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The IELTS Academic test is a key component of applying for your dream course abroad. Ace it and you are one step closer to pursuing the career you always wanted!

However, to accomplish that, you’ll need to attain the necessary band score across the entire IELTS Academic test.

The IELTS test isn’t always easy and one of the most underestimated sections of the test is the reading section.

While it might seem that the Reading test is an easy feat that involves just reading and filling in some multiple-choice questions, it is rather intensive and requires you to fully understand the tasks you’ll need to complete.

In this article, we’ll be going through what you really need to know about the IELTS Academic Reading test in order to bring your best on test day!

Four things you need to know about the IELTS Academic Reading test

1. Understand the types of text you will be reading

The Academic Reading test will involve reading 3 long texts that will range from descriptive and factual passages to analytical pieces.

They will come from a broad spectrum of books, journals, magazines and newspapers. The topics will be quite general, but more geared towards students and individuals looking to enter university or professional courses.

It is recommended to read widely across various mediums to get more comfortable with the different types of text you will encounter.

2. Learn the 11 different types of tasks

In the Reading test, you will have 40 questions spread across 11 different types of tasksexternal icon to handle. 

These are designed to test a wide range of your reading skills including reading for detail, skimming, understanding arguments and recognising the writers’ opinions and purpose in the text. 

These tasks include:

  • Multiple-choice questions 

  • Identifying information 

  • Identifying views and claims 

  • Matching information 

  • Matching headings 

  • Matching features from statements 

  • Matching sentence endings 

  • Sentence completion 

  • Summary, note, table & flow-chart completion 

  • Diagram label completion 

  • Short-answer questions 

It is important to follow the instructions of each task and to write using proper language and grammar as those can be penalised if used wrongly.

Two female test takers preparing for IELTS reading test in a classroom

3. How to approach the Academic Reading test

While seemingly straightforward, the IELTS Reading test can get really tricky if you come in unprepared.

A. Read each passage swiftly but carefully

A great misconception is you’ll have ample time to read first and answer later. A better approach will be to actively answer the questions as you encounter the answers in the passages.

With 40 questions, you’ll need to read each passage thoroughly while also scanning for the answers at the same time without wasting time.

B. Not all passages can be read in order

Thankfully, the questions are mostly in sequential order of the passage and not fully randomised. This allows you to better expect where to encounter the answers.

However, for the summary, note, table and flow-chart completion, the answers won’t necessarily appear in the same order of the text. They will typically come from one section instead of the entire text.

C. Carefully assess the multiple-choice questions

Unlike your standard MCQ questions, the ones in the reading test can vary from choosing the best answer or the best two answers or even the best three answers from multiple alternatives.

There are a variety of questions here that will involve everything from sentence completion or complete questions.

It is essential to practice sample tests to really get familiar with the particular question formats.

4. Prepare yourself better with these resources

A great way to ensure you are well-prepared is to start taking sample practice tests that will mimic the real conditions of the Reading test.

You can access our test preparation materials here.

In addition, you can also attend a free IELTS Masterclassexternal icon presented by IELTS experts who will share tips and tricks, including on the reading section, to help you score better with confidence!

If you prefer a paid option to simulate the exact test you will encounter, without the actual grading, you can take the IELTS Progress Check paid testexternal icon.

It will be as close as possible to the real deal and you will also get back personalised feedback that will be valuable to help you pinpoint areas that need improvement.

A male test taker preparing for IELTS test in a laptop

Prepare for the IELTS Academic Reading test with IDP today

Preparing early for your Academic Reading test is essential. It allows you to get familiar with the format, which can get confusing. 

Take the time to go through our resources and prepare yourself better with our wide range of sample tests at your disposal! 

At IDP, we have a world of resources and IELTS supportexternal icon that you can rely on to help you score better! 

Be sure to check out our IELTS preparation materials here as well as read hand-picked tips on how to prepare and ace the testexternal icon

And once you are ready, you can book your IELTS test hereexternal icon!