IELTS Reading

The IELTS Reading test consists of 40 questions that cover a wide range of reading skills.

These include:

  • reading for gist
  • reading for main ideas
  • reading for detail
  • skimming
  • understanding logical argument
  • recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

There are two versions of the Reading test – one for General Training and one for Academic. Our preparation materials can help you develop your reading skills for both versions.

Below you’ll find more information about the test format and scoring, as well as top tips, free videos and blog articles, and other resources to help you understand the Reading test and achieve a high score.

If there’s anything else you would like to see, tell us on our social channels.

The Reading Test has 40 questions and lasts 60 minutes.

IELTS Academic contains three long reading passages ranging from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines or newspapers and have been written for a non-specialist audience. IELTS General Training has three sections: Section 1 contains several shorter texts; Section 2 contains two texts; and Section 3 contains one long text.

Write your answers carefully on the answer sheet during the test – there’s no extra time at the end and you can lose marks for poor spelling and grammar.

Each question is worth 1 mark.

Your score is calculated by the number of correct answers you have out of 40 questions in the test. You won’t lose points for incorrect answers.

1. Read English language articles and newspapers as often as you can. Our blog content is a great reading resource.

2. Aim to skim-read 100 words in 30 seconds. (Did you know ... you can read about 100 words in 20 seconds in your own language?)

3. On test day, read the instructions carefully and make sure you follow them, especially instructions on the maximum number of words.

4. Timing is really important! Try to finish each section in less than 20 minutes. You can write on the question paper but you must copy your answers onto the answer sheet within the 60 minutes, so allow time to do that.
 

How to save time in the IELTS Reading test

In the IELTS Reading test, you will have one hour to answer 40 questions. 

If you’re worried about running out of time, find out what you can do on exam day to save you valuable minutes when you’re taking the test.

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Our most popular resources on Reading

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A year of We Love IELTS – your top picks for IELTS Reading

We know 2020 has been a strange year for most of us! Let's talk about the positives, with We Love IELTS launching in February, we hope we have been a great support to you on your IELTS journey. We have spoken to thousands of you and over a million of you have joined us on this new platform. We are grateful to our growing community and know many of your will be new here. We thought what better time to share your top blogs for IELTS Reading: 1. What is the passive voice? The most popular blog with our We Love IELTS community on the Reading test is from our resident expert Emma. In this blog she looks at the structure of the passive voice, why we use it and when you might need it in IELTS. It includes some useful practice exercises, so check it out if you haven’t seen it yet and find out why it’s our top blog! READ MORE  2. Time-saver strategy for IELTS Reading: True/False/Not Given At number two in our top 5 is a post by We Love IELTS expert Sophie. She looks at how to deal with True/False/Not Given questions and shares a great practice activity. It’s part of a series from Sophie that helps you manage your time more effectively in the Reading test to improve your performance. READ MORE 3. Time-save strategy for IELTS Reading: matching headings If you’re struggling with matching headings in the IELTS Reading test, then this blog post at number three is a must read. Another blog in Sophie’s popular time-saver series, this time she gives a step-by-step guide to completing this question type efficiently. It includes a great practice activity so you can practise what you’ve learned. READ MORE 4. Academic questions types in IELTS Reading In this popular post IELTS expert Liz looks at all the question types that you might see in your IELTS Academic Reading test and shares her top tips on how to tackle these questions to get the best results. READ MORE  We hope you’ve found this roundup useful.  

We Love IELTS

15 December, 2020

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Reading
Improve your Academic Reading skills with IELTSi

IELTS learners often tell us that it's difficult to understand what the test is assessing, and this makes it hard to prepare for. If this is a problem for you too, don't worry - you're not alone. Why not try IELTS intelligence?   IELTS intelligence (IELTSi) Academic Reading helps you to better understand the IELTS exam, to understand and improve your own skills, and develop your exam strategy. It’s been created through lots of research with self-study learners like you. In IELTSi Academic Reading, you can test yourself with IELTS-style tasks, including True/False/Not Given, Yes/No/Not Given, Note Completion and Short Answer Questions. You’ll also get a personalised feedback report, created just for you. This report will show you the reading skills that each question was testing, why your answer was right or wrong, and give you some tips to improve your approach and focus your learning.   There are many different question types in the IELTS Academic Reading test. Each question type tests different skills in reading, so you need a good understanding of them all to be able to answer correctly. We explain these reading skills – called subskills – for each question type, so you can take charge of your own learning and get a better understanding of what you’re good at.   One of the most challenging things about IELTS Academic Reading can be the time limit of 60 minutes. There’s a lot of text to read and fully understand. It’s usually written in academic-style language too, which can be hard, especially if you’re not sure what the question is asking you to do.   The subskills we test in IELTSi are important because not only do they help you to do well in the IELTS test, but they also prepare you to read in a way that will help you when you’re in an academic setting, like university. Let’s look at the subkills in more detail: Developing the skill of understanding main ideas helps you get used to an academic writing style; particularly how texts are organised, which will help you navigate texts. This means you’ll be able to read more efficiently, by going straight to the parts of the text which usually contain the main ideas and check them against the information that you need to find out in the questions. It’s also important to recognise when finding details is what you’re being asked to do. We test this subskill using several question types, and help you understand when you should be looking for details, and whether those details are stated directly or indirectly.   Understanding sentences is also a key skill, both in IELTS and academic English. If you can understand sentences fully, this allows you to decide what the writer is trying to say or imply. IELTSi includes a number of question types that test and give advice on this skill. For now, IELTS intelligence has one Academic Reading test available, along with your personalised feedback report. It should take about 45 minutes to complete the test and read all your feedback or you can stop and start again to suit you. Find out more by watching the video below:   We’re constantly developing IELTS intelligence based on our research with learners, so we’ll let you know when new skills and tests are available.   Emily Clarke, IELTS Intelligence Product Manager Claire Gilbert, Senior Assessment Manager

We Love IELTS

19 October, 2020

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Reading
IELTSi – improve your skills the intelligent way

When preparing for the IELTS test, it can be hard to know what to focus on to make the best of your preparation time. IELTS intelligence, or IELTSi as it's also known, is a new digital tool to help you maximise your study time and develop your weaker skills.   Firstly, take a quick skills test with questions from the producers of the IELTS test. Simply select the skill you want to test and your target band score for that skill and off you go. The tasks are similar to those that you’ll find in the real test, and aim to help you improve the skills you need for IELTS and beyond. But the best part about IELTSi is that it creates a feedback report, just for you, in seconds – all from your device.   Your personalised report gives you detailed feedback for every question in the test. It even explains why all your answers were right or wrong. There are also tips and advice to help you understand the skills you need to improve.   You can use IELTS intelligence anytime, anywhere – it works on mobiles, tablets and computers. It’s a great tool to use whether you’re studying alone, or taking an English course. You can use the feedback to help you make the right choice for you about what to practise.   IELTS intelligence is delivered through Cambridge One – the online learning platform of Cambridge University Press. Once you sign up, you’ll be able to see all your content and access your tests and feedback, all in one place. Find out more by watching the video below:   IELTS intelligence is a brand-new product from Cambridge, and we’re planning to add to it regularly. We’ve been talking to learners all over our IELTS community to find out the areas they need most help with. So check back often to take new tests and get more feedback to help you with your IELTS preparation journey. Emily Clarke, IELTS Intelligence Product Manager Claire Gilbert, Senior Assessment Manager

We Love IELTS

15 October, 2020

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Episode 9: How to manage IELTS test anxiety

In this first episode of our second series, IELTS expert Pete Jones shares some tips on how to reduce any anxiety you might have regarding the IELTS test to help you make the most of your preparation time and perform better in the test.


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Episode 6: Top tips for IELTS Reading

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz give some top tips on the IELTS Reading Test.


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Episode 1: Top 5 IELTS questions answered

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz answer five questions they are frequently asked by their IELTS students.


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