be influenced by the answers you get to the following questions:

1.    Are you tech-savvy? Are you comfortable wearing a headset mic and pressing buttons etc?
2.    Do you find it easy to react instantly? To respond at the press of a button or upon hearing a “beep”?
3.    Do you think you have it in you to continue to speak under any circumstances without stopping for more than 3 seconds to gather your thoughts?

If you answer “yes” to the above questions, then don’t wait anymore, plump for PTE. If speaking extempore is not your strong point, then a paper-based test like IELTS may be a better option.

Choose after carefully considering the above questions. And be brutally honest. The sincerity with which you make this self-assessment could indeed be the difference between success and failure in your chosen test.

·         Paper-based
·         Computer-based
·         General Reading paper not so difficult, language & topic-wise
·         The language and the difficulty level of the Reading module is that of IELTS Academic level
·         Reading - No negative marking
·         Reading -  Negative marking in 1 type of question (Multiple choice multiple answers)
·         No partial credits given for partially- correct answers in any module
·         Partial-credits given for some types of questions
·         Time is not such a problem here
·         Time is a big constraint here – it all happens very fast in this test
·         Listening is also comparatively easier
·         Listening has two types of questions which carry negative marking
·         Writing is a lot more difficult – content, structure, vocabulary etc. are marked very strictly
·         Writing is relatively easy – the main issue is that you need to be fast while typing on a desktop keyboard
·         Speaking is easier here by comparison. Human intervention opens doors to influence the assessor with the sheer force of your personality.
·         Speaking is somewhat more difficult. Here a machine evaluates you. You have to think on your feet and make sentences as you go along. Time given to prepare your response is very short indeed

Now sit back, relax and...Happy choosing! 

Post credits: Samit Sengupta
Founder, English Academy

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