Academic test format:

The IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training versions are similar in format, but differ in content in the Writing and Reading sections of the test.

The IELTS test assesses your abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking – in less than three hours.
Listening and Speaking are the same for IELTS: Academic and General Training. but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test you take.

The IELTS test of Listening, Reading and Writing sections are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them. The Speaking section, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests. Your test center will advise.

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Content: IELTS Academic vs. IELTS General Training:
University students and professionals must be equipped with English reading skills that are strong enough for texts in professional and academic journals, textbooks, and relevant magazines and newspapers. As such, the Academic IELTS uses texts taken directly from these kinds of sources to test comprehension skills. Similarly, the writing tasks specific to this version use sample topics that would be relevant in academic and professional settings. English writing skills will be assessed to make sure they are strong enough to write college-level essays.

Those taking the General Training IELTS, on the other hand, will encounter the kind of language that would appear in advertisements, guidebooks, magazines, notices, or what working people might encounter in employee manuals. A test taker’s written English will be tested on general tasks such as letter writing or basic essay writing.

IELTS General and Academic Score Comparison:
Perhaps the biggest difference between these two versions of the test is the way that they’re scored. Granted, IELTS Listening, Speaking, and Writing are scored the same way on both exams. But IELTS Reading, which represents a full 25% of your score, is rated very differently on IELTS academic vs. IELTS general training.

For example, suppose you get 30 out of 40 answers correct in IELTS Reading, also known as a raw score of 30. In general training reading, that’s an IELTS Band of 5.0. But 30 out of 40 gets you a 6.0 in academic reading. Your raw scores have a totally different meaning depending on whether you’re looking at the IELTS academic or general test!