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IELTS UKVI: Types of IELTS required for living and studying in the UK

The UK is perhaps one of the most popular destinations for both working professionals and students from all over the world to pursue and carve out a career.

However, before anyone gets their student or work visa approved, they will need to attend the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and meet the requirements to be able to access academic or professional opportunities in the UK.

But are you attending the right type of IELTS that is required?

Read on to find out if you are on the right track!

Understanding The 2 Types Of IELTS

There are essentially two types of IELTS tests - the IELTS Academic and the General Training test. While both of them have similarities, there are certain differences you need to be aware of.

But first, which type of test should you attend if you are a student or a working professional?

The IELTS General vs Academic Test

The IELTS General Training test is meant for individuals looking to migrate to countries such as Australia and the UK as well as enter English speaking countries for secondary education, training and working opportunities.

The general test helps to measure your English proficiency in a practical, everyday context such as social and workplace interactions.

The IELTS Academic test, however, is structured for people looking to study or train in a university or higher education institute that teaches in English at the undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Because of this, the IELTS Academic test is a more comprehensive test with differences in the reading and writing components.

The Structure Of The Test (and the differences between IELTS General & Academic)

There are essentially 4 components of the IELTS test - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

The Listening Section:

This involves listening to recordings of native English speakers and then answering a series of questions. This section will be similar for both the General and Academic test, there will be no difference.

The Speaking Section:

In this test, candidates will be speaking with a certified IELTS Examiner where they will be discussing about a familiar topic through short and long questions. There is no difference here between the General and Academic test.

The Reading Section:

This test is meant to assess a candidate’s range of reading skills and there is a difference between the General and Academic test.

The General test will be focusing more on passages relating to the workplace and general interest topics. This will include extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements and company handbooks.

The Academic test, however, will be more focused on texts which are descriptive, factual and analytical and will be coming from sources that include books and journals.

The Writing Section:

With 2 writing tasks in this section, there is a difference you should know between the General and Academic test.

For the General Training Test:

Task 1 involves writing a letter as a response to a situation and task 2 involves discussing an argument or point of view through an essay.

For the Academic Test:

Task 1 involves writing about facts and figures that are presented on graphs, charts or tables.

Task 2 involves writing an essay revolving around an academic topic where forming a well-organised argument packed with supporting examples is key.


For UK visa applications (both General and Academic), it is important to take your IELTS at a UKVI approved IELTS test centre. This means that in order to acquire a student visa, IELTS for UKVI is mandatory.

Those who are applying for a Tier 4 student visa to a Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) to study a bachelor or postgraduate degree are required to meet the English language level set by the institution. While all British universities and colleges accept IELTS results, you can also use your IELTS for UKVI scores.

Take The Next Step. Book Your IELTS Test

At IDP, apart from helping students secure their university placements, we are a co-owner of IELTS itself and all our test centres are UKVI approved.

So whether you are looking to work in the UK or get your student visa to pursue your undergraduate degree, we offer both IELTS General Training and Academic test.

Ready to get started? Discover our upcoming test dates and book your test with IDP today!

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