Here we introduce the IELTS reading test briefly, from test structure, question types, to answer tips. Last but not least, we collect lots of resources to help you practice IELTS reading online. We maintain the web page as an informative hub of the IELTS reading test and its materials, and we hope it can give you valuable information to prepare your IELTS reading section. If you have any confusion regarding to IELTS reading test, IELTS Official Website may help you out.
Reading is an essential module in the IELTS test. Unlike speaking and listening tests share the same test paper for both General and Academic versions, the reading module has separate test papers for each version. The reading objects are different: the General module uses more simple texts from social, school, and work contexts, and the Academic module chooses more advanced materials, usually around college level, from academic sources.
So, test takers must know the difference and prepare the correct version. If working on the wrong version, the effort wouldn't reward as expected.
If ignoring the reading objects, the Academic and General tests are similar in many ways. Both should finish in 60 minutes, contain 3-4 passages and 40 questions, and their scoring is in the same way. In two versions, test takers must answer all questions to the answer sheet in one hour, and both have no extra time to fill in the answer sheet.
In both General and Academic modules, you get one point for each correct answer. A particular table converts your actual score, possibly out of 40, into a band score on the IELTS band scale, such as 6 or 6.5. The primary scoring rule is the same for both General and Academic tests. Still, actual converting tables are different among various test papers because reading contents may not be in the same difficulty; the converting table adjusts the final IELTS band to compare with other test papers. If you did 20 questions right on two different test papers, you might get various IELTS bands; the reason is the converting table is different.
Question Type There are more than 10 question types in reading test module. General and Academic tests share these question types.
Question types are very flexible and updated from time to time. One test paper usually doesn't include all types. In the reading test, you may see some of them, or even find new question types.
Although we cannot predicate all question types, practice and familiarize some common ones helps very much to speed up your reading and answering in test day. When you exercise, pay attention to these question types:
Sentence Completion:Words and/or Number
Summary, Note, Table, Flow-chart Completion:Words and/or Number
Diagram, Label Completion:Words and/or Number
Identifying Views or Claims:Words and/or Number
Classification:Words and/or Number
Lots of practices can help to familiarize yourself with common question types. Based on these practices, you can find which types are easier and which types are not. Try to pay more efforts on shortcomings, and it will improve your IELTS reading test efficiently. Some common question types are shown here.
Test structure and time IELTS reading is the biggest one in all four modules, lasts 60 minutes. The reading objects are 2500 words around. If you cannot finish all the answers in one hour, you have little chance to pass the test.
A regular IELTS reading test paper has three passages and forty questions. Test takers should read and answer all of them in only one hour. In most cases, the three passages become increasingly difficult.
The sections in one test paper aren't in equivalent difficulty, so you should start from the easiest one. If you feel confused with a particular question, move on to the next, and come back later if you finish early.
High score hunters should arrange more time on the hard section to complete all questions with high quality. E.g.
17 minutes on section 1
20 minutes on section 2
23 minutes on section 3
2 Reading Skill and Tip
IELTS reading test is respectively to check English reading skill for either General or Academic. It doesn't imply any other special requirement. However, understanding the convention of checkpoints is a shortcut to get a good score.
The IELTS reading test papers are used to focus on these skills:
Get the big picture as well as the minor points
Separate facts from opinions and attitudes
Detect the overall purpose of the passage
Follow the main arguments
Trace specific details and relevant information
Digest the key points
Symbolize written information in graphic form
Know accurate spelling and correct grammar
In summary, the test emphasizes three key abilities you must have to shoot high score:
Skimming: reading quickly to get the main idea, or say big picture
Scanning: reading quickly to look for a specific piece or specific words
Reading for detail: reading every word in detail to really understand information
At IELTS reading test, test takers have to use all three techniques at different stages. Start by skimming through the entire text to get a big picture, then jump to the questions to see what kind of information is required, finally scan for a specific piece of information or read a particular section to discover the detail.
Practice IELTS reading materials online is a quick way to sharpen skills and summarize tips. Different people may have separate tips to deal with IELTS reading sections. The 5 minutes video, which is by 9 band winner of IELTS reading test, presents 13 tips to practice IELTS reading. It's a concise list, short but practical, an ideal sample of reading test tips. Contrasting with them, try to summarize your own IELTS reading test tips by practicing online, which will improve your reading skill in nature.
Look for the heading and subtitle;
The question section first, then go to text;
Check the first five questions, and try the first paragraph;
Reading the whole article before problems is a wrong order;
Learn all types of questions before taking a test;
Underline all name or important information;
Don't panic if the topic isn't familiar;
Spelling in your answer sheet matters;
Avoid grammar errors in answers;
Develop speed reading skill;
Enrich your vocabulary as you can;
Practice complicated articles from BBC and Economist;
Practice the IELTS reading test in exam-like conditions.
3 General vs Academic Reading
As we know, General and Academic reading tests are the same in format, including the test time, passage number, question type, and question number. However, the core of the test: reading contents are different. You must know the difference and prepare for just your test in the right way.
General Reading IELTS General reading has three sections. Each is more difficult than the previous one. There are 40 questions in all, in general, 14 in Section 1, 13 in Sections 2 and 3.
IELTS General reading test contains texts from a variety of materials, such as newspapers, books, and even advertisements. Reflected the requirements of General Training, the reading contents focus on daily life and school activity. The usual pattern is as:
Number of Texts: 2-3 short texts
Types of Texts: Notices, advertisements, publicity booklets, timetables, etc.
Number of Texts: 2 texts
Types of Texts: College catalogs, course descriptions, rules and regulations, library guides, etc.
Number of Texts: 1 long text
Types of Texts: Newspapers, magazines, journals, books, etc.
Academic Reading IELTS Academic reading has three sections. Each is more difficult than the previous one. In general, there is a total of 40 questions, with about 11-15 items in each section.
IELTS Academic reading tests' contents are at the undergraduate or graduate level, which usually are from mainstream books, newspapers, and magazines, e.g., The Economist.
In typical cases, one of the passages is general academic topic, one passage presents a logical argument, and one passage involves a diagram, graph, table, or illustration. Test takers don't need any specialized knowledge or background to understand the texts. If the context contains any technical term, a glossary should be attached. However, no dictionaries or books are allowed to be in a testing room.