Between SAT and IELTS, which one is better? Is SAT Harder Than The IELTS? In this article, we shall examine both examination bodies and help you choose the best for yourself. This post will also explain how each of the examinations works.

Overview: SAT & IELTS

SAT Exam

The SAT is a standardized test taken by high school students in the United States. It is used as part of the college admissions process. The SAT consists of multiple-choice questions in math, reading, and writing. The exam is scored out of 1600 and takes about three hours to complete. 


The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a test of English proficiency used for immigration and higher education purposes. The exam tests the candidate’s reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. It is scored on a scale of 1-9 and takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. 

Although both exams are used for college admissions, the SAT is primarily focused on academic preparedness while the IELTS is focused on measuring English language proficiency. Additionally, the SAT is more commonly taken by students in the United States, whereas the IELTS is taken by students around the world who are applying to universities or for immigration purposes.

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Differences in Format and Structure of SAT and IELTS Exam

The SAT and IELTS exams differ in format and structure in several ways:

  1. Purpose: The SAT is primarily designed for students seeking undergraduate admission in the US, while the IELTS is an English proficiency test taken by non-native speakers seeking admission to universities or employment opportunities in English-speaking countries.
  2. Test Sections: The SAT consists of two main sections – Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, along with an optional essay. The IELTS, on the other hand, has four sections – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.
  3. Test Duration: The SAT lasts for 3 hours and 50 minutes, including the optional essay. The IELTS, on the other hand, has a total duration of 2 hours and 45 minutes, with an additional 11-14 minutes for the IELTS Speaking test.
  4. Test Content: The SAT tests a student’s ability to analyze and synthesize information, interpret data, and solve math problems. In contrast, the IELTS focuses on assessing a person’s English language skills, including their ability to comprehend spoken and written English, communicate effectively in writing, and speak fluently.
  5. Scoring: The SAT is scored on a scale of 400 to 1600, while the IELTS is scored on a scale of 0 to 9. The SAT essay is scored separately on a scale of 2 to 8.

SEE ALSO: Is SAT Harder than PSAT | Which one is Easier to Pass

Level of Difficulty in SAT and IELTS Reading and Writing Sections

According to  our research, both exams are considered challenging, and require specific skills and strategies to excel in each section.

The SAT Reading and Writing sections have a focus on critical reading comprehension, analysis, and sentence structure. The passages and questions can be complex and require students to read actively and make inferences. 

The IELTS Reading and Writing sections also test a student’s ability to comprehend and analyze written information, but it is more geared towards assessing English language proficiency. The reading section consists of academic texts while the writing section requires test-takers to demonstrate their ability to write clearly and coherently in response to prompts.

In terms of difficulty level, it may vary depending on the student’s individual strengths and weaknesses, background knowledge and language proficiency. Ultimately, both exams require extensive preparation and practice to succeed.

SEE ALSO: SAT Registration & How to Register for SAT Examination

Score Comparison: SAT vs IELTS Grading System

The SAT and IELTS are two standardized tests used to evaluate the language and academic abilities of students. These tests use different grading systems, which can make them difficult to compare. However, there are some general guidelines that can help students understand how their scores on these tests compare to each other.

SAT Grading System:

The SAT is scored on a scale of 400–1600, with 200 point increments in both the Math and the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections. The essay is scored separately on a scale of 2-8.

IELTS Grading System:

The IELTS test is scored on a scale of 0–9, with 0.5 point increments. Scores are given for each of the four sections of the IELTS test (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) and are then averaged to get an overall band score.

Score Comparison:

While it is difficult to directly compare the SAT and IELTS scores, there are general guidelines that can help students understand how their scores compare to each other.

For example, an SAT score of 1300 is generally considered to be equivalent to an IELTS band score of 7.5. Similarly, an SAT score of 1500 is roughly equivalent to an IELTS score of 8.5. However, it’s important to remember that these are only general guidelines and that the two tests measure different skills.

In general, the SAT is used by American colleges and universities to evaluate the academic abilities of their applicants. The IELTS, on the other hand, is used by universities and organizations around the world to evaluate the language abilities of non-native speakers of English.

Ultimately, the best way to determine how your SAT and IELTS scores compare is to consult with the institutions you’re applying to. They will be able to give you specific guidance on what scores you need to achieve to be considered for admission or employment.

Is the SAT harder than the IELTS?

The SAT and IELTS are two different tests with different purposes. The SAT is a standardized test that measures high school students’ readiness for college. It covers a range of subjects, including math, reading, and writing. The IELTS is an English language proficiency test that measures a non-native speaker’s ability to use English in academic and professional settings. It covers listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

It is difficult to say definitively which test is harder, as the difficulty of each test will vary depending on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. However, in general, the SAT is considered to be a more challenging test than the IELTS. This is because the SAT covers a wider range of subjects and requires students to have a deeper understanding of the material. The IELTS, on the other hand, is more focused on English language skills.

Here is a table showing the differences between the two tests:

Subject Math, Reading, Writing
Purpose Measure college readiness
Difficulty More challenging
Score range 400-1600

Ultimately, the best way to determine which test is right for you is to take a practice test of each one. This will give you a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses and help you decide which test is a better fit for your needs.

Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing between the SAT and IELTS:

  • The universities or colleges you are applying to. Some universities may prefer one test over the other.
  • Your native language. If your native language is not English, you may find the IELTS to be a more challenging test.
  • Your budget. The SAT is typically more expensive than the IELTS.

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