IELTS Academic vs IELTS General: What’s the Difference?

By Cyril Zachariah Updated On - Jun 21, 2022 11:22 AM

Confused between IELTS Academic and IELTS General? In this article, you can learn about the differences between IELTS Academic and General along with learning about the similarities between these tests.

As part of the admission process to top universities abroad, most English-taught programmes would require an IELTS test score. However, you may have seen many universities listing IELTS Academic and IELTS General test score requirements, among other standardised tests.

If you've decided to pursue higher education abroad then you must also have decided upon the standardised tests that you're going to appear for. Most likely you have decided to go for an IELTS test and are preparing to attempt the test and get ready for your adventure abroad. But wait! You find out that there are two types of IELTS tests that you can attempt and are confused between the two.

Worry no more! In this article, we shall discuss the difference between the two IELTS tests, viz. IELTS General and IELTS Academic, and deciding between which you should take for your higher education prospects.

What is the IELTS Academic?

As can be perceived from the name itself, IELTS academic has been designed primarily for aspirants who wish to pursue higher education in different study abroad destinations like the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, etc. Including a more technical and professional syllabus, IELTS Academic is accepted worldwide and can be a preferred choice for many institutions. IELTS Academic provides the institution with the knowledge that you possess the needed knowledge and skills to move forward in the country in an academic and professional environment.

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What is the IELTS General?

Similar to IELTS Academic, IELTS General has been designed for all aspirants travelling or migrating to English-speaking destinations like Australia, New Zealand, Germany, etc, for secondary education, training or work experience, or other reasons. IELTS General is highly recommended and accepted the world over and in many countries and is sometimes a mandatory requirement, especially, if you are travelling abroad to settle down or find work opportunities. IELTS General evaluates your potential to basically survive in an English-speaking society and assesses your survival skills in a broad workplace and social situations.

IELTS Academic vs General: What’s the Difference?

From what can be seen in the definitions for IELTS Academic and IELTS General, it is clear that both tests, even though are similar, have different uses. In fact, the tests more or less are similar as well, with most of the topics and duration being similar with a little twist here and there. The major difference between the two tests arises in the applications of these tests and their scores.

While there are a lot of similarities in the test, in the following tables, you will find the major differences in IELTS Academic and General tests. Since both tests are applicable in different scenarios, both tests need to be devised to assess different aspects of the candidate, to find them eligible for their respective ventures. Let’s check out what differences in tests are for IELTS Academic vs General.

Differences in IELTS Academic vs General Tests

Both the tests, i.e. IELTS Academic and General tests consist of four distinct sections, viz. Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. These sections have been designed carefully to assess the different parameters of a candidate’s ability to communicate and survive in an English-speaking community. However, you may not see as many differences in IELTS General and Academic tests in the Listening and Speaking sections. The major differences between IELTS Academic and General will be seen in the Reading and Writing sections, where the topics of concern change as well as the question-type changes.

IELTS Academic vs General: Reading & Writing Sections

The major differences between the IELTS Academic and General tests lie in the Reading and Writing sections of the test, which have defined below.

IELTS Academic vs General Reading Sections


IELTS Academic

IELTS General


3 reading passages, each with different tasks and questions 3 sections: a few short texts, two texts, and a long text

Number of Questions



Type of Questions


Information Matching

Identifying Information and author’s views and claims

Table, flow-chart, diagram label completion

Sentence completion

Short Answer Questions


Information Matching

Identifying Information and author’s views and claims

Table, flow-chart, diagram label completion

Sentence completion

Short Answer Questions

Topics/Sources for Questions

Sources: Text Snippets from books, journals, newspapers and magazines, directed toward a non-specialist audience.

Topics: Logical Arguments, General Interests, Appropriate and Interested Issues Infographic Texts including Diagrams, graphs, etc.

Source: General snippets from Newspapers, magazines, and fictional and non-fictional books.

Topics: Texts based on basic linguistic survival in English and workplace situations. Sections include descriptive and argumentative texts.


60 Minutes

60 Minutes


Each question will carry 1 mark.

Each question will carry 1 mark.

These are the major differences that are seen between the IELTS Academic and General Reading sections. In the following table, you will find the differences in the Writing section of the IELTS Academic and IELTS General tests.

IELTS Academic vs General Writing Sections


IELTS Academic

IELTS General


This section includes two writing tasks which must be completed within the given time frame.

The section also includes 2 tasks which need to be attempted within the given time frame.

Number of Questions



Question Types

Ques 1 - Describe information from infographics like graphs, tables, charts, etc, in 150 words within 20 mins.
Ques 2 - Explain in 250 words, your response to an argument/POV/problem in 40 mins.

Ques 1 - Write a letter/ask for information/explain a situation.
Ques 2 - Write an essay on an argument/POV/problem.


60 Minutes

60 Minutes

Note: Under the writing section of both IELTS Academic and General tests, candidates will not be allowed to write the passages using Notes or Bullet points.

Mentioned in the table above are the major points of difference commonly seen between the two IELTS tests. However, it should be noted that these differences make the candidate eligible for different reasons to travel abroad and pursue their ambitions. In other words, the test score applications of both the IELTS Academic and General tests will still be different.

Now let’s look into the similarities that are found between IELTS Academic and General tests.

IELTS Academic & General Similarities: Listening and Speaking

The other two sections in both the IELTS tests are the Listening and Speaking sections of the tests. Candidates appearing for either IELTS Academic or General will be required to attempt the Listening and Speaking sections as well. In both the IELTS Academic and General, Listening and Speaking sections, the sections will contain similar questions based on similar topics. Here is what you can expect from the Speaking and Listening sections under the IELTS Academic and General Tests.

IELTS Academic & General Similarities


IELTS Academic & General Listening Sections

IELTS Academic and General Speaking Sections


10 questions in 4 parts:

Part 1 - Two Speakers (Social Context)

Part 2 - Monologue (Social Context)

Part 3 - Two Speakers (Education and Training Context)

Part 4 - Monologue (Education and Training Context)

Personal Interview with an examiner. Speaking tests will be recorded.

Number of Questions



Question Types

Different types of questions such as


Table/Flowchart/Infographic Completion

Note/Summary/Note Completion

Information Matching

Labelling of Diagrams, Maps or Plans

Completion of Sentences

The test will include three parts which have been designed to assess different aspects of a candidate, with regards to the pattern of interaction, task input and the output of the candidate.


Approx 30 Minutes. Additional 10 minutes may be offered to the students to transfer the answers.

11-14 Minutes

Thus, apart from the Reading and Writing sections of the tests and the applications of the test scores, IELTS Academic and General are similar in nature. However, if you are travelling abroad for higher education purposes, one of the better options for you will be to attempt IELTS Academic as most universities prefer IELTS Academic scores. Before applying to a university or college, go through the respective admissions requirements for international students and attempt the tests recommended by the university of your choice.

Both the Speaking and Listening sections under IELTS Academic and General are important sections and many students struggle to clear these sections. Therefore, ensure that you are prepared for the tests with as much practice as possible.

Popular Universities for International Students Abroad 

Here is a list of some of the top universities in the world that offer academic programmes that are globally recognised and reputed.

University Name


University of California - Riverside Campus

Riverside, USA

Northwestern University

Evanston, USA

University of Oxford

Oxford, UK

Liverpool Hope University

Liverpool, UK

Victoria University

Melbourne, Australia

Box Hill Institute of TAFE

Melbourne, Australia

 These are just a few of the universities and colleges that you can apply to pursue your higher education aspirations. Across the world, you will find thousands of globally competitive universities that offer unique student experiences and help build career opportunities and paths that one dreams of.

You can also clear out your doubts regarding international admissions and education by reaching out to us at

Get Expert Guidance to Ace IELTS Tests Here!

All the Best!


Is IELTS Academic harder than IELTS General?

According to study abroad experts, an IELTS Academic test will be comparatively harder than IELTS General, mainly due to the topics used for the Reading and Writing sections of the test. Since IELTS Academic test scores are primarily used for admissions to universities and colleges abroad while IELTS General is used primarily to get a job abroad, the academic version of the test will be significantly difficult.

Is IELTS Academic better than IELTS General?

As mentioned in this article above, since the application of the test scores of Both IELTS Academic and General are different, we cannot truly compare the two tests. While an IELTS Academic test is perfect for getting admission to universities and colleges in English-speaking countries, an IELTS General test is better for those planning to emigrate to English-speaking countries and find work opportunities.

What is the difference between IELTS Academic and General tests?

The primary differences between IELTS Academic and General tests will commonly be seen in the Reading and Writing sections of the tests. Majorly, the topics and subjects in IELTS Academic and General tests will be different, targeting different English language proficiency skills. IELTS Academic will include questions that will put test-takers in either a university or general setting, where the ability to tackle different situations will be tested.

Do I need an IELTS Academic or General to get PR in Canada?

Depending on the permanent residency route that you choose, you will be able to get a PR using either IELTS academic or general test scores in Canada. For instance, if you are planning to enter Canada through one of the Express Entry programmes such as the Skilled Worker or Trades programmes, then IELTS General test scores work, while, to study in Canada, you need to attempt the IELTS Academic test.

Why should I take IELTS Academic vs General?

To answer this question, all aspirants looking to travel abroad for study, immigration or job purposes must question why they are going abroad. If the answer to the question is to pursue higher studies abroad, then your best option is to attempt the IELTS Academic test, while, for the purpose of immigration and jobs abroad, taking up IELTS General will be the best option for international students.

Can I use IELTS Academic test for migration purposes?

To understand whether you can use IELTS academic test scores for migration purposes, it is important to go through the visa and migration policies of the country you are travelling to. For instance, the UK accepts all IELTS UKVI test scores for studies and migration purposes, while, for Canada, applicants are often asked to present an IELTS General score for immigration and IELTS Academic for higher studies.

What does the IELTS General training test?

As stated in the article, the IELTS General Training test is commonly used by foreign nationals looking to emigrate to an English-speaking country and find relevant work opportunities. The IELTS General training tests have been designed to test the general daily non-academic English proficiency and your ability to tackle both workplace and social situations.

Is it possible to change from IELTS General to Academic?

Yes, all test-takers who have registered for the IELTS General module will be able to change to the IELTS Academic module. However, it should be noted that all such changes should be made before the scheduled IELTS exam. Moreover, the conversion from IELTS General to Academic will only be possible if vacant seats are available in the requested exam module.

Is IELTS necessary to study or migrate abroad?

Yes, any foreign national whose first language is any language other than the English language and who wishes to study, work or migrate to an English-speaking country, will be required to submit an IELTS test score as proof of proficiency. Depending on the purpose of your travel to the country, you will be required to choose between an IELTS Academic or General Training test.

Do universities abroad accept IELTS General test scores?

No, it is not common to see top universities abroad accept IELTS General test scores for the purpose of admissions to bachelor’s, masters or PhD programmes. However, the decision to choose between IELTS Academic or General scores lay with the university’s admissions committee. Therefore, when applying for your desired course at the desired university, check the international student admission requirements.

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