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General and Academic Reading: How Are They Different?

If you are preparing for the IELTS, you’ve probably noticed that there are two different tests – General and Academic. These two forms of the IELTS test have different Reading and Writing sections that are made to test your English in different situations: In a college environment, and in day-to-day life.

When it comes to the Reading section of the IELTS, the Academic version tests how well you can understand the kinds of reading you’ll have to do in college. On the other hand, the General version tests your reading skills in everyday life.

IELTS Academic Reading

The Academic version of the IELTS Reading exam is an hour long, and has 40 questions for you to answer. The questions test your ability to read a passage and understand what it is about, both in general and in detail. They also test your ability to see what the writer thinks and feels about the subject they are writing about. You might even have to figure out the reason why the writer chose to write what they did.

In the Academic version of the IELTS, the Reading portion of the exam features three long passages. Each one can often be over a page of reading. These passages come from real texts, published in books, magazines, and newspapers that you might encounter in a college class.

These passages can cover a variety of academic topics, including travel, science, and literature, but are meant to be easily understood by people who are not experts in any field. This way, no one has an advantage. So if there’s a text about the planets, you won’t have to be an astronomer to understand it completely.
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IELTS General Reading

The General version of the IELTS Reading exam is an hour long, and also has 40 questions for you to answer. The General Reading exam tests your ability to read passages and understand them. The questions you have to answer may test how well you understand the general idea of the passage, as well as some of the details in it. You may also have to determine the opinions and feelings of the writer, and what their purpose was in writing the article.

In the General Reading portion of the exam, there are four or five short passages. These come from newspapers, magazines, advertisements, and books that you’re likely to encounter in everyday life.

Because they come from sources you’re likely to see in your day-to-day life, the reading passages on the General IELTS exam will be about basic topics that are meant to be easy for anyone to understand.

Differences Between Academic and General Reading

As you can see, there are a few differences between the Academic and the General Reading sections of the IELTS:

  1. The reading passages in the Academic test are longer than in the General test,
  2. There are more reading passages in the General test than in the Academic test,
  3. The subjects covered by the reading passages in the General test are widely known and often dealt with in daily life. On the other hand, the reading passages on the Academic test come from subjects you’re more likely to see in college.

Aside from these differences, though, the format of the Reading portion of the test is the same: There will still be the same number of questions to answer about certain parts of the reading passages.

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