IELTS - Tips for your Reading Test

IELTS - Tips for your Reading Test
The ‘Reading skill set’ of students is considered as crucial as any other skill set because it gives the IELTS examiners an idea about a student’s ability to comprehend the high level of English that is used in abroad countries. The Reading section analyses the students’ competence in understanding and grasping the given information (in English) and answering the questions related to it more aptly. The Reading section is considered one of the most-difficult sections apart from the Writing section. A consistent level of difficulty is maintained in these two sections to ensure the true English Language skills of the students are reflected in their answer papers. To score well in the Reading section in the IELTS, it is imperative to prepare well to gain and enhance the essential skills.

What is the IELTS Reading Test?

Reading is one of the skill sets assessed in the IELTS exam. The Reading section is included in the exam to assess students’ ability to understand a writer’s main ideas, opinions, inferences, purpose and capacity to follow through with their arguments or statements. On the whole, the Reading section analyses students’ skill of understanding a high standard of written English used in the English-speaking countries. The questions of the Reading section are framed in the way that they bring out the most-apt answers expected by the IELTS examiners.

As you know, both the IELTS Academic and IELTS -  General Training exam formats have the Reading section. But the passages and the questions asked differ for both the exams. Students have to be aware of this fact and should prepare according to the test they are going to take.

The IELTS Academic Reading section has topics related to university education and its study environment, while the IELTS - General Training Reading section has work-related topics like job application,  job interview, work culture, work environment, etc.

Reading Test format – IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic - Reading section has 3 long paragraphs with a total length of 2,000 to 3,000 words written by an author. This text may be taken from current books, journals, magazines or newspapers. This section contains topics purely related to university-level education (U.G, P.G or above).
The Reading section has a total of 40 questions with 14 different types of questions. The question types will be 

  • Multiple choice
  • Identifying Information (True/ False/Not Given)
  • Identifying the writer’s claims or views (Yes/No/Not Given)
  • Match (headings, features and sentences)
  • Summary/note/table/flow-chart completion
  • Diagram–label completion 
  • Short answer questions.

The IELTS Academic - Reading section is timed for 60 minutes. So students should finish this section exactly in 1 hour as no extra time will be given.
Students are advised to answer all the questions as there is no negative marking in the Reading section. Students can take a guess, and their answer may be the right one.

Reading test format – IELTS General Training

The IELTS General Training - Reading section has 3 long paragraphs but implies information related to work and its environment and processes in the English-speaking countries. The text may be taken from current books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines.
A total of 40 questions will be asked in the General Training - Reading section, with 14 different types of questions as same as the Academic format. The question types are,

  • Multiple choice
  • Identifying Information (True/ False/Not Given)
  • Identifying the writer’s claims or views (Yes/No/Not Given)
  • Match (headings, features and sentences)
  • Summary/note/table/flow-chart completion
  • Diagram-label completion 
  • Short answer questions.

The General Training (GT) - Reading section is timed for 60 minutes; no extra minutes will be given to complete the section.
The GT Reading section, too, doesn’t have any negative markings. Therefore students are advised to answer all the questions.

IELTS - Reading Tips

The Reading tips are divided into both technical and general categories. The first five tips are technically oriented, and each IELTS test taker must possess to answer the questions in the right manner. The next six are the general tips to gain the first five skills and ace the Reading section.

  1. Develop skill for each type of question - We are not going to say it’s easy to develop the skill for each type of question. But with practice, you can get there. The answer you are looking for will always be in the paragraphs given. Try to find the hidden ideas or the implied meaning through the given words and sentences. So don’t waste time trying to give your own opinion or framing a generalised answer.
  1. Skimming and Scanning - This is an important skill you need to ace to score well in the Reading section. You can’t waste time trying to read a 3000-worded paragraph. Instead, develop the skill of reading fast to understand the paragraph's general outline. You should also learn to scan the given information to find specific facts, ideas and opinions given in the paragraph.

These skills will help you answer the questions more aptly and save you time to skim and scan your answers.

  1. Proper Vocabulary Usage - Gaining a good grasp of proper vocabulary usage will help you to score a high band in the section. Besides noticing your comprehension skills, the examiners will look for proper vocabulary usage in sentences according to the circumstance given in the paragraph. Therefore it can be understood that being strong in vocabulary usage is more important than just knowing thousands of words and using them meaninglessly or repeatedly.
  1. Keywords - Developing the skill of locating the keywords in both the questions and paragraph is highly necessary. Keywords are nothing but the words, either explicitly given or paraphrased, that reflect the main subject matter. For instance, they might be names, dates, places, numbers, etc. With enough practice, you can develop this skill and effortlessly use it to answer the questions.
  1. Grammar - Grammar is important to frame your sentences correctly. A silly grammar mistake might change the meaning of your sentence. Grammar is one of the crucial criteria for which a significant score band is allocated. While answering, you should remember to frame grammatically correct sentences to display your strong grammar skills.

Following are the general tips to gain and enhance the above-mentioned skills and master them to score a high band in the Reading section.

  1. Practise Each Day - Practising should occupy 4 to 5 hours of your daily routine. Set a preparation time and schedule your practice sessions accordingly. Develop the reading habit by reading excerpts from books, newspapers, magazines or journals each day. Eventually, you will master the skill by also developing the habit of skimming and scanning.
  1. Know Your Weaknesses - It is first imperative to know your weaknesses and shortcomings before you set your goal of scoring a high band. Knowing them is the key to overcome them and put forth a good performance in your exam. The way to achieve it is to practise a lot until you are satisfied with your score in the practice tests.
  1. Utilise IELTS Free Practice Exams and Tools - The IELTS administration has provided a good number of free tools and resources on its official website to help students learn more about the IELTS exam, its formats, topics and ways to ace them. Students can also use the free practice exams to implement what they have learned and analyse their performance.
  1. Get Used to Difficult Passages - It is advised because the passages in the IELTS exam will be more difficult and will be of a high standard. Thus it is wise to get used to passages with a harder level of comprehension. So on the exam day, you will feel more calm and relaxed to answer them.
  1. Practising Test But not Under Exam Conditions - When you initially start your practice, don’t do it under exam conditions. Start in a free and relaxed manner so that you take time to understand the passage, questions and your level of answering. This will give you space to analyse your strengths and weaknesses and also time to improve them.
  1. Practising Under Exam Conditions - Do enough practice tests until you feel prepared to practice under exam conditions. During this practice, you should not make more errors and should score more than band 6. This practice gives you a more realistic view of your skills and where you stand as an IELTS test taker.


Do you need professional help to score a high band in the IELTS Reading section on all sections? 
If your answer is yes, AECC is more than delighted to help you. We provide IELTS coaching classes to study-abroad aspirants at an affordable fee. The classes are conducted by professional English language trainers. Book your slot now by reaching out to us. 
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The Reading section is easy, if only you have practised a lot. Practice gives you the advantage of answering the section more confidently. So do practice a lot and develop the essential skills.