IELTS Academic vs IELTS General: What’s the Difference?


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Jun 16, 2023 03:32 PM IST

Learn about the fundamental differences between IELTS Academic vs IELTS General Test! Determine which test is most suited to your objectives. From specialised material to various kinds of tasks, we dissect the important differences to assist you in making the best decision between IELTS Academic vs IELTS General Test. Explore the differences and succeed in your IELTS adventure!

IELTS Academic vs IELTS General: What’s the Difference?

IELTS Academic vs IELTS General Differences: Are you planning to take the IELTS exam to study abroad? Understanding the differences between IELTS Academic and IELTS General is so critical to your success! IELTS Academic assesses your ability to study at English-speaking institutions by focusing on academic language skills. IELTS General Test, on the other hand, examines practical language abilities required for everyday communication in business or social contexts. 

In this detailed guide, we will look at the differences between IELTS Academic and IELTS General to help you make the best decision and maximise your IELTS scores. Whether you want to study abroad or immigrate, understanding the subtleties of these two test styles is paramount.

We will break down the variants, from the content to the task types, casting light on the individual requirements and delivering vital insights. Understanding the IELTS Academic vs IELTS General differences allows you to adjust your preparation, focus on the areas that matter most, and take the exam with confidence. Let's get started and lay the groundwork for your IELTS achievement!

Difference Between IELTS Academic vs IELTS General

The IELTS exam is available in two formats: Academic and General Training. While both exams assess an individual's English language skills, they serve different objectives and are intended for different audiences. The IELTS Academic exam is primarily intended for people who want to pursue further education or professional registration in an English-speaking country. It evaluates academic language skills such as attending lectures, participating in seminars, and writing research papers. The exam emphasises difficult texts and academic vocabulary.

The IELTS General Training test, on the other hand, is designed for those looking for immigration prospects or who want to pursue non-academic training programmes. It assesses the practical language abilities required for day-to-day living in an English-speaking country, such as jobs, social interactions, and basic survival skills. The exam contains subjects and exercises that are representative of everyday settings, such as writing a letter, filling out forms, and conversing.

The content and task types of the two exams are where they most significantly diverge. While the Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking components of both exams are present, the assignments and material are customised for each test's different objectives. For instance, the IELTS Academic writing assignment calls for test takers to analyse facts or make an argument, whereas the IELTS General Training writing task emphasises letter writing abilities.

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Differences in IELTS Academic vs General Tests

Both the tests, i.e. IELTS Academic and General tests consist of four distinct sections, viz. Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. These sections have been designed carefully to assess the different parameters of a candidate's ability to communicate and survive in an English-speaking community. However, you may not see as many differences in IELTS General and Academic tests in the Listening and Speaking sections. The major differences between IELTS Academic vs General will be seen in the Reading and Writing sections, where the topics of concern change as well as the question-type changes.

IELTS Academic vs General: Reading & Writing Sections

The major differences between the IELTS Academic and General tests lie in the Reading and Writing sections of the test, which have defined below.


IELTS Academic

IELTS General


3 reading passages, each with different tasks and questions 3 sections: a few short texts, two texts, and a long text

Number of Questions



Type of Questions


Information Matching

Identifying Information and authors' views and claims

Table, flow-chart, diagram label completion

Sentence completion

Short Answer Questions


Information Matching

Identifying Information and authors views and claims

Table, flow-chart, diagram label completion

Sentence completion

Short Answer Questions

Topics/Sources for Questions

Sources: Text Snippets from books, journals, newspapers and magazines, directed toward a non-specialist audience.

Topics: Logical Arguments, General Interests, Appropriate and Interested Issues Infographic Texts including Diagrams, graphs, etc.

Source: General snippets from Newspapers, magazines, and fictional and non-fictional books.

Topics: Texts based on basic linguistic survival in English and workplace situations. Sections include descriptive and argumentative texts.


60 Minutes

60 Minutes


Each question will carry 1 mark.

Each question will carry 1 mark.

These are the major differences that are seen between the IELTS Academic and General Reading sections. In the following table, you will find the differences in the Writing section of the IELTS Academic and IELTS General tests.


IELTS Academic

IELTS General


This section includes two writing tasks which must be completed within the given time frame.

The section also includes 2 tasks which need to be attempted within the given time frame.

Number of Questions



Question Types

Ques 1 - Describe information from infographics like graphs, tables, charts, etc, in 150 words within 20 mins.
Ques 2 - Explain in 250 words, your response to an argument/POV/problem in 40 mins.

Ques 1 - Write a letter/ask for information/explain a situation.
Ques 2 - Write an essay on an argument/POV/problem.


60 Minutes

60 Minutes

Note: Under the writing section of both IELTS Academic and General tests, candidates will not be allowed to write the passages using Notes or Bullet points.

Mentioned in the table above are the major points of difference commonly seen between the two IELTS tests. However, it should be noted that these differences make the candidate eligible for different reasons to travel abroad and pursue their ambitions. In other words, the test score applications of both the IELTS Academic and General tests will still be different.

Now let's look into the similarities that are found between IELTS Academic vs General tests.

IELTS Academic vsGeneral Similarities: Listening and Speaking

The other two sections in both the IELTS tests are the Listening and Speaking sections of the tests. Candidates appearing for either IELTS Academic or General will be required to attempt the Listening and Speaking sections as well. In both the IELTS Academic and General, Listening and Speaking sections, the sections will contain similar questions based on similar topics. Here is what you can expect from the Speaking and Listening sections under the IELTS Academic vs General Tests.

IELTS Academic vs General Similarities


IELTS Academic & General Listening Sections

IELTS Academic and General Speaking Sections


10 questions in 4 parts:

Part 1 - Two Speakers (Social Context)

Part 2 - Monologue (Social Context)

Part 3 - Two Speakers (Education and Training Context)

Part 4 - Monologue (Education and Training Context)

Personal Interview with an examiner. Speaking tests will be recorded.

Number of Questions



Question Types

Different types of questions such as


Table/Flowchart/Infographic Completion

Note/Summary/Note Completion

Information Matching

Labelling of Diagrams, Maps or Plans

Completion of Sentences

The test will include three parts which have been designed to assess different aspects of a candidate, with regards to the pattern of interaction, task input and the output of the candidate.


Approx 30 Minutes. Additional 10 minutes may be offered to the students to transfer the answers.

11-14 Minutes

Thus, apart from the Reading and Writing sections of the tests and the applications of the test scores, IELTS Academic and General are similar in nature. However, if you are travelling abroad for higher education purposes, one of the better options for you will be to attempt IELTS Academic as most universities prefer IELTS Academic scores. Before applying to a university or college, go through the respective admissions requirements for international students and attempt the tests recommended by the university of your choice.

Both the Speaking and Listening sections under IELTS Academic vs General are important sections and many students struggle to clear these sections. Therefore, ensure that you are prepared for the tests with as much practice as possible.

Which IELTS is Suitable Between IELTS Academic vs IELTS General? 

Your unique demands and goals will determine whether IELTS Academic or IELTS General is more appropriate for you. When deciding between the two, keep the following things in mind:

  • Academic Goals: IELTS Academic is the best option if you want to register for a professional programme or study at an English-speaking university. Your comprehension of challenging academic materials, participation in academic discourse, and capacity to write academically organised material will all be evaluated on this test.

  • Immigration or Employment: IELTS General Training is better appropriate if your goal is immigration to an English-speaking nation or job prospects. This exam measures how well you can communicate in real-world contexts, including the workplace, social settings, and regular reading and writing assignments.

  • Specific Requirements: Research the specifications of the institutions or organisations to which you are applying. Your choice is made easier by the fact that some colleges or professions may expressly state the kind of IELTS exam they accept.

  • Personal Preference: Take into account your skills and passions. IELTS Academic can be a better option if you feel at ease with academic content, and love analysing statistics or making arguments. IELTS General Training, on the other hand, can be your first choice if you enjoy real-world situations and ordinary conversation.

Your educational and professional objectives will ultimately determine whether you should take the IELTS Academic or IELTS General test. Consider your unique criteria, go over the exam formats, and choose the one that best suits your goals.


Test type

Undergraduate Degree

IELTS Academic

Postgraduate Degree

IELTS Academic

Doctorate Degree

IELTS Academic

Post-Doctoral Degree

IELTS Academic

Below Degree Level

IELTS General

Work or Training/Workshop

IELTS General


IELTS General

For Professional Organization

IELTS Academic

Permanent Residency (PR)

IELTS General

How Are the IELTS Academic vs IELTS General Exam Scores Calculated? 

The mechanism for calculating IELTS test results for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General is the same. The results are assigned on a scale of 0 to 9, with each band signifying a different degree of English language ability.

The IELTS examination is divided into four sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Each segment is assessed separately, and the scores are averaged to determine the overall band score. Correct responses are used to grade the Listening and Reading parts, while trained examiners use particular scoring criteria to analyse the Writing and Speaking sections.

Individual scores for each component of the IELTS Academic and IELTS General are published on a band scale of 0 to 9. On the same scale, the total band score is also presented, rounded to the closest half or whole band. It should be noted that the band scores reflect varying degrees of English language competency. Higher scores imply greater skill, whereas lower scores indicate less competency.

Approximately 13 days after completing the test, test takers get a Test Report Form (TRF) containing their scores. The TRF contains both the individual scores for each segment and the overall band score. Test-takers may have a clear grasp of their English language ability and how it matches with their individual objectives and requirements by knowing how IELTS test results are computed for both IELTS Academic vs IELTS General.

Popular Universities for International Students Abroad

Here is a list of some of the top universities in the world that offer academic programmes that are globally recognised and reputed.

University Name


University of California - Riverside Campus

Riverside, USA

Northwestern University

Evanston, USA

University of Oxford

Oxford, UK

Liverpool Hope University

Liverpool, UK

Victoria University

Melbourne, Australia

Box Hill Institute of TAFE

Melbourne, Australia

As a result of this extensive and detailed article, we learned that as an IELTS test-taker in India, understanding the differences between IELTS Academic vs IELTS General is essential for getting your desired results. You may successfully adjust your preparation by learning the individual needs and peculiarities of each exam type. Whether your aim is further education or immigration, make an educated decision and concentrate on the areas that are most important to you. You may successfully traverse the IELTS path with the appropriate techniques and targeted practice. Remain educated, remain prepared, and allow your understanding of IELTS Academic vs IELTS General differences to push you to IELTS success. Best wishes!

You can also clear out your doubts regarding international admissions and education by reaching out to us at

Get Expert Guidance to Know Target IELTS Scores for Your Dream University!


Is IELTS Academic harder than IELTS General?

According to study abroad experts, an IELTS Academic test will be comparatively harder than IELTS General, mainly due to the topics used for the Reading and Writing sections of the test. Since IELTS Academic test scores are primarily used for admissions to universities and colleges abroad while IELTS General is used primarily to get a job abroad, the academic version of the test will be significantly difficult.

Is IELTS Academic better than IELTS General?

As mentioned in this article above, since the application of the test scores of Both IELTS Academic and General are different, we cannot truly compare the two tests. While an IELTS Academic test is perfect for getting admission to universities and colleges in English-speaking countries, an IELTS General test is better for those planning to emigrate to English-speaking countries and find work opportunities.

What is the difference between IELTS Academic and General tests?

The primary differences between IELTS Academic and General tests will commonly be seen in the Reading and Writing sections of the tests. Majorly, the topics and subjects in IELTS Academic and General tests will be different, targeting different English language proficiency skills. IELTS Academic will include questions that will put test-takers in either a university or general setting, where the ability to tackle different situations will be tested.

Do I need an IELTS Academic or General to get PR in Canada?

Depending on the permanent residency route that you choose, you will be able to get a PR using either IELTS academic or general test scores in Canada. For instance, if you are planning to enter Canada through one of the Express Entry programmes such as the Skilled Worker or Trades programmes, then IELTS General test scores work, while, to study in Canada, you need to attempt the IELTS Academic test.

Why should I take IELTS Academic vs General?

To answer this question, all aspirants looking to travel abroad for study, immigration or job purposes must question why they are going abroad. If the answer to the question is to pursue higher studies abroad, then your best option is to attempt the IELTS Academic test, while, for the purpose of immigration and jobs abroad, taking up IELTS General will be the best option for international students.

Can I use IELTS Academic test for migration purposes?

To understand whether you can use IELTS academic test scores for migration purposes, it is important to go through the visa and migration policies of the country you are travelling to. For instance, the UK accepts all IELTS UKVI test scores for studies and migration purposes, while, for Canada, applicants are often asked to present an IELTS General score for immigration and IELTS Academic for higher studies.

What does the IELTS General training test?

As stated in the article, the IELTS General Training test is commonly used by foreign nationals looking to emigrate to an English-speaking country and find relevant work opportunities. The IELTS General training tests have been designed to test the general daily non-academic English proficiency and your ability to tackle both workplace and social situations.

Is it possible to change from IELTS General to Academic?

Yes, all test-takers who have registered for the IELTS General module will be able to change to the IELTS Academic module. However, it should be noted that all such changes should be made before the scheduled IELTS exam. Moreover, the conversion from IELTS General to Academic will only be possible if vacant seats are available in the requested exam module.

Is IELTS necessary to study or migrate abroad?

Yes, any foreign national whose first language is any language other than the English language and who wishes to study, work or migrate to an English-speaking country, will be required to submit an IELTS test score as proof of proficiency. Depending on the purpose of your travel to the country, you will be required to choose between an IELTS Academic or General Training test.

Do universities abroad accept IELTS General test scores?

No, it is not common to see top universities abroad accept IELTS General test scores for the purpose of admissions to bachelor’s, masters or PhD programmes. However, the decision to choose between IELTS Academic or General scores lay with the university’s admissions committee. Therefore, when applying for your desired course at the desired university, check the international student admission requirements.

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