General IELTS Vs Academic IELTS – the Top Differences and Similarities

We all know about the IELTS which is a standardized exam conducted to test the English language skills of candidates planning to study or migrate to an English-speaking country. There are two kinds of IELTS tests one can choose from to attempt. The choice of the test type from IELTS Academic and IELTS General depends on your need for the test.

One needs to appear for the International English Language Testing System in case he or she is planning to go to an English-speaking nation like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, etc.

It is also necessary to learn about the key differences and similarities between the two IELTS test types. In this blog content, we will discuss in brief about General Vs Academic IELTS tests popular worldwide.

About IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic test is for those individuals who plan for higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking country. This test is taken to judge the candidates’ abilities to study and understand English and to check whether they are ready to begin their studying or training in an English native country. This test is widely accepted by institutions and universities located in English native countries across the world.

IELTS Academic Test: When to Take?

The IELTS Academic is conducted to measure whether the candidates’ level of English language is ideal for an academic environment or not. Moreover, it reflects various aspects of academic language and checks whether the individuals are all set to begin their training or study in an English-native country or not.

You must take the test in case –

  •   You want to study at a UG level or PG level globally
  •   Applying for a Tier 4 Student Visa at a university that is a Tier 4 Sponsor in the UK
  •   Want to work in an English-speaking nation for a professional organization

About IELTS General Training

This test is taken by the ones planning to go to English-speaking nations for education below degree level, work experience, or for training programs. Scoring high in IELTS General Training is also a requirement in case you are planning to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. IELTS General Training test pay detailed attention to the social and workplace contexts.

IELTS General Training: When to Take?

IELTS General Training is conducted to check the individual’s English language proficiency in a practical, day-to-day context. The tasks and tests indicate both workplace & social conditions.

You must appear for the test in case –

  •   You are planning to study or get trained abroad
  •   In case you want to work or undertake work-related training in any English-speaking nation
  •   Planning to immigrate to an English-speaking country
  •   Want to do another job in your own country

Format of General Vs Academic IELTS

Both the Academic and General Training exam includes four sections listening, speaking, reading, and writing which are designed to judge the candidates’ proficiency in the English language.


  •   The total time for the Listening section is half an hour which is the same for both tests.
  •   There are a total of 4 recorded listening sections in both exams.


  •   For both exams, the candidates have to give a face-to-face interview which is arranged with a professional IELTS Speaking Examiner.
  •   In the Speaking module, candidates will get 11-14 minutes to share their understanding of the given topics in both the IELTS Academic and General Training exams.
  •   The Speaking module consists of short questions and longer questions where the test takers will be asked to speak about a familiar topic. There is also a structured discussion.


  •   The total time duration of the reading portion is 60 minutes which is the same for both the IELTS Academic and General Training exams.
  •   In both IELTS Academic and IELTS general training, both exams will have three sections with questions about the readings.
  •   For the IELTS Academic exam, several texts are there to read including analytical, descriptive, and factual. The reading module might also include some illustrations.
  •   There are three sections on the reading part of the General Training exam. In the first section, two to three short texts will be there while in the later section, there are two short, work-regarding texts. In the final section, there will be a long text regarding any general interest topic.
  •   The texts prepared in both the Academic and General Training exam are authentic and a majority of the texts are asked from books, newspapers, journals, etc.


  •   The Writing section will be of 60 minutes for both the IELTS Academic and General Training exams.
  •   Each section includes two tasks. In Task 1, the candidate needs to write a minimum of 150 words while in Task 2 a minimum of 250 words of text is needed.
  •   The students taking the IELTS Academic exam must know that Task 1 is about writing a table, graph, chart, or diagram. On the other hand, Task 2 is an essay while for the General Training exam, Task 1 consists of writing a letter.

Both versions of the test mostly have the same general format with a focus on checking the candidates’ English writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills which are tested separately, no matter whichever test you are giving. There are not many differences between the listening and speaking sections at all. The candidates can expect almost the same topics and question types in the IELTS Academic or IELTS General test.

IELTS General Vs Academic

University students and professionals are expected to be equipped with high English reading skills that are strong and accurate enough for texts in professional and academic journals, textbooks, and relevant magazines and newspapers.

In Academic IELTS, the texts are taken directly from journals, textbooks, and relevant magazines to judge the candidates’ comprehension skills. Similarly, in the writing section, most of the topics relevant to academic and professional settings are being asked in the exam. The candidate’s English writing skills will be judged so that it can be assured that they are strong enough to write college-level essays.

While the individuals who opted for General Training IELTS would encounter the same kind of language that might come in the advertisements, guidebooks, magazines, notices, or sometimes the kind of language that appear in employee manuals. The understanding of IELTS general Vs academic can help applicants choose the right type of test. As a test taker, you must demonstrate your English skills in writing general tasks like letter writing or basic essay writing.

IELTS General and Academic IELTS: Score Comparison

One of the biggest differences between both versions of the test is based on the scores that the individuals can score in the test. Though IELTS Listening, Speaking, and Writing are scored the same way in both exams, as far as the IELTS reading part is concerned, it is slightly different. IELTS Reading, which holds a full 25% of your score, is rated quite differently when it comes to IELTS academic and IELTS general training.

For instance, in case you get 30 out of 40 answers correct answers in IELTS Reading which is also referred to as a raw score of 30. In general training reading, it will be an IELTS Band of 5.0 but 30 out of 40 in IELTS academic reading would mean a band of 6.0. Your raw scores will have a completely different meaning in terms of the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

Before you explore your options regarding choosing between IELTS General or Academic, it is important to spend some time researching and understanding the need for the test. It can help in meeting your personal, professional, and educational goals.

By knowing the requirements for education, training, work, and/or migration, and having a crystal-clear plan, you can take the necessary steps toward reaching your goals. For more info on General Vs Academic IELTS, reach out to us at Study Smart.

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