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When choosing which English test is right for you, a test that takes two hours or less might seem like a good option. Both TOEFL and Pearson's PTE Academic tests are about 2 hours. A globally recognised test like IELTS takes only 45 minutes more. That's about the same time as any university exam. While a shorter test takes up less of your time on test day, it may not be worth it in the long run.

Book IELTS for study or migration

IELTS vs. shorter tests - What’s the difference?

IELTS takes 2 hours and 45 minutes. Other English language tests, such as PTE Academic or TOEFL are a little bit shorter: roughly 2 hours. The Duolingo English Test takes about 1 hour. Tests for work, study and migration score you on four key areas of English comprehension: 

Some providers now offer shorter English tests that can be completed in 2 hours or less. You are still marked on you listening, reading, writing and speaking skills, but the time limit for each section is reduced. You have less time to show your skill.

IELTS on computer vs. PTE-A

What are the benefits of a shorter test?

The main benefit of a shorter test is that it takes up less of your time on test day. You still need to spend the same amount of time studying, and you will still need to demonstrate the same level of English comprehension on test day.

A shorter test can save up to one hour of your time on test day.

What are the risks of taking a shorter test?

Why IELTS is the most recognised English test

Before booking a shorter version of an English test, there are some risks you should be aware of.

Risk 1: Shorter tests may not be accepted for work, study and visas.

A short test sounds easy, but it might not meet the requirements of your university, your employer, or migration officer. For example, TOEFL has a shorter test but is not accepted for visas in Australia, the UK and Canada. Duolingo English Test is only about an hour, but most universities don’t accept it. PTE-A is also a bit shorter than IELTS, but not accepted for all visas in Canada or by some employment bodies.

How is IELTS different?

IELTS is accepted by more organisations than any other English test. You can use it for work, study and migration in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and many other countries around the world.

Risk 2: Limited time to do your best

While spending a shorter amount of time on each section is how test providers reduce overall test time, there is a downside to this. Test takers have less time to expand on their knowledge, which means they may not get the opportunity to really show off their skills.

How is IELTS different?

A quality test such as the IELTS gives you more time to demonstrate a good understanding of the questions you are given.

Risk 3: Less time to focus

Some people sit down and immediately start on their test question, but others may need more time to settle in. When you’re taking a shorter test, you have less time to get used to your environment and you must be able to concentrate straight away. This means less time to fix any mistakes.

How is the IELTS different?

When you take a test such as IELTS with a standard test time, you can plan your time to allow for a few minutes at the start of each section to calmly read and understand the tasks ahead. This can help you focus and clear your mind before starting on your answers.

Risk 4: More stress

Achieving a high test score is very important for your visa approval, university application or job acceptance. Even if you’re generally a calm person, test day can be a stressful experience. Strict time limitations on shorter tests, in addition to normal test-day stress, may cause you to panic and make careless mistakes.

How is the IELTS different?

If you opt for a test such as IELTS, you will have more time to calm your nerves and focus on relaxing. Knowing you have a longer timeframe to complete your tasks can relieve some of the test day stress you may feel. 

Risk 5: It might not save you time

It sounds silly to say that a shorter test might not save you time, but that could be true! If you choose a shorter test and find that you struggle with the time limits or the smaller number of topics covered, you may receive a score that is lower than you need. In this case, you would need to organise another test which will cost you more time and money in the long run.

How is the IELTS different?

With IELTS, you have enough time to show your real English language skills. You don’t have to rush. That’s why most people get the score they need with IELTS. And if something goes wrong on test day? You can always fix your mistakes with IELTS One Skill Retake.

No secrets with IELTS

Should I choose a traditional-length test instead?

A test may take slightly longer on test day, but they are still the best option for most test takers. Consider a standard test such as the IELTS if:

  • You tend to get nervous under pressure

  • You need some time to concentrate

  • You like having time to carefully read and understand tasks

  • You like having time to think and plan out your answers

  • You want to avoid mistakes

Hear from test takers

Are shorter tests worth it?

Shorter tests could be a good option for some people. You may want to consider a shorter English test if:

  • You thrive under pressure

  • You have a deep knowledge of many English topics

  • You can read and understand task instructions quickly

  • You can demonstrate your knowledge quickly and efficiently

Academic or General Training

Why choose IELTS?

BODY IMAGE 5 - When to apply - IDP - 686x369 - counsellor - Canada

IELTS is the world's most popular English test for a reason. Why choose IELTS?

  • IELTS is accepted by more universities, colleges and academic institutions than any other English test. The test is accepted globally by more than 12,000 organisations.

  • Are you more comfortable with paper or computers? IELTS lets you choose how you want to take your test. 

  • Feel confident on test day with official IELTS preparation materials. They are free and you'll get access to premium materials including webinars, videos and practice tests. 

  • IELTS is the only major test to offer One Skill Retake. You can now retake any component of the test; Listening, Reading, Writing or Speaking. It's perfect if you want to improve on one area instead of redoing a full test. With other tests, you need to book, pay, and sit a full test again. 

Ready to get started? Book your IELTS today and take the first step on your journey to living, working or studying in Australia!