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Academic IELTS vs General IELTS: Difference Between Academic And General IELTS

Updated on 27 June, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is designed to assess an individual’s proficiency in the English language based on four factors – listening, speaking, reading, and writing. IELTS tests are divided into two categories – Academic and General Training. It is important for students to understand the differences between IELTS academic vs general training since the test changes based on a candidate’s purpose of moving abroad – immigration, education, or work. 

Candidates appearing for the test need to achieve a band score as required by their academic institutions or other organizations. Participants receive a test report certificate on completing the test. The score is valid for two years. IELTS uses a band score ranging between one to nine.

IELTS Academic vs General Training – Which Exam to Choose?

IELTS Academic is accepted by universities and organizations of different countries. Thousands of reputed universities and colleges accept the band scores as proof of English skills. Most Australian and European universities mandate the IELTS test because it is mostly based on Australian and British English. It is accepted by both undergraduate and postgraduate universities.

IELTS General Training is for students below the degree levels. They can undertake this test if they wish to get admitted to high school (or secondary education).

Countries that Accept the Score of IELTS

IELTS is accepted in more than 100,000 universities, immigration offices, organizations, and professional corporations in 140 countries.

Some of the major countries which accept the IELTS test are as follows:


IELTS is accepted by all Canadian universities, colleges, and organizations. Students need to take this exam if they are planning to move to Canada to study, work, or live. Further, they need a minimum band score of six – with six or above in all four sections.

Recommended Read: Universities in Canada Without IELTS


More than 3,000 institutions accept the IELTS test in the USA. The minimum band score varies from one institution to another but it should not be less than 6. It is necessary for candidates to score a better band score  because it is important for US visa permits.

Recommended Read: IELTS Score For USA


IELTS is accepted by educational institutions and the immigration system of Australia. Further, the validity of the IELTS score is 2 years from the date of appearing for the test. Applicants need a minimum 6 band score in every section.

Recommended Read: IELTS For Australia

Which IELTS Test is Suitable for the Students?

To understand which IELTS test is better for a student, it is important to know the difference between Academic and General Training IELTS. If education is the main purpose, applicants need to take the IELTS academic test. On the other hand, if they want to migrate to another English-speaking country then IELTS General Training is recommended. It is suggested that an aspirant should choose the exact entry requirements before choosing.

Suitable IELTS Test as Per Goal

Goal Test type
Undergraduate levelIELTS Academic
Postgraduate levelIELTS Academic
Doctorate levelIELTS Academic
Post-DoctoralIELTS Academic
Below degree levelIELTS General
Work or trainingIELTS General
MigrationIELTS General
For professional organizationIELTS Academic
Permanent ResidencyIELTS General


Important Resources to Read for IELTS:

IELTS Speaking TopicsIELTS Writing Task 2Opinion Essay IELTS
Important Vocabulary for IELTSIELTS Band ScoreValidity of IELTS Score
IELTS Reading SectionIELTS Essay Writing SamplesEssay on Historical Places
IELTS Test Report formBenefits of IELTS CoachingHow to Cancel IELTS Exam

Download E-Books for IELTS Preparation

ielts sample essays

Similarities: IELTS General vs IELTS Academic

IELTS test assesses an individual on the basis of reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills. There are no differences in the listening and speaking sections of IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic. 

IELTS Speaking (Common for both)

The test format of the speaking module is a face-to-face interview that lasts for 11 – 14 minutes. The test consists of three parts:

Part 1: Here, the examiner asks questions on topics related to studies, family, and work. The interview lasts for 4 – 5 minutes.

Part 2: In this section, the candidate is asked to speak about a certain topic. The candidate will get a minute to think about it and then, speak for two minutes. The examiner will again ask questions about the same topic.

Part 3: In the last section, the candidate needs to discuss ideas and challenges related to the previous test. It lasts for a maximum of 5 minutes.

IELTS Listening Test (Common for both)

The candidate will be asked to listen to four recordings in English and then answer a series of questions. It lasts for half an hour and the purpose is to check the comprehension skills. The candidate should understand the central idea and factual information first.

1) Recording 1: It is a conversation between two persons and is related to social issues.

2) Recording 2: The candidate needs to listen to a monologue.

3) Recording 3: This is a recorded conversation between four people discussing education or training.

4) Recording 4: This is the final section in which the candidate needs to listen to a monologue on academic topics.

More Resources to Read for IELTS:

IELTS Band Score ChartHow to get 8 band in IELTSTypes of IELTS Exam
Average IELTS ScoresIELTS Score for USAStudy in USA Without IELTS
Study in UK Without IELTSIELTS Reading Band ScoreIELTS Bar Graph
Writing Task 1 Line GraphCollocation for IELTSIELTS Reading Tips


Download IELTS Preparation Guide For Free

Get to know about the latest updates on the IELTS Exam, Eligibility, Preparation Tips, Test procedure,  Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Registration Process, Important Exam Dates, and much more!! This guide is a one-stop solution for every IELTS Aspirant who aims to crack the exam with an impressive band score.

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Difference between the IELTS Academic Test and the General Training Test

As suggested above, the main aim of Academic IELTS vs General IELTS is to check the candidate’s ability to read, write, listen, and speak English. The test format of the speaking and listening sections is the same for candidates appearing for the IELTS general and academic tests. However, the writing and reading sections are different.

The writing, listening, and reading modules of the IELTS tests are held on the same day without any break. The speaking section which is a face-to-face interview round can be completed one week before or after the other tests. It depends on the availability of slots at the test center. The entire duration of the test lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes.

IELTS Reading test (Different for both)

Academic Reading

Some of the differences between the Academic and General IELTS are in the Reading section. This section is designed to test the reading abilities of a person and consists of 40 questions. The allotted time for the test is 60 minutes. The candidate is asked to read different passages and answer the questions accordingly. This particular section is designed for testing higher education aspirants or working professionals.

The test includes reading three long paragraphs that can be factual, analytical, or descriptive. These paragraphs are taken from journals, magazines, research works, newspapers, or books. The candidate needs to answer related questions after reading the passages.

General Reading Test

This section is designed to check the reading skills of a person and it consists of 40 questions. These have to be answered within one hour. Candidates are provided with passages related to company guidelines, advertisements, brochures, and so on. It is believed that this test is relatively easier than the academic test. The passages contain words that are encountered regularly.

IELTS Writing Test (Different for both)

Academic Writing Test

In this test, candidates are asked to write on different topics related to their undergraduate and postgraduate studies. They are required to complete the test in one hour. In the first task, a paper containing either tables, graphs, or diagrams is handed to the candidate.

The candidate needs to define the visual information in their own words. Additionally, they could be asked to explain a flowchart. In the other tasks, candidates need to write an essay based on the data. They also need to support the data with the correct examples. The writing style should be strictly formal.

General Writing Test

In this section, the candidate needs to write about topics of general interest. The tasks need to be completed within one hour. For the first task, the candidate needs to write a formal, semi-formal, or personal letter on a situation presented to them. They need to explain the given request or argument.


To cater end-to-end requirements of learners planning to pursue higher education abroad, upGrad Abroad has launched a Booster Program. The Booster Program is designed to offer support to students in preparation for IELTS, Academic Writing, Profile Building, International Faculty Masterclass, and University Application, Education Loan, and Visa Support.

Also Read:

How to Prepare for IELTS at Home Without Coaching

Causes and Effects of Obesity IELTS Essay

Business and Money IELTS Essay

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tourism IELTS Essay

How to Write Conclusion in Writing Task 2

Art is Considered an Important Part of a Society IELTS Essay

Is Computer Based IELTS Easier

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IELTS Slot Booking

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Frequently Asked Questions

IELTS Academic vs General Training test which is easier?

Usually, the questions in IELTS are designed to test a candidate’s skills in English and there is no such thing as a pass or fail. The Academic version of IELTS tests a student’s level of comprehension and when it comes to the difficulty level, the reading section of the General Training test is easier than the Academic test.

What is the difference between ILETS Academic and IELTS General?

One academic and general IELTS difference is that the reading section in both types varies in the passage numbers and topics. In the IELTS Academic reading passage, section 1 consists of one shorter article, and sections 2 and 3 include one longer article each. On the other hand, the reading passage in the IELTS General Training varies in each section - Sections 1, 2, and 3 consist of up to 3 short texts, 2 texts, and one long text, respectively. 
The passages in IELTS Academic Reading are usually topics of general interest that are closely related to a variety of academic subjects such as plant/animal/human biology, chemistry, physics, medicine, history, anthropology, education, language and linguistics, law, astronomy, space exploration, environment conservation, psychology, sociology, mathematics, computer science, inventors and inventions, arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, music, crafts, culture and civilization, business, economics, marketing, management, etc. In IELTS General Training Reading, Section 1, 2, and 3 comprises texts related to everyday life, two texts related to work or professional training, and one long text of general interest.

Is it possible to convert IELTS General Training to Academic?

Yes, it is possible for IELTS test-takers to change from IELTS General Training to Academic. The IDP Education has prepared a form for aspirants who want to change from one test type to the other. They should fill in this form and send it to their local testing center at least five days before their test date. The form should be accompanied by a photocopy of a passport or ID proof to verify the authenticity of the candidates.

How difficult is the IELTS General test?

If we compare general IELTS vs academic IELTS, the latter is more difficult as it requires the candidate to have a broad vocabulary and mastery of English compared to the former. However, with sheer practice and dedication to improve one’s English, it is not very difficult to score a band of 7 or more.

Which IELTS should I give for MS?

To pursue an MS abroad, students should appear for the IELTS Academic. This would help them to get admission to a reputed college or university abroad by proving their English skills.

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.