IELTS, TOEFL, GMAT or GRE. Which test to take for studies abroad?

International entrance exams are required in order to get a seat in universities abroad. Every year, hundreds of students from India migrate to foreign countries to finish their higher studies.

And there are a number of exams one could choose to prepare for. Every test is different and requires a different approach—and results in a varied outcome.

The first thing to consider is your course. Once you have a course of interest in mind, look for universities that offer it. Then, depending on what tests they require, that will be the exams you should prepare for.

Numerous universities conduct their own entrance exams. Most of the others accept scores of International standard exams like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, GMAT and GRE. There are a ton of other exams too, but the above mentioned are popular and authentic.

In this article, we list the most popular and authentic international tests and give a glimpse of each test’s nature:

IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

IELTS is the most popular English proficiency test. Be it for study, work or migration, IELTS is the gateway test in about 135 countries around the globe.

There are four parts to the test: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Duration of the test could take up to three hours. Your skills on listening, reading and writing will be tested at once, one after the other with no breaks in between.

Speaking test may or may not be on the same day as other skill tests. In IELTS, you will be taking the speaking test with an examiner.

There are two tests in IELTS you can take: General Training or Academic. While ‘General Training’ like the name suggests, is general English training, the ‘Academic’ module is more advanced.

Read here for more information on IELTS.

Who should prepare for IELTS?

Aspirants who are looking to pursue higher education in an English speaking country could choose to write the IELTS Academic exam—for admissions in countries like UK, Canada, Australia and the US.

For immigrants, however, IELTS General Training would be sufficient.

If you like to speak one-on-one, prefer to write rather than type, can understand a variety of English accents, prefer the test to be short or find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time—IELTS is the test for you.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

TOEFL is another international exam that tests English Proficiency. IELTS and TOEFL have great similarities. Both the exams test your English Proficiency in Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening.

Speaking test in TOEFL, unlike in IELTS where you speak to an examiner, will be with a computer. You will be asked questions or to summarize or give your opinion on a topic. You will be talking into a microphone and your Speaking skill will be evaluated by experts.

Writing, while you write on a paper in IELTS, for TOEFL, you will be asked to type on a computer.

TOEFL takes about four and a half hours to finish.

Who should write TOEFL?

If you prefer American English accents over others, like multiple choice questions, are shy as a person, prefer to type rather than write, can concentrate for long periods of time—TOEFL is the test for you.

PTE (Pearson Test of English)

PTE Academic is a computer-based English Proficiency test. Like IELTS and TOEFL, PTE tests your Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

Who should write PTE?

If you prefer fast results—PTE is the test you should be taking. You get the results of your test in five days.

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

Unlike the test mentioned above, GMAT isn’t for English.  If your field of interest is business management and are planning to get into universities that offer business programs, GMAT is the gateway exam. Not just admission into universities abroad, employers take into consideration GMAT scores when hiring for Management job roles.

GMAT is being adopted by many schools and the rate is increasing every year. The quality of the test is a benchmark for other similar tests.

You can attempt GMAT multiple times and the validity of the score card is five years. A maximum of five attempts a year and a 31-day gap between each attempt is mandatory. Results will be given 10-15 days post the test.

Who should prepare for GMAT?

If business management is your field of interest and is looking to pursue MBA (Master of Business Administration) abroad.

 GRE (Graduate Record Exam)

Like GMAT, GRE is another standardized test that many business programs around the globe require. Mainly, GRE is a computer-based test. But, in particular, test centers writing tests are available too.

Who should choose GRE?

Aspirants wishing to pursue post-graduate courses like MS, MBA, and MEM can write GRE.


Remember, writing any of these tests is only the beginning. There are numerous things you should do to get admitted into your dream university.

Get Support

For any of these exams, support from a mentor or an overseas education expert can take you a long way. These experts have years of experience and have helped hundreds of students get admitted into universities abroad. With UDo, you can instantly get in touch with an overseas education expert and get a personalized plan for your future.


In case you wish to know more about these exams, please refer to the sources below.

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