IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and it has two test versions and as a newbie the first question that you may ponder is the difference between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Oh sorry, it’s IELTS Academic (Academic) and IELTS General Training (GT).

So, what is the actual difference between these two exams and how do you know which exam is suitable for you?

1. Which Exam Should You Register For?

As per the official website of IELTS:“The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training.”

The IELTS General Training test is for those who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or training programs. It is also a requirement for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.”

So, if you are planning to study abroad, you should register for the Academic Test, whereas if you want to migrate or apply for permanent residency or want to apply for a work visa, GT is the right test for you.

There may be a few exceptions like some health professionals such as doctors or nurses need to register for Academic exam in order to practice their professions in some countries. It is advisable that you check with the organization / university / country regarding the IELTS Test that they would accept.

2. The Major Difference Between The IELTS Academic & General Tests

Both the Academic & GT test the student on 4 skills i.e. Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking. Listening and Speaking are the same for both the tests, but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing components differs depending on which test you take.

  • What’s the Difference in the Reading Tests?

Let us first give you insights into the differences in the Reading Tests under both the exams.

  1. Length of Reading Passages

In Academic, there are 3 sections, with three long passages followed by 40 questions of various kinds. GTtoo has 3 sections, with passages followed by 40 questions. However, GT has shorter passages, especially in Section 1 and Section 2, while Section 3 may have a longer passage. Thus, since the time limit for the Reading Test under both Academic & GT are 60 minutes, it makes the Academic Test slightly tougher than the GT.

  1. Reading Text Source

Reading passages in the Academic are taken from science textbooks, journals, newspapers, magazine articles and others, which are more of academic interest to the readers. In comparison to this, GT has extracts from employee handbooks, organization policies, work related terms and conditions, newspaper advertisements, notices etc.

  1. Difficulty Level of Reading Module

The level of difficulty of questions in the Reading test in Academic is comparatively higher than inthe GT. The reason is that you need to read and understand advanced vocabulary of academic standard in the Academic Test, while simple vocabulary and easy to understand statements are given in the GT Test.

  1. Band Score Scale Difference

Due to the relatively high difficulty level, there is a significant difference in assigning band score in both the exams as follows:

IELTS Academic – Reading Test

Marks Obtained Band Score
40-39 9
38-37 8.5
36-35 8
34-33 7.5
32-30 7
29-27 6.5
26-23 6
22-19 5.5
18-15 5
15-13 5
12-9 4.5
8-5 3
4-3 2
2-1 1
0 0


IELTS General – Reading Test

Marks Obtained Band Score
40-39 9
38 8.5
37 8
36 7.5
35-34 7
33-32 6.5
31-30 6
29-27 5.5
26-23 5
22-19 4.5
18-15 4
14-12 3
11-8 2
7-4 1
3-0 0

For instance, you may notice that in order to achieve Band 7, you should get at least 30 correct answers in IELTS Academic, while you must get at least 34 correct answers in order to obtain Band 7 in the GT Reading Test.

3. What’s the Difference in IELTS Writing?

Let’s now discuss the difference in the Writing Tests under both the versions. Both Academic and GT have two tasks in the Writing Test – Task -1 & Task -2 to be written in 60 minutes. However, there is a difference in the Task-1 under each version. In Academic, Task -1 requires students to write a report based on a diagram / graph / chart / table, while in the GT students are presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter can be personal, semi-formal or formal in style. The word limit for Task -1 is 150 words under both the versions.

Writing Task-2 is an essay for both the versions of IELTS and students are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The word limit is the same for both exams i.e. at least 250 words.However, there may be slight difference in the tasks under each Test, as follows:

  • The Essay question in GT is usually in simple language & easier to understand.
  • The essay questions in GT are more on common topics such as issues around the family, society, schools, etc., whereas in the Academic, the topics are more challenging & may be around space, education, art, business, technology, etc.
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