How to do Exercise 2 of the IELTS Reading Exam?

The Academic IELTS Reading exam lasts one hour and during that time you will need to read three texts and answer 40 questions based on those texts. There will be 13 or 14 questions for each text and each question is worth one mark. However, these texts or “passages” increase in difficulty so it is advisable to divide your time with respect to this, spending 15 minutes on Passage 1, 20 minutes on Passage 2 and 25 minutes on Passage 3.

The texts will be about academic topics and taken from journals, books, articles or magazines. Although the topic will be academic, the texts will be written in a way than can be understood by a general audience. Any technical vocabulary will appear in a glossary at the end of the text.

Here are some examples with tips for you IELTS training.

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What are the question types?

The IELTS reading exam features seven different question types and you could encounter any of these question types in Exercise 2.

This article focuses on two of these question types, Identifying Information and Identifying Writers’ views.

IELTS Reading exam and question types.

If you want to know how to do Summary Completion, read Practice for the Reading Exercise 1. If you want to learn about Matching Headings, read Practice for the Reading Exercise 3.

Identifying Information questions

In this type of question, you will be given a piece of information and your task is find that piece of information in the passage and write the letter of the relevant paragraph on the answer sheet. Of course, the information will not be expressed in exactly the same way in the passage and in the question so you will need to look for synonyms or paraphrases that express the same meaning.

There are many examples of this on GlobalExam but here we will focus on just one. The passage is about “Complicated Calories” and explains different theories regarding how the body processes the calories obtained from food.

This passage has eight paragraphs labelled A-H.

Which paragraphs contain the following information?

Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 7 – 12 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.


Researchers once believed that humans had a unique way of processing food.


In this case, the relevant paragraph is B. “Researchers once believed” refers to “the late 1890s” and “a unique way of processing food” refers to “Some scientists of his day thought people might be the exception to the rule.”

Paragraph B:

Research in this area is evolving, and understanding why it has taken so long to get definitive answers requires a trip back in history to the late 1890’s and the tiny community of Storrs, Connecticut. There a chemist by the name of Wilber O. Atwater built the first research station in the US designed to study the production and consumption of food.  In fact, Atwater was the first to prove that the first law of thermodynamics holds for humans as well as animals. (Some scientists of his day thought that people might be the exception to the rule.)

This example is taken from an exercise graded as “Easy”. The benefit of training using GlobalExam is that you can progress from “Easy” to “Medium” to “Hard” examples, improving your exam technique at the same time as increasing your level of English.

Identifying writers’ views (True/Yes, False/no, Not given questions)

In this type of question you have to decide if a specific piece of information, or the writer’s opinion on a particular point, is contained in the passage.

Here is one example from an “Easy” passage about Earworms, which describes the phenomenon of having a song or piece of music in your head that you cannot ignore. You need to decide if the statement is in agreement with the views of the author (Yes), contradicts the author (No) or if there is no information in the passage that confirms or denies the statement (Not given). In an exam you need to quickly skim read the whole passage to find the relevant paragraph but here the answer is in Paragraph G. Can you find the relevant sentence?

Question #1

The writer doesn’t appreciate her earworm and has not integrated it into her life.

A. Yes

B. No

C. Not given

Correct answer(s)

B : No


“I  have come to think of it as the soundtrack for my life. And it could be worse.”

With the option of “Not given” you might find a part of the passage that mentions the same topic as the question but does not state exactly the same point. For example, Paragraph A mentions “intrusive thoughts associated with anxiety and depression.” However the writer does not state at any point in the passage that she suffers from anxiety or depression, so the answer is “Not given”.

General advice for Reading Exercise 2

Time management is very important in the Reading exam, do not spend too much time on one question. If you cannot find an answer, mark it as incomplete and move onto the next question. You can return to the incomplete questions at the end if you have time.

Reading the questions before you read the passage will help you to use time more efficiently. Underline keywords in the questions and when you read the passage underline words or phrases that mean the same thing. You can then compare the statements and chose your answer.

– Being successful in the IELTS exam is not about talent but rather about being prepared and getting lots of practice. Doing the exercises in Training Mode and Exam Mode on GlobalExam are ideal preparation. And doing as much general reading as you can, such as books and articles.

Create a timetable for your IELTS practice!

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