Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

In this article, you’ll learn the key differences between General and Academic IELTS, and what these mean for your IELTS preparation.

Firstly, their purposes are not the same. If you are looking to immigrate, you most likely will be required to take the General Exam. However, to attend an English-speaking university, you will have to sit the Academic test.

Make sure you know which one is required of you, and sign up for the right one!

Now, let’s get into the major differences on test day.


The Listening Exam is EXACTLY THE SAME for both tests.

Thus, the same listening strategies are needed. Make your test practice valid by not using headphones, and not taking any breaks.


The General Reading Exam has easier passages. They are not all articles, either. You may see an advertisement in this part of the test.

However, the question types are exactly the same. Therefore, the strategies used to find the answers are exactly the same as well.

I recommend that General candidates practice with some Academic tests, then the real exam will seem easy!


Task 1 is the starkest contrast between the two versions. In the Academic Task 1, you will be asked to write about graphs, or, rarely, maps or nature diagrams.

As to the General Task 1, you will be asked to write a letter. The letter will be informal or formal. You are given a situation, and three bullet points that must be discussed, in creative and specific detail, in your composition.

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How you are graded here is slightly different as well. The biggest difference is that, for General letters, the tone must be appropriate to the situation.

The Task 2 question is similar in both tests. However, the General question will be slightly easier than the Academic.

Nonetheless, the type of essay you write will be exactly the same, and you are graded the same as well.

So, you must learn the same essay templates and vocabulary no matter which exam you undergo.


This is also EXACTLY THE SAME for both tests!

You have to learn what the examiner needs to hear for high scores, regardless of being a General or Academic candidate.

Do you have any questions on today’s topic?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!

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