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Which IELTS test should I take – Academic or General Training?

IELTS or International English Language Testing System is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for global migration and higher education. Taking IELTS can help you study, work and live around the world.

There are two IELTS tests – IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training. The test you choose should be based on what you want to do or with what aim you are going abroad. So before you book your test, be sure to check which one is right for you.

There are several things to consider when determining whether to take the IELTS Academic or General Training exam.

IELTS Academic – This exam is for those who are planning to study for a higher education (university, college, etc.) or for those who wish to pursue work or training in a professional field such as medicine or engineering. As the name implies, this version reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training.

It might be obvious to you that the Academic IELTS is intended for (prospective) university students applying for admission in universities and programs in which English is the medium of instruction. But that’s not all – many professionals and job applicants may find that they are also required to provide scores for this version of the test.

One example is medical work. If you want to be a medical professional in Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, you’ll definitely need to take the Academic IELTS. A wide range of medical jobs require this version of the exam, including doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and even hospital lab technician.

IELTS General Training – You should consider the General Training exam if you are going to study, work or train in an English-speaking country, or if you are migrating to an English-speaking country, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the UK. Candidates taking the IELTS General Training exam are tested on everyday use of the language, with content and questions focused on workplace and social situations.

For all other immigration and employment, the general training version is used if you want to enter Canada, the USA, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, etc. for general immigration. For example, individuals who are taking the IELTS because they are applying for permission to live in Australia near their grandchildren will find that the General Training IELTS suits their needs.

But the test is not just used for immigration. Multinational corporations sometimes use General Training IELTS scores to assess the English ability of their workers. So test-takers can use their score report to get a job, in some cases.

Modules – There are 4 modules in IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training.





Writing Task 2, Listening and Speaking are the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

Writing task 2 is an essay. You will be given an essay question to answer in 40 minutes by writing at least 250 words.

In the Listening test, you will hear 4 audio recordings and have to answer 40 questions. It lasts between 30-40 minutes.

In the Speaking test, you will be interviewed by an examiner. This test includes 3 parts: the interview, the short presentation, and the discussion. It lasts between 11-14 minutes.

The only difference between the two tests is Writing Task 1 and Reading.

Writing Task 1 and Reading are different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

Writing Task 1 : IELTS Academic

Describe and analyse data in one of the following:

  • Bar chart
  • Line graph
  • Pie chart
  • Table
  • Diagram

Writing Task 1 : General Training IELTS 

Write a letter in one of the following styles:

  • Formal (to someone you do not know)
  • Semi-formal (to someone you know formally)
  • Informal (to friend or family)

You get 20 minutes to complete both of these tasks and must write at least 150 words for each.

Reading : IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic Reading Test consists of three sections. Each section has one long text. These texts are taken from books, journals, newspapers and magazines. These texts are on academic topics of general interest. Texts are generally descriptive, factual and analytical.

Reading : General Training IELTS

The General Training Reading Test also consists of three sections. The text used in each section is taken from official documents, company handbook, magazines, newspapers, notices and advertisements.

Section 1 – This section consists of 2-3 short factual texts on the topic of everyday life in English speaking countries.

Section 2 – It consists of 2 short factual texts based on work-related issues. For instance, applying for a job, company policies, terms and conditions, training of staff etc.Section 3 – It consists of one long and complex text based on general interest. It involves descriptive and instructive texts.

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