The IELTS test is a renowned exam taken by millions of people around the world. The British Council offers two versions of the IELTS: the IELTS Academic and General Training. Both tests assess a person’s language skills across reading, writing, speaking and listening.

In this article we’ll explain everything about the IELTS General Training, including:

  • The structure of the exam;
  • Sample exam questions;
  • Preparing for the IELTS using GlobalExam.

If you’re looking for detailed information on the IELTS exam, stay right here!

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What Is the Format and Structure of the IELTS General Test?

The IELTS General Training is used for immigration purposes, for example if you want to move to Canada, the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, etc. Some companies also use the IELTS General Training test scores to assess the English skills of their employees.

The British Council offers two versions of the IELTS: the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training. Both tests assess a person’s language skills across reading, writing, speaking, listening, however the IELTS Academic is designed for prospective university students.

The IELTS Listening and IELTS Speaking tests’ formats are the same across both versions of the IELTS, however the content of the Reading and Writing sections is not the same.

You should select the version of the test you take depending on how you intend to use your test score, however, it’s important to note that the IELTS General is the most widely accepted version of the test.

If you wish to know more about the IELTS format, exam pattern, time and result please read through.

IELTS General test structure

The structure of the IELTS General is as follows:

  • The listening test (30 minutes): you must answer 40 questions relating to four recordings, including two conversations and two monologues on both informal subjects and work-related or academic subjects.
  • The reading test (60 minutes): you will be asked to read three texts then answer comprehension questions. The passages will be descriptive, factual, and analytical.
  • The writing test (60 minutes): for the first task you will be required to write a short text in a personal or informal manner, such as a letter. In the second task, you must write an essay response to an argument or problem.
  • The speaking test (11-14 minutes): you will be expected to respond to basic questions about yourself and your background, before discussing with the examiner a topic as prompted by a task card. Towards the end of the test, there will be the opportunity to discuss the topic on a more conceptual level.

The first three parts of the test take place together in one sitting, whereas the speaking section is typically held separately on the same day or a few days later, depending on the center.

We have written articles discussing the IELTS Life Skills exam and the IELTS Computer-Based version for your kind review.

What Are the IELTS General Band Scores and How Do They Work?

The IELTS does not offer a pass or fail, but rather a score that falls into one of the following nine bands:

Band Score
Skill Level
Very good
Extremely limited
Non user

It is possible to receive a half mark between bands for a skill. Such scores are rounded up or down to the nearest 0.5, so a score of 6.25 would be rounded up to 6.5, whereas a score of 7.1 would be rounded down to 7. Your test certificate will include a specific score in each communication skill, as well as an overall score.

IELTS General Training Sample Questions and Exercises

Practicing for the IELTS General online with sample test questions will allow you to familiarize yourself with the format in advance.

IELTS General Listening

For each of the four recordings, you will be asked a question which can be a multiple choice question, an exercise consisting of completing a sentence, filling in a diagram, a card, a form or other.

For example, you may be asked to fill in a form based on a conversation between two people confirming a registration. In this case, you should note down the following types of information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Additional details, such as price or date

You can also hear an audio such as:

M – Hello ‘Bushcraft Survival’. How can I help you?

W – Oh, hello there. I emailed you the other day because I’m interested in doing one of your outdoor survival courses.

M – Ah right. Which course are you interested in?

W – Well, I’m not sure which one is suitable for me at the moment. 

M – Well… We’ve got the three-day introductory course if it’s your first time?

W – Yes, I’ve never done this before.

M – There’s also the 1-week beginners course which is also very popular. I’d really recommend that one. Then there’s the full survival total immersion course which takes 1 month depending on weather conditions. Ah, I’ve found your email… You mention that you’re looking for a 1-week course so the beginner’s course would suit you fine.

W – Yes, I might try the beginner’s course then. It depends on the cost though. How much is it?

M – The three-day introductory course is $135 and the beginner’s course, which is what you’d be most suitable for, is $245 but if you pay today, I’ll give it to you for $225. Then there’s the full immersion course, which is $1850. That’s for people who want to get a recognised qualification.

And will be asked this type of question:

How much will the woman pay for her course?

  1. $135
  2. $225
  3. $245

IELTS General Training Reading

The reading test consists of:

  • 4 short extracts of gradually increasing length and difficulty
  • Texts of a more general style
  • Texts on general topics (advertisements, notices, etc.) related to the professional environment (job descriptions, employment contracts, etc.).

For example, if you were given a factual passage advising employees on how to complete a training program at work, you could be presented with a list of statements about the test and asked to state if it is True, False, or Not Given.


Do the following statements agree with the information in the text?
For each question, select:
TRUE: if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
FALSE: if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN: if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

IELTS General Writing

The writing test is divided into two parts: “Writing 1” and “Writing 2”. Your score will be calculated according to:

  • Your compliance with the instructions: description of visual information, writing a letter in the appropriate format, point of view to be given
  • The coherence and cohesion: good use of linking words, logical operators, fluidity of speech
  • Your lexical resources: richness of vocabulary
  • Your grammar: correct syntax

For the “Writing 1″ part you will be prompted to write a letter in one of the following styles:

Formal (to someone you don’t know)
Semi-formal (to someone you know formally)
Informal (to a friend or family member)

An example could be:

You are not very happy with the changes that have been made to your favourite social media site. You decide to write them a letter.
Write a letter to the company. In your letter:
Describe what you liked about the old format
Say what you don’t like and why
Tell them how it could be improved

The “Writing 2″ section is an essay of at least 250 words.

IELTS General Speaking

There are 3 parts in the General Speaking section.

The skills that will be assessed are fluency and coherence, lexical resources, grammar and pronunciation.

  • The first part consists of a general introduction during which you are asked questions leading you to talk a little about yourself.

A question might be:

What normally makes you smile?

  • The second part requires you to talk about a specific topic drawn among many subjects. You will be allowed to take and use notes to organize your thoughts. In this exercise, you can share your point of view and arguments.

For example:

Describe something that you remember from your childhood.
You should say:
When it happened
What happened
How you felt at the time
Explain why you remember this particular occasion.

  • For the third part, you will be expected to engage in an extended discussion about the previously drawn subject, in a more hypothetical or conceptual development, like:

Let’s consider the types of problems and difficulties people can have and how they can deal with them.
What common difficulties or problems do people face these days?

Here, requesting information or explaining the subject is allowed. The examiner is expecting you to view the argument or problem.

For the IELTS test, training is the basis for success and is fundamental. There are many solutions, and GlobalExam is one of them. We offer free or paid training depending on your needs and have a totally free IELTS ebook you can access anywhere once downloaded.

Practice And Get Higher Scores On The IELTS General Training

Whether you’re preparing for the IELTS Academic vs the IELTS General Training, studying is the key to success, and you can find all the tools you need on GlobalExam’s 100% online learning platform. Indeed, you need to take the IELTS if you wish to live in a english speaking country.

Visit the official IELTS website if you are requesting information or explanation. 

Experience on our website specific IELTS-orientated study materials with answer sheets, from revision sheets to mock exams, all carefully designed with English language professionals to help you improve your score.

The IELTS specific training includes:

  • 120 exercises
  • 5 mock exams
  • 3 personalized study plans to choose from
  • 390 study sheets with practice test
  • Statistics and corrections

And much more!

Our method is recognized for its flexibility while ensuring quality content in line with IELTS requirements.

 Practicing for the IELTS General online is simple, and GlobalExam allows you to adapt your learning plan to your personal strengths and weaknesses.

Choose GlobalExam for your IELTS preparations and see your score soar!

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