The official IELTS by IDP app is here! Download it today.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language test designed to help you work, study, or migrate to a country where English is the native language. IELTS is the only English proficiency test that provides test takers with a choice between Academic and General Training tests. Over 11,500 employers, universities, schools, and immigration organisations worldwide, including 3,400 institutions in the USA, recognise IELTS as proof of English language proficiency.

What is the difference between 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.


The Reading and Writing sections are different in the IELTS General Training test and the IELTS Academic test, so here’s what’s different:

IELTS Academic

There are 3 sections in the IELTS Academic Reading test , and each section contains one long passage. These passages are taken from books, magazines, and journals.  

IELTS General Training

In the IELTS General Training Reading test , the passages are taken from brochures, advertisements, and documentation that you may find in the workplace. Section 1 contains a number of short texts, Section 2 contains two longer texts, and Section 3 contains one long passage. 


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

IELTS Academic

In the Writing section for IELTS Academic , you have to complete two Writing tasks:  

  • IELTS Writing Task 1: you are given some visual information, which may be in the form of a chart, graph, diagram, map, or process. You are asked to write a short report describing this visual information in at least 150 words. A formal style of writing is needed here.  

  • IELTS Writing Task 2: it is the same for both Academic and General Training. You are asked to write an essay of at least 250 words. The question may ask you to write an essay analysing a claim regarding a current problem, discussing two opposing viewpoints and/or your opinion on a given topic. The essay must be written in a formal tone, and it must include relevant examples. 

IELTS General Training

In the General Training Writing test, you also have to complete two tasks, however the topics are more general in nature: 

  •  IELTS Writing Task 1: you are asked to write a letter on a given situation. The letter could be formal in tone and may be a request, complaint, explanation, or offering recommendations. Alternatively, you may be asked to write an informal letter to a friend, for example, asking them to visit and suggesting activities you can do together. 

  • IELTS Writing Task 2 :as mentioned above, Task 2 is the same for both Academic and General Training as it would be required to respond to a statement or premise in a formal essay. However, in the General Training Writing test, the essay topics are more general in nature. 

The official feedback report provides band scores for each test component as well as an indicative total band score. 

Additionally, a certified IELTS examiner will provide you with personalised feedback in each area of your Speaking and Writing tests. You can pick from 4 different Academic tests and 4 different General Training tests. 

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.

Ready to book your test?