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IELTS Reading assesses a variety of reading skills, and while the question structures are identical for the Academic and General Training tests, the text styles are different. There are three sections to the Reading test, and you will have about 60 minutes to respond to 40 questions.

Test format

The 40 questions on 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 the writer’s purpose 

Time limit during the IELTS Reading test 

You have 60 minutes to complete 40 questions, 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 of the sections. 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.  

Free online IELTS Reading practice tests

The IELTS score you need can be achieved by preparing yourself well in advance of the test. You can choose between free and paid online practice tests covering a wide range of IELTS topics. Mock tests are marked by in-house IELTS Experts to ensure you get the best feedback there is.

IELTS Reading practice

Take a closer look at our IELTS Reading practice materials and get a better idea of the questions you might encounter on the test day by skimming through the IELTS General Training Reading practice materials and IELTS Academic Reading practice materials.

IELTS General Training Reading

There are three sections and 40 questions in the General Training Reading test. It focuses on scenarios that you may encounter in your daily or professional life, such as general topics of interest or applying for jobs. All the texts used in the General Training Reading test are derived from books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines.

Section 1 looks at your social survival skills and will contain a few short texts that are relevant to daily life in an English-speaking country. These could be timetables, advertisements, or notices. 

Section 2 takes a closer look at your workplace survival skills. The texts used here are taken from contracts, staff development and training manuals, job descriptions, contracts, and salary and working condition documents. 

Section 3 contains a lengthy and more complicated text on a topic of general interest. This text could be taken from a book, magazine, or newspaper. 

IELTS Academic Reading

The Academic Reading test evaluates a variety of reading skills, including your ability to follow an argument and identify the opinion, attitude, or intent of a writer. It assesses your ability to understand ideas, details, opinions, and implicit meanings when reading. Skimming, scanning, and detailed reading are all included in the evaluation of your reading comprehension skills. 

Three sections, each of which contains a long text taken from current books, journals, magazines, and newspapers make up the Academic Reading test. The texts are based on issues you would encounter in an educational or professional context in an English-speaking setting. 

The Academic Reading test consists of 40 questions that you must answer. These can include short-answer questions, matching headings or sentence endings, identifying information, and completion tasks such as sentence, summary, note, table, and flow-chart completions. 

Academic and General Training question types 

In the General Training and Academic Reading tests, you can expect a range of question types, including: 

  • Identifying information 

  • Multiple choice 

  • Identifying a writer's views/claims 

  • Matching headings 

  • Matching information  

  • Matching features 

  • Matching sentence ending  

  • Sentence completion 

  • Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion 

  • Diagram label completion 

  • Short-answer questions 

You will need to manage your time to make sure you can respond to a variety of question types in the given 60 minutes.

IELTS Reading band scores 

In the Reading test, you will receive one mark for each correct answer. Your raw score—which is used to calculate your band score—will be based on the total number of correct answers. It is crucial to try to respond to every question because a blank response will get no marks and you will not lose marks for incorrect responses.

In the IELTS Reading test, you will have 40 questions to answer over the three sections. There is just one right answer for each question. Each correct response will get you one mark. Your band score for the Reading test will be determined by the total number of points. Your overall IELTS band score is calculated using this score.