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What Is TOEFL? How Is It Different from PTE?

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As an entrance requirement, various undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate study programs around the world require students to demonstrate their ability to communicate in English. There are different English language tests such as, TOEFL, IELTS and PTE which can be taken by ‘study abroad’ aspirants to prove that they can communicate their ideas effectively in the English language. Two of these tests, TOEFL and PTE, have been discussed in this article.

TOEFL stands for Test of English as Foreign Language and is managed by ETS (Educational Testing Service). TOEFL measures an aspirant’s ability to understand as well as use English at the university level. Because it is a reliable test with unbiased, objective scoring, it is used by various institutions to confirm that the student has the English language skills necessary to succeed in an academic setting. TOEFL score is accepted in more than 10,000 institutions across 100+ countries. The test assesses four skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing.

PTE stands for Pearson Test of English and is organised by Pearson PLC group to assess and validate the English language usage of non-native English speakers. There are 3 types of PTE tests, viz. PTE Academic, PTE General and PTE Young Learners. For students aspiring to study abroad, PTE Academic is the test. It is a 3-hour computer based test, recognised by nearly 6000 organisations across the world. Four skills of English are tested: speaking and writing (together), listening and reading.

Initially, TOEFL served only the purpose of studying abroad. However, it can now be used for immigration purposes concerning Australia and for skilled migration to New Zealand. Even PTE is accepted by the Australian and New Zealand governments for immigration purposes.

The two tests, TOEFL and PTE test the English language proficiency of the non-native speakers. However, there are some factors which differentiate these. These differences are discussed below:

Mode of ConductTwo variants: TOEFL iBT (Internet Based Test) TOEFL PBT (Paper Based Test)Only Computer Based Test
Test FormatReading (60-80 minutes) Listening (60-90 minutes) BREAK (10 minutes) Speaking (20 minutes) Writing (50 minutes)Speaking and Writing (77-93 minutes) Reading (32-41 minutes) Listening (45-57 minutes)
Test Duration4 hours3 hours
ScoringReading and listening are evaluated by the software. Speaking and Writing sections are evaluated by certified raters. In the writing sections, however, automated scoring is used in addition to human scoring.All the sections are evaluated by a computer/software.
ScoresOn a scale of 0-120On a scale of 10-90
Time between two attempts12 days5 days
Result10 days5 business days

Both these tests basically measure the level of English language proficiency. But, the choice of test directly depends on the place and institution you choose. Also, there is no definite minimum score defined by the tests itself. Again, it depends on the institution you choose. The minimum score requirement may vary country-to-country, institution-to-institution and course-to-course. Before beginning with the TOEFL or PTE exam preparation, you must conduct a thorough research about the place and the institution in order to know the appropriate test and the required score.

What is Computer-delivered IELTS?

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Computer-delivered IELTS

Owing to technological advancements and changing needs of the consumer, IELTS, like any other contemporary test, has now taken a paradigm shift to a technically advanced version, known as ‘Computer-delivered IELTS’.

As the name suggests, a test-taker takes this test on a computer instead of a paper, though this is not true for all the modules. Listening, reading and writing modules are tested using a computer, while speaking module remains a face-to-face interview. Perhaps it is felt that speaking skills are better tested in real rather than virtual space.

The Computer-delivered IELTS provides convenience of typing the answers instead of writing them on a paper, which is preferred by most of the people in this digital era. Also, the test is conducted for up to 5 days a week, increasing your chances of getting a preferred date. The greatest advantage of this test is that the result is available within 5-7 business days, which obviously lessens the stress on the test taker.

Though the test structure is essentially the same, yet you need to practise well in this format in order to excel in the first go. Practice tests and mock tests are available on a number of websites, facilitating preparation for Computer-delivered IELTS.

The changed medium of the test doesn’t mean changed level of the test. The difficulty level, content, timings, question types, marking, security arrangements of the test centre, all remain the same. The marking of reading and listening modules is 100% computer based which increases the reliability of the test. The writing and the speaking modules are manually marked keeping in mind the essence of the test.

Computer-delivered IELTS adheres to high-quality standards, fairness and reliability. It helps to overcome apprehensions of the test taker regarding misplacement of the answer sheet or poor scores due to bad handwriting.

The test is the same, the marking criteria are the same, just the technology got involved. The Computer-delivered IELTS test is of recent origin in India. Currently it is being conducted in five cities, viz. New Delhi, Benguluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chandigarh. This is a recent advancement which is really the future of IELTS at all centres across India and the world.

How to Maximize Score in the Listening Module of PTE Academic

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The listening section has about 8 question types (short response as well as long response). The long response question types are only two: 'Summarize Spoken Text' and 'Write from Dictation.' All other task types mainly ask the test-taker to select an answer from the given options; it may be selection of a numbered or lettered option or selection of words/ phrases. Many test takers find PTE Listening Module a bit more challenging than other sections. So here are a few strategies specific to each question-type to score well in PTE Listening module.

To sustain yourself at a new place, it is crucial for a non-native person to know the native language. To ensure this, many English speaking nations conduct various English language proficiency tests to ensure that the prospective immigrant is well versed in English. IELTS and PTE are two such tests. These check English language proficiency in four areas, viz. listening, reading, writing and speaking. Although, it isn't compulsory to answer such tests to obtain a visa, it definitely increases your chances to get one. Some colleges and universities may even take the admission decision on the basis of scores in these tests. To a novice, these two may seem similar, which makes it necessary to have an understanding of both the tests. Overview of these tests is provided below:

(1) SUMMARIZE SPOKEN TEXT Listen to the lecture carefully. The first trick is to comprehend the point(s) being made in the lecture. You miss on some detail, but instead of worrying about that, focus on crux of the matter and some detail that you were able to understand. You may even jot down the key points/repeated words (for later reference).

To maximize your score, cover all these key points and stick to the word limit (50-70). Keep the write-up simple. In case you missed out on some detail in the lecture, explaining the basic idea would help save deduction of marks.

Besides (a) Proof-reading is highly recommended to eliminate the possibility of typographical errors.
(b) Since it is a partial scoring item, explaining the basic idea can help in fetching a good score even if some key points of the lecture were missed.
(2) MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS: Read the question stem before the recording plays. Reading the answer choices while listening to the recording is not advised.
MULTIPLE-CHOICE, CHOOSE MULTIPLE ANSWERS: This is a negative marking question. Don’t select an answer unless you are confident. Eliminate options with incomplete/ irrelevant information. The options that you ultimately choose must be based on key points, not merely same or similar words.
MULTIPLE-CHOICE, CHOOSE SINGLE ANSWER: Listen to the recording carefully. Do not leave any question unanswered as there is no negative marking in this question type.
(3) FILL IN THE BLANKS There are around 2-3 questions based on this question type. While answering these, keep a check on the spelling errors. Follow the rules of capitalization, if necessary. Keep the cursor on the first blank of the transcript for the missing word and use tab to go to the next blank.
(4) HIGHLIGHT CORRECT SUMMARY Skim the options, before the recording begins. Take notes and then predict the answer. Eliminate options with incorrect/ incomplete information. The option that closely matches the notes taken would be the correct option.
(5) SELECT MISSING WORD Pay attention to the general flow of the argument. Keep an eye on the audio indicator to know when the recording approaches its end. Listening to the concluding part of the recording carefully will provide clue to the missing word.
(6) HIGHLIGHT INCORRECT WORDS Overview the transcript before the recording plays. Move the cursor along the text while listening to the recording and identify the words that don't match with the recording or are out of context. Most of the times, the incorrect words sound similar to the spoken words. Don't mark your answer unless you are confident as this is a negative marking question.
(7) WRITE FROM DICTATION Listen to the recording and write immediately as you hear. Or keep a note of the key points/ words that could be used to develop sentence later. Remember to follow the punctuation and capitalization rules. Keep a note of year, time or any big number mentioned in the recording. Write numbers in words. However, do not start any sentence with a number. There is no negative marking in this section and you score points for every correct word that you type.
The listening module demands high concentration. So, to avoid distractions, make sure before you start attempting this module that you are comfortable with the headphones. Adjust the volume before starting to answer this module in a way that your ears are comfortable with the volume and you also stay free from any external noise. Above all, practise a lot of PTE Academic tests available online in the form of mock tests or sectional tests, to get used to the Listening module of PTE Academic.

What Are IELTS and PTE?

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Are you thinking of studying or migrating abroad? Do you know the requirements? Have you done your research? If not, you need to know about the primary requirement to migrate, either for academic or general purposes.

To sustain yourself at a new place, it is crucial for a non-native person to know the native language. To ensure this, many English speaking nations conduct various English language proficiency tests to ensure that the prospective immigrant is well versed in English. IELTS and PTE are two such tests. These check English language proficiency in four areas, viz. listening, reading, writing and speaking. Although, it isn't compulsory to answer such tests to obtain a visa, it definitely increases your chances to get one. Some colleges and universities may even take the admission decision on the basis of scores in these tests. To a novice, these two may seem similar, which makes it necessary to have an understanding of both the tests. Overview of these tests is provided below:

IELTS IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is accepted in around 10,000 organisations, including schools, universities, immigration authorities and professional bodies, across 140 countries. This test is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL, British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia. Following are the details to be considered:

Eligibility: The person taking the test should be above 16 years of age.
Purpose: Study, work or migration
Modules: There are two modules of the test, each of which serves a separate purpose. These are:
1. Academic module: This test is for undergraduate/post graduate level or for professional registration. This test is conducted four times a month.
2. General Training module: This test is for those who want to migrate or study at a level below degree. There are 24 fixed days in a year for the conduct of this test.
The test duration: It is a 2 hour and 45 minute test divided into four parts:
1. Academic module: This test is for undergraduate/post graduate level or for professional registration. This test is conducted four times a month.
1. Listening: It is a 30-40 minute section consisting of four sets (ten, one mark questions in each). Audios with varying accents are played, on the basis of which different questions such as multiple choice, matching, sentence completion, are asked.
2. Reading: This part lasts for 60 minutes during which 40 questions, each carrying 1 mark, need to be answered. This part is unique to each module. Academic Reading: Three reading passages checking a number of reading skills such as: reading for gist, detail, attitude or purpose, are given. The topics related to general awareness and academics form the context of these passages.
General Reading: There are 40 questions divided into three sections, explained below:
Section 1 (Social Survival) May contain two or three short texts or several shorter texts.
Section 2 (Workplace Survival) Comprises two texts.
Section 3 (General Reading) Consists of one long text.
3. Writing: Two tasks have to be accomplished within 60 minutes. The first section for the two modules is distinct.
Academic Writing: In task 1, explanation of a visual representation which can be in the form of a graph, chart, or map must be provided in 150 words, in 20 minutes. Next 40 minutes shall be used for task 2, which involves essay writing. In 250 words, the test taker has to present his viewpoint on the given topic.
General Writing: Task 1 involves responding to a situation, i.e. writing a letter in 150 words. Task 2 is the same as in academic writing. The topics are of general interest.
4. Speaking: To assess proficiency in spoken English, a face-to-face interview that lasts for 11-14 minutes is conducted. It includes three parts: Introduction and Interview, Long Turn and Discussion.
Mode of test: IELTS used to be a pen and paper based test only until recently. IDP and BC have now launched computer based IELTS. Now, students have the option to choose one of these modes. However, the speaking module continues to be a face-to-face interview in both the modes.
Score: Ranges between 0 to 9 in 0.5 band increments. Each module is scored separately and a combined result is formed. A score of 9 bands indicates an expert user of the language, whereas score of 1 band indicates a non-user.
Result: In 13 calendar days (can be checked on the IELTS website)

PTE PTE or Pearson Test of English is conducted by Pearson PLC Group. Unlike IELTS, PTE is of recent origin. It is a computer-based test. It is recognised by nearly 6000 organisations across the world. There are 20 types of questions ranging from multiple choice to essay writing and data interpretation. Following are some details:

Purpose: Study, work or migration
Types of Tests:
1. PTE Academic: For people aspiring to study, work or migrate abroad
2. PTE General: For people willing to answer an internationally recognized English test to build a portfolio for travel, further education or to enhance their employment prospects
3. PTE Young Learners: For children to make their first experience of learning English memorable and motivating
The Test: It is divided into three parts:
1. Speaking and Writing (77-93 min): Contains 6 sections
2. Listening (32-41 min): Contains 5 sections
3. Reading (45-57 min): Contains 2 sections
Each task in these sections focuses on testing either a single aspect of English language or a combination of these.
Mode of test: It is a computer-based test. You have to visit the designated test location. Answers to the questions shall be typed using a keyboard. For the speaking section answers shall be recorded using a microphone.
Score: It ranges from 10 to 90. Again, individual score along with the average score is given in the result.
The score is on the basis of two parameters: Communicative Skills and Enabling Skills.
Result: Since it is a computer based assessment, result is available within 5 working days.
It is apparent that both these tests aim to test English proficiency of the non-natives but the choice of test depends on the requirement of the university, professional institute or the government of the country you want to move to. In order to prepare for these tests, you may enrol yourself in an online course and attempt IELTS or PTE mock test online.

PTE Speaking: Tips to Personal Introduction

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  • Why do you even need to care about the introduction in PTE Speaking?
  • Isn't it optional? Isn't it unscored?
  • Isn't it easy?
  • And a million other questions...
PTE Introduction

In the Personal Introduction question, you are asked to speak about a familiar topic on which you can blabber a lot. However, there is a caveat. If you speak too much, you might end up with an incomplete introduction. A beep will prompt you that the time for this question is over. So, completing the question in the allotted time is essential.

This is the very first task that you will see on the PTE Academic Speaking test. A lot depends on just the introduction. Wondering what?

For one, it can help you calm your nerves. Come the big day, the introduction helps you to stay calm by giving you an easier topic to speak on. We can even think of this as priming ourselves before the main activity i.e. the main part of the test. An introduction can give you a head-start. It can set the tone for the remaining test. If introduction goes well, the other parts of the test will fall into place because you have taken the first step successfully.

Second, the Introduction is an important component of the PTE Academic Speaking because it is used by admission officers for verification purposes. It would be wise, therefore, to sound natural.

This is how the PTE Speaking - Introduction question is presented:.

PTE Preparation Software


1. Pre-formulate
The prompts are pretty standard. So, it is always good to have a formulaic approach to such an Introduction task in order to complete it well in time and move on to the next item. There's no one standard response! The prompts will remain the same, so you can prepare them beforehand. Aim to speak 1-2 simple sentences on each of the points and you will be done.
2. Wait for the beep
This is true for all speaking tasks. Because this is the first question, a lot of test takers just start speaking as soon as they see the indication. Remember to wait for the beep. The beep will prompt you to start speaking. You need not start before the beep. Anything that you speak before the beep will not be recorded. You don't really need a half introduction anyway.
3. Don't rush
A lot of students think this to be the easiest part as they just have to talk about themselves. So, they rush through this item type. Think again! You don't need to cover all the prompts first. So, rushing would make you more stressed. Relax! Take your time and cover as many points as you can. Be easy on yourself.
4. Conclude before time
Again, you must do this for almost all speaking questions. As soon as you get to know that only five seconds are remaining, make all possible effort to conclude your response.

So, you must start strong and end well! Start taking PTE Speaking tests on TCYonline.com to score more on PTE!

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