Types of IELTS Exam - IELTS Academic & IELTS General Training

  • Mode


vector vector vector vector vector
Mrunmayai Bobade logo

Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Apr 14, 2023 6:09 PM IST

The IELTS is without a doubt the most popular English proficiency test among non-native English speakers seeking to study, work, or migrate to English-speaking nations. Having said that, there is endless confusion around different types of IELTS exam. A question that hovers in the minds of almost all aspirants is which type of IELTS exam they should take. 

IELTS is accepted by over 100,000 foreign universities, immigration offices, organisations, and professional firms in nearly 140+ countries. The IELTS test is accepted in many countries, including the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada and more. 

We aim to end this confusion about the different types of IELTS exams that exist along with their exam patterns, similarities, and differences. 

Highlights of Types of IELTS Exam

There are two types of IELTS exams designed to suit the requirements of aspirants who wish to study, work, or settle abroad. These are the IELTS Academic Test and the IELTS General Training Test. Both exams assess test takers' English skills in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Let us discuss each of these exams in detail:

IELTS Academic

The first type of IELTS exam is the famous IELTS Academic Test. The test is appropriate for students who desire to study in an English-speaking setting or at a university (higher education). IELTS Academic can also be used for professional registration. The test determines if aspirants are prepared to begin studying in English and use vocabulary that is common in academic settings.

IELTS General Training

The IELTS General Training Test is another type of IELTS exam for aspirants. It is appropriate for those applying to study at the undergraduate level at a school or college where the medium of teaching is English.

It can also be used for work experience or other job-related training. For migration to Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, IELTS General Training is also required. The test focuses on common English language skills that applicants will require in social and professional settings.

For detailed comparison analysis, refer to the difference between IELTS Academic and General Training tests.

To know which version of the IELTS test is compatible with you, refer IELTS Computer-based vs Paper-based Test.

Exam Pattern of Different Types of IELTS Exams

After knowing about the two different types of IELTS exams, it is time to discuss the IELTS exam pattern of each of these exams for a better understanding. Having said that, the test format for both exams is the same. There are some minute differences in some sections that we will discuss later in this article.

IELTS Exam Sections


Number of Questions


Listening Section

30 minutes



Reading Section

60 minutes



Writing Section

60 minutes



Speaking Section

10-15 minutes

Face-to-Face with an Examiner


Similarities Between Different Types of IELTS Exam

The IELTS exam is divided into four sections namely reading, writing, listening and speaking sections. The speaking and listening assessments are the same for both the Academic and General Training IELTS exams while the reading and writing sections are different.

Both test types have similar schedules and formats. The IELTS test duration is the same for General Training and Academic and evaluates reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. The registration process is the same for both. There is no break or gap between the reading, writing or listening sections however the speaking section of IELTS is conducted one week before or after the test.

The score range of both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training have scores ranging from 0-9. Each section or skill will receive a band score of its own and an overall or average IELTS band score

Difference Between the Types of IELTS Exam

As stated above, the reading and writing sections of the IELTS exam are different. Let us discuss in detail the differences between the two types of IELTS exams.

IELTS Reading Test


There are 40 questions in this section that are designed to assess the reading skills of a person. The exam duration is 60 minutes. The candidate has to read several passages and give a response to the questions that follow. The higher education aspirants and working professionals are assessed differently according to the setting in which they will interact. Candidates are required to read three large paragraphs that can be factual, descriptive and analytical. These excerpts are passages from magazines, journals, newspapers, books and research papers. 

After reading the passages, the candidates have to respond to questions that follow.

General Training

The reading ability of a person is assessed through 40 questions in the IELTS General Training. These questions have to be completed within one hour which is similar to the IELTS Academic exam. Candidates get passages from company guidelines, brochures, advertisements and more that contain writings and words. This test is generally easier than the academic one. 

IELTS Writing Test


In bachelors and masters, candidates are expected to on several topics. They get one hour to complete this section of the test. In the IELTS writing task 1, the candidates get a table, graph or diagram. Then they are asked to describe the visual information given in their way. They will also be asked to explain the flowchart. In other tasks, they may be asked to write an essay on a given data. They must give relevant examples to back the facts up in a formal writing setup.

General Training

The candidates are required to write on topics of general interest. The task time is the same which is one hour. They have to write a professional, formal and semi-formal letter in response to the situations that are presented to them. The argument or request has to be clarified.

Get Expert Help Applying to Top Universities Abroad!

Which Type of IELTS Exam is Right to Choose?

Now that we are quite familiar with both types of IELTS exams, it is justifiable to wonder which type of IELTS exam one must take to kick start their study/career abroad journey. To understand which IELTS test is best for a learner, it is necessary to first comprehend the distinction between Academic and General Training IELTS.

On one hand, IELTS Academic is recognised by institutions and organisations worldwide. Thousands of prestigious institutions and colleges use band scores as proof of English proficiency. Because it is primarily based on Australian and British English, most Australian universities and European colleges require the IELTS test. It is accepted by both undergraduate and graduate schools.

On the other hand, IELTS General Training is designed for students who are not yet at the degree level. If students want to get admitted to high school, they can take this test (or secondary education). Overall, if education is the primary goal, applicants must take the IELTS academic exam. If they desire to move to another English-speaking country, they should do IELTS General Training.

The table below helps aspirants decide which IELTS they should prepare for:


Types of IELTS Exam to be Taken

Bachelors degree


Masters degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Level


Below Degree-Level Course

General Training

Work or training

General Training


General Training

For professional organisation


Permanent Residency

General Training


If candidates wish to study or relocate to the UK, they must take an IELTS test that has been approved for UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) purposes, known as IELTS for UKVI. This is true for everyone arriving from a non-English-speaking country.

While there is no change in the content, format, or level of difficulty and scoring, IELTS for UKVI simply adheres to additional security standards to assure the exam taker's legitimacy. In addition, the applicants' Test Report Form (TRF) may differ slightly from the standard IELTS one.

Here are the following IELTS tests that are on the list:

  • IELTS for UKVI (Academic)

  • IELTS for UKVI (General Training)

  • IELTS Life Skills

IELTS Life Skills

It is a type of IELTS exam accessible at the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels A1 and B1 for those who need to demonstrate their English speaking and listening skills in order to obtain a UK VISA. The exam is designed to meet UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) standards for specific visa categories and other immigration purposes.

CEFR Grade Description

IELTS Life Skills A1

If applicants are seeking a visa as a member of a settled family

IELTS Life Skills B1

If applicants are applying for a visa for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship

Knowing the different types of IELTS exams is crucial for anyone who aspires to pursue their ambition of studying abroad, it is usually beneficial to stay updated about the exam for which one is prepared. Aside from that, it puts students one step closer to their ambition of studying overseas.

Now that we have reached the end of this article, in which we have examined the many sorts of IELTS exams, as well as their exam patterns, similarities, and differences, we hope that it has given candidates a good idea of which exam they should choose and prepare for.

Get Prepped to Study Abroad!

FAQs on IELTS Exam Types

What are the 4 types of IELTS modules?

The 4 types of IELTS modules are Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Furthermore, as explained above, there are 2 types of IELTS i.e. IELTS Academic Test and the IELTS General Training Test. Both these different types of IELTS exams have different applications.

What type of IELTS should I take?

The type of IELTS that you should take must depend on your end goal. You can take the IELTS Academic test if you want to study in higher education or get a professional license. Alternatively, whether you desire to study in secondary school, work, or migrate to an English-speaking nation, the IELTS General Training test may be for you.

What is the main difference between the 2 types of IELTS exams, IELTS Academic and General?

The main difference between the 2 types of IELTS exams is that the IELTS Writing and Reading tests are different in the Academic and General Training tests. The Academic test will include topics relevant to students entering university or professional schools. The General Training exam will cover topics of general interest.

Which type of IELTS exam is easy, Academic or General?

The type of IELTS exam which is easy is the IELTS General Training, as compared to IELTS Academic. The questions are designed to assess your command of the English language. IELTS does not have a pass or fail system. The syllabus and duration for both types of IELTS exam are the same. 

Which type of IELTS exam should I take for Canada PR?

The type of IELTS exam that you should take for a Canada PR is the IELTS General Training test, which is the preferred test for immigration to Canada or any other country. While the IELTS exam provides students with scores for each section along with the overall band score. However, for Canada immigration, the overall IELTS band score is not required.

Is there a different type of IELTS for the UK?

Yes, there is a different type of IELTS for the UK specifically. It is known as IELTS for UKVI, which is an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT). It is intended to meet certain administrative needs unique to UK Visas and Immigration. There are no differences in the format or content of the tests. The actual test is the same with the same content, examiners, structure, difficulty level, score, and so on. To study, work, or relocate to the UK, you must have a valid English Language test score. If you want to apply for a UK Spouse Visa, you must have a valid IELTS for UKVI score.

What type of IELTS is required for universities?

The type of IELTS exam which is required for universities is the IELTS Academic test. The test is for those who wish to study in an English-speaking environment or university (higher education) in countries like the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and more. You can take IELTS Academic for professional registration purposes too.

Can I convert IELTS General to IELTS Academic?

You may convert IELTS General to IELTS Academic, however, any changes must be done before your exam date. Changes to IELTS modules will be processed only if there are spaces available for the new module requested.

Can I get Canada PR without giving any type of IELTS?

You can get a Canada PR or even study in Canada without giving any type of IELTS exam if you have a work permit or are sponsored by your family or employer. You will need to demonstrate language competency if you wish to seek permanent residency, but there are alternatives to the IELTS exam also.

Can I use my IELTS Academic test results for immigration purposes?

You can use your IELTS Academic test results for immigration purposes but there are many factors to consider. IELTS Academic and General Training are two very different types of IELTS exam designed for entirely different reasons. While some organisations may accept an Academic result in lieu of General Training, this is entirely up to them. To find out more, contact your specific organisation.

Colleges accepting IELTS

Preparing for IELTS?

Interested in Studying Overseas?

Connect with us and kickstart your learning journey for a rewarding experience!

By proceeding ahead you expressly agree to the CollegeDekhoAbroad Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.