The folks behind the IELTS recently published a head-to-head comparison of the IELTS General and the new PTE Core, encouraging individuals on the journey to residence in Canada to opt for the former product.

The comparison is a very eloquent defense of their product, but it highlights some of the challenges that the so-called “legacy” test makers face when dealing with competition from newer tests.  Specifically, a lot of the purported benefits of the legacy tests may be considered somewhat antiquated by test-takers in 2024.

For instance, the article notes that the IELTS can be taken on paper if one prefers.  I’m really not sure that the paper option is a big selling point in 2024.  It later suggests that the IELTS is better because it doesn’t use any AI.  I’m not sure that is a big selling point in 2024, either as people really like AI nowadays.  There is also some stuff about the decades-long legacy of the IELTS, which test-takers probably don’t care about one bit.

The article concedes that the IELTS is 55 minutes longer than the PTE core, noting that the IELTS is  “a bit longer, but we promise, we’re worth it! – we test the skills you need to succeed so you can feel confident starting your new life in Canada.”  Maybe in the distant past people thought about the positive washback of their test prep, but I’m not sure they view tests through that particular lens nowadays.

On the other hand, there is some very valid stuff about how it can be distracting to speak into a room with many other test-takers present.  That really is something people worry a lot about.

Anyway.  Competition is very good for consumers.  I really do hope that work began on the next-gen IELTS and TOEFL tests at least a few years ago. I want them to appeal to young test-takers.  Despite my sometimes dismissive tone, I really don’t want those products to lose TOO MUCH market share to newer tests. That would be bad for consumers in the long run.

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