If there is one question that almost every student asks us, that is which exam to take – PTE or IELTS?
And, why not? After all taking the exam is a significant undertaking. People spend their time, energy and money to take these exams. They all want to meet their visa condition and a good score will help with that.
Not a long time ago, the most preferred option was IELTS. But now PTE Academic is an equally attractive choice. However, a lot of people feel that PTE Academic is a magic bullet which will solve all their problems. That is not correct! Think of it like this – If you want to go from Melbourne to Sydney you can take a flight or you can drive. But whichever path you take you have to be equipped for that journey. Taking a flight and forgetting the ticket at home will not help. Starting the drive without checking the car might also not get you anywhere.
So what we mean is this – You will need to prepare properly whether you take PTE or IELTS! Carefully read the rest of this article before you make your decision. The following factors will help you to understand which is a better choice for you.
Have you taken IELTS before?
Einstein said, “Madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results”. If you have taken IELTS before, one or more times, then taking PTE this time is certainly a good idea. Taking a different exam will give you the feeling of making a fresh start and fill you with enthusiasm. On the other hand continuing with IELTS again and again will only fill you with frustration. So if you have taken IELTS before and failed to achieve your goals so far then taking PTE definitely makes sense. However, do not expect easy results. You must familiarize yourself with the PTE Academic exam pattern. There are several new question types. The exam will be taken on a computer which in itself is a big change. Provided you won’t take it lightly, definitely go for PTE Academic if IELTS has let you down so far.
Consider the human factor
A lot of people blame the IELTS examiner for their failure to get the required band. IELTS examiners are trained experts but one still cannot ignore the potential of human bias. A human being is not a machine. Therefore a human being can react differently at different times. There is always a possibility that one can end up with an examiner in a very bad mood.
Some of us also feel nervous speaking in front of a native English speaker and that too in an exam situation. If you think this applies to you then you might find IELTS challenging. PTE Academic completely removes the human examiner from the middle. This can make it easier for you to overcome the Speaking challenge. So carefully think how big is this human factor for you? If you think you have been unlucky in the past or that you will find it challenging to open up and confidently answer questions from a native speaker then PTE Academic is a good option for you.
Consider the computer factor
Just as the human factor is a big one when it comes to IELTS, the computer factor is a big one when it comes to PTE. No more writing answers on a piece of paper and no more talking to a human examiner. These days most of us spend at least some part of our day in front of a computer but still not all of us are comfortable typing long answers on a keyboard. Is that the case with you? Do you think your typing speed might be too slow? Then before you decide to go for PTE Academic you must clear these doubts. You should either be comfortable typing on a keyboard or willing to spend some time practising typing on a computer. Most of the times though we have found that it is not poor typing speed but poor time management to blame.
The same applies to Speaking. In PTE Academic you will be speaking into a microphone. We have all used software like Skype but talking in an exam is a serious affair. It can take some time to get used to it.
So think about these points before you set your heart on PTE Academic.
Are you willing to learn a few new things?
Let’s be very clear. PTE is not an easier type of IELTS. Let us repeat that in bold – PTE is not an easier type of IELTS. It is a different type of exam with its own format and question types. If you think just changing to PTE from IELTS will automatically improve your score or band then you might be in for some disappointment.
Do not take PTE lightly. Yes, the exam does have some features that can play in your favour but you need proper preparation to make use of those features. You will need to learn some new question types. You will need to get sufficient practice and take some good quality mock tests. You will need to work on all the basic language skills just as you would have in IELTS.
So if you are attracted to PTE because you think it will be very easy and will automatically give you a great score, please stop for a moment and think again.
Do you have a plan?
This is related to the previous point. Let’s assume that PTE is actually a simpler type of exam compared to IELTS. But do you have a plan to take advantage of this simplicity? Too many times we have seen people take PTE thinking it will be a cake walk. They watch some videos on YouTube and read some articles on the Internet and think they are exam ready. They are shocked to see the results. Then they quickly book another PTE exam slot and the sad cycle continues. This is not a lottery. This is your life. So please make a plan. How much time will you spend preparing for the exam? What high quality learning resources will you use? Will you be able to get the right guidance? Will you give yourself the right amount of practice?
Think about all these points before you decide which exam is better for you. Be ready to put in your time and effort and then nothing can stop you from achieving your goal.