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The IELTS Reading test consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

You will get similar question types in both the IELTS General Training and Academic tests, however, the reading text topics are different.

Managing your time in the test is important as you only have 60 minutes to answer 40 questions. It is always recommended to spend no more than 20 minutes on each part of the Reading test, however, if you find the first passage easy, you may finish it in a shorter time, allowing you more time to answer questions in the next two passages. The passages get harder as you move through the test, so make sure you keep enough time to tackle the final passage.

General Training Reading

The IELTS General Training Reading passages are extracts from materials that you can find on a day-to-day basis in an English-speaking country. The questions in this section will test your ability to understand content present in everyday materials such as:

  • Newspapers

  • Advertisements

  • Handbooks

  • Notices.

To become more familiar with these text types, make use of our sample questions. By familiarising yourself with a range of texts and question types before test day, you will be able to manage your time better as you will be better prepared.

Academic Reading

The IELTS Academic test is used for university admissions and professional registrations around the world, so the questions in this section will test your ability to understand content present in academic materials.

To prepare for test day, make sure you read a range of texts on different topics from:

  • Books

  • Journals

  • Magazines

  • Newspapers

When you have experience with reading a range of different text types, you will be able to focus more on the questions linked to each text type.

Question types (Academic and General Training)

You can expect a variety of question types in the General and Academic Reading tests such as:

  • Multiple choice

  • Identifying information

  • Identifying a writer's views/claims

  • Matching information

  • Matching headings

  • Matching features

  • Matching sentence endings

  • Sentence completion

  • Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion

  • Diagram label completion

  • Short-answer questions

To ensure you can accurately answer a range of question types in the 60 minutes, you will need to manage your time. Take a look at the following advice on how you can manage your time during the IELTS Reading test.

Tips to manage time

Skim through the passage

Your Reading test will have 3 different reading passages. You can quickly skim through the entire passage to understand the gist. Do not spend time reading every sentence in detail as this can be time consuming and unnecessary. Focus on headings, sub headings and look for main points that describe the passage. This will help later with finding answers.

Pay attention to the introduction and conclusion

The author's point of view is often expressed in the introduction and conclusion. You can answer most questions correctly when you read these two sections of the reading passage. Skim through the body of the passage after you thoroughly go through the introduction and conclusion. 

Identify key words

A key word will help you identify the concept associated with the passage. Identify these key words and underline or highlight them when you skim through the passage. This can help you answer most questions that follow the passage.

Read all questions before you begin answering

Before you begin answering, have a quick look at all the questions first. Remember that questions appear in groups of 3, or 4, or more, so read that group of questions before studying the text. Make sure to highlight the key information words in your questions and since you have already skimmed through the passage and identified key words, it will make it easier to find your answers.

Answer every question

Remember to answer every question even if you cannot find the answer or option. If you are running out of time, remember that you will not lose a mark if the answer is wrong, so make an educated guess and you may get the answer right.

Check your answers

Checking your answers can help you improve your IELTS Reading score. Make sure that you answer all the questions and allocate at least 20 minutes for checking. You can use the practice materials available on our website and time yourself to perfection.

The IELTS Reading section can be intimidating for test takers however, prior preparation and time management can make the difference between an average score and a great one.

How to prepare for IELTS Reading?

There are many different resources you can use to prepare for the IELTS Reading test. To make it easy for you, IDP has launched IELTS Prepare. It's a one-stop-shop for all official IDP IELTS preparation materials including Reading. You can access a wide range of preparation materials here: from practice tests, videos and articles all the way to expert assessments, online courses, webinars and more.

How can I improve IELTS Reading score?

Make a plan that works for you and stick to it. Practise, practise, practise – that's the key. For more IELTS Reading preparation resources, visit IELTS Prepare.