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IELTS Academic V/s General: Know All the Differences

IELTS is a globally accepted language proficiency test that differs by purpose. IELTS Academic is usually taken by those who want to enter an institute to pursue their higher education. On the other hand, IELTS General is attempted by those who want to secure a job in an English-speaking nation. In this blog, you will encounter the IELTS Academic V/s IELTS General exam and all the crucial details that one must know.

What is IELTS?

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is a globally accepted test to determine the candidate’s ability to understand and comprehend it. It is for non-native speakers who wish to enter an English-speaking nation either for higher studies or to secure a job. However, the format differs by purpose which you can refer to in the next section.

Types of IELTS

There are many kinds of IELTS tests. What IELTS test you have to give depends on the purpose of moving abroad. This exam happens to meet the specific needs of test-takers. The types of IELTS exams are the Academic and General Training tests. In addition to these two types, IELTS also offers other specialized exams, such as the IELTS Life Skills. It proves the speaking and listening skills of applicants for immigration purposes. There are 9 band scores in the test. These mark the score. However, a score of 6.5 and above is considered by most countries. The paper happens four times a month.

IELTS General Training

You should know the IELTS course, pattern, syllabus, and purpose to appear in the test. This exam is given by those who wish to move abroad with secondary education or employment as their motive. So, the main focus is examining the skills to survive in any workplace environment. It also evaluates your communication in everyday situations. But, if you are taking an academic course below the degree level, you can take the IELTS General Training test.

IELTS Academic

This test is given by students who wish to pursue UG and PG courses at an international institute of an English-speaking nation. The exam aims to know whether the student is ready to take higher education in English. So, the test features a word bank like your academia.

There are three modes available for giving the test. You can choose the suitable mode of examination. You can appear for the online paper remotely. Although the result usually is declared in 6 to 8 days, the visa immigration authorities do not accept this test format. Another two modes include your physical presence at the centre. Both computer and paper-based tests are available at the center. For computer-based tests, the result usually comes after 3 - 5 days. It takes 13 days for the results of the paper-based test to be announced.

IELTS Band Score

The score chart of the IELTS General Training Exam and IELTS Academic Test is the same. Refer to the table below to know the proficiency level against each band score.

Band Score Proficiency Level
9 Expert
8 Very Good
7 Good
6 Competent
5 Modest
4 Limited
3 Extremely Limited
2 Intermittent
1 Non-user
0 Did not attempt

IELTS Academic vs General

To know the difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General, you can refer to the table below.

Parameters IELTS Academic IELTS General
Test Focus
  • University
  • Higher education
  • Professional registration
  • Immigration
  • Work experience
  • Training
  • School
Difficulty Level Tough Easy when compared
IELTS Eligibility Open for all regardless of age (16 years old),
nationality, race or gender.
The candidate must be 16 years old
or above.
Fees ₹17,000 ₹17,000
  • Undergraduate level
  • Postgraduate level
  • Doctorate l Post Doctorate
  • For professional registration
  • Below degree level
  • Migration
  • Work or Training
  • Permanent Residence
Content Academic Everyday situations
Popularity Mostly Opted Limited

IELTS Test Pattern

The listening and speaking sections of IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are similar. On the other hand, the other two segments; reading and writing differs in both formats. Everything about the IELTS exam pattern is mentioned in this section.

IELTS Academic vs General: Reading Section

As mentioned above, the reading section of both the IELTS exam differs. Although, the duration and number of questions are same. You will come across 14 types of questions which are as follows:

  • Matching Headings
  • Matching Paragraph Information
  • Matching Features
  • Matching Sentence Endings
  • True/False/Not Given or Yes/No/Not Given
  • Multiple Choices
  • List of Options
  • Choose a Title
  • Short Answers
  • Sentence Completion
  • Summary Completion
  • Table Completion
  • Flow Chart Completion
  • Completion Diagrams

IELTS Academic Reading Test Overview

The questions in the sections are not specialized but are generic and are interesting.

Duration 60 minutes
Number of Questions 40 questions
Number of Sections 3
Number of Passage 3
Marking 1 mark for correct answer; no negative marking*
Questions from Journals, Articles, Magazines, and News

* You will be penalized for spelling and grammatical errors.

IELTS General Reading Test Overview

Duration 60 minutes
Number of Questions 40 questions
Number of Sections 3
Number of Passage 4-6
Marking 1 mark for correct answer; no negative marking*
Questions from Advertisements, Company Guidelines, and Brochures

* You will be penalized for spelling and grammatical errors.

IELTS Academic vs General: Writing Section

In the IELTS Academic exam, the candidates are required to write revolving around the UG and PG courses and studies. The test takers had to complete two tasks in a span of 60 minutes.

IELTS Academic: Writing Section

In the first task of the writing section of the IELTS Academic test, you will be given a paper with a diagram, table, or graph. The test taker has to describe the given pictorial representation along with the mentioned data. You need to logically include everything and conclude it. In the next task, you need to write an essay as a response to the deduction from the given data and support your argument with relevant examples, through the given data. You must remember that the writing style should be strictly formal.

IELTS General Training: Writing Section

Coming to the IELTS General Training test, you need to write a letter as per the given situation. It can be formal, informal or semi-formal. Its nature will depend on the type of situation mentioned in the question. Read the question properly to know whether you have to explain things, request something, or present a point of view. Moreover, you must have relevant arguments to support the answer irrespective of its nature.

IELTS Academic vs General: Listening Section

The listening section of the IELTS exam is same in both academic and general training formats. In this section, candidates would be required to listen to four recordings of native English speakers and answer a series of 40 questions that lasts for 30 minutes. The main motive behind this segment is to understand the candidates’ ability to comprehend the main ideas and factual data, the speaker’s opinions and attitudes, and evidence of their ability to follow the idea development.

  • Recording 1: The first recording would have a conversation between two people set in an everyday social.
  • Recording 2: The second recording would happen to be a monologue set in an everyday social context.
  • Recording 3: The following recording would be a conversation between four people set in an educational or training context.
  • Recording 4: The final recording would be a monologue on an academic subject.

IELTS Academic vs General: Speaking Section

Similar to listening section, the speaking part of the IELTS exam is the same irrespective of the exam format. The test format of the speaking section consists of a verbal interview between the candidate and the examiner. All speaking tests are recorded for further evaluation. The whole segment lasts for about 11-14 minutes. It consists of three parts, each aimed to evaluate the speaking and idea organization skills. The main function of this section is to evaluate the candidates’ knowledge of spoken English.

The speaking section consists of three parts:

  • Part 1: In this part, the candidate would be asked general questions by the examiner on various topics. These can range from introducing yourself to topics like family, studies, and work. It lasts for around 4-5 minutes.
  • Part 2: Part 2 of IELTS speaking section is the cue card round where a flashcard containing questions would appear in front of their eyes. The test taker will be given one minute to prepare for the topic and a further 2 minutes to elaborate it.
  • Part 3: In this section, the examiner would interject the candidate further about the topic in part 2. Thus, this segment lasts for 4-5 minutes. The remaining points that you noted in part 2 can be covered in this part.

Which Test You Should Take?

The type of English proficiency test you will opt for will completely depend on individual goals.

Opt for the IELTS Academic exam if you

  • Plan to study at a UG or PG level in an English-speaking country where English is the primary language and medium of instruction.
  • Need to apply for a Student Route visa (Tier 4) to study at a UK university.
  • Are a professional (like a doctor or nurse) looking to get licensed or certified in an English-speaking country.
  • Want to work for a professional organization in an English-speaking country. Also, it is required for professions that have regulatory requirements for English proficiency.

Opt for the IELTS General test if you

  • Are planning to train or study below the degree level. This could be for vocational training or other non-academic educational pursuits.
  • Need to work or take work-related training in an English-speaking atmosphere. This is suited for those looking to gain practical work experience or skills development.
  • Are migrating to an English-speaking country such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the UK.
  • Require English proficiency for certain visa categories in these countries, or need to get another job in your own country where a recognised proficiency in the English language is required.

These were a few reasons to opt for the IELTS Academic and General Training. In this blog, you got to know the difference between IELTS academic and IELTS general and detailed the test pattern. If you are confused about “How to register for IELTS exam?”, you can seek expert advice from our team. They will guide from the very beginning to test preparation.

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