Who Should Take the General Training Module of IELTS

The IELTS is considered the world's largest English language proficiency test accepted for migration, education, and employment purposes. Also known as IDP IELTS, IELTS British Council, and so on in different countries, this test is accepted by over 6000 institutions, organizations, and government departments all over the world, to evaluate the ability of a person to communicate in English for real-life purposes like work and education. However, before you take the IELTS, it is required that you understand much about it. Does everyone take the same test? Are there different versions for different purposes? Which one should you take and why?

Understanding IDP IELTS

Owned jointly by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge ESOL, the test is conducted in over 130 countries around the world, every year. Depending on the country you take test, the test delivery partners could be different. For example, you have both IDP India and British Council delivering the test in India, and many a times, the test is called IDP IELTS or IELTS British Council depending on the delivery partner. However, there is no difference in the test, whether you take it through either of the organizations. In essence, IDP IELTS and IELTS British Council are essentially the same.

Two Versions of IELTS

As mentioned earlier, IELTS is essentially the same, whether you take the IDP IELTS or the IELTS British Council. However, there are two different versions of the test being conducted: General Training and Academic. While the General Training version is for those who wish to migrate to, study at school level, or work in a predominantly English speaking country like Australia, the Academic version is a must for pursuing a graduate level (higher) academic program many countries. Both versions of the test have four parts to test your abilities for communicating in English - Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing parts. While the listening and speaking parts are the same for both versions of the test, the reading and writing parts are different for General Training and Academic versions.

In both versions of test, there is no pass or fail. The scores are reported on a nine-band scale with 1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest. A candidate who scores in band 9 is considered to be an expert level user of English, while the one who scores in the lowest band is considered to be a non-user.

For both versions of the test, the total test time is the same - two hours and 45 minutes. While the Listening, Reading, and Writing parts of the test are done together in one sitting, the Speaking part is sometimes done on a different day. It might be done on the same day, on a date up to seven days before or after the other parts of the test.

The Listening part of the test takes approximately 30 minutes and tests your skills in various types of listening tasks; there are 40 questions to answer. The Speaking part of the test takes 11-14 minutes and the examiner would want to assess your verbal communication skills and abilities through three different tasks - introduction, two-way discussion, and individual long speech. The Reading test takes one hour to complete, and have different types of questions to assess your skills for communication for the academic or general purpose. The Writing part of the test also has two different versions to test your skills for the two different purposes and each has 60 minutes to complete the test with 40 questions.

Which Version to Take?

Depending on your purpose, you need to choose which version of the test to take. Whether you choose to take the test through British Council (IELTS British Council) or the IDP, you need to first understand the objective of testing and then choose the version - whether Academic or General Training. Broadly speaking, your admission to graduate and post-graduate programs in many countries depends on the results of the Academic version of the test (whether IDP IELTS or IELTS British Council). This version tests your abilities to understand and utilize complex, academic style of the language. While the General Training format focuses to evaluate your skills in more real-life and social situations and is accepted by educational institutions, such as colleges and high schools for courses that might require less complex skills in the language usage.

  • Depending on the recognizing organization's rules and requirements, you need to decide on which module of the test to take. Some organizations or institutions might accept both versions. Check the British Council page to understand the test requirements of the specific organization or institute

  • Countries like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand require aspiring migrants to take the General Training module of the test. Certain professions in certain countries do require an Academic test score for migration purposes, though.

  • If you are applying for graduate or post-graduate studies in any of the foreign universities or institutes, mostly you need to take the Academic module of the test. However, it is imperative that you check with the particular institute or school before you register for the test.

  • Again, if you wish to join professional organizations in an English speaking country, you should be sitting for the Academic version of the test.

  • If you are planning to work in a predominantly speaking country like Australia, and not take up a higher academic course, you need to sit for the General Training version of the test.

  • For undertaking any work-related training also, the General Training version is accepted.