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Written by Ashlee Fisher


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a widely recognized English proficiency test taken by millions of individuals around the world. One of the challenging sections of the IELTS exam is the reading section, which requires test-takers to read and comprehend various texts within a limited time frame of 60 minutes. This can be a daunting task for many, but with the right approach and preparation, you can improve your chances of success. Here are some valuable tips on how to complete the reading section of the IELTS test within the time limit.

Familiarize Yourself with the Format

Before you attempt the reading section, make sure you are familiar with the format of the test. The reading section typically consists of three passages with a total of 40 questions, and the texts are usually taken from books, articles, newspapers, or magazines. Understanding the format of the test will help you to manage your time effectively and navigate through the passages and questions more efficiently.

Skim and Scan

Time is of the essence in the IELTS reading section, so it's crucial to develop effective skimming and scanning techniques. Skimming involves quickly reading through the passage to get a general idea of the content, while scanning involves looking for specific keywords or phrases that may answer the questions. Skimming and scanning will help you quickly locate the relevant information and save time during the exam.

Read the Questions First

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Before diving into the passage, read the questions carefully. This will give you an idea of what information you need to look for while reading the passage. Underline or highlight the keywords in the questions, as these will help you to identify the relevant information in the passage more easily.

This approach will allow you to focus your reading and avoid wasting time on irrelevant details.

Manage Your Time

The IELTS reading section is time-bound, so it's crucial to manage your time effectively. Allocate a specific amount of time for each passage and stick to it. Remember that the passages in the reading section are of increasing difficulty, so it's advisable to spend less time on the easier passages and save some time for the more challenging ones. If you're struggling with a particular question, don't dwell on it for too long. Move on to the next question and come back to it later if you have time.

Improve Your Vocabulary

A wide range of vocabulary is essential for understanding the texts in the IELTS reading section. Build your vocabulary by reading a variety of texts, such as books, articles, and newspapers. Make a list of unfamiliar words and review them regularly. Practice using these words in context to reinforce your understanding. Having a strong vocabulary will help you to comprehend the passages more quickly and accurately.

Pay Attention to Details

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In this section, the questions may require you to pay attention to details, such as dates, numbers, and specific information. Be vigilant and make sure to carefully read and understand these details in the passage. Highlight or underline them for easy reference later when answering the questions.

Be Cautious with Negative Statements

Negative statements, such as "not," "never," and "unlikely," can be tricky in the IELTS reading section. Be cautious with such statements and pay close attention to their placement in the sentence. A small change in word order or sentence structure can completely change the meaning of the statement. Carefully read the entire sentence to ensure you understand the intended meaning.

Practice, Practice, Practice

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The more you practice, the better you will become at completing the reading section of the IELTS test within the time limit. Practice reading various types of texts, such as academic articles, news articles, and opinion pieces, to familiarize yourself with different writing styles and topics. Take timed practice tests to simulate the actual exam conditions and measure your progress. Review your practice tests to identify your strengths and weaknesses and focus on improving your areas of weakness.


By utilizing these tips and with lots of practice, your chance of successfully completing the reading section of the IELTS test can greatly increase. Preparing yourself with the format of the test, the types of questions you’ll see, and what to look out for will give you peace of mind before taking the test. This combined with practicing time management, vocabulary, skimming, and scanning, you’ll feel more confident about your ability to complete the reading section within the 60 minutes provided.