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Posted by : Shreyasee Sarkar

Author Designation : Junior Counselor

IELTS Academic or General: Which is the Easiest Test

In general, the IELTS General test is considered easier than the IELTS Academic test. The General test assesses your English proficiency to sustain in a general English-speaking environment while the Academic test analyses your language skills to study and sustain in an academic environment.

The Academic test's texts are designed to be more difficult than the General test's. The texts are drawn from magazines, books, and newspapers and are pertinent to academic themes. 

The difficulty of the IELTS exam varies from person to person. Some people might find the listening and reading sections the hardest, while others may find the writing and speaking sections the hardest.

While the IELTS Speaking and Listening modules remain the same for both the test types (Academic and General), the passages and question types vary from each other in the Reading and Writing modules.

Considering the differences in purpose and structure, it is important for you to understand both test types in detail. Let us compare and contrast to find which is the easiest one for your study-abroad plan.

Difference between IELTS General and IELTS Academic :


IELTS Academic

IELTS General


This version is intended for individuals who plan to pursue higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking academic context. It is commonly required for admission to universities and other educational institutions.

This version is suitable for candidates who are migrating to English-speaking countries for work, training, secondary education, or immigration purposes. It is often required for visa applications.

Listening and Speaking Modules:

The listening and speaking modules in the Academic version are designed to reflect academic settings. For example, the listening test may include lectures or discussions on academic topics, and the speaking test may involve discussing issues related to academic studies.

The listening and speaking modules in the General Training version are geared towards everyday communication scenarios. The listening test may include conversations in social or workplace contexts, and the speaking test may involve discussing everyday topics.

Reading and Writing Modules:

The reading and writing modules in the Academic version focus on academic content. The reading passages are taken from academic texts, and the writing tasks require candidates to analyze and describe complex data or diagrams.

The reading and writing modules in the General Training version are designed to assess a candidate's ability to understand and use English in everyday situations. The reading passages are more practical, and the writing tasks may include writing a letter or an essay on general topics.

IELTS Academic vs General: Test Format

IELTS Academic and IELTS General have a common Listening and Speaking test with different Reading and Writing tests. Hence, it is recommended that applicants understand the difference in the IELTS Academic and General Training exam formats.

Here is a detailed explanation of the difference in the Reading and Writing sections of both the tests.


The duration and number of questions for the IELTS Reading test are the same for both the IELTS Academic Reading and IELTS General Training Reading tests. Both IELTS Academic and IELTS General candidates get 60 minutes to answer 40 questions set in the test.

1.IELTS Academic Reading Test

The IELTS Academic Reading test has three long reading passages that assess the candidate’s factual, descriptive, and analytical knowledge.

Each long passage is followed by questions based on the test.

Questions in this paper range from matching headings and information, sentence formation and sentence completion, summarising, table and flowchart completion, and labelling flowcharts, to subjectively answering short questions.

The passages in the exam are not specialised or in-depth but are generic and invoke interest. Each passage chosen for the exam is taken from journals, articles, magazines, and news media to assess the candidate’s ability to study in English.

2.IELTS General Training Reading Test

In stark contrast to the IELTS Academic Test, the IELTS General Training Reading test has multiple short passages and one long passage, spread across three different sections.


The IELTS Writing Test is different from the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Writing tests. While both the test types consist of two tasks, the task types vary from one another. The word limit for task 1 is 150 words and task 2 is 250 words.

Both tests are scheduled for 60 minutes. The recommended time for the first task is 20 minutes and task 2 is 40 minutes.


The IELTS Speaking test remains the same for both Academic and General tests. The test does not differ in structure, format or question types.

The Speaking test format comprises a verbal interview between the candidate and the examiner. All speaking tests are videotaped for efficient marking.

This portion assesses the English-speaking skills of the candidate and can last from 11- 14 minutes.

This test component is divided into three sections, each designed to serve a distinct purpose in terms of interaction pattern, task input, and candidate output.


The IELTS Listening section is the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General tests.

You are expected to listen to four English recordings and answer a series of questions. Each recording is followed by 40 questions based on it.

This test lasts 30 minutes in total. The primary goal of this segment is to understand the candidates’ capacity to comprehend critical concepts, factual information, the viewpoints and attitudes of speakers.

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