What is the IELTS Reading Test?

The IELTS Reading test is the section of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam which tests candidates' level of proficiency in reading in the English Language. The test questions usually have a similar format; however, the text styles appear different for Academic and General Training. Adequate preparations are essential before taking the test. The IELTS Reading test usually has a time limit of exactly 60 minutes with 40 questions in 3 different text styles designed to test several different reading skills for candidates such as predicting, summarizing, idea recognition, identification of information, and opinion.

AECC has been assisting students to study in top destinations like the USA, the UK, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Germany and Dubai since 2008. We have expert professionals to guide our students all through the application process, and offers free guidance on university application, scholarships, study visas, and much more.

How to prepare for IELTS Reading?

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Candidates can prepare for the IELTS reading test in the following ways:

  • Take practice tests- this is a necessary step that would help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses. However, one can solicit experts' assistance or get a preparation course if this proves to be too much of a challenge
  • Immerse yourself in English- you can do this by reading widely on things that interest you such as blogs, articles, and the likes. The shadowing technique which involves you repeating what someone else a (native English speaker) says in English can also be effective as it helps with intonation and pronunciation. Also, constant writing in English (keeping a journal/diary) helps.
  • Understanding the test format- it is important to familiarize yourself with the test formats, patterns, and types of questions to expect. This can be gotten from past questions preparation materials.
  • Be aware of the time constraints of the exam- it is imperative that you utilize the same timing conditions while preparing for the test to get yourself accustomed to the pace of the exam.
  • Develop a wide range of reading skills- The reading test is designed to test candidates with a wide range of reading skills such as reading for detail, for main ideas, understanding logical arguments, skimming, and recognizing writers' opinions, attitudes, and purpose test-takers will be required to complete sentences, match headings or complete diagram labels so proper practice with these sorts of questions is important to get accustomed to each type.
Read more: IELTS Exam Dates

Types of IELTS Reading Test

There are two types of IELTS reading tests namely, The General Training reading and the Academic reading which have similar formats but different text styles.

General Training Reading

The General Training reading is a section within the IELTS reading test with both long and short texts of a general and work-specific nature. It is designed for professionals and migrants regarding employment and immigration, respectively. It has 40 questions and is 60 minutes in length. There are three sections with increasing difficulty levels. The first section comes with either one, two, or three short texts that are more factual than descriptive. The second section equally has more than one text regarding work conditions and machinery instructions while the third section has just one text which is usually more difficult than the previous sections. The General Training reading section has similar question types as the Academic Reading section

Academic Reading

The Academic Training reading is a section within the IELTS reading test with longer texts taken from either books, journals, or newspapers and are academic. It is designed for international students applying for admission abroad where English is the main means of communication. It also has 40 questions and is 60 minutes in length.

Difference between IELTS Academic and General Training Reading Test

Unlike the listening and speaking sections of the test which are quite similar for both the Academic and General tests due to their non-specific nature, the Reading section has a few differences due to the different purposes of the test. These differences are listed below.

IELTS Academic Reading

IELTS General Training Reading

Questions are academic

Questions are general and work-specific

It’s designed for students

It’s designed for professionals and migrants

Topics are more advanced

Topics are generic

Higher level of difficulty

The lower level of difficulty

Comprises of long text passages culled from books, journals, and newspapers based on the description, analysis, and facts

Comprises of comprehension passages culled from magazines, advertisements, and company handbooks

Additionally, another major difference is the band score. A 30/40 band score in the General reading is equal to 23/40 in the Academic reading due to their varying levels of difficulty

What are the IELTS Reading Question types?

  • Matching sentence endings
  • Short answer questions
  • Matching information
  • True/false/not givenListed below are the types of IELTS Reading test questions
  • The Multiple Choice questions
  • Information Identification questions
  • Information matching
  • Label the diagram
  • Head matching
  • Sentence completion
  • Summary completion
  • Feature matching

How can I improve my IELTS Reading score?

A good number of test-takers find the Reading section of the IELTS quite challenging so it's important to have a strategy to finish the 40 questions given within the stipulated time limit and effectively boost your score. Listed below are some tips which can be implemented on the day of the test as well as during the preparation period.

  • Get familiar with question types – this is a key strategy as familiarity with the question type would give the candidates more confidence in answering and equally save time.
  • Reading more widely to improve vocabulary and spelling- This would enable test takers to answer questions with less effort.
  • Understanding the framing of the passage- Analyzing key elements of the passage such as key terms, phrases, and identical words, would help test-takers in finding the answers required more easily and rapidly.
  • Skimming- this technique helps in predicting the writer's idea of the passage. Test takers must make the beginning and the conclusion of the passage the main points to get the complete scheme of the passage.
  • Read instructions carefully before every task- this is important as some tasks tend to be identical and tricky.
  • Time management- it's also important to manage your time according to the total number of tasks given.

Tips to Manage Time for IELTS Reading Test

It's advised to not spend too much time on a particular question. Skip it if it seems difficult at the time and return once you are done. 20 minutes is sufficient time to spend on a section. Test takers are given a booklet and answer sheet. A common mistake candidates make is writing answers in the booklet first before transferring them to the answer sheet but as a time-saver, it's best to transfer answers directly to the answer sheet once it is received.
Also, applying different reading techniques such as speed reading (read the passage in about 60-90 seconds to get an idea of what it's about) search reading (searching for particular information i.e., word or phrase, which was used in the question) and careful reading (where you take your time to read the relevant part of the passage)

IELTS Reading practice test based on question types

  • The Multiple-Choice question- These types of questions test a candidate's ability to comprehend detailed and specific information. They would be required to choose the correct answer from a given number of choices.
  • Information Identification questions- This tests a candidate's ability to comprehend whether a given text is either true or false
  • Information matching- these types of questions require candidates to place specific information given where it fits. Test-takers would have to understand the text given to do this
  • Label the diagram- This requires the test takers to complete a diagram with suitable words
  • Head matching- these types of questions require test-takers to properly match a given heading from a set of headings to a paragraph
  • Sentence completion- this requires test takers to properly complete a sentence with words from a given text
  • Summary completion- this requires candidates to properly complete the summary part of a text
  • Feature matching- these types of questions require you to find specific information about given features and match it.
  • Matching sentence endings- as the name implies, this type of question has to do with sentence completion
  • Short answer questions- this type of question requires test-takers to answer the question from the information given in a text with a limited number of words given.
  • Matching information- Here, the test-taker is required to match the given information where it best fits
  • True/false/not given- This requires test takers to understand the writer's perspective and give the appropriate answer while keeping the writer's point of view in mind.

IELTS Reading Test Samples

Below is a Reading test sample:
Reading sample (General)
True/false/not given task

The Future of fish

The face of the ocean has changed completely since the first commercial fishers cast their nets and hooks over a thousand years ago. Fisheries intensified over the centuries, but even by the nineteenth century, it was still felt, justifiably, that the plentiful resources of the sea were for the most part beyond the reach of fishing, and so there was little need to restrict fishing or create protected areas. The twentieth century heralded an escalation in fishing intensity that is unprecedented in the history of the oceans, and modern fishing technologies leave fish no place to hide. Today, the only refuges from fishing are those we deliberately create. Unhappily, the sea trails far behind the land in terms of the area and the quality of protection given.

For centuries, as fishing and commerce have expanded, we have held onto the notion that the sea is different from the land. We still view it as a place where people and nations should be free to come and go at will, as well as somewhere that should be free for us to exploit. Perhaps this is why we have been so reluctant to protect the sea. On land, protected areas have proliferated as human populations have grown. Here, compared to the sea, we have made greater headway in our struggle to maintain the richness and variety of wildlife and landscape. Twelve percent of the world's land is now contained in protected areas, whereas the corresponding figure for the sea is but three-fifths of one percent. Worse still, most marine protected areas allow some fishing to continue. Areas off-limits to all exploitation cover something like one five-thousandth of the total area of the world's seas.
Today, we are belatedly coming to realize that 'natural refuges' from fishing have played a critical role in sustaining fisheries and maintaining healthy and diverse marine ecosystems. This does not mean that marine reserves can rebuild fisheries on their own – other management measures are also required for that. However, places that are off-limits to fishing constitute the last and most important part of our package of reform for fisheries management. They underpin and enhance all our other efforts. There are limits to protection though.
Reserves cannot bring back what has died out. We can never resurrect globally extinct species and restoring locally extinct animals may require reintroductions from elsewhere if natural dispersal from remaining populations is insufficient. We are also seeing, in cases such as northern cod in Canada, that fishing can shift marine ecosystems into different states, where different mixes of species prevail. In many cases, these species are less desirable, since the prime fishing targets have gone or are much reduced in numbers, and changes may be difficult to reverse, even with a complete moratorium on fishing. The Mediterranean sailed by Ulysses, the legendary king of ancient Greece, supported abundant monk seals, loggerhead turtles, and porpoises. Their disappearance through hunting and overfishing has restructured food webs, and recovery is likely to be much harder to achieve than their destruction was. This means that the sooner we act to protect marine life, the more certain will be our success.

To some people, creating marine reserves is an admission of failure. According to their logic, reserves should not be necessary if we have done our work properly in managing the uses, we make of the sea. Many fisheries managers are still wedded to the idea that one day their models will work, and politicians will listen to their advice. Just give the approach time, and success will be theirs. How much time have we got? This approach has been tried and refined for the last 50 years. There have been few successes which to feather the managers' caps, but a growing litany of failure. The Common Fisheries Policy, the European Union's instrument for the management of fisheries and aquaculture, exemplifies the worst pitfalls: flawed models, flawed advice, watered-down recommendations from government bureaucrats, and then the disregard of much of this advice by politicians. When it all went wrong, as it inevitably had to, Europe sent its boats to other countries to obtain fish for far less than they were worth.

We are squandering the wealth of oceans. If we don't break out of this cycle of failure, humanity will lose a key source of protein and much more besides. Disrupting natural ecosystem processes, such as water purification, nutrient cycling, and carbon storage, could have ramifications for human life itself. We can go a long way to avoiding this catastrophic mistake with simple common-sense management. Marine reserves lie at the heart of the reform. But they will not be sufficient if they are implemented only here and there to shore up the crumbling edifice of the 'rational fisheries management' envisioned by scientists in the 1940s and 1950s. They have to be placed center stage as a fundamental underpinning for everything we do in the oceans. Reserves are a first resort, not a final resort when all else fails.

Questions 1-5

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage?

In boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet, write
YES, if the statement agrees with the writer's claims
NO, if the statement contradicts the writer's claims

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

  • It is more than a thousand years since people started to catch fish for commercial use. ..........
  • In general, open access to the oceans is still regarded as desirable….
  • Sea fishing is now completely banned in the majority of protected areas. ..........
  • People should be encouraged to reduce the amount of fish they eat. ..........
  • The re-introduction of certain mammals to the Mediterranean is a straightforward task. ..........

Questions 6-8

    • Choose the correct letter, A, B, C, or D.
    • Write your answers in boxes 6-8 on your answer sheet.
  • What does the writer mean with the question, 'How much time have we got?' in the fifth paragraph?
    1. Fisheries policies are currently based on uncertain estimates.
    2. Accurate predictions will allow governments to plan properly.
    3. Fisheries managers should provide clearer information.
    4. Action to protect fish stocks is urgently needed.
  • What is the writer's comment on the Common Fisheries Policy?
    1. Measures that it advocated were hastily implemented.
    2. Officials exaggerated some of its recommendations.
    3. It was based on inaccurate predictions.
    4. The policymakers acquired a good reputation.
  • What is the writer's conclusion concerning the decline of marine resources?
    1. The means of avoiding the worst outcomes needs to be prioritized.
    2. Measures already taken to avoid a crisis are probably sufficient.
    3. The situation is now so severe that there is no likely solution.
    4. It is no longer clear which measures would be most effective.

IELTS Reading score

The raw score is given based on the number of correct answers out of forty. However, the band score is then calculated on a scale of 0-9 based on the raw score. Below is a table for the Academic reading band score.































Below is the table for the General Reading test































The Band Score Descriptor for IELTS Reading

This property describes the test takers' level of proficiency in the English Language. Find the table below



Band 9

Expert user

Band 8

Very good user

Band 7

Good user

Band 6

Competent user

Band 5

Modest user

Band 4

Limited user

Band 3

Extremely limited user

Band 2

Intermittent user

Band 1


Prepare for IELTS Reading with AECC?

Prepare for the IELTS Reading with AECC using the following steps
  • Choose a variety of texts and alternate between studying and reading for enjoyment.
  • Spend 20-30 minutes every day reading various texts, such as newspaper stories, blogs, books, and textbook activities.
  • While reading, experiment with different approaches such as skimming and scanning the text rapidly, answering questions in detail, and summarizing the major points.
  • Choose areas of interest, but also attempt to study books on a variety of topics, as IELTS subjects are drawn from a wide range of disciplines.
  • Examine your comprehension. As you develop and get faster, you can reduce the time limit. Read aloud to your friends or yourself. This will improve your pronunciation and fluency. It will also boost your self-esteem.
  • Familiarize yourself with the format of the exam and the length of each section. Ensure to practice answering each sort of question in the reading examination.


The IELTS Reading section can seem a bit daunting to test-takers due to the time limit and perceived level of difficulty. However, by arming oneself with a winning strategy via proper preparations and familiarizing yourself with all of its formats, methods, and intricacies, it becomes easily surmountable on the test day.

Still unclear about anything? Well, not to worry. AECC and get your queries answered today!
AECC is one of the world's leading educational consultancies with versatile expert professionals ready to help you with any queries you may have. Contact us so we can be of assistance to you in your journey to achieving your dream.

FAQs - IELTS For Study

Matching headings.
Practice 1.
Sentence Completion.