Difference Between Ielts Academic and General

Difference Between Ielts Academic and General

If you want to study or work in an English-speaking country, you might need to take the IELTS exam. IELTS is nothing but the short form of International English Language Testing System. There are mainly 2 types of IELTS exams: General and Academic. These exams test your English skills but are used for different purposes.

In this informative blog, we will explain the difference between IELTS academic and general in simple language. This will help you decide which test is right for you and prepare better for it. So, let’s get started and learn about IELTS Academic and General!

What is IELTS?

The IELTS test ususally measures your command to use English in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It’s recognized globally by universities, employers, and immigration authorities to assess your English proficiency. It is recognized by many schools, universities, and employers around the world. Your overall score is an average of these four parts.

Also read: What is the Difference Between Weighted and Unweighted Gpa

Why are there two types of IELTS?

The two types of IELTS are designed for different purposes:

  • IELTS Academic is for people who want to study at a university or college in an English-speaking country.
  • IELTS General is for people who want to work, train, or migrate to an English-speaking country.

Even though both tests check your English skills, they focus on different things. Let’s look at how each part of the test is different in IELTS Academic and IELTS General.

Difference Between Ielts Academic and General

Listening Section

The Listening section is the same for both IELTS Academic and General.

You will hear four different recordings of native English speakers and you have to answer questions about each one. The recordings include conversations and monologues. This part check your ability to understand spoken English in different situations, such as everyday conversations and academic settings.

Example of Listening Section

  1. Conversation between two people in an everyday setting (e.g., booking a room)
  2. Monologue on a familiar topic (e.g., a speech about local facilities)
  3. A conversation involving up to 4 people in an educational or training context. (e.g., a group of students discussing an assignment)
  4. Monologue on an academic subject (e.g., a lecture)

You will answer questions like multiple-choice, matching, and sentence completion based on what you hear.

Reading Section

The Reading section is different for IELTS General and IELTS Academic. Here’s how:

IELTS Academic Reading

  • Content: This part includes three long texts which are more complex and come from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers.
  • Purpose: It tests your reading skills, like understanding main ideas, details, and logical arguments. The texts are more academic and require you to understand and analyze information.

IELTS General Reading

  • Content: This part includes three sections with texts from books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, notices, company handbooks, and guidelines. The texts are simpler and more related to everyday life.
  • Purpose: It tests your reading skills in a more general and practical context, such as understanding notices, advertisements, and other everyday documents.

Example of Reading Section

  • IELTS Academic: You might read a passage about a scientific discovery or a detailed article about a historical event.
  • IELTS General: You might read an advertisement for a job, a notice about a community event, or a simple article about a tourist attraction.

Writing Section

The Writing section is also different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General.

IELTS Academic Writing

  • Task 1: You will receive a graph, diagram, table, or chart, and be asked to describe, summarize, or explain the information in your own words.
  • Task 2: You will write essay responding to a point of view, problem, or argument. This task requires a formal style of writing.

IELTS General Writing

  • Task 1: You will write a letter or essay about a situation. The essay or letter can be personal, formal or semi-formal.
  • Task 2: You’ll write an essay in response to a viewpoint, argument, or problem, similar to the Academic test, but you can use a more personal style.

Example of Writing Section

  • IELTS Academic Task 1: You might be given a chart showing the population growth in different countries and asked to describe the trends.
  • IELTS General Task 1: You might be asked to write a letter to a friend inviting them to a party or to a company complaining about a faulty product.

Speaking Section

The Speaking section is the same for both IELTS Academic and General. It usually includes a face-to-face interview with an examiner and has three parts:

  1. Introduction and Interview: The examiner will ask you basic questions about yourself, your home, family, work, studies, and interests.
  2. Long Turn: You will be given a task card and asked to talk about a particular topic for 1-2 minutes. You will have 1 minute to prepare.
  3. Discussion: The examiner will ask you more questions about the topic in Part 2, allowing you to discuss more abstract ideas and issues.

Example of Speaking Section

  • Part 1: You might be asked about your hometown, your favorite food, or your hobbies.
  • Part 2: You might be asked to describe a memorable trip you took and explain why it was special.
  • Part 3: You might discuss the importance of travel and tourism and its impact on society.

Scoring and Results

Both IELTS Academic and General are scored in the same way. Each section (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) is scored on a band scale from 1 to 9. Your total band score is the average of these four scores.

  • Band 9: Expert user
  • Band 8: Very good user
  • Band 7: Good user
  • Band 6: Competent user
  • Band 5: Modest user
  • Band 4: Limited user
  • Band 3: Extremely limited user
  • Band 2: Intermittent user
  • Band 1: Non-user

Most universities and employers require a band score of 6.5 or higher.

Which Test Should You Take?

The test you should take depends on your goals:

  • Take IELTS Academic if you want to:
    • Study at an undergraduate or postgraduate level
    • Join a professional group in an English-speaking country
  • Take IELTS General if you want to:
    • Work or train in an English-speaking country
    • Migrate to an English-speaking country
    • Study at a secondary school or a training program that does not require academic-level English

Tips for Preparing for IELTS

  1. Understand the Test Format: Make sure you know the format of the test you are taking. Practice with sample questions and past papers.
  2. Improve Your English Skills: Focus on improving your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. Read English books, watch English movies, and practice speaking with friends or tutors.
  3. Take Practice Tests: Practice tests will help you get used to the timing and pressure of the actual test. They can also help you identify areas where you need more practice.
  4. Get Feedback: If possible, get feedback on your writing and speaking from a teacher or a tutor. They can help you understand your mistakes and improve.
  5. Stay Calm and Confident: On the day of the test, stay calm and confident. Remember that you have prepared well and do your best.

Also read: 20 Reasons Why Education is Important For Students


Understanding the difference between IELTS Academic and General is important for choosing the right test for your goals. IELTS Academic is more suitable for those who want to study at a higher education level, while IELTS General is better for those who want to work, train, or migrate to an English-speaking country.

Both tests measure your English skills in listening, reading, writing, and speaking, but they focus on different types of content. By knowing these differences and preparing accordingly, you can achieve the best possible score and take the next step toward your dreams.

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