ielts common questions and answers

For various reasons, the IELTS academic test is filled with mystery for many people. They have a lot of questions to ask but few reliable answers are available. As such, today I want to share with you some of the most common questions people ask about IELTS academic and then answer them in a straightforward way.

Is IELTS academic harder than IELTS general?

Technically, neither exam is harder than the other because they are just different. However, there are definitely some aspects of the IELTS academic test that could be said to make it more of a challenge. The longer reading passages and the complexity of IELTS writing task 1 mean that IELTS academic probably is a little more difficult for most people, but this is really a matter of opinion.

Is IELTS academic different from IELTS general?

Yes, it is different in many ways, but not all parts are different. The speaking and listening tests are the same, but the reading and writing ones have some differences. The reading tests are both 60 minutes long, but in the general exam there are several shorter passages, while in the academic exam there are just three longer passages. The material is not necessarily harder, but it is more suited to academic pursuits. As for writing, you must produce a letter in the general test but write a report for IELTS academic. Given that the language for the report must be very specific and that there are so many types of data to describe, this is arguably harder to do than a letter.

Do I need to have an academic background to do IELTS academic?

No, you do not. IELTS academic is intended for people who want to go abroad to study at a university in an English-speaking country. The focus of the test is slightly more geared towards academic subjects than the general test, so it is preferred by most universities. However, you do not need to have any academic experience to do it. A good grasp of English and a little common sense is all that would be required. The essays, for example, do not require academic skills like citations or detailed analysis of complex issues, nor are you required to know any information about very complicated academic issues.

Does IELTS academic feature speaking questions about academia?

No, it does not. The speaking test is the same for both forms of the IELTS exam. You will find that the speaking test is very general and will cover basic daily topics like health and sports and hobbies. However, in the final part (section 3), you will encounter some more challenging questions and certainly a little academic knowledge could be considered an advantage here, particularly in terms of articulating a reasoned response to an abstract question.

Does IELTS academic require British or American English?

Both forms of the exam require you to use English, but neither American nor British is given preference. The important thing is that you are consistent in your use of language, so if you begin by writing British English (for example, “theatre”) then do not switch to American English halfway through the test (by saying “theater”). However, you can choose either form that you prefer and as long as your words are spelled correctly, you will not be penalised.

Is there a special form of listening test for IELTS academic?

Some people might wonder about whether the listening test is different for IELTS general and academic candidates, but actually it is the same. This is strange because there are four sections and the final two are situated in an academic context. This perhaps gives an unfair bias towards IELTS academic candidates, who would naturally be more familiar with this sort of setting and language. Still, no prior academic knowledge is needed in order to get these questions right.

What topics appear in the IELTS academic test?

There are a wide range of topics that appear in the IELTS exam. Whilst you cannot anticipate the questions that will be given, you can certainly revise vocabulary and ideas for the most common topics. Those include environment, society, technology, and crime, among many others. None of these, however, are specific to IELTS academic and they could easily appear in either form of the exam. You would not need to know, for example, medical terminology or philosophical concepts specific to either academic discipline.

Are there different word counts for IELTS academic?

When it comes to the IELTS writing test, you will have the same word count whether you write the general or academic exam. Although the questions themselves will be different, you still need to write at least 150 words for task 1 and 250 words for task 2. You also must complete both parts within 1 hour regardless of the form of IELTS you choose to sit.

Should I take IELTS academic or IELTS general?

Ultimately, this is a decision that you need to make based upon your own experiences and needs. IELTS academic is primarily intended for students who wish to go abroad and study, whereas IELTS general is more widely used for general immigration purposes. If you fall into either of these categories, the choice should be obvious, but only you can make the decision. If you are unsure, you can consult an expert who can guide you.

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