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The choice of test depends on where you intend to use your test score. The IELTS Academic test is usually for entry into university. IELTS General Training on the other hand is used for migration purposes. The organisation where you plan to work or study sets the requirements. So before you book your test, it is good to check which one is right for you. 

Now let’s look at the differences between the two IELTS tests in more detail.

IELTS Academic vs IELTS General Training

IELTS General Training is for people who wish to live and work abroad in an English-speaking country. It focuses mainly on assessing a person’s proficiency, confidence and comfort when communicating in English in daily situations that they are likely to encounter in a native English-speaking environment.

The IELTS Academic test on the other hand is for students who are interested in pursuing their higher education overseas. Hence, it is designed to assess whether a test taker is ready and able to use English as a medium of study.

Now that you know why people take IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training, let’s take a look at the difference in the content between the two tests.


IELTS Academic

In the IELTS Academic Reading test, you will be asked to read three long paragraphs. These paragraphs can consist of excerpts from books, magazines or even newspapers. You will then be asked to answer questions relating to what you have read.

IELTS General Training

While the format is similar, in the IELTS General Training Reading test you will be presented with passages from brochures and advertisements rather than magazines or newspapers. These are materials that you may come across every day.


In the Writing test, there are two tasks that the test taker has to complete.

IELTS Academic

The Writing section for IELTS Academic, test takers is based on topics from undergraduate or postgraduate studies. You have to complete two Writing tasks:

For the IELTS Writing Task 1, you are given a page with a chart, graph or diagram. The test-taker then have to analyse the data and interpret it in their own words. You/test takers are asked questions to test how they process the given information and arrive at a logical conclusion. The writing style is strictly formal.

IELTS Writing Task 2 is the same for both Academic and General Training. This task involves writing an essay discussing a statement about a contemporary issue. The writing style must be formal, and the essay has to have relevant examples.

IELTS General Training

The test-taker is required to write about general topics instead of academic ones. Just like IELTS Academic, for the General Training Writing test you also have to complete two tasks.

The IELTS Writing Task 1 asks you to write a letter based on a given situation. The letter could be formal or informal and would be about a request, explanation or a viewpoint supporting the situation.

As mentioned above, the IELTS Writing Task 2 is be the same for both Academic and General Training. The test-taker would need to write a formal essay in response to a statement or premise.


No matter what you want to achieve, there is an IELTS test to help you reach your goal. Knowing the difference between the two kinds of tests makes it easier to choose which may serve you best for what you want to achieve.