Academic vs General IELTS
The vast majority (95%+) of our IELTS students are preparing to take the Academic IELTS. However, it’s always important to double check which one they are going to take and to understand the key differences if asked.
Here’s a brief explanation of the key differences between the Academic IELTS and the General Training IELTS:
- Purpose and Target Audience:
- Academic IELTS: The Academic IELTS is primarily designed for individuals who plan to pursue higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment. It focuses on assessing the language skills needed for academic purposes, such as understanding lectures, reading academic texts, and writing essays.
- General Training IELTS: The General Training IELTS is intended for individuals who are seeking to work, migrate, or undertake non-academic training in an English-speaking country. It emphasizes language skills required for everyday social and workplace contexts.
- Reading and Writing Sections:
- Academic IELTS: The reading section of the Academic IELTS consists of long, authentic texts taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The first writing section includes a task that requires describing or explaining visual information, such as graphs or diagrams, and the second an essay task where test-takers express and support their opinions on a given topic.
- General Training IELTS: The reading section of the General Training IELTS includes shorter, more practical texts related to everyday life situations, such as advertisements, notices, or workplace documents. The first writing section includes a letter-writing task and the second an essay task, both focused on general topics of interest.
The fact that the general IELTS writing task 1 doesn’t involve describing graphs or diagrams, but rather is replaced with a letter writing activity, is probably the biggest difference between the two formats
- Listening Section:
- Academic IELTS: The listening section in both the Academic and General Training IELTS follows a similar format. However, the topics and content in the Academic IELTS are more academically oriented. Test-takers will encounter lectures, discussions, and conversations related to university or academic contexts.
- General Training IELTS: The listening section of the General Training IELTS features a range of everyday social and workplace conversations, such as discussions with friends, job interviews, or customer service interactions.
- Speaking Section:
- Academic IELTS: The speaking section of the Academic and General Training IELTS shares the same format. However, the topics and tasks in the Academic IELTS might be more academically focused. Test-takers will engage in a face-to-face interview with an examiner, discussing various topics related to personal experiences, opinions, or abstract ideas.
- General Training IELTS: The speaking section of the General Training IELTS also involves a face-to-face interview with an examiner. The topics, however, are related to everyday life situations, such as hobbies, work, family, or social issues.
It’s important for test-takers to identify which version of the IELTS (Academic or General Training) is required or most appropriate for their specific goals and purposes. While there are differences in content and emphasis, the overall test structure and scoring system remain consistent between the two versions.
Paper vs Computer Based IELTS
Here’s a brief explanation of the key differences between the IELTS paper version and the IELTS on computer:
- Test Delivery:
- Paper Version: In the paper version of the IELTS, the test materials, including the question booklet and answer sheet, are provided in a physical paper format. Test-takers will read the questions on the question booklet and write their answers on the answer sheet using a pencil or pen.
- Computer Version: In the computer version of the IELTS, the test is delivered using a computer interface. Test-takers read the questions on the computer screen and input their answers using a keyboard and mouse. The Listening section is still delivered through headphones and speakers, but the answers are typed instead of written.
- Test Format:
- Paper Version: The paper version follows a linear format, where test-takers progress through the sections in a sequential manner, starting with Listening, then Reading, Writing, and finally Speaking.
- Computer Version: The computer version offers a slightly different format. Test-takers can choose the order of sections based on their preference. However, the Speaking section is still conducted face-to-face with an examiner, separate from the computer-delivered sections.
- Highlighting and Note-taking:
- Paper Version: In the paper version, test-takers have the flexibility to highlight, underline, and make notes directly on the question booklet or answer sheet as they read and answer questions.
- Computer Version: In the computer version, there are digital tools available to highlight and make notes on the screen. Test-takers can use the mouse or keyboard to select and mark text on the computer screen.
- Test Results and Listening/Reading Timing:
- Paper Version: In the paper version, the test results are typically released 13 days after the test date. For the Listening and Reading sections, test-takers have the advantage of being able to transfer their answers from the question booklet to the answer sheet during the allotted time at the end of each section.
- Computer Version: In the computer version, test results are usually available within 3 to 5 days after the test. The advantage of the computer version is that test-takers don’t need to transfer answers manually, as they are typed directly into the computer system during the test.
It’s important to note that the content, difficulty level, and scoring of the IELTS are the same for both the paper version and the computer version. The choice between the two formats depends on personal preference and availability at the test center. It’s advisable for test-takers to familiarize themselves with the format they choose through practice tests and sample materials specific to that format.
If a student is taking the computer based exam, you can find simulations here: https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/prepare/ielts-on-computer/practice-tests