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IELTS General Training vs. Academic: Which Should You Choose?

Before you book your very first IELTS test, you will need to understand the difference between the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic tests.

In fact, the first step to acing your IELTS test is to understand what it entails. To break it down for you, there are four sections: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening. Here’s our quick rundown of what to expect - and the differences - between IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic.

Difference #1: The Reading Test

You’ll have 60 minutes to complete the reading test, so pace yourself to make sure you don’t miss a detail in each passage.

There will be 40 questions in various formats from MCQ questions to True/False questions to short-answer questions.

IELTS Academic’s Reading Test

Look out for the author's voice, purpose, and main arguments.

You'll get three long academic-style texts with increasing difficulty. It could be any academic topic, from science to history, but a glossary is provided for any term you may not know, so don't be shocked if you encounter something you are not familiar with.

IELTS General Training’s Reading Test

While IELTS Academic targets pre-university students, IELTS General Training tests your proficiency in English for a social setting.

Hate long texts and readings that remind you of school? You are in luck!

You can look forward to four short passages varying in length and difficulty from a variety of everyday contexts. These can be anything - from newspaper snippets to advertisements.

But don’t be fooled by these everyday-style texts - picking out the details from the chunk of information may pose a challenge too.

Difference #2: The Writing Test

The second task is the same for both tasks. You'll have to answer an essay question (usually responding to a point of view) in at least 250 words.

The first task is where things get a little different.

IELTS Academic’s Writing Test

You'll get one or more of the following: Bar Charts, Line Graphs, Tables, Diagrams, and even the structure of a machine.

You don't have to use all the information provided, as the point of this section is to prove your ability to examine and describe data.

Just make sure you don’t write in point form.

IELTS General Training’s Writing Test

From the structure of a letter to the presentation of information, there are specific conventions. If you aren't aware, it's time to figure those out.

Here are three types of letter you may be asked to write:

  • Informal (to a family member or a friend)
  • Semi-Formal
  • Formal (to a manager)

The requirement is the same as the IELTS Academic test - 150 words at a minimum within 20 minutes.

And not to forget the other sections of the test - Speaking and Listening - here’s an idea of what to expect.

These two test sections are the same for both the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic tests.

The Writing test (both for AC and GT) will take 60 minutes. You should allow about 20 minutes for Part 1 and 40 minutes for Part 2. You should spend more time on Part 2, because it is worth more marks.

Also, you may wish to add that decision on which module to take depends on the organization who requires them to take the test.

Similar To Both: The Speaking Test

You’ll most likely be taking your speaking test a different day from your other tests, so you’ll have time to prepare.

There are four parts which will take around 13 minutes in total:

  1. Introduction and Interview
  2. Long turn: discussing a particular topic
  3. Discussion: discussing issues in the subject in greater depth

Similar To Both: The Listening Test

The test consists of four sections of 10 questions. Here are the four recordings you can expect:

  1. An everyday conversation between two people
  2. A monologue in an everyday context
  3. A discussion related to education or training consisting of up to 4 participants
  4. A speech in an academic context

Set Yourself On The Path to Acing Your IELTS Test

Now that you have a better idea of what each test entails, you are one step closer to your goal!

And if you’re hoping to get some insider tips and advice on acing your tests, we offer a Masterclass that helps test-takers like you get fully-prepared in person when you sign up with IDP.

Book your IELTS test with us and get one step closer to your goal!

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