IELTS General Training & Academic Writing Differences Explained

Learn how the IELTS general training writing is different from the academic writing test. Learn about IELTS general training writing task 1 and writing task 2. Useful links are provided for GT students.

IELTS GT Differences for Writing Task 1

General training students will need to write a letter for writing task 1 but academic students will need to write a report. See below for details.

General Training Writing Task 1 Letter

Academic Task 1 Report

  • Students must analyse a chart, graph, table, map or diagram.
  • Students must highlight key features and present data or information.
  • Students must write over 150 words.
  • It is recommended to take no more than 20 minutes for this.
  • IELTS Sample Charts

IELTS Writing Task 1 Scoring

There are four marking criteria for IELTS writing task 1. Only one criterion is different for GT students.

  • Task Achievement General Training: This refers to using the appropriate tone and also purpose. It also relates to the word count.
  • Task Achievement Academic: This is about presenting key features, having an overview and accurate information. This also relates to the word count.
  • Coherence and Cohesion: This is the same for both GT and Academic. It is based on organisation of information, paragraphing and linking devices.
  • Lexical Resource (Vocabulary): This is marked using the same band scores for both GT and Academic. This is about using appropriate language, using collocations and the number of errors made.
  • Grammar: This is also marked using the same band scores for both GT and Academic. This is about using a range of grammar structures and tenses, punctuation and the number of errors made.

Each criterion is 25% of your total marks for writing task 1. See the task 1 band score descriptors published by IELTS which show the difference between GT and academic writing for Task Achievement.

IELTS GT Differences for Writing Task 2

There are only minimal differences between IELTS general training writing task 2 and the academic task 2. Below is a list of the minor differences and similarities between the essays.

1. Essay Question Difficulty

One difference is that the essay question for the General Training writing task 2 is often easier. It is written in a way that makes the issues clearly and easier to understand. Here’s a sample of a GT essay question and an academic essay question.

GT Essay Question Sample

Some students travel abroad for one year before starting university.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this?

Academic Essay Question Sample

Some people think that space exploration is a waste of money and the funds should be relocated to other more needed areas.

To what extent do you agree?

* Please note that it is still possible to get the education essay question in the academic test.

2. Topics for Essays

Another slight difference is that the topic giving for the IELTS general training essay question is a more common topic, such as family, society, TV, schools, communication etc. However, in the academic test, there is a wider range of topics from family and education to space exploration or economics, which can be more challenging.

3. Essay types for General Training

The types of essays are the same for both general training and academic IELTS papers. You could get an opinion essay, a discussion essay, an advantage disadvantage essay, a solution essay or a direct question essay. At the bottom of the 100 IELTS essay questions page, you will find some practice essays for each type. And on the writing task 2 page, you will find model essays for each type. All this is suitable for both GT and academic students.

4. Marking & Scoring

The marking criteria and band scores are the same for both GT and academic students in writing 2. Here is a link to learn about the band scores for writing task 2 from band 5 to 8. To see the band score descriptors published by IELTS, click here. You will see that there is only one scoring for all essays.

5. IELTS GT Essay Writing Techniques

Another similarity is the technique for essay writing. It is the same for both GT and academic essays. Students for both the GT test and academic test will study from the same methods, tips and advice for IELTS essay writing.

This means all writing task 2 lessons on this blog are suitable for both GT and academic IELTS students. See here: IELTS Writing Task 2 Tips, Model Essays and Free Video Lessons

6. Essay Length and Timing

The length of the GT essay is over 250 words which is the same as the academic essay. Likewise, 40 minutes is the recommended length of time for both types of essays.

7. Advanced Training for Writing Task 2

I also offer advanced lessons for writing task 2 which you can purchase. My lessons are suitable for both General Training and Academic students: Liz’s Advanced Writing Task 2 LessonsLessons explain the techniques needed for a high score based on IELTS band score requirements.

Using the Official Writing Answer Sheet

Students taking the general training or academic writing test, must select the right box to tick on the official writing answer sheet in the test. Please watch this lesson about filling in the official IELTS writing answer sheet. It explains about selecting the right box for either general training or academic writing.

Recommended IELTS Tips

IELTS Writing Task 1 Lessons,Tips & Model Answers for both GT Letters and Academic Charts

IELTS Writing Task 2 Lessons, Tips & Model Essays

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, model answers, lessons, free videos and more.

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Comments

  1. Dear Mrs. Liz

    Do you offer correction service for essays?

    Thanks,

  2. Hello Liz,
    First of all thank you for all the helpful material.
    I have the exam this Saturday, so I am quite nervous.
    I have a question regarding writing task 2. In one of the examples that I am trying to do to practice it asks ” The continued rise in the world’s population is the greatest problem faced by humanity at the present time”
    What are the causes of this continued rise?
    Do you agree that it is the greatest problem faced by humanity?

    Could you please tell me how to approach this? because it is asked 2 questions , so if I disagree do I have to say why in the body paragraph or I just have to focus on the causes?
    Thanks a lot

  3. Darshan Pandya says:

    Hi Ma’am,
    Thank you so much for your support.
    Can we use brackets in listening ?

    • Brackets are used in the answer keys of books to show different answers possible. You can’t use them in your test. You choose one answer only.

  4. Hi Liz
    Do I really need an address writing any of the letters?
    (formal, semiformal and informal)

  5. Hi Liz,

    I listen your video for GT task one and learnt that in formal letter we should end with the words “yours faithfully” and with our own name with tittle. For example yours faithfully, Mrs Lisa Matthew. But in the answer sheet of all ielts book I never found title with name. Please suggest on this.

  6. Hi dear Liz
    I am so happy to find you accidentally today.
    I took part in general ielts exam recently.Unfortunately ,I couldn t get a good score in writing task 2 .Although,I think I have done all my teacher s advice.As far as I concern some of roles in writing has been changed.For instance,we should not paraphrase in introduction any more.
    I would be so thankful if you guide me about the new rules.
    best wishes
    sharareh

    • I’m not sure where you got this information. Paraphrasing means to write the same meaning using your own words. This is the only way to introduce the topic of your task 2 writing. IELTS have not released any new rules on their site. Always refer to official sources if you are in doubt.

  7. Sahil Soni says:

    Hello Ms Elizabeth. I hope you are fit and fine.

    Is it possible to face the following instruction in any Ielts listening exam, especially in the first section where dates and time durations et-cetera are asked?

    (1) Use one word or a number.

    rather than

    (2) Use one word and/or a number.

    If yes, then can’t we write, for example, ‘March 15th’ as an answer? Because it is carrying a word as well as a number.

    If we can’t, then should the answer be any one of the followings?

    March (15th)
    (March) 15th

    If not then what should be the answer?

    Looking forward to an early response.

    Best regards.

    • IELTS sometimes change the instructions to challenge students. I have never seen “one word or one number” but it might one day appear. If there is only “or” in the instructions, then you can’t have both. You don’t use brackets for your answers in listening.

  8. Hi Liz

    Thanks for your wonderful tips, in writing task 1, an example if I am writing a letter to my friend and requesting him to sent me few books, do I have to mention my address at the end or just finish my letter with thanks and best regards.

    If possible please get back to me asap.

    Many thanks

    Regards
    Saj

  9. Hi Liz,

    I have tried 2 times to attain 7.5 in General writing but I’m not able to gain more than 6. Can you please help me on this please somehow I need to achieve it.

    Regards,
    Chinnu

  10. Hi. Liz I just wanna ask wht we can speak in imagination topic…

  11. I’ve been watching your videos so often lately, that I consider you part of my family 🙂 Wish me luck, I’m taking the exam tomorrow. Need a 7+ on each module(last time it was, 9; 8.5; 6.5; 8).
    Regards from Macedonia.

  12. Hai madam . Iplan to to go abroad for job purpose.wich ielts i have to select general or academic .iam confusing .some countries they are asking acedemic .wich one is best.please give me your suggestion. Thanq you

  13. HARNEET says:

    Hi Liz,

    In previous attempts I have scored low on speaking and writing section , and hoping to get good score after going through your website. I have 2 questions , –

    1. Do we need to give indent while starting a paragraph. What I am aware that this an old way of writing and now no – one following indention .
    2. Can you give model example for writing task 1 GT.
    3. Does it matter how we write our answers for Reading / Listening section – I mean do we need to write in capital or continuous ?

    Regards,
    Harneet

  14. Dearc Liz,
    Can you please guide me on General reading module.i am waiting for a positive response.
    Thank you 🙂
    Sonika

  15. Are the topic of writing Task 2 of Academic and General Training are same on the exam day ?

  16. Badarulla baig says:

    Hi Liz,
    I am really thankful for your tips and training particularly in writing section because i am confident that i may get over band 7 by using the skeleton for writing task which you have provided.. I am attempting academic version of writing in few days… What bothers me is that i have not prepared for letter writing because i read from many places that we get chats and table description for academic writing task1. Please guide me whether i need to prepare for letter writing as well to be on safer side, or is it a rule that i will not get letter writing in academic task 1.
    Thanks for all the help
    Waiting for your reply
    Badar

  17. Hi Liz! First of all huge thanks for your time and dedication.
    Im trying to improve my writing skills so, i wanna know if i did a well start in this essay..(its just a brief of all.)

    Task: Walking is known to be beneficial for health and yet fewer and fewer people are walking these days. What are the reason for this?

    Don´t STOP…Keep walking
    If we know walking is good for us, why we don’t do that?

    Nowadays more and more people are having high levels of cholesterol cause sedentary life. When you walk you are not only walking, you are doing more than this. You are involving your heart, your articulations, your muscles, your brain and all your body. Although all those benefits, people avoid walking.

    Mostly excuses are “I don’t have time” or “I´d prefer driving than walking”. Globalization turns people habits strongly. Cars and motorbikes are the principal reason why we don’t walk as our grandparents used to…

  18. HI LIZ,hope you are well I am applying for GT ILETS, and i was wondering is there any way you can help me regarding letter writing . because i saw different types of letters on your blog , BUT NO model answer.So i would really appreciate if you can direct me to the right way.On another note i really admire your efforts and making time to do this very organised yet helpful blog.And have a wonderful new year

  19. Hi Liz,

    For the writing task 2 it’s been said that for band 7, task coherence is explained as ”presents a clear position throughout the essay. Any opinion is supported in all paragraphs in the essay.”
    Could you pls explain this?
    If it is an extent to degree question, we may not agree or disagree fully; so how can we write that? What to do if we are only agreeing 60 % or so?

    • Of course you can agree fully or disagree fully. The instructions are just asking for your opinion. You give it in the introduction and explain it in the body paragraphs.
      Liz

      • Thank you for the reply Liz. I want to clarify more. For example, if it is an agree/disagree question and I disagree to some extent. So whether in the first para I can give some points to agree and then in the next two paragraphs I can disagree?

  20. Hi Liz
    Pls advice is there is any difference in academic reading and gt reading ,I heard that academic reading is more difficult then gt reading. Is that so.

    Pls reply
    Thanks

    • Yes, the reading passages for the academic paper are much more difficult than the GT passages. But the types of questions are the same.
      All the best
      Liz

    • Hi Chan,

      I guess academic reading is a bit more difficult as the content is more like academic style whereas GT reading is most of time much easier than I expect. It’s articles are mainly ads.
      But the last GT passage is usually a long one similar style to the academic one. But I suppose it’s still not too hard.

      Actually it depends on ur circumstances.
      Say if u feel more comfortable and confident on those info about daily life rather than something like science, analysis or more high level stuff, u may be happier to take GT as I always do. 😉
      If u have strong English background like ur very interested in looking into English stuff, go for academic training.

      Just keep in mind that dont always look at those comments about extent of difficulty from others. It all depends on ur own situation.

      I’m also fighting for my scores and I wish my experience could somewhat help u.

      All the best.
      Gwen

  21. hello Liz
    hope you will be fine.
    please give me some tips on the day of test.

  22. Hossein Ghanbari says:

    Dear Liz,

    Thank you for creating a separate post, replying my questions thoroughly.

    All the best,
    Hossein

  23. Hello, I don’t know you and where were you are but, I appreciate you and your team I need score 7 Academic IElTS in each skill, would you mind help me to reach my goal please?

  24. hello mam

    i asked you suggestions about a essay .
    but i am waiting for reply . plz reply as early as you can

  25. Hi Liz, I didn’t know where to post so decided to do it here. I achieved overall band score 7.0 in IELTS academic module, which is not enough as for me, but it’s not too bad. I would like to say thank you, because your tips were helpful at the exam time. I hope I will achieve 8.0 maybe in December. Cheers 🙂

    • I’m sorry to hear you didn’t reach the score you needed. Try to spend some time reviewing your exam performance to find your weaknesses. It’s good that you have a few months to work on particular areas and also your English. Here are some things to consider:

      1. Work on your overview for writing task 1 and also how you present and organise information in the body paragraphs.
      2. Work on giving a clear introduction which relates specifically to the instructions given. If it asks for your opinion, give it clearly.
      3. Work on writing clear topic sentences in writing task 2 – that is the first sentence of your body paragraph which must contain a clear main point. All supporting points then back up that initial sentence.
      4. For speaking, work on adding more to each answer. Also remember that there are no questions to answer in part 2. There are only prompts which you need to expand. In fact, you can any information you want to your talk. Try to add some past tense memories and also future plans – that will add to your grammar range.
      5. For listening and reading, make a list of paraphrases as you do each lesson and practice. Work on your questions types and techniques. Build speed and concentration.

      I’m sure you’ll do well by December. Keep in touch.
      Liz

  26. I want to obtain in IELTS Writing section 6.5 in my second attempt . plz give me some necessary tips how I improve myself from 5.5 to 6.5
    Thanks Liz

    • All my tips are given on my writing pages. Also you should consider improving your English language. To get a higher score, you need more accuracy and less mistakes as well as a better range.
      All the best
      Liz

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