When helping students prepare for the IELTS test, one of the biggest fears is how to do well in IELTS Reading.
IELTS Reading tests a variety of reading skills, and although the question formats are the same, the text styles are different for Academic and General Training. You will be given around 60 minutes to answer 40 questions, and there will be 3 different reading texts to complete.
The Number 1 Way to Improve your IELTS Reading Scores
In this video, I’ll show you the best way to improve your IELTS Reading score at home for free:
The IELTS Reading test requires you to answer 40 questions in 60 minutes, so you must be fully prepared before you book your exam. In this video, I’ll show you exactly how to get the score you need in IELTS Reading.
Top 5 Tips for IELTS Reading
1. Timing is key.
You will have just 1 hour to complete 40 questions, so you must use your time wisely. I advise my students to try and get each section finished in 20 minutes. This will give you 16-17 minutes to read and answer the questions and 3-4 minutes to transfer and check your answers. You’ll find more help with time management here.
2. Read the instructions carefully.
Many strong candidates lose marks in IELTS Reading because they don’t read the instructions properly. Pay close attention to the instructions you’re given to avoid losing easy marks.
3. Don’t panic.
Some of the questions will be easy and some will be extremely difficult. (I knew many IELTS teachers who had to check the answers to some questions because they are so challenging!)
The wrong thing to do is spend a large amount of time on a hard question. If the answer does not present itself, move on to the next one. You can always come back to the difficult questions later.
It’s important that you stay calm and keep your nerves under control. Accepting that you are probably not going to get all of the questions correct might help you to control your nerves and timing on test day!
4. It’s really a vocabulary test.
In many ways, IELTS Reading is more of a vocabulary test than a reading test. The reason is that you need a wide range of vocabulary to understand the passages of text given to you. You must also have an awareness of synonyms and paraphrasing if you wish to identify the information required to answer the questions correctly.
5. Don’t expect to understand every word.
If you don’t understand a word in the test, you should look at the words and sentences around it for clues as to its meaning. Alternatively, you can move on and forget about it.
Focus on the words that are related to the question and don’t worry about the words you don’t understand.
For more help with improving your reading skills, click the image below to join my free IELTS Reading challenge:
IELTS Reading Question Types
Click on any of the links below for a full step-by-step guide to answering each IELTS Reading question type:
This post will help you answer short answer questions more effectively by looking at a sample question, identifying common problems and giving you a strategy to use on exam day.
This article will help you answer multiple-choice questions more effectively. We look at common problems and how to fix them.
In these kinds of questions, you will be given a summary of information from the text and there will be some gaps in that summary.
In this IELTS Reading question, you will be given a list of incomplete sentences with no endings and another list with possible endings. Your job is to match the incomplete sentences with the correct ending based on the reading text.
In this question type, you will be given a number of sentences with gaps in them and asked to complete the sentences with words from the reading text. Check out this article to learn how to do so strategically.
‘True, False, Not Given’ questions requires you to identify if the information in a text is true or not. You will be given a number of factual statements and you have to check in the text if they are true or not. This is probably the most difficult question in the reading paper.
In the IELTS Reading test, you may be asked to match headings to sections of text. This type of question tests your ability to understand the main idea of each paragraph.
In the IELTS Reading test, you might get a question that asks you to label a diagram. This post will show you examples, look at common problems and provide you with a strategy for answering these questions effectively.
In this kind of question, you are asked to match statements to paragraphs in the reading text. This post will look at example question types and show you my step-by-step strategy for matching information to paragraphs.
IELTS Reading Essential Information
In the IELTS Reading exam, you must answer 40 questions in 60 minutes. The test is also divided into three sections of increasing difficulty.
There are two types of exam: Academic or General Training. Before you begin preparing, you need to find out:
- What score you need; and
- Whether you need to take the General Training IELTS or Academic IELTS exam.
You can get this information by contacting the institute that requires your IELTS certificate.
What’s the Difference Between the Academic and General Training Reading Test?
The types of question that you receive in the Academic exam are exactly the same as the question types that you get in the General Training exam. However, the passages of text that you must read are different.
General Training students will have to read a combination of long and short texts of both a general and work-specific nature. In comparison, Academic students must interact with three long texts of an academic nature.
IELTS Reading Time Management
One of the most challenging parts of IELTS Reading is completing it within the time that you are allocated.
You will be required to answer 40 questions in 60 minutes, so you must be fully prepared before you book your test!
It’s important that you use reliable materials when you practice IELTS Reading – this is the only way of getting an accurate idea of your current ability. The post below will show you how to find reading practice materials and improve your practice sessions from home:
The links below will direct you to multiple reliable sources of IELTS Reading practice papers:
IELTS Reading Lessons
- The Secret to Getting a 9 on Your Reading Test
- Top 10 Reading Tips
- How to Improve Your Reading Skills
- How Jaswanth went from a Band 6.5 – 9 in IELTS Reading
See the interactive tool below for the most commonly asked questions we receive about IELTS Reading:
IELTS Reading FAQs
How can I improve my reading?
You will find all of the free guidance you'll need for IELTS Reading on my Reading Mini-Course. It's completely free to join and has all the free strategies you will need to improve your IELTS Reading exam skills.
Click the link below to get started:
Can I use all capital letters?
Yes, as long as you are consistent with your answers.
How do I answer _____ questions?
You'll find strategies for each question type listed on the page below:
Do you have practice questions?
We do, but they are only available to our VIP Students.
You will find free and reliable practice questions at the following websites:
How can I read faster?
This depends on a number of factors, but you'll find our guide to improving your reading speed here:
Speed Reading: How to Increase Your Reading Speed
How can I complete the reading test on time?
In short: improve your exam technique and your reading speed. You'll find a strategy for improving both of these features at the link below:
How many questions do I need to answer correctly?
That depends on the score you need to achieve. You'll find help with calculating your score here:
Do skimming and scanning work?
To a very limited extent. Read the following article if you wish to gain a comprehensive understanding of skimming and scanning and when to use them: