IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System and it has two test versions. 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? What is the difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General? Let’s acknowledge the information. 

Also Read: IELTS General vs Academic: Know the Difference and Difficulty 

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 exams to practice their professions in some countries. You should check with the organization/university/country regarding the IELTS Test that they would accept.

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.

Also Read: IELTS Band Score Calculator: FAQs on Academic and General IELTS Score Chart

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 is 60 minutes, it makes the Academic Test slightly tougher than the GT.

#2. 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.

#3. Difficulty Level of Reading Module

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

#4. Band Score Scale Difference

Due to the relatively high difficulty level, there is a significant difference in assigning band scores 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

 Also Read: IELTS Academic/ General Writing Task 1: Complete Guide for Vocabulary and Grammar

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

What’s the Difference in IELTS Writing?

Let’s now discuss the difference in the Writing Tests under both 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 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 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 a 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 & maybe around space, education, art, business, technology, etc.

Also Read: IELTS Exam 2022: Check Out the Latest IELTS Exam Dates, Notifications, and Patterns!

Similarities and Differences in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Test


The IELTS General, as well as Academic tests, has four sections for the candidates. These sections are: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. This test is conducted for 3 hours. This time is broken down by exam sections as given below: 


This section has 40 questions for the aspirants to answer in 40 minutes. 


The reading portion comes with 40 questions to be solved by the participants in 60 minutes. 


The IELTS tests have 2 writing tasks out of which one is shorter and the other one is longer. It is conducted for 60 minutes.


This portion has 3 sections and it is organized for 10-15 minutes where you will confront the examiners and answer their asked questions. 

The IELTS papers have no difference in the Listening and Speaking sections. Yes, this depicts that the Speaking and Listening portions in IELTS General Training and Academic tests are similar. Isn’t that a relief! Also, you must know that these tests can be conducted in two formats: paper-based and computer-based.

Also Read: IELTS Academic Reading Test Papers with Answers 2021: QuestionTypes & Solved Previous Paper


Now, it’s clear that the differences can be found in precisely the Reading and therefore the Writing sections because the opposite 2 sections are similar for each of the IELTS papers. 

The dissimilarities between the IELTS Reading Sections in IELTS General training vs academic. 

The two styles of Reading tests are primarily completely different in reading passage numbers and topics; there’s conjointly a slight distinction in question sorts however is little.

#. Differences in Reading Passage Numbers

In the IELTS educational Reading take a look at, the amount of reading passages in every section is the same.

Section 1: one shorter article (may appear easier than the opposite two)

Section 2: one longer article

Section 3: one longer article

In the IELTS General coaching reading Section,  take a look at the number of reading passages varies in every section.

Section 1: up to three short texts

Section 2: 2 texts

Section 3: one long text

#. Differences in Reading Passage Topics

In IELTS Academic Reading

All texts are on topics of general interest however closely associated with a range of academic subjects or topics such as:

#. Plant/animal/human biology

#. Chemistry, Physics

#. Astronomy, space exploration

#. Mathematics, computer science

#. Medicine

#. Inventors and inventions

#. History, anthropology

#. Psychology, sociology

#. Culture and civilization

#. Education 

#. Arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, music, crafts

#. Language and linguistics

#. Environment conservation

#. Law 

#. Business, economics, marketing, management, etc.

In IELTS General Training Reading

Section 1: Up to three texts associated with lifestyle (travel leaflets, faculty brochures, accommodation lists, safety procedures, advertisements, newsletters, advertisements, noticeboards, etc.)

Section 2: 2 texts associated with work or skilled training (job descriptions, work policies, guidelines, manuals, etc.)

Section 3: one long text of general interest (newspaper/magazine articles, book extracts, or web texts on the setting, civilization, business, culture, history, people, transport, etc.)

#. Differences in Reading Question sorts

There are fifteen styles of queries utilized in each IELTS academic and therefore the General tests. There’s only 1 further kind supplemental within the academic take a look at (see the lists below).

Both General Training and Academic Reading Tests Question Types

#. Sentence completion

#. Sentence completion with a box

#. Short answer questions

#. Notes / table / flow chart completion

#. Matching

#. Classification

#. Labelling a diagram

#. Paragraph headings

#. Finding information in paragraphs

#. Summary completion

#. Summary completion with a box

#. True / False / Not Given

#. Yes / No / Not Given

#. Multiple choice

#. Pick from a list

#. Global multiple-choice – only in the IELTS academic test

Also Read: IELTS Academic Test: A Detailed Study of the IELTS Syllabus & Exam Pattern


Hopefully, you have liked this article and have got all the necessary information and knowledge regarding the IELTS exam. If you have aspired to move to your favourite country to study or work, you can give this test by doing diligent IELTS preparation and can achieve your goals. 

You can join the candidates and experts on the IELTS Ninja website to prepare and practice the concepts of the IELTS syllabus. You can remove all your doubts and get knowledge about the ways to perform in the test to fetch high scores. Your life will turn out to be the same as your dreams by working and moving in the right direction. 

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About the Author


Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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