The two most renowned English tests for those wanting to take a master’s degree are: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). However, about 4 years ago Pearson one of the most prominent educational companies and publishing houses in the US– launched its own Proficiency Exam: the Pearson Test of English, Academic (PTE Academic).
Each exam states that it is a test of ‘English’ in a universal sense of the word. There are differences though as IELTS uses a more British/Australian version of English, whilst the other two are definitely more USA centric.
One of the most important things to know is that not all universities except all three tests, although many do. IELTS is more generally accepted at European and Australian universities. TOEFL on the other hand is much more commonly accepted in the USA. The PTE test by Pearson is getting wide recognition in universities across all regions, including Asian institutions who teach courses in English. As not every masters or postgraduate degree programme excepts all three, make sure you check this before choosing which test to do. As the PTE test is the newest one most universities which except this will except the other two.
Also it is important to think about which examination style will suit you best. The speaking section of each test is very different and as language skills are often the most problematic for students to master, this would be an important consideration.
With the IELTS test, you speak face-to-face with the Rater where as with both the TOEFL and the PTE Academic you speak into a microphone and the computer captures the audio.It really is a matter for you personally which you would prefer. (NOTE: your TOEFL speaking is evaluated by a human Rater, while your PTE speaking is evaluated by a computer program.)
Do some research into which test will be most suitable and whether you top choice institutions except this and although they all say that they deliver equatable scoring, this doesn’t mean that you will score the same on each test.
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For more information about studying for, applying to take and differentiating between various English Language Tests.