IELTS General Vs. Academic – Differences, Similarities and Scenario

(IELTS)- International English language Testing System is a system that conducts an exam that helps you to work, study or migrate to any country in the world where English is the native language.

It is jointly owned and conducted by the British Council, IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English.

This language test has two types of format; IELTS Academic and IELTS general training. The candidate can appear in either Academic or General Training as per their requirement. Ultimately, these types of tests assess English language proficiency in listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Although many students get confused regarding the test format that they should appear in. So in this article, we will explore the difference between General Vs. Academic. Because many of the applicants want to know which test to choose. The answer to this depends upon the purpose of appearing the test.

This article is for those who what to study abroad, get a job abroad, or migrate abroad. So before booking your test, please go through this article to know which test is appropriate for you.

IELTS Academic

Simply speaking, this test measures whether your proficiency in the English language is suitable for academics or not. It measures whether you are ready or not for your study or training.

So, this test is mainly for those who want to pursue an under or post-graduate program in an English-speaking country or work in an English-speaking country for any professional organization.

IELTS General Training

IELTS general training measures English language proficiency in a practical and day-to-day context. All the questions reflect both the workplace and social settings.

One should take this test if he wants to study or train below degree level, work or undertake work-related training in an English-speaking country, migrate to the English-speaking country, and finally to get another job in your own country.

Now, if you have decided to apply for IELTS, you may already know that in both IELTS, either general or Academic, there are 4 parts; Writing (tasks 1 & 2), Reading, Listening and Speaking.

Let us discover the differences with respect to all these 4 parts;

Writing task 2, listening test, and Speaking test are the same. In writing task two, the candidate will be asked to write an essay; you will be given a topic and 40 minutes of time to write an essay in 250 words.

In the listening, the test will have to hear 4 audio recordings. It may be a conversational or solo speech, and you have to answer 40 questions from the recordings. You will be given 30-40 minutes for this.

In the speaking test, a candidate is interviewed; it will include 3 parts; the interview, the short presentation, and the discussion. You will be given 11-14 minutes.

So, the only difference between modules of IELTS general training and IELTS academic are in tests of writing task 1 and reading.

So, how are they different? Let's start with Writing task 1. In general, test writing task 1 includes describing and analyzing the data from the given charts, graphs, tables, and diagrams. And in general training, you need to write a letter in one of the following styles, formal semi-formal, and informal. You will be given 20 minutes for this task in both types of exams. And the word limit for this task is a minimum of 150 words.

In the reading task for academics, there will be 3 long passages with increasing difficulties; these passages are mostly in an academic style related to sciences, social science, or history. For general training, there will be 4 passages with increasing length and difficulty. The nature of these passages are general, like an advertisement, notices, travel brochures, job descriptions, employment contracts, etc. In both the tests, you need to complete the task in 60 minutes (50 minutes for reading passages and 10 minutes to transfer the answer onto the answer sheets) 

Between the IELTS Academic and IELTS general, which one is appropriate for you? Let's learn through the various scenarios;

Vikram wants to apply to the University in the USA, wants to study MBA at one of the universities. Although he has his graduate degree from English speaking university in India, the University of the USA requested an IELTS score. To get admission, Vikram will need to complete the IELTS academic.

Arshdeep is a physiotherapist from Punjab, India. He is currently living in Toronto, Canada, and now he wants to apply for registration with the Physiotherapist Board of Canada. To do so, he will need to complete the IELTS Academic.

Prashant is an I.T. professional from India. He has applied for a job in an I.T. company in London. The company asked for proof of his proficiency in the English language. For this, Prashant needs to complete the IELTS academic.

Samir visited San Francisco last year, and accidentally, he met the love of his life. Now he wants to migrate to the U.S . to be with her. As a part of his application for immigration, he will need to complete IELTS general.

So, these are the significant differences between the IELTS general and IELTS academic. Keeping the simple, you need to give IELTS academic if you want to get admission in any English-speaking university or for any professional registration. On the other hand, you have to appear for the IELTS general if you are planning to migrate to any English-speaking country.

Looking for learning resources? Visit to get access to resources curated just for you.