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PTE or IELTS test for UKVI - which should you take?


Are you planning to study, work and live in the UK? If so, you’ll have to pass your English proficiency test and two popular options come up - the UKVI IELTS and the UKVI PTE.

While both of them are engineered for the UKVI standards, there are significant differences that you must know before making a choice.

In this article, we will go through the differences between UKVI PTE and UKVI IELTS so that you can make an informed decision to reach your goals.


Launched in 2009, the PTE is an English language test that was launched by Pearson Inc. It has two tests: PTE Academic and PTE General, both computer-based and automated.

These tests have only begun to be accepted in recent years by governments like Australia and New Zealand for visa purposes.

PTE-takers will have to sit for the UKVI Academic test for a visa application.


Set as the golden standard for English proficiency tests, IELTS was launched in 1980 and evaluates the fluency of English in both written and spoken formats.

Accepted by over 11,500 institutions in more than 140 countries, IELTS is the most recognised test of its kind, and the most popular. It has both paper-based and computer-based versions of its test, which is split into four sections: speaking, writing, listening and reading.

If you lean towards reliability and decide to go with IELTS, the suitable test option would be the UKVI IELTS Academic.


Understanding the PTE and IELTS UKVI tests

 1. Both tests allow students to study in the UK

If you want to further their studies in the UK, the UKVI Academic version of both the IELTS and PTE are accepted.

Both tests assess the four same skills and are recognised by numerous education institutions based in the UK.

2. Both tests help individuals live and work in the UK

If you are seeking a job as well or looking to live in the UK, you can also take either the IELTS UKVI Life Skills A1 and B1 or PTE UKVI Home A1, A2 and B1.

Approved by the UK home office for visa applications, the UKVI versions of the tests are only available at test centres that meet the administrative requirements outlined by the UK Home Office.

In addition, your test report form will look slightly different than the regular PTE or IELTS tests.


3. IELTS is the preferred qualification vs PTE

As IELTS is the world’s number one English test for migration, it is still favoured over the PTE by most. This is an important distinction o be aware of.

Besides that, PTE is a much newer test as compared to the UKVI IELTS, and is not as recognised globally.

In fact, over 11,000 organisations worldwide trust IELTS’ evaluation of English language skills while only around 3,000 organisations accept the PTE.

If you are looking for the widest breadth of acceptance from a test, IELTS will be the right choice to make. The last thing you want is for your certification to not be recognised, and still ending up needing to take the IELTS test.

4. IELTS offers the option of paper and pen test

If you’re more comfortable with using pen and paper to write your answers, then UKVI IELTS would be a better option.

This is because the PTE is available only on computer, whereas with IELTS you will have the flexibility to choose between taking your test on computer or paper in many locations globally.

Not everyone is comfortable keying in their answers or taking a test on a computer. If that’s you, then IELTS is the way to go.


Take the next step towards studying and working in the UK

Now that you know the differences between the IELTS vs PTE tests, choosing the right one should be a breeze!

If you value widespread recognition of your test, then IELTS is hands down the choice for you.

Ready to turn your UK dream into reality?

Besides being the official co-owner of IELTS, IDP offers convenient test locations and free test preparation materials to support you. Learn why you should take your IELTS test with us.

Book your IELTS test today to begin your journey.