The GMAT (Graduate Management Assessment Test) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) examinations have been a controversial topic amongst students. However, a comparison between the two may not be ideal. While IELTS is an English proficiency test conducted by the British Council for academic purposes or living abroad, the GMAT exam conducted by GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) is to assess your aptitude and analytical skills to get into an MBA program. 

However, for those of you who are still confused about which exam is for what and which is the one you should opt for, here’s detailed information on the GMAT vs IELTS. We hope by the end of the article you will have no more doubts. 


We have covered different sections of the GMAT and IELTS and have tried to provide all relevant information of both the exams. 

  1. Exam Pattern

IELTS has four papers — Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Hence, it measures your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English. 

  • Listening: The thirty-minute listening section consists of four recorded monologues, voice notes, or conversations. There are forty questions in the listening section. 
  • Reading: The sixty-minute long reading section consists of three long passages with supplementary tasks. The passage can be descriptive, factual, theoretical, and even include non-verbal cues like graphs or diagrams. There are forty questions in this section that are based on the passage. 
  • Writing: The sixty-minute long writing section requires you to write at least 400 words divided into two parts. The first writing task is a 150 word summary of a table, graph, or any pictorial representation. The second is a short 250-word essay. 
  • Speaking: The last section is a face-to-face interview which will include a structured discussion as well as short questions. 

Note: IELTS has two different modules — Academic and General Training. While the listening and speaking tests are the same in both modules, the writing and reading tests are different. For more information, click here. 

The GMAT, on the other hand, is divided into four sections — Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning. It tests your analytical, problem solving and critical thinking skills. 

  • Analytical Writing Assessment: This thirty-minute-long section requires you to write an English essay from a given short prompt. You are required to analyse the reason behind the given argument and critique it with clarity. 
  • Integrated Reasoning: This thirty-minute-long section has 12 questions divided into four types —  graphical interpretation, multi-source reasoning, two-part analysis, and table analysis. The questions are designed to test your ability to integrate data to solve complex problems. Besides, you can take the help of an on-screen calculator to solve these problems.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: This multiple-choice sixty-two minutes long section consists of 31 questions and is entirely mathematical as it tests you on your knowledge of arithmetic, geometry and algebra. Besides, there are two types of questions — data sufficiency and problem-solving that measures your ability to reason mathematically, interpret data and solve quantitative problems. 
  • Verbal Reasoning: This sixty-five minutes long section of the GMAT has three types of questions — reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. This section is designed to test your ability to grammatically correct written material, comprehend, reason and evaluate arguments in English. 
  1. Eligibility

You are eligible to take the IELTS if you are above the age of 16. Moreover, since it’s a language proficiency test, there are no specific educational requirements set by the British Council. Generally, if you have passed the 10+2 level of education from any recognised institution, you are eligible for taking the IELTS exam. 

Note: You must have a valid passport to take the exam.

On the other hand, anyone above the age of 18 can appear for the GMAT exam. There is no upper age limit for students applying to take the test. However, if you are between the age group of 13 to 17 years, you need a written permission from your parents or your legal guardian to sit for the exam. Having said that, there are no other specific requirements to take the GMAT. However, to apply to an MBA program, you need a graduation degree from a recognised university.

  1. Registration

You can register for the IELTS through the British Council’s official site in three simple steps. You need to check the availability of a suitable test date, create your account and finally, confirm your booking by making the required payment.

As for the GMAT exam, you can register by signing up on To start the registration process, you need to click on the ‘exams’ button at the top left corner of the page. From there, you’ll be directed to a page where you will need to fill in your personal and academic details, etc. Once done with it, you can schedule your appointment according to your convenience.

  1. Exam fees

The IELTS fee is INR 14700. However, it varies from country to country and is subject to change. Besides, if you cancel your IELTS test up to five weeks before the exam, you will be eligible for a refund minus a 25% administration fee.

On the other hand, the registration fee for the GMAT exam is $250 or INR 18,300. You can reschedule or cancel your exam anytime you want, but you will be charged a fee for that. 

  1. Scoring Pattern

IELTS scores range from 0 to 9. Besides, you can also get scores in .5 (for eg: 5.5 or 6.5 etc.) Moreover, for each skill — listening, reading, writing and speaking — you get a band score and an overall band score which is an average of all the four. For more information, check here.

GMAT is scored on a scale of 200-800. Similar to IELTS, GMAT sections are also scored separately. The integrated Reasoning is scored on a scale of 1-8, while the score range is 0-60 for Quant and Verbal Reasoning sections, and 0-6 for Analytical writing assessment. 

  1. Score Validity

The IELTS is valid for two years from the date of the test, whereas the GMAT is valid for five years.

  1. Number of Attempts

The conducting body of IELTS has not issued any limit for retaking the exam. You can appear for the IELTS Exam as many times as you want to get that perfect score. 

However, the GMAT can be attempted up to 5 times in a rolling period of 12 months. Once you attend the test, you must wait for at least 16 days to retake it. The lifetime limit for this exam is 8.

  1. Level of Difficulty

The IELTS is perceived to be easier for students with an English speaking background, however, this doesn’t mean that it is easy to ace the exam. Dedicated practise and preparation is required to crack the IELTS exam.

As for the GMAT exam, it’s a comparatively difficult test as you are not just tested on your English speaking and writing skills, but also on your logical reasoning and critical thinking skills. Having said that, preparation and planning is key to acing this exam as well. 

  1. Time 

The total duration of the IELTS exam is two hours and forty-five minutes (for reading, listening and writing). Your speaking is conducted on the same day when you give the exams for other sections or a week before or after for around 15 minutes. 

The duration of the GMAT exam on the other hand, is three hours and thirty minutes, including the 8-minutes optional break. 

The GMAT and IELTS exams require your dedication and hard work. Moreover, both exams are quite different, hence, none is a substitute for the other.  So, whether it is GMAT vs IELTS, whichever you decide to take up, all you need to do is plan, strategise and prepare.


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