What Is The Difference Between The Academic And General Training Reading Tests?

The IELTS reading exam tests a candidate’s reading comprehension skills. During the reading test, students must answer 40 questions based on different reading passages. There are 3 sections and each section is allocated a time of 20 minutes. The format is the same whether you are taking the test in Singapore or any other part of the world which offers the IELT exam. However, there are a few changes in structure and content between the IELTS Academic Reading Rest and the General Training Reading test. In this article, we will discuss the differences between both these IELTS tests and offer explanations for why there are these differences.

IELTS Academic Reading Format

During the academic reading test, you will have to answer different types of questions based on different reading texts/passages. The texts are all authentic and taken from trustworthy sources. Most of the texts are related to academics and are often more descriptive and instructive texts. The passages are sourced from books, textbooks and journals, etc.

The reading task consists of 3 passages which contain between 700 to 800 words. There are 40 questions in total which have to be answered within one hour. Time management is an important skill during the exam since there is no extra time given to transfer your answers to your answer sheet.

IELTS General Training Reading Format

The General Training module contains three parts. Section 1 and 2 might have one or two passages.

The passages in the first section usually relate to everyday English life situations which are sourced from magazines, flyers, newspapers, notices and advertisements

This section is designed to assess your social survival skills in an English-speaking country. The texts will represent situations that candidates will probably have to navigate through during their day to day life.

The second section relates to work issues. These texts are sourced from actual company handbooks, official documents or policies

The third section is about general interest issues. The passages in this section are quite similar to the academic reading test passages and are usually sourced from real magazines or books. These are often more descriptive and instructive texts.

Key Differences Between The IELTS Academic Test And General Training Test That Test Takers Should Know

The IELTS Academic test is for people who are 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 IELTS General Training test is for those who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or training programs. The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.

Due to the above-mentioned differences, the types of skills tested in the reading components also differs. Candidates who opt for the general training exam are assessed on their working knowledge of English, while their academic counterparts are presented with texts similar to what they would find in an academic setting and are asked to understand complex information in a relatively short amount of time

Besides the difference in the language in both the exams, the scoring format is different as well. There is a difference of one band.

IELTS test takers have to score a greater number of correct answers in the General training reading test than in the academic reading test, to obtain a similar score someone scoring 30 in the gGeneral 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.