GRE vs IELTS: Which Test is Right for You

When you dream of studying abroad, you must clear your path full of hurdles. The admission criteria for every top-ranked universities is similar to those hurdles and the documents required for admission are like levels.To achieve your dream, you must go through many of them yet today we are going to discuss difference between GRE and IELTS. Both are two different types of standardised tests and still confuse many students like you. So, let’s start exploring GRE vs IELTS

Understanding GRE vs IELTS

Well, the GRE is predominantly employed as an admission requirement for graduate-level programs in the United States, whereas the IELTS is utilized to evaluate the English language proficiency of non-native speakers intending to pursue studies or employment in English-speaking nations.

Certainly, here are some key highlights on the GRE vs IELTS:

Criteria IELTS GRE
Purpose English language proficiency test for non-native English speakers Standardised test for graduate school admissions
Test Sections Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing
Test Format Paper-based or Computer-based Computer-based
Scoring Scored on a band scale from 0 to 9, with 0.5 increments Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scored on a scale from 130 to 170 in 1-point increments, Analytical Writing scored on a scale from 0 to 6 in 0.5 increments
Validity Valid for 2 years from the test date Valid for 5 years from the test date
Purpose-specific Versions Academic and General Training (for different purposes such as academic study or immigration) General Test (for most graduate programs) and Subject Tests (for specific subject areas)
Test Availability Offered throughout the year Offered year-round, but specific test dates may vary
Test Fees $185 to $325 $205 to $255
Test Duration Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes Approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes

Difference Between GRE and IELTS

Now that you learnt about GRE vs IELTS, having a good knowledge on their detailed differences is quite important. Indeed, both the GRE and IELTS are standardized tests that assess your academic and language proficiency. 

Take a look at the detailed points on difference between GRE and IELTS

#1 Conducting Body

  • GRE:
      • Administrator: The Educational Testing Service (ETS), a non-profit organization responsible for administering the GRE. It is globally recognized for developing standardized tests for educational purposes.
  • IELTS:
    • Administrator: Owned jointly by three organizations: the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. These entities collaborate to manage and administer the IELTS exam worldwide.

#2 Exam Format

  •  GRE:
      • Analytical Writing: One Section – Analyze an Issue.
      • Verbal Reasoning: Two sections, one with 12 questions and the other section with 15 questions.
      • Quantitative Reasoning: Two sections, one with 12 questions and the other section with 15 questions.
  • IELTS:
    • Listening: 40 multiple-choice questions.
    • Reading: 40 multiple-choice questions.
    • Writing: 2 tasks.
    • Speaking: Face-to-face interview with an examiner in 3 parts.


The GRE emphasizes analytical, quantitative skills, and language proficiency, whereas the IELTS assesses English language proficiency across listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.

#3 Skills Tested

  • GRE:
    • Verbal Reasoning: Analyzing and evaluating written material, drawing conclusions, and recognizing relationships among concepts and words.
    • Quantitative Reasoning: Understanding, interpreting, and analyzing quantitative information and solving mathematical problems.
    • Analytical Writing: Presenting complex ideas clearly, concisely, and in an organized manner.
  • IELTS:
    • Listening: Understanding spoken English.
    • Reading: Comprehending written English.
    • Writing: Completing tasks involving essay writing and responding to specific prompts.
    • Speaking: Communicating effectively in spoken English, including pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.

#4 Scorecard Scale

  • GRE:
      • Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning: Scored from 130-170 in one-point increments.
      • Analytical Writing: Scored from 0-6 in half-point increments.
      • Total Score: The sum of Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning scores, ranging from 260-340.
      • Validity: Scores are valid for five years.
      • Percentile Ranks: Indicate the percentage of test-takers who scored lower than the test-taker.
  • IELTS:
    • Each section scored from 0-9 in half-point increments.
    • Overall Score: The average of scores from the four sections, ranging from 0-9.
    • Band Score: Indicates the test-taker’s proficiency level in English.
    • Validity: Scores are valid for two years.
    • Score Report: Includes overall score, individual section scores, and band score.

#5 Exam Duration

  • GRE:
      • Total Duration: Approximately 1 hour and 58 minutes.
      • Analytical Writing: 30 minutes.
      • Verbal Reasoning: Section 1 – 18 minutes; Section 2 – 23 minutes.
      • Quantitative Reasoning: Section 1 – 21 minutes; Section 2 – 26 minutes.
  • IELTS:
    • Total Duration: About 2 hours and 45 minutes.
    • Listening, Reading, and Writing: Completed consecutively with no breaks.
    • Speaking: Conducted separately, either on the same day or within a week of the other sections.

#6 Exam Fee

  • GRE:
      • Cost: Typically ranges from $205 to $255, depending on the location.
      • Additional Fees: May apply for score reporting, sending additional score reports, and rescheduling or canceling the test.
  • IELTS:
    • Cost: Generally ranges from $185 to $325, depending on the location.
    • Additional Fees: May apply for score reporting, sending additional score reports, and rescheduling or canceling the test.

#7 Eligibility Criteria

  • GRE: No specific eligibility criteria, but universities or programs may have their own requirements.
  • IELTS: No formal eligibility criteria; open to all individuals needing to demonstrate English proficiency for academic or immigration purposes.

#8 Difficulty Level

  • GRE:
      • Known for its challenging nature, especially in Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.
      • Questions designed to assess critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills.
  • IELTS:
    • Difficulty varies based on your English proficiency.
    • Listening and Reading involve comprehension of different accents and complex texts.
    • Writing and Speaking require effective communication and organization of ideas.

#9 Number of Attempts

  • GRE:
      • No specific limit on the number of attempts.
      • Minimum gap of 21 days required between consecutive attempts.
  • IELTS:
    • No limitations on the number of attempts.
    • No waiting period between attempts.

#10 Acceptance

  • GRE:
      • Widely accepted for admission into diverse graduate programs worldwide.
  • IELTS:
    • Globally recognized for proving English proficiency; commonly required for university admission and immigration.

GRE vs IELTS? Which one is Better?

Now that you have checked detailed points on difference between GRE and IELTS, you should also understand which test is better and how can it benefit you. There are several factors based on which you can apply for admission in universities. Look over it below:

Academic Goals:

  • GRE: Suitable for US graduate programs.
  • IELTS: Ideal for international English universities.

Language Proficiency:

  • IELTS: If English is not your first language or if you need to prove English proficiency.
  • GRE: Assumes a high level of English proficiency.

Specific Requirements:

  • Check university or program requirements for the preferred exam choice. Some have specific exam preferences or score requirements.


To conclude, the choice between GRE vs IELTS depends on your academic goals, language proficiency, and specific program requirements. GRE is tailored for US graduate programs, while IELTS proves English proficiency for international universities. 

Understanding the difference between GRE and IELTS helps you make an informed decision on the test that aligns with your aspirations.

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