IELTS Academic vs General Training Tests

The IELTS exam is one of the most widely used language proficiency exams worldwide. There are two formats for this exam, the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training Test. In addition, these two test formats of the IELTS differ in purpose and uses.

Both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training measures the four primary English language skills of an individual. It is also widely used and trusted by prominent educational institutions and industrial organizations to provide a reliable language proficiency certification for their applicants. 

To know more about the IELTS Academic Test and IELTS General Training Test, we have come up with a comprehensive article to help you learn and decide which of the two test formats of the IELTS fits your needs. 


What is IELTS?

The IELTS, known as the International English Language Testing System, is one of the leading English language proficiency tests internationally accepted and widely used by academic institutions and companies. 

Moreover, the IELTS exam has two exam formats for its test-takers, including the IELTS Academic Test and IELTS General Training Test.  This language assessment test is designed by the British Council intended for those individuals who are non-native English speakers. 

The two IELTS test formats are commonly used for academic admissions, professional requirements, and migration purposes in various countries worldwide. In addition, this language proficiency exam also accepts British and American English terms that is why most test-takers prefer it.    

The IELTS exam is widely used and favored by most educational institutions, government offices, and other organizations. There is two test format available for this language assessment test. 

IELTS Academic Test

This format of the IELTS measures the individual’s readiness to study the English language at an advanced level. And, one of the characteristics of this language proficiency exam is it features advanced English vocabulary generally used in an academic setting. 

Moreover, the IELTS Academic Test is perfect for those who want to apply for doctorate programs, master’s degrees, and those other graduate school programs usually offered at universities and colleges. 


IELTS General Training Test

The IELTS General Test is designed to assess an individual’s English language skills which are based on day-to-day communication, industrial setting. Moreover, it is also commonly used for other employment training purposes. 

One characteristic of this IELTS format is that it uses the conversational English language in its exam contents. Consequently, this exam is also applicable for those individuals who want to apply for a below-a-degree level at any English-speaking schools or local colleges. 

And also, the IELTS General Training Test is used for visa application and migration processes in various countries worldwide. 



What are the Two Different IELTS Tests Used For?

The two IELTS formats differ in purpose and use. In addition, the IELTS exam can help you apply for a job, move to English-speaking countries, and pursue a degree in universities and colleges.  

Check out the comparison table below for complete detail for the different purposes of the IELTS Academic Test and IELTS General Training Test. 

IELTS Academic TestIELTS General Training Test 
Widely used for academic undergraduate or postgraduate level admission purposes.WIdely used for immigration visas and other professional licenses application. 
Used for a higher educational level.Used for below-degree educational level.
It is accepted in most international universities and colleges. It is accepted in local universities and colleges. 
It is also used for professional registration purposes. It is also used for employee training purposes. 

IELTS Exam Test Formats Explained 

The IELTS Academic Test and IELTS General Training test differ in exam contents. They both assess English language skills, including reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Moreover, the two IELTS test formats differ in exam contents and structures for the reading and writing sections. 

Consequently, the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training have the same exam formats and structure without significant differences for the remaining test sections, including the Listening and Writing sections. 

Note, the Speaking section of the IELTS exam is done on a one-on-one session with an examiner. And also, these two test formats of the IELTS can be taken either on paper-based or computer-based tests

The Listening, Writing, and Reading test sections are taken on the same day, while the Speaking test section can be taken after you are done with the other test sections. However, you can also take the Speaking test section seven days before the different test sections, whichever fits your schedule.

Listening Test

The IELTS Listening Test section of the IELTS exam contains the same test format, structure, and exam length for the IELTS Academic Test and IELTS General Training Test. 

In addition, there are four audio clips that you need to listen to. The first two audio clips deal with day-to-day social scenarios, and the third and fourth recordings are about education and other training topics. 

There will be 10 test questions that follow every after the four audio clips. And there are also different task types you will encounter in this test section, including multiple-choice questions, matching type, map, and diagrams labeling. 

Moreover, it also uses the flow-chart, note-taking, summary completion, sentence completion, and short-answer type of questions. The test section lasts for about 30 minutes. 


Speaking Test

The Speaking test is done in a one-on-one session with a professional examiner. In addition, the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Test contains the same Speaking test section. 

It is a structured discussion about a specific topic. In addition, there are three parts in this section, and part one is the introduction and interview session. The second part is called a long turn, wherein you are to discuss a specific subject. 

The third part involves discussing the test-taker and the examiner about the topic in the second part. And also, this test section lasts for about 11 to 14 minutes. 


Reading Test Section – IELTS Academic Test

The Reading test section lasts approximately 60 minutes, and it contains three long texts or selections for you to read. In addition, these selections are taken from academic papers, journals, newspapers, and the likes. 

The first selection is a medium-length selection, while the remaining two selections are long passages. And also, the topics of these selections may discuss general interests or academic subjects, including culture, linguistics, history, psychology, science, and more. 

This section will encounter different tasks, such as multiple-choice questions, identifying information, and identifying the writer’s views and opinions. It also uses matching information, matching of headings, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, diagram label completion, and short-answer type of questions. 


Reading Test Section – IELTS General Training Test

This test section also has the same exam length as the IELTS Academic Test. And also, there are three test sections for the Reading test, and each section varies in the number of passages or selections. The first section contains up to three short contexts, and it is usually about everyday life happenings or scenarios. 

In addition, the second section contains two selections that talk about work, career experiences, and other professional training. And for the last section of the Reading test includes one long passage about general interests. 

The IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Test uses the same test question types. However, one question type is used only in the IELTS Academic Test, the global multiple-choice type of question. 


Writing Test Section – IELTS Academic Test

There are two writing tasks in the Writing Test section, and the duration for this one is approximately 60 minutes. Moreover, the first task involves describing, summarizing, and interpreting data, tables, charts, or graphs presented. 

And for the second writing task, you are to respond in writing about arguments, issues, or a point of view regarding a given topic. The writing section of the IELTS Academic Test makes use of a formal or semi-formal style of writing. 

There are two task types involved in this section, first is writing an academic or semi-formal kind of essay with at least 150 words. And for the second task consists in writing an academic or semi-formal type of essay with at least 250 words. 


Writing Test Section – IELTS General Training Test

There are two writing tasks in this section, and the first one involves writing a response to a situation. 

For example, writing a letter request and the writing style can be personal, semi-formal, or formal in style, you can choose what type you will use. The second task involves responding to arguments, issues, or a point of view regarding a given topic, and the writing style can be personal. 

Moreover, different task types are used in this section, including writing a personal response to a situation, and the writing style can be informal with at least 150 words. And the other task type is writing a semi-formal or neutral essay with at least 250 words. 

A comparison table shows the different test formats between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training Test. 

Test SectionsIELTS Academic TestIELTS General Training Test
Listening
  • Test duration: 30 minutes
  • With Four Recordings
  • 40 questions
  • Test duration: 30 minutes
  • With Four Recordings
  • 40 test questions
Speaking
  • Test duration: 11 to 14 minutes
  • With Four Test Parts
  • Test Duration: 11 to 14 minutes
  • With Four Test Parts
Reading
  • Test duration: 60 minutes
  • Contains 40 test questions and 3 test sections
  • With Three Long Selections (academic-based subjects/topics)
  • Test duration: 60 minutes
  • Contains 40 test questions and 3 test sections
  • Varies in number of selection per test sections (career and social-based subjects/topics)
Writing 
  • Test duration: 60 minutes
  • Formal Style of Writing
  • Two Writing Tasks
  • Test duration: 60 minutes
  • Semi-formal or Personal Style of Writing
  •  Two Writing Tasks

IELTS Academic and General Training Score Comparison

There is little difference between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Traning test scores in the Reading test section.  The IELTS Academic Reading raw score of 15 to 35 is equivalent to the band score of 5 to 8. 

In comparison, the IELTS General Reading raw score of 15 to 38 is equivalent to the band score of 4 to 8.

Notice that the IELTS Academic Reading raw score of 15 corresponds to a band score of 5, while for the IELTS General Reading raw score of 15, it corresponds to a band score of 5 as well. 

In addition, the overall band score for the test is the average total of all the four test section results. Both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training test uses the 9 band scale for their grading levels. 

Here is the table showing the IELTS Band Score with its respective descriptors in each level. 

IELT Band ScoreLanguage Proficiency
Descriptors
Band Score 9 Expert User
Band Score 8Very Good User
Band Score 7Good User
Band Score 6Competent User
Band Score 5Modest User
Band Score 4Limited User
Band Score 3Extremely Limited User
Band Score 2Intermittent User
Band Score 1Non-User
Band Score 0Did Not Attempt the Test

Additioanl FAQs: IELTS Academic vs IELTS General Training

Should I take the IELTS Academic or General Training Test?

You can either take the IELTS Academic Test or the General Training Test. It all depends on your purpose in taking the exam.

For example, if you plan to apply to international companies, you can take the IELTS General Training Test. It is also used for visa applications and other programs at a low-degree educational level. 

And, you can take the IELTS Academic Test if you are planning to apply for higher educational levels such as doctorate degrees, master’s degrees, and other graduate school programs. It is also recommended to contact your desired institution on what IELTS exam format they require. 

Which is Easier, IELTS General or Academic? 

The IELTS exam is considered challenging by most test-takers.

However, the IELTS General Training Test and the IELTS Academic test are equally designed to measure an individual’s English language skills and provide reliable and accurate test results. 

Is the Scoring Difference Between IELTS General Training and Academic?

There is a slight difference in the scoring between the IELTS Academic Test and the IELTS General Training Test.

However, both of these test formats use the overall band score of 0 to 9. In the IELTS General Reading test section, the score of 30/40 is equal to the overall band score of 6 and the IELTS Academic Reading test score of 23/40.

At the same time, the other remaining test section of both the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic Tests are all scored the same way. 

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