A Comparison of IELTS and GRE

IELTS and GRE not only stand for two different examinations but also for two different systems with similar objects.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) measures your competency purely in English language. It is arranged by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, British Council and IDP Education Australia. You may choose either the academic or general training modules. The academic module is used for enrollment in universities for higher education while the general module is for the workplace.

On the other hand the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standard test for admission requirement in many institutions in English speaking countries. It is administered by the ETS. The examination measures not only your vocabulary but also your abstract thinking in the field of math and your analytical capabilities. It does not restrict itself to the English language as the IELTS does.

Characteristics of IELTS and GRE

ielts and gre

The IELTS and GRE possess different characteristics.

The main characteristics of the IELTS are:

• IELTS is considered more authoritative that TOEFL though the later handles with North American, UK and British English languages. In IELTS a variety of accents and writing styles are presented in text materials to minimize linguistic bias.

• IELTS tests your ability to listen, read and write beside your command over spoken English.

• There are two test styles in IELTS; academic or general.

• Band scores are used for listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. The Band scale for each section from 1 to 9 where 1 is for non user and 9 score is given to an expert user.

The GRE possess the following characteristics.

• The graduate Record Exam or GRE is a basic requirement of the school admissions process in many English speaking countries. • The level of emphasis placed on GRE scores differ widely in different educational institutions.

• The GRE scores may be used as a mere formality or solid criteria for your career advancement, depending upon the situation.

• The exam format is rigid.

• The GRE can effectively test how a student may perform in the applied disciplines.

• The computer adaptive techniques have been used widely now in the GRE tests.

Exam Structures of IELTS and GRE

The examination structure of IELTS and the GRE is different from each other. Even the test taking techniques of the IELTS and GRE may also vary from place to place.

GRE Test

The examination consists of three sections and a required experimental section that is not included in the reported score. The three graded sections are

1- Analytical Writing

2- Verbal

3- Quantitative

The analytic writing section appears before the verbal, quantitative and experimental sections. An optional research section may also appear at end of the test. The entire test process takes about 3 hours.


IELTS is based on a nine band scale. Each Band corresponds to different English competence. The Band Scores are in whole or half Bands. The nine bands are (from nine to one):

1- An expert user has appropriate, accurate and fluent command over language with complete understanding of it .

2-Very Good User is the 2nd band and the person concerned shows only occasional unsystematic inaccuracy and inappropriateness.

3-Good User has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings.

4- Competent User of the IELTS

5- Modest User has partial command of the language.

6- Limited user is limited to a familiar situations and has frequent problems in the use of complex language.

7- Extremely Limited User may convey and understand only general meanings in very familiar situations.

8- For Intermittent User no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formula in familiar situations.

9- Non User has no ability to use the language. It takes only one score, the last level.

The GRE and IELTS are the tests with overlapping purposes. The GRE is taken for admission as well as screening purposes. The IELTS is also conducted either for academic or workplace training purposes. However, it is logic and content of the tests which differs them from each other. The GRE involves many skills while IELTS restricts itself to the common language skills.

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