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IELTS General Training and Academic Modules

There are 2 versions or modules which are IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The reason why you are doing the IELTS test determines which module you should take.

IELTS Academic Module focuses on academic language and tests if candidates are ready for studying or training abroad. It is suitable for people wanting to enroll in higher education institutes such as university or college and professional who want to study or practice in an English language speaking country.

IELTS General Training Module focuses on social and workplace language and skills. It is suitable for people migrating to Australia, UK and Canada and those wanting to enroll in secondary education. It is also suitable for those wanting to enroll in training programs and work experience in an English language speaking country.

For the tests themselves, the Listening and Speaking test are the same for Academic and General Training in terms of content, timing, topics and question types, but there are differences in the reading and writing tests.

For the Reading tests, both General Training and Academic modules have 3 parts and exactly the same question types and timing, that’s 1 hour for each. For the Academic Reading test, there are 3 descriptive or argumentative texts that are increasingly more difficult.

For the General Training Reading test, part 1 is “social topics” and contains up to 5 short texts on social topics giving factual information (notices, schedules etc.). Part 2 is “workplace topics”, usually 2 texts that that give information (company policies, workplace facilities etc.).

For both General Training and Academic reading modules, part 3 is a descriptive or analytical text.

For task 1 Academic writing, you are asked to write a report based on a diagram and the are many different diagram types.

Whereas for General Training writing task 1, you need to write a letter, either formal or informal, based on the instructions

Writing task 2 is the same for both General Training and Academic modules.

Which is easier?

There are some who believe that General Training is easier than the Academic. This is difficult to believe since the speaking and listening tests are exactly the same and the only differences are parts 1 and 2 in the reading test and task 1 for writing.

The General Training and Academic reading tests have different marking schemes. For example, if you score 30 correct from 40 you receive a band 6 in General Training but a band 7 for Academic.

As for the writing tests, there are different “minimum” scores for the Task Achievement criterion.

For General Training writing, if your letter does not have a purpose, you receive a band 4 for Task Achievement.

Task Achievement:

Band 4: Fails to clearly explain the purpose of the letter


And for Academic writing, if your description of the key features is not supported with data, you receive a band score of 5 for Task Achievement.

Task Achievement:

Band 5: There may be not data to support the description

IELTS also offers the IELTS Life Skills test for speaking and listening at CEFR levels A1, A2 and B1. This test is for people who need to demonstrate their English listening and speaking ability as part of the requirements for a UK visa.


For more information…

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