What Is the Difference Between the IELTS Academic And General Training Tests?

Many would be IELTS takers are often unsure about the type of test that they need to take. In this article, you learn more about the IELTS general training test and the IELTS Academic Test, and who exactly needs to take these tests.

Academic Module

The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher education or professional registration in an English – speaking environment. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training. The type of tasks for the Academic test is designed to reflect content and situations that you might have to deal with as a student, such as note-taking for lectures, or skimming through textbooks and writing formal reports.

The General Training Module

The General Training Module is for those who are planning to move to English speaking countries like the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for secondary education, work experience or training programs. This test is specifically designed to check whether or not a candidate has the English language skills necessary to survive everyday life in an English-speaking environment. It focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.

What Are The Similarities Between The IELTS Academic And General Training Tests?

There are actually quite a few similarities between these two tests. For one thing, they both have the same format and timings. They also assess the same four areas, listening, reading, writing and speaking. The processes of test booking and result viewing are also identical. The speaking test for both versions of the exam can be held up to a week before or after the other three test components.

Key Differences between the Academic and General Training Test That IELTS Test Takers Should Note

The IELTS Writing and Reading tests are different in the Academic and General Training tests.

The subject matter, grading and syllabi of both academic and general are the same but there are some differences in the writing and reading section of both the tests.

The General Training Reading tests contain 3 sections with up to 2 texts, while the Academic test has 1   reading passage per section. The first Writing Task for the Academic Module is a Formal Report while the first Writing Task for the General Training Module is a letter, which can be formal, semi-formal or informal. The General Training Reading passages and writing task are usually much easier than the Academic passages.

Many people consider the Academic test to be more challenging than the General training test, and the reason for this is actually pretty simple. If you are studying at a tertiary level in English, your understanding of the language must be better than a General Training candidate who just needs to have a functional knowledge about the language to be able to carry out basic tasks like follow maps, write emails, write reports, and so on.

Since the Academic test is more difficult than the General Training one, a candidate has to score a greater number of correct answers in the General Training reading test than someone taking the Academic reading test. To obtain a similar score someone scoring 30 in the General Training reading test would be a band 6 level, but if a student got 30 in the more difficult Academic reading test they would be a band 7.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.