IELTS Reading – We are losing the habit of reading and the extensive attention span needed for it is getting rare with the changing times. However, the IELTS reading test needs a methodical, quick and efficient approach to reading, that too in English, a non-native language you might not be comfortable with. While the IELTS listening, reading and writing tests happen one after the other on the same day, the speaking test might also be held either on the same day or seven days before or after that, based on the local scheduling. Being the second held test on the IELTS test day, the candidate needs to be alert and informed about what to expect in the reading test and the right approach in order to achieve a good band score.
Before getting into the nitty-gritties of the IELTS reading test, let’s have a brief overall understanding of the IELTS test –The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) opens doors to the world for people who want to study abroad, work or simply migrate to countries where English is the main dialect of communication. These nations primarily include Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the USA. One has to have a good band score in the IELTS exam to secure a college or university of their preference. IELTS has a certain goodwill world-wide and is a respected medium for judging the applicant’s complete English language proficiency on the basis of his/her listening, reading, writing and speaking skills.
Read further to understand the format of the IELTS reading test in detail, its scoring method, the tips and tricks to get a high score and more.
The IELTS reading test evaluates a wide range of your reading skills. This includes:
The content of the reading test is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests. However, both these forms of the IELTS reading Test includes 40 questions spread over 3 articles. The candidate will be asked to read three different passages and respond to related questions.
Let’s look at the key difference between the content format of IELTS Academic vs General Training reading test.
IELTS Academic Reading Test – The Academic reading test holds 3 long sections or texts which vary from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical. These passages might be picked from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. Chosen for a non-specialist audience, these texts are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.
IELTS General Training Reading Test: The General Training reading test also holds 3 long sections or passages. However, they pertain to the subjects that we come across everyday in an English-speaking environment. These texts might be taken from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines.
Both the IELTS Academic and General Training reading test takes 60 minutes including the transfer time. Unlike the IELTS listening test, there is no additional time to transfer answers. So, the applicants have to write them directly to their answer sheet as they proceed through the test.
The candidate should take not more than 20 minutes on each one of the sections.
Question Types in IELTS Reading Test
The kind of tasks remain the same in IELTS Academic and General Training test. You must be prepared for the following kinds of questions:
Every correct answer receives one mark each. Scores out of 40 questions are then converted into the IELTS 9 band scale. The average of your individual band score in the IELTS speaking test along with the 3 other IELTS tests forms the final and complete IELTS band score.
Do remember that the scores are reported in whole and half bands. For instance, your score might be 6, 7, 8 or 6.5, 7.5, 8.5.
The table below shows the estimated number of marks you need to score in order to achieve a particular band score in the reading test:
|Band Score||Number of correct answers out of 40 |
(Academic Reading Test)
|Number of correct answers out of 40 |
(General Training Reading Test)
Even when a candidate is a good reader in regular life, he/ she needs to look at the IELTS reading test very strategically. To begin with, read the instructions on the question paper very carefully. You must be familiar with the different question types beforehand to avoid any delays or careless mistakes during the test.
Read the preparation tips below to achieve a high band score in your IELTS reading test.
Practice Skimming: Skimming refers to the reading technique that includes reading through a text within the shortest time possible to identify key themes or general ideas. This means paying attention to:
Practice Scanning: Scanning, just as the word implies, refers to looking for very specific information, perhaps a number, name or date, without reading every word in the given article. For instance, when you need to know how much something costs, just run your eyes quickly down the article in search of a currency indicator and then decide if this is referring to what you are looking for. While skimming helps in gaining an overall view of the written text, scanning helps in tracing down specific details needed.
Read extensively: One must read as much, as often and as quickly as they can. The more you read in English language, the better it is. The aspirants can practice managing their time by timing their reading time, writing down key words and main ideas and practicing their scanning and skimming skills. Remember that there are no shortcuts and secret techniques to become a smarter reader. Time, practice and persistence helps in making one a skilled reader.
While the above points describe what one needs to do and prepare for prior to the IELTS reading test, the points below give you the correct approaches to apply during the test to achieve good results:
You may underline key words after reading the questions carefully and understanding their ‘focus’. This strategy is especially applicable to multiple choice questions. For example, the focus is highlighted in the following question –
“What is most at fault for the downfall of the economy?”
Check out the video below to understand how to prepare for the reading section of the IELTS exam with the help of skimming, scanning and other reading skills.
Check out the video below to practice multiple choice questions asked during the IELTS reading test.
Check out the video below to know about the keyword technique, a tried-and-tested method to find the correct answers in the IELTS reading exam.
Check out this video by an Indian instructor to learn how to make the right guesses when you are not left with enough time during the IELTS reading test. The speaker advises the candidates to not leave out any questions when the time is short. The video aims at helping you learn how to make intelligent guesses.
A. To improve your reading skills for IELTS, you must follow the following:
Both the IELTS Academic and General Training reading test takes 60 minutes including the time taken to transfer the answers on the answer sheet. There is no additional time for transferring answers. So, the applicants have to write the answers on their answer sheet while going through the passages and the questions. To complete the reading test properly, the candidate should take not more than 20 minutes on each one of the sections.
There are a total of 3 passages or articles in the IELTS Reading test.
A. IELTS General Training reading test is easier when compared to the IELTS Academic reading test. This is because the content in the passages of the General reading test is relatively easier.
The content in the passages of the General reading test is relatively less complex and pertains to everyday topics. The passages in the Academic reading test are more factual, argumentative and analytical. The scoring methods of these two kinds of reading tests also differs. Because of the difficulty level of the Academic reading test, you need comparatively lesser number of right answers to achieve a good band score. For example, to achieve an 8-band score, the candidate needs to have up to 36 right answers out of 40 in the IELTS Academic reading test. On the other hand, the IELTS General Reading test needs up to 38 right answers for the same band score.