IELTS or Cambridge? What is the difference and which I should choose?

You may wonder what the difference is between the Cambridge (e.g. FCE, CAE, PET, etc.) and the IELTS courses, and which one is best for you.

Here are some quick points to explain the difference –

  • In fact both are developed by the University of Cambridge developed exams, although IELTS was developed jointly with the British Council and IDP.
  • The IELTS exam awards a grade according to your level, whereas Cambridge courses have exams at each level and awards a certificate if you pass.
  • The IELTS grade is only valid for two years whereas the Cambridge exams have no expiry date.
  • IELTS is used as for immigration purposes and for entrance to higher education such as TAFE colleges and Universities in Australia and overseas. Mainsuite exams are widely used for employment overseas and also for college and university entrance.
  • The IELTS exam consists of 4 papers; listening, speaking, reading and writing. For immigration the reading and writing has a general English focus. For higher education students take an academic focused reading and writing exam.
  • Cambridge exams have 5 papers; listening, speaking, reading, writing and use of English. (PET only has four papers as Listening, speaking and reading/writing.

Img 3577[Above – the IELTS Class at GV Perth]

At GV Perth, we run IELTS continually in 12 week blocks. Students may join at any week, although it is advisable not to join in the last four week block. You must pass a pre-test to enter the course, and you must be at a minimum 4.5 IELTS or equivalent level. Exams are held every month in all the major cities, and there are several testing centres in Perth.

We also offer Cambridge FCE and CAE Examination Preparation Courses.  The exams are run three times a year in March, June and December, and are held simultaneously around the world. Entry is also by pre-test.

Img 3588
[Above – the FCE Class at GV Perth]

Which exam is best for you? If you want to enter a TAFE college course in Australia, then IELTS is the best option. If you wish to enter an undergraduate course at university, you can consider both IELTS or CAE.

If you would like to know which level is suitable for your level, check out the table below – it compares General English levels (Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Elementary, etc.) to the equivalent IELTS and Cambridge levels 🙂


If you have any questions about these exams or the courses that we offer, come and have a chat with Neil~! 🙂

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