Reading Tips Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Let’s quickly review the reading test.
  • It’s a 1-hour test.
  • There are different Academic and General Training modules.
  • The test has 3 sections.
  • There is no time to transfer your answers at the end.
Here are some handy tips to increase your band score for the IELTS Reading Test.
  1. Give yourself roughly 20 minutes for each section of the test.
  2. Read the instructions carefully so you don’t write too many words for your answer or write a word when you should really write a letter.
  3. Skim over the text before reading the questions so you have an idea of the gist (main idea) of the text and what each paragraph is about.
  4. When completing summary tasks, think about which bit of the text is being summarized in order to more easily locate missing words.
  5. In summary and gap fill tasks make sure the words you use fit the sentence grammatically. Make sure you use the correct part of speech (noun, verb, or adjective).
  6. Spelling is important so make sure it’s correct.
  7. Some tasks demand that you give a heading for a paragraph. Make sure the heading you choose sums up the main idea of the paragraph.
  8. When answering T/F/NG tasks underline keywords in the statements which you are given as this will keep you focused when you scan the text. If a statement is not true or false, it must be Not Given.
  9. In some tasks you have to think about the writer’s opinion. Sometimes the writer’s view is stated directly, but sometimes it is implied. Careful! The writer’s opinion might not be the same as the facts. The writer’s opinion might also be different from yours.
  10. Some questions are multiple choice. You are given a stem (an incomplete sentence or question) and three or four possible options. Think logically about which ones cannot be the correct answer to locate the correct answer. I always find it useful to underline keywords in the stem.
  11.  In table completion tasks the information may be arranged differently than it is in the text, for example it may be arranged chronologically instead of in order of importance. Thinking about the organization of information and the different headings in the table will help you to successfully complete the table.
  12. Don’t run out of time, try and answer everything. If you’re not sure of the answer to a question skip it and come back later. Make sure you leave some time to double check your answers at the end.
  13. The best way to improve your reading is to do lots of reading practice and widen your vocabulary. This will help you with the other key skills of listening, speaking and writing.
  14. When you do practice tests, do them under exam conditions and time yourself. This is the best way to prepare for the test.


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