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Whether you are sitting for the IELTS Academic or General Training test, you’ll need to put your best foot forward to get the necessary band score for your application to either study or work in your chosen destination.

That means acing every part of the IELTS test format, including the IELTS Reading test which can seem deceptively simple - after all, it’s just reading and answering questions right.

However, with over 3 types of text, 40 questions and 11 types of tasks to be done, the IELTS Reading test is also about reading fast, retaining as much information as possible while conducting analysis at the same time!

With such high stakes on the line, you’ll need to adapt and improve your reading speed to stand the best chance of acing your Reading test.

In this article, we will go through 6 habits and tips to read faster and score better on test day!

Six things and habits to build to read faster and ace your Reading test

1. Start reading in groups of 3 - 5 words or chunking

While we were all taught to read each individual word in school, it is rather inefficient and slow, especially in a test environment when you are in a time crisis.

Instead, you should aim to word chunk, which is taking in several words at a time and digesting them for information and details. To train yourself, try to read three to five words at a time and check if you understand the meaning of the sentence or phrase once you are done.

Keep practicing on this with three words first and gradually work up to five words using your peripheral vision. You will get faster and understand better as you continuously train yourself by reading multiple passages this way.

2. Do not reread the words

When we are confused or unsure of anything that we read, conventional wisdom is to go back and reread the sentence or passage.

However, this means your eyes will constantly jump back and forth while reading, leading to precious seconds being lost that can seriously add up.

To prevent this, you can simply run your finger across a sentence as you read without going back in order to train yourself to quickly absorb and retain information while pushing forward.

3. Skim during your first reading then scan when answering questions

A great way to tackle reading the passages once you are more familiar with word chunking is to skim the main points of your text.

It is important to quickly go through the passage and note the main points, especially the title and the questions. You should also be taking note of the nouns in the text to give you a general picture as well as how the paragraph is organised.

Is this a text about instructional methods or is this more of a cause and effect story?

Female test taker preparing for IELTS Reading test

4. Start improving your vocabulary to speed up comprehension

One of the biggest stumbling blocks of slow reading is not understanding what the word means.

Thankfully, this is one of the easiest problems to solve and you can begin by simply improving your overall vocabulary.

You can actively start reading more as well listening to news and broadcasts like the BBC and CNN.

Be sure to proactively do this by highlighting or recording the words you don’t know and use a dictionary or thesaurus to help you along the way.

5. Get familiar and read a variety of text similar to the tests

A great way to do this while getting prepared for the Reading test is to improve your vocabulary while reading the text format which includes books, magazines, newspapers and journals.

You can start by going through different types of topics through the various mediums and get a feel of which texts are easier or harder for you to read.

Once you understand the type of text you struggle with, then you can focus more on those and get familiar with the way it's written and how sentences and ideas flow in the passages.

6. Take practice tests and start timing yourself

While the first five steps will help progress your reading speed, there is nothing much like taking the actual tests themselves to simulate real-world examination conditions.

By taking our range of free IELTS Reading practice tests, you’ll be able to improve your reading speed by also taking into consideration the stress of answering questions at the same time.

This will help to pinpoint more areas where you might be falling short, such as your scanning skills might be lacking or reading for detail being your main weakness.

Understanding this helps you to adjust your reading strategy to refine areas that need help so that you can improve by leaps and bounds!

Male test taker preparing for IELTS Reading test

Prepare for the IELTS Test with IDP today

Preparing early for your General Training Reading test is essential. It allows you to get familiar with the format to help you gain confidence on test day. 

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!