IELTS Reading Section

IELTS Reading Section – Tips and Tactics

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The reading section of the IELTS exam is compiled to test a candidate on a wide range of reading skills.

Know about the IELTS Reading Section

The IELTS exam is of two types: One is IELTS Academic and the second is IELTS General. The content and difficulty level of the Reading section of both types varies. One mark is allotted to every correct response.

Academic Reading: The IELTS Academic reading section comprises three subsections where each subsection carries one long passage.

General Reading: The IELTS General reading section comprises three subsections where section 1 contains two to three or several short texts. Section 2 comprises two small passages and section 3 carries one long passage.

No. of questions: The reading section carries a total of 40 questions.

Source of passage: The IELTS reading section passages are procured from various sources such as magazines, textbooks, journals, newspapers, etc.

Different types of Questions: The questions may be of various kinds such as

True, False or Not Given statements

Multiple-choice questions

Short answer types questions

Match the headings

Summary completion

Notes completion

Flowchart completion

Diagram labeling/ Diagram completion

Table completion

Match the title

Choose a title

Match the sentence endings

List selection questions


The total time allowed: The total time allowed to complete the Reading section is 60 minutes.

Expectation: Read through each passage and answer the given questions correctly.

Since the time allotted is limited as compared to the reading content, so finishing the reading section on time may need some strategies or tactics. Let us discuss a few tips that can help you score high in the reading section.

Manage the time effectively: Managing the time well is the major game-changer in any of the sections of the IELTS exam. Now the question is how to manage the time? It is quite evident that you can not go through each and every word of the passage and understand everything in one go. And also reading word by word will consume a lot of your time, so here is a quick tip: Skim through the text/ passage and then go through the questions, mark the keywords to know what answers you have to look for.

Mark the keywords: Marking the keywords in the questions will help you in finding the answers much easier. Once you mark the keywords, look for similar words or synonyms in the text, in that manner you will be able to locate the answer quickly. A keyword can be a date, a number, a name, a connecting word, etc. Keep an eye on such facts and mark them.

Skim the passage: Once you get your question paper just glance through the passage/text quickly. The skimming of the text will give you a fair idea about the theme of the passage. When you are familiar with the concept of the text, you will know the placement of the paragraphs and you will be able to find the answers with ease. The ideal way to do skimming of the text is to go through the first line of each paragraph attentively, that will give you the gist of the whole paragraph.

Scan for keywords: Scanning method is when you are looking for a particular keyword/ information/word/ phrase in the passage to get to the right answer. You can scan through the text by marking/underlining the important words like dates, numbers, names, transition words, etc.

Read the Instructions: The instructions given in the exam are most important and carry critical information. Reading the instructions is a very essential part if you skip that portion and do not adhere to them, you may miss significant information. The instructions carry the information about the minimum number of words you need to write in the answer. Like some answers may need just ONE WORD and some may need TWO or THREE words. Skipping that information will penalize you and you will lose a good score in the exam.

Look for Indicators: Look for certain words, punctuation, quotes, symbols that point towards the possible answer. They are the indicators of the answers. Usually, you may find such distinctive words/phrases/ symbols towards the middle of a sentence.

Take Practice Tests: IELTS Practice tests improve your performance significantly in the actual exam. The practice tests give you the feel of the real exam, the more practice you take, the more confident you get to face the exam. The questions in the practice test are on the same pattern as the real exam. You should take regular practice tests including the IELTS Reading Test Online as that will sharpen your reading skills. The more you take these practice sessions, your reading speed increases and also your understanding of the passage increases.

Try Speed Read: Speed reading is a technique used by many candidates appearing for the IELTS exam. It enables you to go through the entire passage quickly without concentrating on each and every word but it gives you the main idea about the passage. It enables you to know the aim of the whole passage. A candidate who has fast reading skills is said to read around 250 words per minute. But there is no such limitation on the upper limit, you can increase your reading pace by constant practice. When you develop this skill you will be able to read very fast and also will be able to understand the holistic idea of the text.

Move on: If you get stuck on any question and you are unable to find the answer, just leave it as is and move on. Attempt it later on after you are done with the rest of the questions, otherwise, you will lose your precious time and marks. This practice will save you time.

Remain Calm: During the exam, make sure you stay calm and relaxed as that is the key to a good performance. If you lose your calm and tend to panic, you may not understand a word that you read. So patience and calmness are two factors that can help you get a good score as your concentration would increase with that.

IELTS Reading

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