The IELTS Academic Reading test is one of the most challenging parts of the test – 3 texts, each one harder than the previous one! If you’re not prepared, it’s easy to lose a lot of points and fast

In this article we’ll explain what skills the Reading test focuses on, how to improve your speed and techniques for finding the answers quickly.

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You could also find online articles with exercises on the IELTS Academic Writing, sample Questions for the IELTS Speaking Test and exercises With Answers for the IELTS Listening Section.

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IELTS Academic Reading Section: What Competencies Are Assessed?

IELTS General and Academic tests have different Reading papers. Texts in the IELTS Academic test have scientific or educational topics. The marking is also slightly different, so make sure you know the score you need for the test you’re taking.

Generally, people find the IELTS Academic Reading section more difficult. You’ve just finished the Listening section and now you have to concentrate on the IELTS Reading section! The texts can be quite difficult and you need to read fast and efficiently. You mustn’t focus on understanding every word as you won’t have time and, more importantly, you don’t need to – you need to understand enough to answer the questions.

The Reading section lasts 1 hour and you have 3 texts and 40 questions to complete. Each text is slightly more complicated than the previous one, so you need to be well-prepared and focused.

That is why using IELTS Reading practice papers is so important. You can expand your vocabulary, learn to read faster, and work on the skills required to answer the questions correctly.

What Skills Does The IELTS Reading Section Target?

The two key skills are skimming and scanning. Skimming is the ability to read something and globally understand its message without reading every word. “Scanning” means finding specific information in a text without reading everything. If you try to understand every word in the texts, you won’t have time to finish!

One easy way to increase your reading speed is moving your finger at a certain speed along each line. It forces your eyes to move faster. It may seem difficult at first, but it’s a proven way to increase your reading speed!

There are different approaches to the Reading section. You can start with the most difficult text or decide to spend a strict 20 minutes on each. You need to find what works best for you and the easiest way to do this is to work with IELTS Reading practice papers.

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Tests With Corrections

Working with IELTS Reading samples is a great way to improve your Reading score. The main difficulty people encounter is timing. It’s very easy to spend over 20 minutes on the first text and find yourself with only 10 minutes to work on Text 3, which is the most difficult one!

You also need to move through the questions at a regular pace – don’t spend 3 minutes on one question! It’s better to try and answer all the questions you find ‘easy’ first and then come back with time left to the harder ones.

Also, familiarise yourself with the different question types. You may need to give a heading to a paragraph, say if information is true, false or not given, or search for specific information. Make sure you’re clear on the question before you answer. For example, if you need to write TRUE, FALSE or NOT GIVEN and you write YES, NO, and NOT GIVEN, the YES and NO answers will automatically be marked wrong! As with the Listening Section, if the question asks for “ONE NUMBER and / or TWO WORDS” make sure you follow the instructions precisely. With the stress of the test, it’s very easy to make this type of mistake!

Let’s now have a closer look at the different tasks for the IELTS Academic Reading paper.

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test Task 1: First Text

IELTS Reading Task 1 is the easiest text of the Reading paper. It’s very important you don’t spend more than 20 minutes on Task 1 – if you do, you’re almost guaranteed to not finish all the questions! So keep an eye on the clock for Task 1 especially.

When you start to practice for the Reading test, try some different techniques – some people prefer to read all the questions first and then look at the text. Others prefer to skim read the text first, and then look at the questions. There isn’t one correct approach. Try both techniques and see which one you feel more comfortable with!

sample exercise for a language exam

As you can see from the example, you have the text and the questions. In the case you do not know the question, leave it blank and come back to it later. There’s no point spending 5 minutes on one question. The possible extra point you could get is soon lost by not having enough time to answer other, possibly easier, questions. Make sure you do write something though, as you may get lucky!

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test Task 2: Second Text

As we said before, the difficulty increases as the test goes on, so the second text of the IELTS Reading test is slightly more difficult than the first one. One of the fastest ways to lose points on IELTS (other than not paying attention to the time!) is not reading how to answer the question carefully.

Have a look at the following example:

reading exercise instructions

You read the text, you find the correct answers, but you use three words to answer … the answer is incorrect! “No more than two words” means “a maximum of two words”. If you write the correct answer but you write “3” and not “three”, your answer is incorrect. The question asks for “no more than two words”, therefore numbers are not accepted. So, an acceptable answer could be “car”, “a car” or “one car” for example. “There is one car” or “1 car” would both be wrong as there are either too many words, or a number.

Read the instructions carefully! This is also true for questions which ask you to write “i, ii, iii, iv…” – if you write “1, 2, 3, 4…” it will be marked wrong. It would be a shame to lose 5 points simply because you didn’t pay attention to the question!

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test Task 3: Third Text

The final text is the most difficult for several reasons. Firstly, the language and the subject are a bit more challenging. Secondly, you’ve already read two other texts and thirdly you could be tired after having completed the Listening section!

Some people prefer to start with the final text first, while they feel fresher. This is an option, but it’s not without certain risks. You could find Tasks 1 and 2 much easier and faster to work through, and by starting with IELTS Reading Task 3 you actually only spend 20 minutes when you could find yourself with 25 minutes if you manage to complete parts 1 and 2 quickly. However, you may feel relieved when Task 3 is done.

Find Out What Strategy Works Best For You

This is why working on IELTS reading practice tests is important. You can test different strategies and then choose the best one.

Often the most difficult questions in the Reading section are the following:

true or false sample exercise

Even for Native speakers this is a challenging exercise! You need to read the question carefully as the question will ask something specific.

sample question and answer exercise

In this question, you have two things to keep in mind: they’re saying coal-fired plants outperform natural gas (not the other way around) and “minute-to-minute fluctuations”. In the text there is the sentence: “Some natural gas can even ramp up or down at a moment’s notice to meet minute-to-minute fluctuations.” The answer here is “FALSE”. NOT GIVEN means there’s no information on that point. These questions can be tricky and the best way to practice is working with IELTS Reading samples.

Start Training For The IELTS Academic Reading Test Online

That’s where GlobalExam can help you! We have work for both IELTS Academic and General tests – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. You can work on specific sections such as Listening Task 1 or Reading Task 3 or all sections of the IELTS General Training for example. This is a key point to improving your score.

If you feel your grammar or vocabulary need to be improved, we also provide mock tests to help you. You can work your way through different grammar exercises and learn vocabulary and expressions through themes. Also, learning in context is one of the best ways to learn vocabulary, rather than just memorizing a list of words. You can put in your IELTS test date and target score, and we’ll create a study programme to help you reach your goal. You can also look at your statistics to see how much you’re working and where you need to study a bit more.

You’ll have all the tools you need to help you get your target score! GlobalExam can prepare you for 27 different tests, ranging from IELTS to DELF, in 5 different languages! There are over 30,000 questions created by professionals.

Whatever test you’re training for, whatever target score you have, GlobalExam can help!

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