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The IELTS Reading Test

The IELTS reading test lasts for a total duration of one hour. Unlike the listening test, there is no additional time provided for answers to be transferred to the answer sheet. The reading test will be taken straight after the listening test.

During the reading test, you will be required to read three passages and answer 40 questions about those passages. The paper you will be given for this test will differ depending on whether you have chosen the ‘Academic’ or ‘General’ IELTS path.

For those taking the ‘Academic’ path, the reading test will feature long passages that are often taken from books, newspapers and magazines. The passages used in this paper are authentic pieces of writing. Usually, these will contain academic language, more complex vocabulary and some form of chart/diagram/map.

For those taking the ‘General’ path, the reading test features three texts, which become progressively harder.

  • The first reading will link to daily life and could be factual information about something familiar, such as a school or hotel.
  • The second reading will be focused on the workplace and could include a text about a training course, information related to pay or the process of application for a job.
  • The final reading will be longer and more complex and is likely to focus on an area of more general interest.

Top Tips for Succeeding in the IELTS Reading Test

To help you to prepare well and achieve well in the IELTS reading test, we have developed a list of recommended strategies.

  • Answer every question. No marks will be lost for an incorrect answer, so it is worth ‘having a go’ at every question in the paper. You never know, you might be correct!
  • Manage your time well. The paper consists of three passages for you to read and answer questions within a one-hour time frame. If you are taking the ‘Academic’ path, you should organise your time to spend 20 minutes on each passage. If you are taking the ‘General’ path, in which the passages become progressively harder, it is recommended that approximately 15 minutes is spent on passage 1, around 20 minutes on passage 2 and about 25 minutes on passage 3. Practise these timings beforehand and be sure to keep one eye on the clock during the test.
  • The question paper will not be marked; only the answer sheet is. So feel free to make any jottings and markings on the question paper that will help you to succeed. You may wish to underline keywords to ensure you answer the question correctly or jot down ideas as you go along.
  • No marks are awarded or taken away for incorrect use of capital letters in this test. Some people may prefer to write all answers in capitals to make their answers clearer and easier to read. This is your choice and will not affect your score.
  • As with the listening test, if the spelling of an answer is incorrect, it will be marked as wrong, and no mark will be awarded. Therefore, be sure to carefully check the spellings of your answers on the answer sheet.
  • There is no particular order that you must complete the questions in the reading test. Therefore, it is recommended that you work through each passage, answering the questions you can easily answer first. Then take the time to go back and think more carefully about the questions you were unsure of. Be sure to monitor the time and move on at the right time.
  • No additional time is provided for answers to be transferred to the answer sheet, as in the listening test. Therefore, you must ensure that you write all of your answers in the correct place on the answer sheet as you go along.

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