IELTS Reading: What Is the Structure of the Section ?
The second module of the IELTS test is the Reading section. It comes after the Listening section, and is followed by the IELTS Writing and then the Speaking modules.
You will have 60 minutes to read 3 texts and answer 40 questions both for the IELTS General Training and the IELTS Academic. Note that the only difference between the IELTS Academic and General Training in the Reading module is the nature of the reading passages (the IELTS Reading Academic version’s passages will be more about general interest, rather than the General Training version’s passages will be more about everyday life).
Thus, our advice are suitable for all IELTS candidates. You can easily achieve a high score if you practice for IELTS enough, just follow our tips!
In this table, we summarised the IELTS Academic Reading section’s structure:
|- 3 reading passages, with an increasing difficulty, that is to say each text is harder than the one before.
- The reading passages are taken from books, magazines and newspapers.
- You will have 1 hour to answer 40 questions.
|40 questions, based on the texts, in a range of formats:
- Fill in the gaps
- Connect the answer to the question
- Complete the diagram
- Matching lists
- 1 point per correct answer
- All the answers are found within the reading passages
More information on each of the reading passages:
IELTS Reading Test: What Are the Different Types of Questions?
If you understand and keep in mind the 11 most frequently used instructions from the reading part, you will be able to read the question and answer it more quickly and more easily. Here is a summary of the questions you can find:
|Type of Question
|Description and Advice
|1 or more correct answers (usually 4 choices: A. B. C or D)
The questions are in the same chronological order as the text
|“True”, “Yes” – statement justified by information in the text
“False”, “no” – statement contradicted by information in the text
“Not given” – the statement cannot be justified or contradicted by information in the text
Be sure to avoid answering “Yes” or “No” if the instructions ask you to answer using “True” or “False” because the point will not be given
|Link up a specific statement to its paragraph (“Men discovered fire 790,000 years ago à “The keys to human growth and development”
There may be more statements than paragraphs (5 paragraphs for 7 statements)
One or more paragraphs may not be used
|Link each paragraph to its title (paragraph B à title II: “The keys to human growth and development”)
The titles are designated by Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, V, etc.); the paragraphs are designated by letters (A, B, C, D, E, etc.)
There may be more proposed titles than there are paragraphs (5 paragraphs for 7 titles)
One or more paragraphs may not be used
|Matching sentence endings
|Complete the beginning of the sentence given in the instructions
There may be more sentence beginnings than there are endings to find (7 sentence beginnings for 4 sentence endings)
The sentence beginnings are in the same chronological order as the text
|Find the words relating to each missing piece of information (text with gaps)
There may be more words proposed than there are pieces of information to place in the text (6 words for 4 missing pieces of information)
Pay attention to the word limit (“No more than 2/3 words”)!
|Summary/note/table/flow chart completion
|Complete the text summary using the words in the text
The summary can take the form of a continuous text, comments, a table or boxes to complete
The answers are not found in the same chronological order as the text, but they are often located within the same paragraph
|Diagram label completion
|Complete the details of a diagram by using the words in the text
The diagram may be of a machine, a building or any other information that can take the form of a diagram
Pay attention to the word limit (“No more than 2/3 words)
|Use the information found within the text
Remember to the word limit (“No more than 2/3 words) Compound nouns such as “check-in” count as one word
How Are the Band Scores Calculated For the IELTS Reading Test?
You will get one mark for each of the 40 questions answered correctly (raw score). The score out of 40 is then converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. There is no negative point.
However, the conversion to the IELTS nine-band scale is different between the Academic test and the General Reading test as can be seen in the tables below. The variation comes from the slight differences between the genre or type of texts used for the test.
The Academic Reading test is likely to contain more complex texts with more difficult vocabulary.
Academic Reading Test – Raw Score Conversion:
General Reading Test – Raw Score Conversion:
We provide practice tests and exercises for your preparation online via the following articles: IELTS General Reading Task 1; IELTS General Reading Task 2 and IELTS General Reading Task 3.
What Skills Are Being Assessed In the IELTS Reading Test?
To answer correctly the questions you will be asked in the Reading section, you need to understand the texts you are given in order to extract the useful information.
To do so, there are a few skills that you can work on to improve your ability to read texts in English.
You must learn to read a text “on the surface” and not to spend too much time trying to understand every single sentence. Concentrate rather on the titles and headings to get a glimpse of the general idea. Or quickly read the paragraphs until you find the information you were looking for. This will make you save time.
You will be evaluated as much on your ability to understand the sentences as on guessing their meanings. This is good news because you do not need to know every single word you will encounter. Some complicated concepts might be placed to scare you away but thanks to the contextual clues you will be able to guess their meaning without knowing it beforehand.
Not panicking is another great skill that will come in handy during the IELTS test, so train and learn to fall back on your feet, whatever the subject of the texts.
IELTS Reading Section: Useful Tips To Take Into Account
Even if each person works and practices differently, there are a few IELTS Reading tips you can try in order to be more efficient, and thus achieve a high score.
Tip #1 Read the questions first
By reading first what will be asked later on, you will see the answers in the text as you read it. It will also allow you to answer more quickly.
Tip #2 Read each set of instructions attentively
Indeed, the instructions change from one text to another and a tricky statement can cost you the point. For example, if you must answer “Yes, No, or Not Given”, you must answer in that precise manner. “Yes” signifies that the text confirms the statement.
Answer “No” if the opposite is true. “Not Given” is used if the text does give the information. Be aware that you do not systematically use “Not Given” whenever you are unsure. In this case, it is better to search within the text for the passage containing the answer.
Tip #3 Move on
As you only have a limited amount of time to answer all 40 questions, do not spend more than 3 minutes on a question when you cannot find the answer in the text. There is a strategy to put in place. Go back to difficult questions at the end of the test. Manage your time the way it suits you best.
Tip #4 Be careful with the timing
Managing your time well is one of the key strategies needed to pass the Reading section. You have 1 hour to answer 40 questions and you have the flexibility to organise your time as you wish. As the texts are presented in an order which increases in difficulty and because the last passage contains the most questions, we advise you to divide your time so that you spend 15 minutes on the 1st passage, 20 minutes on the 2nd passage and 25 minutes on the 3rd passage.
Prepare For The IELTS Academic And General Training Exams Online With GlobalExam
IELTS is a registered trademark of the University of Cambridge ESOL and you can register on the official British Council and IDP Education website.
GlobalExam is an elearning platform 100% dedicated to language test prep. You can start training online and get a good IELTS Reading score.
For the IELTS General Training Reading Tests, you can have access to a large variety of exercises, with the correction.
You can also follow your progression according to the results you got. Besides, our Personalized Courses allow you to set goals to reach before the big day.
You can choose to work on a specific section of the test, or you can take full mock exams and IELTS reading practice tests in real testing conditions.
For each skill assessed, you can work on your gaps thanks to our grammar and vocabulary study sheets, also available on the platform.
You can try GlobalExam for free. You will even be able to do the equivalent of a full test for free. To access the free version you can simply register to our platform. We also offer a Premium version if you want to have access to even more exercises. Find the IELTS test center location nearest to you.