IELTS General or IELTS Academic – What are Major Differences?

Jun 06,2022

IELTS General Vs IELTS Academic

Candidates Aspiring to go Abroad often struggle with selecting the IELTS exam type that suits their requirements. IELTS General and IELTS Academic are the entry-level criteria for candidates willing to go to foreign countries; then what is the difference between them? This article will explain the significant differences between IELTS General and IELTS Academic.

What is the Primary Difference Between IELTS General or IELTS Academic?

IELTS General is designed explicitly for candidates willing to work and settle in English-speaking countries like the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Fundamental and functional language abilities are required for General training for IELTS, and it is exclusively developed for immigration purposes.

Whereas IELTS Academic is suitable for the test takers planning to pursue higher studies in foreign countries. In other words, IELTS Academic will test your English Level Proficiency that is best suitable for an academic environment. Students and professionals must demonstrate strong language skills to get admission to world-class universities and get professional registration.

The following table will give you a clear idea about what IELTS exam type you should select depending upon your specific requirements:

Sr. NoPurposeTest Type
1.Undergraduate levelIELTS Academic
2.Postgraduate levelIELTS Academic
3.DoctorateIELTS Academic
4.Post DoctoralIELTS Academic
5.For Professional OrganisationsIELTS Academic
6.Below Degree levelIELTS General
7.MigrationIELTS General
8.Work or TrainingIELTS General
9.Another job in  your own countryIELTS General
10.Permanent ResidencyIELTS General
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What is the Format for IELTS General or IELTS Academic?

IELTS General and IELTS Academic have the following sections:

1. Listening

  • The listening section is 30 minutes long, and it has 40 questions.
  • The listening section in IELTS General and IELTS Academic is similar.
  • Audio will be played, and the candidates are supposed to answer the question based on the information played in the audio.

2. Reading

  • The reading section in IELTS Academic is comparatively lengthy and complex, as it contains long and complicated texts.
  • Whereas the reading section in IELTS General Exam is a lot easier and simple to understand for an average user.
  • Although the format in both the test types follows the same pattern, there are 40 questions in reading sections, and 60 minutes will be provided to read and answer the questions. The reading test has three sections.

3. Writing

  • IELTS General and IELTS Academic writing have two tasks in writing sections.
  • Task 1 in the Academic exam is a graph, table, and chart, where the test taker will describe the information represented in the table/graph in a few words.IELTS General has a letter-writing task in part 1 of the writing section.
  • Task 2 of the writing section is essay writing, and it is the same for both test types. You have to write an essay on a given topic for approximately 250 -280 words.

4. Speaking

  • IELTS Speaking in both test types is the same, and it is generally an 11-14 minutes long face-to-face interview.
  • The Speaking section has three parts: Introduction, monologue, and follow-up questions.
  • The first part has general questions about your work, hobbies, interests, and family. In the second part, you will be given two minutes to speak on a given topic; you will have one minute to prepare before you speak. The third part has general questions about politics, the environment, internet, and you have to provide an explanation that justifies your answer.
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What is the Similarity Between IELTS General or IELTS Academic?

  • The listening and speaking sections of IELTS General and Academic follow the same format.
  • Both tests are accepted by major English-speaking countries like Canada, Australia, UK, New Zealand and Germany.

What are the Other Differences Between the IELTS General or IELTS Academic Exam?

  • The IELTS Academic Reading Part is relatively complicated compared to the IELTS General reading as it contains long texts with complex vocabulary. IELTS Academic has a variety of texts with factual, analytical, and descriptive texts.
  • Writing Part in IELTS Academic has a graph, diagram, table, and chart in Task 1. Test takers will summarise the information given in the graph or table. Candidates appearing for the IELTS General exam have to write a formal, semi-formal, or informal letter in task 1.
  • Band score calculation for the IELTS reading section is different for IELTS Academic and General candidates.

What is a Band Score?

All the IELTS General and IELTS Academic sections will have a band score from 0-9, depending on your English Language Proficiency. The average of these scores is your overall IELTS band score, which can be a half-band (e.g., 5.5 band)or a full band score (e.g., 6 band). Here 1 band means a poor Language user, while 9 band means you are an expert user.

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What is the Difference Between the Band Score for the Reading Section of Both the Test Types?

As the complexity level in IELTS Academic is higher than in IELTS General, the calculation of band score is different for the reading section of both the tests.

Band Score for IELTS General

Correct AnswersBand Score
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Band Score for IELTS Academic

Correct AnswersBand Score
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Which IELTS Exam should I select?

Choose IELTS Academic If You Want to

  1. Pursue Bachelor’s or postgraduate study program
  2. Seek a professional Registration

Choose IELTS General If You Want to

  1. Study below degree level
  2. Work or migrate in English -speaking countries

Which Exam Type is Easier – IELTS General or IELTS Academic?

As the IELTS General tests your language skills at a functional level, it is way easier than IELTS Academic, which examines the candidate’s English Language abilities at a professional or academic level. As a result, IELTS Academic candidates should have expert comprehension skills to help them understand complex ideas clearly and precisely.

However, both the test types serve different purposes for migration. Hence, candidates must prepare for the test that fulfils the immigration requirements.

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The selection of the IELTS Exam Type is dependent on the purpose of migration. In simple words, candidates aspiring to study in foreign countries must Prepare for IELTS Academic as it is the primary requirement for admission in universities and colleges.

On the other hand, candidates planning to work or settle abroad should take IELTS General. Hence, it is recommended that you Choose the Right Test Type before Appearing for the IELTS Exam.

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Written By

Himani Dave

Himani Dave is an IELTS and PTE tutor with over three years of experience. She is a Cambridge and Pearson IT-certified tutor and has helped hundreds of students ace the exams and achieve their dream scores. With her friendly and approachable teaching style and a knack for making even the most difficult concepts easy to grasp, she is a rockstar among peers and students.


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