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Getting Familiar with the IELTS Reading Test (Format & Questions)

The question types used in the IELTS Reading test evaluate a variety of reading skills. These include:

  • skimming - reading for gist and to understand the main idea

  • scanning - reading quickly to locate a specific piece of information

  • reading for detail – reading to understand a logical argument, opinions, attitudes, and writer’s purpose.

You will get similar question types in both the IELTS General Training and Academic tests; however, the topics of the reading texts will be different.

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

4 IELTS Reading Tips

Check out the best IELTS Reading Tips to get the highest possible score on your test

Tips to get through the test within the time limit

You have 60 minutes to complete 40 questions on the test, so managing your time is crucial. There are three sections in the Reading test, and you should aim to spend no more than 20 minutes on each section. As the test progresses, the sections increase in difficulty, so make sure you allow yourself enough time to complete each section. You may find you are able to get through the first section more quickly, giving you more time to spend on the more challenging questions in the next two sections.

Don’t forget to:

  • Read the questions before you read the text

  • Skim through the passage

  • Pay attention to the introduction and conclusion

  • Identify key words

  • Answer every question

  • Check your answers

  • Practice makes perfect! Check out the official IELTS preparation materials to be fully prepared for your test.

Tips for matching headings

You can use two strategies when answering this question: read the questions first or read the text first. When choosing the appropriate heading for both techniques, try to use your time as efficiently as possible because this can take a lot of time. If you are unsure of the distinction between two or more headings, make a note of all the possible answers and move on to the following paragraph. As you read more of the passage, you may want to rule out potential answers. It is better to cross off the heading on the test booklet whenever you are certain that you have chosen the appropriate heading for the paragraph or have eliminated an option. As a result, you won’t be wasting time reading the headings that you’ve already used. The ability to skim is crucial for time-consuming question types like matching headings. Thanks to the ability to skim, you'll give yourself additional time to answer the questions in the other reading sections.

Tips for True, False, and Not given

Keep in mind that you must find and identify specific information in order to answer this type of question. The text will convey this information as facts. The information in the text appears in the same order as the questions, so you can find the information for the first statement before the information for the second statement. When you read the given statement, you then have to decide if the information in the text is:

  • TRUE because the statement agrees with the information

  • FALSE because the statement contradicts the information

  • NOT GIVEN because there is no information on this

Tips for a good band score in IELTS Reading

How to guarantee a good band score in IELTS Reading? Well, repetition builds perfection. You can check the question types for the IELTS General Training Reading and IELTS Academic tests to help you get an idea of what questions you will face in the real test.

You can also take the IELTS Progress Check to give you an idea on how you are getting on with your IELTS test preparation. The official online practice test for IELTS Academic and General Training has the same format as the actual IELTS test. There are several new Academic and General Training practice exams available.

Follow these tips on IELTS Reading, make sure to check the question types before the actual IELTS test, take the IELTS Progress Check, and you’re all set.