IELTS General Training Exam : Complete guide

IELTS General Training Exam : Complete guide

Updated on 18 January, 2022

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

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The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standard test to evaluate the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers. The test is necessary for students planning to study in countries that have English as a native language. There are two types of IELTS exams, IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic.

Both the exams are different and they serve different purposes. You might get confused about choosing between the two. To help you out, we have gathered all the details for the IELTS General Training test in this article.



What is the IELTS General Training exam?

The IELTS General Training Exam is for candidates applying for courses below the degree level, for employment training, for work, or simply for migrating to other countries. The general training exam features questions that occur in our daily personal and work lives. The exam is also necessary to immigrate to New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US.

What are the different sections of the IELTS General Training exam?

The different sections of IELTS General Training are:

  1. Listening
  2. Speaking
  3. Reading
  4. Writing

These four sections evaluate different components of the English language that a learner will have to use when they move to countries with English as the official language.


IELTS General Training Test Format

The listening and the speaking sections are similar for both general training and academic tests. However, the writing and the reading sections are different. The examination lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes. Candidates can complete the speaking section of the IELTS general training exam one week before or after the exam.

Here’s the question format and duration of the exams:

            Sub-sectionNo. of QuestionsDuration
Listening4030 minutes
Speaking314 minutes
Reading4060 minutes
Writing260 minutes
Total85164 minutes


The listening section of the IELTS general training is similar to the IELTS academic. There are four different sections in the listening round. Each unit comprises ten questions and the time limit is around 30 minutes. The test consists of a recorded conversation between two or more people and monologues. The first two sections consist of questions from social contexts. Sections 3 and 4 deal with training and educational contexts.


The speaking section of the test is the same for both general training and academics. The test lasts around 11 to 14 minutes and consists of three sections. The sections assess the English speaking abilities of applicants and the examiner records each part. In section one, examiners ask general questions including an introduction about yourself, family background, interests, and professional or academic life. In section two, candidates have to speak on a particular topic for two minutes. The examiners will then ask questions about the topic in the third and the last part. It continues for a maximum of five minutes.

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The reading section of the General Training test is not similar to the IELTS Academic exam. This section stretches for at least 60 minutes. It contains 40 questions that test a candidate’s reading skills. The topics include reading for details, gist, main ideas, understanding the writer’s opinion, purpose, and evaluating logical arguments. Section one comprises two or more short texts, while section two includes two text pieces only. Section three has one long piece of text. The questions include multiple-choice questions, sentence completion, table completion, answering short questions, matching headings & features, and identifying the writer’s claims.


The writing section is the last part of the IELTS General Training test. It contains two tasks that have to be completed in 60 minutes. In the first task, candidates have to respond to a specific situation by writing an explanation letter or requesting information, in 150 words. Please note that bullet points and notes are not allowed. The answers have to be written descriptively. The second writing task is the same as in the Academic Test. Candidates have to write a neutral or semi-formal essay of 250 words representing their point of view or argument on a given topic.

How is General Training different from IELTS Academic?

As mentioned above, both IELTS General Training and the Academic exams evaluate a candidate’s English language proficiency. IELTS academic is for candidates applying for higher education, whereas general training is for aspirants applying for secondary education, work experience, immigration, and training programs. It is mandatory to appear for IELTS general training to migrate to New Zealand, Australia, the UK, the US, and Canada.

The exam formats of these two tests are different too. The listening and the speaking sections are the same in both IELTS General Training and Academic tests. Whereas, the writing and the reading sections are different.

IELTS General Training band scores

The band scores of the IELTS test range from 0 to 9. While the required score varies across institutions and countries, a score of 6.5 – 7.5 is considered average. The individual scores for each of the four English skills (reading, speaking, writing, and reading) are considered equally to arrive at the final score.

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