What is the difference between IELTS Academic and General Test

IELTS test has two types: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both the tests include four modules – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking –and assess candidates\’ English language proficiency in each. The decision regarding which IELTS test to give depends on which the candidates will use the IELTS score.

What is General IELTS?

The General IELTS, often referred to as IELTS General Training (GT), is used for general immigration purposes. Countries like Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia, etc. will require the IELTS General Training for candidates willing to enter these countries for all immigration and employment processes.

The General IELTS tends to test the candidates\’ skills in everyday use of the English language in a non-academic setting.

What is Academic IELTS?

The Academic IELTS test is intended for prospective students applying for admissions in colleges and universities in a country for which the medium of instruction is English. The Academic IELTS might also be used by professionals applying for a job.

The Academic IELTS tests the candidates\’ reading and writing skills that aren\’t necessarily part of English speakers\’ daily communication experience. It gives a representation of the academic language of a candidate. It allows the universities to evaluate whether the English language proficiency of a candidate is sufficient to begin training or studying at a course.  

Differences between Academic and General IELTS

The main differences between Academic and General Training are in the Reading and Writing modules. The modules\’ overall format will be similar in both the tests; however, the tests will vary in terms of topics and question types, and formats.

Reading Module

Academic Writing

The IELTS Academic Reading will contain 3 long passages that increase in difficulty. The passages will include academic-style texts on topics such as science, history, sociology, etc. Each passage may contain 11-13 questions from a range of question types, such as fill in the blanks, multiple choices, matching, and so on.

General Writing

The IELTS General Training Reading test contains 3 short passages and 1 long passage. These passages tend to increase in length and difficulty. The passages include more general/everyday style texts relating to everyday social, workplace, and general use. The short passages usually contain one type of reading question, while the long passage includes a mixture of different reading question types.

Writing Module

Academic Writing

Academic Writing Task 1 requires candidates to write a report based on a given diagram. These can be tables, pie charts, bar charts, line graphs, etc.

Academic Writing Task 2 requires the candidates to write an essay. Candidates should provide their opinions regarding the topic and make arguments to justify their opinion better.

General Writing

General writing Task 1 is all about writing a letter. The letters can be informal, semi-formal or formal and the appropriate writing style has to be used accordingly.

The General writing Task 2 is similar to that of Academic writing, where they will need to discuss a given issue.

Similarities between Academic and General IELTS

The Academic and General IELTS have more similarities than differences.

  • The timings for both the tests are the same, taking a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The timings for each individual module are also the same.
  • The structure for both tests is the same.
  • The Listening and Speaking Modules for both the tests are identical.
  • The registration procedure for both the tests has no difference.
  • Most testing centers will offer both Academic and General IELTS tests.

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Score Comparison Chart

Candidates receive a Band score out of 9 for both the IELTS Academic and General Training tests. The difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General scoring is the way they are scored. The difference between Academic Reading and General Reading is the most apparent.

IELTS Academic Reading passages are more complex in terms of writing style and vocabulary. Which is why, general test-takers need to answer more reading module questions to receive the same band score as an academic test-taker. Each correct answer on the Academic reading weighs more than that of the General reading test in terms of reading raw score.

The following chart can give an idea about the difference between the score conversion of Academic Reading raw scores and General Reading raw scores into IELTS Band scores:

Which is easier, IELTS General or IELTS Academic?

The IELTS Academic and IELTS General tests have different uses. In terms of difficulty, the IELTS General may seem easier to many candidates than the IELST Academic. However, the tests are designed for the purposes that they should be used for, and thus, making comparison in terms of difficulty is irrelevant. Academic application of the English language is different than general everyday use of the language, and the tests are designed in alignment to this perspective.

For example, candidates may find the Academic Writing Task 2 more difficult than the General Training writing task 2, as the GT Essay questions ask the candidates to discuss issues clearly and to make it easier to understand while the Academic Essay question ask the candidates to make a more argumentative approach.

Overall, every English proficiency exam checks whether the candidates can understand contexts and apply their skills in a relevant manner. Candidates don\’t have a choice regarding the choice of the IELTS test type needed for a particular purpose. Thus, understanding what each test type expects and the knowing requirements of the tests should be the focus.


  • Do I need Academic or General IELTS for university?

The Academic IELTS is intended for candidates willing to study abroad in a country where the medium of instruction is English. Universities and colleges will accept only the IELTS Academic Test Scores for admissions.

  • What is the validity of IELTS Score?

The validity of any particular IELTS score is two years, counting from the date of IELTS result. However, candidates can take as many IELTS tests as they want in a year to achieve their required Band score.

  • Where can I take the IELTS course in Bangladesh?

PIE International Education provides comprehensive IELTS courses in Bangladesh with quality practice materials. Students can develop their language skills and work on their weaknesses through the guidance of trained instructors to get their desired IELTS scores.

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