What is IELTS Academic Exam?

What is IELTS Academic Exam?

Updated on 18 January, 2022

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Get Free Consultation

You have to take an English proficiency test If you are planning to pursue higher education or are seeking work-related registration in an English-speaking country. The IELTS or the International English Language Testing System is one of the most popular language tests accepted in many countries. But it is divided into two parts – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Before you start wondering what the IELTS Academic exam is, let’s clear it all out.

The IELTS Academic test is ideal for students planning to study in a country or university where English is spoken as the main language and is used for instructions. It can also be taken for professional registration by people looking for work opportunities. The test is meant to measure your ability to learn in English.

As per the organizers of IELTS, the General Training test is best for students planning to study below the degree level. It is ideal for admissions in English-speaking schools or colleges. It can also be taken for work experience or other work-related training. The General Training test is mandatory for migrating to certain English-speaking countries. They include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. Unlike the Academic test, this one measures the applicants’ English language skills required in social and work environments.


Both the IELTS Academic and General Training tests measure your English-language proficiency across four different parameters – Writing, Reading, Listening and speaking. 

The Listening and Speaking sections of the test are completely the same for both Academic and General Training exams. However, the Reading and Writing parts are different. Both the tests can be taken on a computer and as well as on paper and the test lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes. The test fees amount to Rs 14,700 for both. The IELTS academic band score ranges between 0 and 9. It is possible to get a .5 score as well (Eg, 6.5 or 7.5).

Applicants opting for the paper-based IELTS test have to take the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections on paper with either a pen or dark black pencils. The Speaking test is executed in person by an expert IELTS examiner. 

Applicants who have chosen the computer-based IELTS test take the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections on a computer. Like the paper-based test, the  Speaking test for the computer-based exam is also taken face-to-face by an IELTS examiner.

But the computer-based test is more convenient. While results of the paper-based IELTS test are announced after 13 days from the test date, the outcome of the Computer-based IELTS test is announced within 3-5 days from the test date.

The Listening, Reading, and Writing tests are conducted on the same day and the Speaking test can be scheduled up to a week before or after other tests.


Difference and similarities between IELTS Academic and General Training Formats

IELTS Academic test format

Here’s a breakdown of the four sections of the test along with the allotted time: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

Listening (30 minutes)Four recorded monologues and conversations
Reading (60 minutes)Three long reading passages with relevant tasks
The texts may include visual elements like diagrams, graphs, or illustrations
The pieces of texts are extracts from books, journals, magazines, or newspapers
Writing (60 minutes)Summarize, describe or explain the given table, graph, chart, or diagram in written words
Write a short essay on the given topic (at least 250 words)
Speaking (11 to 14 minutes)Face-to-face interview without disruptions or distractions
This part has short questions, speaking at length about a familiar topic and a structured discussion

Learn More About IELTS

IELTS Speaking test

Both Academic and General Training follow the same format for the IELTS Speaking test. The allotted time lasts for about 11-14 minutes. The test is usually a one-on-one conversation around a general topic. It is conducted  as a face-to-face interview without any disruptions. Unlike other English proficiency tests that record voice responses, IELTS specifically conducts these in-person to understand the person better.

IELTS Reading test

The IELTS Reading test is a bit different for both Academic and General Training. The test for the General Training section takes 60 minutes and it has three sections. The first section may contain two or three short texts or multiple shorter versions. The second section has two separate two texts. Lastly, the third section has a single but long text. The text pieces are generally extracted from notices or advertisements. The test may also include pieces taken from company handbooks, official documents, books, and newspapers. The Reading section for the Academic test also lasts 60 minutes. However, it contains 3 long texts instead of the multiple shorter pieces. They are generally taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. You can be a bit less concerned if you are appearing for the IELTS Academic test. The texts of the Reading section are a bit easier and selected for non-specialist applicants.

IELTS Writing test

Just like the Reading test, the IELTS Writing test also lasts 60 minutes. But it is different for both  Academic and General Training. For the General Training Writing test, you are required to write a letter of 150 words along with a short Essay of 250 words. On the other hand, the Academic Writing test is a bit more professional. Instead of the General test’s letter writing test, you have to describe a table, chart, or diagram in 150 words. For the second task, you have to write a short essay of 250 words.


IELTS Listening test

The IELTS Listening test is the same for both Academic and General Training exams. The test  requires around 30 mins. This section of the test has four separate sections, each of which has ten questions. The first two sections deal with social contexts from our daily life. Sections three and four are more about educational and training contexts.