Key facts you need to know about the IELTS Reading test
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What IELTS Reading is about

IELTS Reading test format

Many candidates and students struggle with the IELTS Reading section. Difficulties appear because they might not be aware of the essentials of the Reading test, such as time, number of questions and types of texts, and some other basic, but indispensable facts. However, good news is if you are reading this blog, you still have some time to correct your mistakes and change the route of your preparation towards passing the IELTS exam successfully. Below, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about IELTS Reading as well as everything you need not to get lost on the day of the exam.

Key facts

1. The tasks are different in each module of the IELTS test: General and Academic. You will take the exam together with other candidates regardless the module. As you already know, you will do the Listening section in the same room. Right after that, you will remain seated and proceed with the Reading and Writing sections. Candidates do not change the rooms until the end of the test.

2. The types of questions in both modules of IELTS Reading are basically the same. This means that the IELTS Reading sections in general and academic modules differ only in contents. For example, you may need to:

  • fill in gaps in sentences, tables and diagrams;
  • choose correct options in multiple-choice questions;
  • match paragraphs with headings.

We will look specifically at all question types and give you lots of useful tips in our course.

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3. The duration of the IELTS Reading test is 60 minutes. You have to manage your time properly in order to complete all tasks. Try to spend no more than 20 minutes on each part of the test (there are 3 of them). However, you will notice that the first part is usually shorter. So, it is recommended to spend less time on it if you want to complete the rest of the tasks in time.

4. In IELTS Reading, you have to answer 40 questions. All of them are divided into several texts with different levels of difficulty. That is why some of the questions might seem easier, and others will look more difficult. Your task is to answer all of them.

5. Texts for IELTS General Training and Academic Training come from different sources. If you are taking IELTS Academic, you should get used to reading texts from books, journals, magazines and newspapers written for a non-specialist audience. At least one text contains detailed logical argument. They may also contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms, a simple glossary is provided. That is because most IELTS Academic test-takers enter undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seek professional registration, and they are going to deal with these kinds of texts further in their studies or work.

Key facts about IELTS Reading test

READ ABOUT: IELTS Reading tips and resources

Those who take IELTS General should prepare themselves for ‘social survival’, i.e. you have to understand general factual information, such as timetables or notices. The texts are also about ‘workplace survival’ where you have to read a job description or staff development materials, for example. And the last part involves reading newspapers, magazines and fictional and non-fictional book extracts, i.e. is about general context.

6. You will have no extra time to transfer your answers. Remember that you have to do everything in 60 minutes. Be very attentive when writing answers on the answer sheet as poor spelling and grammar are penalised.

7. You can get a maximum of 40 points for IELTS Reading. Each correct answer is worth 1 mark. After that they are translated into IELTS 9 band scale. In the tables below you can see the average number of marks required to achieve a particular band score in Academic Reading and General Training Reading.

Academic Reading

Band score

Raw score out of 40











General Training Reading

Band score

Raw score out of 40










General tips on IELTS Reading

Now, when you are already aware of the structure of the IELTS Reading test and know what to expect, here are some helpful tips from our IELTS experts:

Tip #1. You should read not only the texts but also the instructions. Always check how many words you need to write, and how many options to choose in each question.

Tip #2. Do not even try to understand every single word. You will waste precious time and fail to find the answers to the questions, which is your goal, isn’t it? It’s a good idea to scan the text and find the necessary information such as keywords. Then, read this part of the text more carefully.

Tip #3. Do not get stuck if you can’t find the answer. If you spend too much time on the question you cannot answer, you are likely not to finish in time. Simply skip it and return to it later.

Tip #4. Do not leave blank answers. You have to answer all 40 questions. You will not get any penalties for choosing the wrong answer. If you are not sure, try any option that seems most appropriate. Chances are you can get it right.

Tip #5. Complete the answer sheet after each part. Once you are done with the first text, for example, transfer your answers. Then, proceed to the next task. This will help you save time and finish your test before it’s too late.

You will learn more useful tips and tricks in our complete IELTS Academic Writing self-study course with video lessons on all parts of the test, including reading strategies, sample tasks, feedback from IELTS experts, and a detailed self-study plan from 1 week to 2 months. Register for a free trial now or buy the full course and get access to all parts of the IELTS preparation.

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