The most important question for IELTS test takers: IELTS Academic vs IELTS General

A lot of people doing the IELTS aren’t sure of which one to take, i.e. the never-ending IELTS Academic vs IELTS General confusion.

Well, it depends on why you are doing the IELTS.

If you are doing it to get into an English-speaking university or professional registration, then you will need to do the IELTS Academic. If you are doing it for migration purposes, then you will need to do the IELTS General.

IELTS Academic vs IELTS General - Confusion
Many test-takers aren’t sure which IELTS test they need!

The IELTS test has 4 parts:

  1. Writing (task 1 & 2)
  2. Reading
  3. Listening
  4. Speaking

Writing Task 2, Listening and Speaking are the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS general.

Writing task 2 is an essay. You will be given an essay question to answer in 40 minutes by writing at least 250 words.

In the Listening test, you will hear 4 audio recordings and have to answer 40 questions. It lasts between 30-40 minutes.

In the Speaking test, you will be interviewed by an examiner. This test includes 3 parts: the interview, the short presentation and the discussion. It last between 11-14 minutes.

The only difference between the two tests is Writing Task 1 and Reading.

So, how are they different? I’ll start off with writing task 1 and then move onto the reading.

IELTS Academic or IELTS General: Writing Task 1


Describe and analyse data in one of the following:

  • Bar chart
  • Line graph
  • Pie chart
  • Table
  • Diagram


Write a letter in one of the following styles:

  • Formal (to someone you do not know)
  • Semi-formal (to someone you know formally)
  • Informal (to friend or family)

You get 20 minutes to complete both of these tasks and must write at least 150 words for each.

IELTS Academic or IELTS General: Reading


  • 3 long passages increasing in difficulty
  • Academic style texts (journal articles, textbook extracts)
  • Texts related to academic topics such as science, history, sociology


  • 4 short passages increasing in length and difficulty
  • More general /everyday style texts
  • Texts related to social survival (advertisements, notices etc.); workplace survival (job descriptions, employment contracts etc.); general texts (newspapers, magazines, travel brochures etc.)

You get an hour to complete both of these reading tasks (50 minutes of reading time and 10 minutes to transfer your answers onto your answer sheet). Both tests include 40 questions in total.

Which IELTS is for you: IELTS Academic or IELTS General?

Ahmad is applying to get into university in Australia. He wants to study a Master of Business at the University of Melbourne. Although he has graduated from an English-speaking university in Egypt, the University of Melbourne has requested an IELTS test. To be considered for acceptance into the Master’s program, Ahmad will need to complete the Academic IELTS.

Jaspreet is on a Working Holiday visa from India. She has applied for a job with an IT company in London. The company has asked for evidence of Jaspreet’s English ability. Jaspreet should complete the IELTS Academic.

Gabriela is a dentist from Brazil. She now lives in Sydney and wants to apply for registration with the Dental Board of Australia. In order to do so, Gabriela will need to complete the IELTS Academic.

Juan visited Ontario last year and met the love of his life. He now wants to migrate to Canada to be with her. As part of his application for immigration, Juan will need to complete the IELTS General.

If you’re unsure about which test to take, try this article: Why IELTS may be right for you!

If you aren’t sure which one to take, ask the organisation that has requested the IELTS. From there, you can sign up to one of our flexible, online IELTS courses to learn the strategies and methods you’ll need to succeed on the Academic or General IELTS!

Visit E2 IELTS for more preparation videos, like the IELTS General and IELTS Academic Course Overview from E2Language. 



Written by Jamal Abilmona.

97 thoughts on “IELTS Academic or IELTS General: What’s the Difference?”

  • I am Chartered Accountant from India and want to apply for skilled immigration visa to Australia. Which test of IELTs is applicable to me General or Acadamic?

  • I’m in the thoughts of doing either MS or apply for a PR to Canada.

    In that case, do I need to write both Academic and General IELTS?

    Please advise.


  • I am a high school senior and need to take the IELTS exam to graduate from my current high school and to study abroad (U.S, Canada, etc…). Which test should I take?

  • Parminder kaur says:

    I have two year experience as staff nurse .I want to apply for PR to Australia.which ielts is good for me to proceed my requirements.

  • I have done Diploma engineering and working as Electrical Technician in Saudi Arabia holding nationality of India, want migrate Canada for job. Which IELTs should I opt for?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Dear All,
    I was done MBA specialization of HR with finance. I have 3+ years experience in HR field. Now I want to immigrant visa of Canada. So in ielts exam which one suitable for me. Kindly provide details.
    Cheers, PraBa

  • Hi,
    I am telecom engineer with degree and I want to migrated UK and right now i don’t have any job offer in UK, which exam should i to taken and what parameter required for this?

    • Hello Deepak,

      If you are looking to take the exam for immigration purposes, then IELTS General is the way to go.

      With regards to the parameters, you will have to verify the target score that you need achieve and we can assist you with the preparation.


  • hi . I’m a doctor graduated from Pakistan and I’d like to migrate to canada .I’d like to continue working in my field there and maybe do a masters course from Canada as well . which ielts module is suitable for me ?

    • Hello Mehwish,

      It looks like you need to decide on how long you are looking to work before taking up your masters. If the main objective is to immigrate and study within a couple of years then take the IETLS Academic. Alternatively, if your objective is to migrate to Canada to work for more than two years, then IELTS General is the way to go! 🙂


  • Hello sir /madam
    Am Salman from India. Am a male nurse and I would like to work at Ireland or Canada. Which test to choose ielts academic or general training plz reply

  • I seem to understand that the Academic test serves for both migration and joining schools, yet it is often recommended to take the General test for migration purposes. Is this because the General test is easier/ has a higher percentage of success?

  • Hi I am a n English Language Teacher, currently working in Saudi Arabia. I want to do ielts to apply for college/University in Saudi or in Oman. Which type of ielts I need. Please clear my doubt regarding academic or general.
    Best regards,

    • Hello Mohammad,

      You need to take the IELTS Academic if you are applying to a university. The IELTS General is usually taken if you want to migrate to another country to work.


  • hi, can the IELTS Academy be presented for immigration also. just in case i wasn’t given admission into the the school i applied for and i decided to migrate to canada for work?

  • Hi
    I was done MBA specialization of HR with Finance.i have no work experience.i want to migrate abroad for job.please let me know that which ielts is useful to me

  • I am a Radiographer, i just want to work in European countries. Which one i have to select in ielts, academic or general training?

    • Hello Abhi,

      If you are looking to take the English exam for migration purposes, then IELTS General is your best option. However, please check if the score would be valid across all countries in Europe.


  • Hi,

    I hope you can give me a better sense of direction: should I try IELTS Academic again or do General instead?
    I have taken IELTS Academic and keep getting 7.5 in writing (9 in other components) – when I applied for University, this was good enough, but now for migration purposes I need 8 in each component – would it be easier to score 8 IELTS General writing than the Academic one?

    Thank you in advance.

  • I am a chartered accountant in Nigeria and want to migrate to Canada preferably PR which IELTS will I write academics or general

  • hi
    i have 5 yrs of teaching experience and my husband has 7yrs of experience in IT industry , we are willing to apply for PR in canada and i am planning for studies in canada also .plz suggest which type of exam we have to take

    • Hello Jayalakshmi,

      For immigration purposes, the IELTS General is the best option. However, if you are looking to pursue your education then you will have to take the IELTS Academic, which can also be used for PR purposes.


  • Immanuel Lopes says:

    I am a final year student in Mechanical Engineering, i want to work in UK or Australia after my graduation. When would be the best time to apply for IELTS? Before graduation or after getting the graduated certificate?

    • Hello Immanuel,

      IELTS scores are valid are for two years. You can apply for the test at either time and still have valid results.


    • Hello Debby,

      Would you be taking the IELTS for migration purposes? If yes, then IELTS General is the ideal option.

      If you are looking to study or need to use your IELTS scores for academic purposes, then you have to take the IELTS Academic.

      Hope this helps.


  • I am a staff nurse working in Doha Qatar since 4yrs.I would like to migrate to australia for a job.Please can you give me a suggestion for which ielts exam i have to take.

  • Gagandeep kaur says:

    I have done bachelor’s in nursing science. And i want to apply for RN and pr in Australia. So which type of test i have to take .

    • Hello Gagandeep,

      IELTS General is the ideal choice if you are looking to migrate to Australia. The IELTS Academic is required if you are applying to universities for further education. Further, if you are looking to study and apply for your PR, then you can use your IELTS Academic scores for both purposes.

      Hope this helps.


  • Dear
    I want to apply to apply fir Australia under class 489 &trade is
    metal machinist. Plz suggest me which type of IELTS need to do ?

  • Kanwalpreet kaur says:

    Hlo i have 2 years experience as a staff bsc nursing degreeholder i want to apply in canada/Ireland for pr so plz can you tell me which ielts is best academic or general reply plz


    I am applying for a post-doctoral fellow position in the USA. I need to get a score of IELTS 6.0 for qualification. The score is required for J-1 visa application. Which one I have to take IELTS academic or general?

  • Hello. I am a clinical psychologist and I want to apply for hcpc in UK. Can you help me to choose which exam I have to make the academic or the general in this case? Many thanks.

  • Hello,

    I am a B.Tech IT Graduate and planning to search job in Australia and also do a course side by side.

    Thinking of taking my wife and child along.

    Kindly guide me which one to choose from IELTS(Academic or General).

    • Hello Ashwani,

      If you are looking to take the exam for immigration purposes, then IELTS General would be the ideal option 🙂


  • Hi Sir ,

    I am Dhivagar i was working in Kuwait ( QC -Inspector Civil ) . But Now i have finished my degree (Civil Engineering ) in Post Graduate is possible for applying civil engineer post in Canada , Australia Or UK . if it is possible which method is useful for my job applying ( general or academic ) .

  • Hi i m saima khan i had done graduation recently from Pakistan now i want to give ielts test for doing Masters in Canada so which test i do ?

  • Hi, I am interested is subscribing for your silver module, however I reside in India.
    Please provide information regarding the method of payment.

  • Hi,
    i have completed my Btech and have 2 years of experience as php developer want apply for PR process .
    which ielts should i go for??

  • Deepanshu Lakhwan says:

    I have a study package of ielts general but I have to prepare for ielts academic… Will it be okey to prepare from general study package for academic ielts?.. I have already spent a fortune on it and I don’t wish to buy academic study package… Please tell will it be sufficient to study from general package for scoring in ielts academic?

  • Dear sir,
    I am a Bsc male nurse and I have experience of about 6.7yrs in operation theatre field. As I desire to work in Australia so which module of IELTS I should apply whether it’s academic or general training.

  • I have given +12(non-med) exam and i want to go abroad for study. So which ielts i hqve to do.I will be very thankfull to you if you answer me quickly.


  • Hello Everybody,

    I am a bit confused between academic and general. I am planning for my Master in Cybersecurity in UK but my condition is that I will be going to enrolled in part time course. So, in this case which test I have to choose.

    Please advice.

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