Which is the easiest English proficiency test?

There are a few International English proficiency tests available around the world. The most common ones are IELTS, TOEFL and PTE. The author of this post has taught and sat all three tests. These tests will be compared and contrasted based on four skills of Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening.

1. Speaking

Since the PTE and the TOEFL tests are computer based, the test is done on a computer. The speaking section lasts around half an hour in both both PTE and TOEFL. In IELTS, however, even in its computer based test, the speaking section is in the form of an interview and it lasts around 15 minutes. This face-to-face interview could be a source of stress for most of the candidates. Between the PTE and the TOEFL test, the PTE has more sections that are specifically gauged towards measuring speaking and also the items are easier compared to that of the TOEFL test. Bear in mind that the TOEFL speaking is an integrated one. So the winner for the speaking section is the PTE test.

2. Writing

Writing section in all three tests takes about 1 hour. In the TOEFL test, again the first part of the writing section is an integrated one (a combination of listening and reading) and so is the PTE test. In IELTS, however, both sections are all about writing and no other skills are involved. But in terms of scoring, IELTS is infamous for low writing scores. I know good writers who didn’t meet the IELTS’s criteria on writing (who knows what they are) and got a 7 for their writing. But the other two tests, are scored by computer and the scores are, therefore, consistent and higher than that of the IELTS.

3. Reading

In terms of structure and types of questions, IELTS and TOEFL almost share the same types of comprehension questions. You need to pay attention to the instructions of the questions as well, when a NOT, for instance, is mischievously added to the question to puzzle the reader even more. Or questions like True, False or Not given. But in the PTE reading section, every item has a clear instruction and questions to follow. There are no gimmicks involved. So the winner here is the PTE test.

4. Listening

In terms of types of questions and the approach again IELTS and TOFEL are on the same boat. There are some dialogues the candidates need to listen to before answering the multiple choice questions. There is no writing involve in the TOEFL apart from taking notes for later reference. In the IELTS, the candidates need to write the answers and then transfer them to the answer sheet later. The PTE listening section, has a totally different approach to listening compare to the other two. For instance, the candidates need to follow an audio transcript and highlight the different words from audio. Or they need to write down the whole of a sentence they hear. These types of questions give a different perspective to the listening section in the PTE test which makes it easier to follow compared to the other two.


All in all, my experience as an educationalist and a test taker is that the PTE test is easier to teach and to score compared to the other two options. If you did not get your desired score in IELTS or the TOEFL tests, I would certainly suggest that you take our online zoom classes and you would see how easy it is to score with our methodology.  

Need more information?

For learning the tricks of how to ace the PTE academic test, and for doing a free scored PTE mock test and practicing real PTE materials on our PTE practice platform, visit our website at www.thepte.com, where you can also book a free online PTE coaching with one of our Melbourne-based expert PTE trainers via the zoom app.

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