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IELTS General

IELTS General Training is the IELTS test you take primarily if you are planning to go to an English speaking country for work experience, training programs, or secondary education.

If you plan to migrate to Canada, New Zealand, the UK, or Australia, it is also a requirement. 

The focus of the test is on the skills you will need to cope in social and workplace situations while you are abroad.

Preparation Material for IELTS General:

You can learn more about what is in this part of the test below, but these are some of the key pages that will help you prepare for the exam:

Reading and Listening:

Practice Tests:

Test Format

Writing Task 1 - Letter

Time: 20 Minutes

Length: 150 words (minimum) 

In the writing Task 1 of the IELTS General Training Test you are presented with a situation and you have to write a letter in response.

The letter could be:

  • Informal (e.g. writing to a friend or family member)
  • Semi-formal (e.g. your landlord or local newspaper)
  • Formal (e.g. your bank)
IELTS Letter

The kind of situations that arise vary but they are often some kind of problem you need to resolve. 

Examples are writing to your university accommodation department about about problems with your housing, writing to a shop about a faulty item you have purchased, or writing to a friend to see if you can stay with them during a trip.

You are always given the background to the situation, and then three points that you must address in the letter. The letter will involve you using your imagination in order to fully discuss the three points.

Here are some examples:

Sample Task 1 Questions

Informal Example Question:

A friend of yours is coming to stay at your house for a week while you are away on holiday. They have not stayed at your house before.

Write a letter to your friend so that you can prepare them for their stay. In your letter:

  • Remind him/her about your holiday dates
  • Tell him/her what tasks need to be done in your house
  • Explain what he/she can do during the day in your town


Semi-formal Example Question:

You rent an apartment and recently a new neighbour has moved in who lives above you. They are making a lot of noise and this is disturbing you.

Write a letter to your landlord. In your letter: 

  • Explain what the problem is
  • Explain why it is disturbing you so much
  • Tell your landlord what you would like him/her to do about it


Formal Example Question:

You recently purchased an internet package for your house but you think the speed is much slower than it should be. You have complained twice to customer services on the phone but still nothing has been done. 

Write a letter to the manager of the company. In your letter:

  • Explain the internet problem
  • Explain why you are not happy with the way it has been dealt with
  • Say what action you now want the manager to take

Writing Task 2 - Essay

Time: 40 minutes

Length: 250 words (minimum) 

In the IELTS General Training Task 2 you have to write a short essay on a topic of general interest.

You usually have to do one of these things in relation to the essay:

  • Present your opinion
  • Discuss problems and solutions
  • Discuss causes and solutions
  • Compare and contrast

Here are some example essay questions:

Sample Task 2 Questions

Example Question 1:

Some people believe that it is better to educate children at home rather than sending them to school. Other people believe that it is essential that all children attend formal school education.

Discuss both opinions and give your own opinion.

Example Question 2:

Many cities around the world these days are becoming more and more polluted.

Why is this happening? What solutions can you suggest?

Example Question 3:

These days many people are choosing to have fewer children and so smaller families.

Is it better to have a small family than a large family?

You can learn more about the IELTS essay in this short video:


Time: 11-14 minutes

The IELTS speaking test for General Training is exactly the same as for the Academic module. 

The test is with an examiner and there are three parts:

  • Part 1: questions on familiar topic areas such as work, study, hobbies, holidays
  • Part 2: a two minute talk on a familiar topic
  • Part 3: Two-way discussion on a more complex topic

You can learn more about the speaking test and see a sample test here:


Time: 60 minutes

Questions: 40

In the IELTS general reading test you are given three reading passages with a variety of different question types. The sections are as follows:

  • Section 1: two or three short factual texts
  • Section 2: two short, work-related, factual texts
  • Section 3: one longer text on a topic of general interest

The texts are authentic as they are extracts from magazines, journals, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, newspapers and books.

The questions seek to test your skills on:

  • reading for main ideas, gist, and detail
  • skimming
  • understanding logical argument
  • recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose

You can take a full sample reading test for Sections 1-3 here:


Time: 40 minutes

Questions: 40

The IELTS general listening test is the same as for the Academic module.

There are four sections, and each one gets gradually more difficult. The audio lasts 30 minutes and there are then 10 minutes to transfer answers to an answer sheet.

  • Section 1: Conversation between two speakers
  • Section 2: Speech by one speaker
  • Section 3: Conversation between up to four speakers
  • Section 4: Speech by one speaker

You can learn more about what is in the listening test here:

Or have some practice with some tests:

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