IELTS Academic Vs General - Key differences

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IELTS Academic Vs General - Key differences


Do you wish to take the IELTS Exam but are unsure about IELTS Academic vs. General training? If you want to understand the distinctions between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Exams before applying, you've come to the perfect place. 

The IELTS Academic Exam and IELTS General Training Tests serve different goals. Choosing the right test helps you achieve your goals. The IELTS Academic test is meant for university admissions, whilst the IELTS General test is geared for employment and migration. Before booking your test, make sure you understand your selected institution's exact language requirements. 

This blog has explained all of the differences between Academic and General IELTS. So, let’s begin with it!

Types of IELTS Exam

There are 2 types of IELTS Exams – Academic and General. Understanding both types of IELTS exams is essential before applying, as both exams are conducted for different purposes.


IELTS Academic Exam

The IELTS Academic Exam is specifically designed for individuals seeking admission to higher education institutions or professional registration in English-speaking countries. It evaluates the test taker's ability to understand complex academic language, to use English during the study, as well as their English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in an academic context. Students applying for undergraduate or postgraduate programs and professionals in fields like medicine or law typically take the IELTS Academic Exam.


IELTS General Training 

The IELTS General Training is geared towards those planning to migrate to an English-speaking country for work, training programs, or secondary education. It assesses practical English language skills needed in everyday social and workplace contexts.

The test includes modules on reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Individuals seeking immigration to countries like Canada, Australia, or the UK for purposes other than academic study often opt for the IELTS General Training.

Difference Between Academic and General IELTS

Understanding the difference between Academic and General IELTS Training is crucial for test takers to select the most suitable test based on their goals and aspirations. Below, you can check the major IELTS General vs Academic differences for various aspects.

Aspect IELTS Academic Exam IELTS General Training


Admission to academic institutions or professional registration.

Migration purposes, secondary education, and work-related training.

Reading Section

Texts are more complex and include academic content.

Texts are generally taken from newspapers, advertisements, and everyday sources.

Writing Task 1

Describes and interprets visual information (graphs, charts, tables).

Writes a letter based on a given situation or expresses a viewpoint.

Writing Task 2

Presents an argument or gives an opinion on a particular topic.

Responds to a point of view, argument, or problem.

Listening Section

Features academic lectures, discussions, and conversations.

Emphasises everyday social and workplace scenarios.

Speaking Section

Discusses familiar and unfamiliar topics with an emphasis on academic contexts.

Covers general topics related to daily life, experiences, and opinions.

Test Duration

Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Suitable Applicants

Students applying for higher education or professional registration.

Individuals migrating for work, training, or secondary education.

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Which IELTS Test is Suitable for You?

Many individuals preparing for the IELTS exam find themselves in a dilemma regarding whether to opt for IELTS Academic Vs General Training. The ongoing confusion surrounding the IELTS General vs Academic differences often leads to questions such as, Which exam should I take? or Which is best for PR - IELTS Academic Vs General? The students frequently ask these questions.

However, which IELTS Test is suitable for you entirely depends on your purpose in taking the test. If you want to go abroad to study or for a professional organisation, then the IELTS Academic test is suitable for you. Meanwhile, the IELTS General test is designed for migration, work or training, and PR purposes. Choose your goal from the table below and find which IELTS Test suits you.



Undergraduate level

IELTS Academic


Postgraduate level






For Professional organisation


Below degree level

IELTS General




Work or training


Another job in own country


Permanent Residency


Which Exam Should You Take for Study - IELTS General Vs Academic

Choosing the right IELTS exam from IELTS General and Academic for studying abroad is crucial for aspiring students.

It is recommended to choose the IELTS Academic exam if pursuing higher education, as it assesses skills relevant to academic environments, including interpreting graphs and writing essays. However, the band score requirement may vary as per your university and program. So, you must always be aware of the score expectations that the organisations have.


Which Exam Should You Take for Job - IELTS General Vs Academic

When deciding between IELTS General vs Academic for job-related endeavours, the choice depends on the nature of the position and employer requirements. IELTS General Training is typically more suitable for job-related scenarios, especially if the position involves everyday communication in an English-speaking workplace. This version assesses practical language skills relevant to the professional environment, making it a fitting choice for those seeking employment abroad.

On the other hand, the IELTS Academic Exam may be more applicable for specific jobs, especially if the role demands a higher level of English language proficiency, such as in academia (Teaching job) or research work.


Which Exam Should You Take for PR - IELTS General Vs Academic

For individuals considering Permanent Residency (PR) in an English-speaking country, the choice between IELTS General vs Academic is influenced by immigration requirements. Generally, IELTS General Training is commonly accepted for PR purposes, as it evaluates language skills necessary for social integration and daily life in a new country. However, it is essential to check specific immigration policies to ensure compliance with the language proficiency criteria for successful PR applications.

Why Take the IELTS Academic or General Exam?

Choosing to take the IELTS Academic vs General Training exam depends on your specific goals and purposes. Here's a breakdown of why you might opt for each:


Why Take IELTS Academic Exam?

  • University Admission - If your objective is to pursue higher education at an English-speaking university, the IELTS Academic exam is tailored to assess your language proficiency within an academic context.

  • Professional Registration - Certain professional bodies and licensing organisations may require proof of English language proficiency, and the IELTS Academic exam is widely accepted for this purpose.

  • Academic Skills Evaluation - The Academic version evaluates your ability to understand complex academic language, making it suitable for those entering academic environments.


Why Take IELTS General Training?

  • Migration Purposes - If your goal is to migrate to an English-speaking country for work, training, or secondary education, the IELTS General Training is often a requirement for visa applications.

  • Workplace Communication - Designed to assess practical language skills needed for daily social interactions and workplace communication, the General Training version is appropriate for professionals seeking employment abroad.

  • Secondary Education - Individuals planning to study at secondary educational institutions or undergo training programs in an English-speaking environment may find the General Training exam applicable.

IELTS General vs Academic Differences – Major Differences

The IELTS Academic and General tests have some differences and similarities. Candidates must know them to get better clarification of both exams. Here, we have provided you with the difference between academic and general IELTS.


IELTS Academic Vs General – Comparison in Fees

The registration fees for IELTS Academic and IELTS General are identical at INR 16,250. However, the IELTS test fee varies in India depending on the test type. Candidates can pay the test fees through credit card/debit card/demand draft/direct cash deposit at an authorised bank. It is essential to pay the fees to complete your IELTS test registration.


IELTS General Vs Academic Difference – Know All 4 Modules

The IELTS General and Academic versions differ in focus and content across four modules. Check the difference in all 4 modules below. 

Module Academic General


Emphasises academic contexts, including lectures and discussions in educational settings.

Involves everyday scenarios, such as social situations and workplace communication.


Involves academic texts, like articles and journals, testing higher-level comprehension.

Features texts from newspapers, advertisements, and workplace documents.


Involves descriptive and analytical writing tasks, such as summarising information or presenting arguments.

Requires letter writing and essay tasks based on everyday situations.


Includes discussions on academic themes, often incorporating data interpretation.

Focuses on general topics related to daily life, experiences, and opinions.


IELTS Academic Vs General - Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for IELTS Academic and General Training are generally the same, as both versions are open to individuals of all backgrounds and ages. The choice between Academic and General Training depends on the purpose of the test.

IELTS Academic Exam Eligibility

  • Suitable for those planning to pursue higher education or professional registration.

  • Typically required by universities and institutions for undergraduate or postgraduate admissions.

IELTS General Training Eligibility

  • Intended for individuals migrating to English-speaking countries for work, training, or secondary education.

  • Often required for immigration and employment purposes.


IELTS General Vs Academic Score Calculation

The scoring system for both IELTS General Training and Academic versions is the same. Each of the 4 test modules; Listening, Writing, Reading, and Speaking - is scored on a scale from 0 to 9. These individual scores are then averaged to calculate the overall band score.

The band scores reflect different levels of English proficiency:

  • Band 1 to 4 - Limited user

  • Band 5 to 6 - Modest user

  • Band 7 to 8 - Competent user

  • Band 9 - Expert user

However, the Raw Score and band score may differ for each module of academic and general exams. To get an idea about the difference in IELTS general vs academic score, we have provided you with the band score compared to a raw score for the reading section from the table below.

IELTS General vs Academic Score Difference in Reading Section

Raw Score

Academic Band Score

Raw Score

General Band Score






















































IELTS Academic Vs General - Exam Dates

The availability of IELTS exam dates, whether for IELTS Academic or General Training, varies depending on the test centre and location. The IELTS offers tests throughout the year, and candidates can usually choose from various available dates.

To find specific IELTS Academic or General Training exam dates, you can check our Blog – IELTS Exam Dates 2024 in India.


IELTS Academic Vs General - Time Required to Prepare for the Exam

A basic guideline for academic exam preparation is often around 2 to 3 months. In comparison, general training preparation requires around 1 to 3 months. However, the time required to prepare for the IELTS exam, whether Academic or General Training, varies depending on individual proficiency, familiarity with the test format, and target band scores. The following factors influence the timeframe of exam preparation -

  • Current English Proficiency

  • Target Band Score

  • Familiarity with Test Format

  • Daily Study Routine

  • Practice Tests and Feedback

  • Language Skills Enhancement

  • Resource Utilization


IELTS Academic Vs General – Difficulty level

Which IELTS version might be difficult - this is the question that everyone has.

The difficulty level of IELTS Academic vs General Training is subjective and varies from individual to individual.

However, most of the candidates find difficulties in general writing tasks. On the other hand, misunderstanding the question type in the listening section is more difficult in academic exams.

Is IELTS General Easier than Academic?

The difficulty in comparing IELTS General and Academic is nuanced, and the perception of which is easier depends on individual circumstances.

IELTS Academic, tailored for those pursuing higher education, introduces complexities with academic texts, specialised vocabulary, and analytical writing tasks. The challenge lies in the demand for a higher level of proficiency in academic English, requiring test-takers to navigate intricate language structures and critically analyse information. On the other hand, IELTS General Training, designed for work, immigration, or training, emphasises everyday communication skills in common social and workplace contexts.

While the content may seem more practical for many, it does not necessarily imply lower difficulty, as success still demands proficiency in diverse language scenarios. Some individuals may find the Academic version more challenging due to its academic-oriented nature, while others might perceive the practicality of General Training as a better fit.

Eventually, the choice between the two versions should align with personal goals, ensuring a strategic and focused preparation approach that maximises performance in either the Academic or General IELTS test.


In the end, the choice between IELTS Academic Vs General Training tests depends on individual goals and purposes. The IELTS Academic Exam is tailored for those pursuing higher education, emphasising academic language skills. At the same time, the IELTS General Training is designed for work, immigration, or training, focusing on everyday communication.  Both versions share common modules but differ in content, making it crucial for test-takers to align their choice with their specific aspirations. Above, we have covered the IELTS general vs academic difference. Understanding the difference between academic and general IELTS ensures a more effective preparation strategy, ultimately leading to Academic or General IELTS test success.

We hope the above information regarding IELTS Academic Vs General will be helpful for you to understand both exams. However, if you are seeking guidance in choosing the IELTS exam, you can contact Prepare IELTS Exam (PI) expert counsellors for further guidance. Our team of education experts is dedicated to providing you with the best guidance in the IELTS exam. You can get a one-on-one counselling session online via our platform. Contact us at or call us at +91 9773398388.


The key difference lies in the purpose – Academic is for higher education, while General Training is for work, immigration, or training.

While there are similarities, using materials specific to the chosen version is advisable to align with the content differences.

IELTS Difficulty is subjective and depends on individual strengths. The academic exam may be more challenging for some due to its academic focus.

Yes, the scoring system is identical. Both versions are scored on a scale from 0 to 9 in each module. However, the raw score and band score may differ for each academic and general training module.

No, you must choose the version you want to take when registering for the IELTS test. Switching between the two on the day of the exam is impossible.


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