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Preparing for reading section in IELTS? Here is what you should know.

Preparing for the reading section in IELTS? Here is what you should know.

IELTS is a standardized test that measures the English Language Proficiency by assessing reading, listening, writing and speaking skills of a person who intends to study, work, train or migrate to a native English speaking country.

There are four sections in IELTS. One of it is Reading section which focuses on measuring the ability of the candidate to read and understand the content.

Before anyone starts preparing for this section, one needs to be clear on the aim of the test. It is very important for a candidate to understand what the reading section is all about and what it intends to measure.

About the test

The reading test comprises of three texts and each text followed by questions. This section takes 60 minutes. The candidate needs to divide time equally for each text. No extra time is given to transfer the answer in the answer sheet. One has to write the answers simultaneously in the answer sheet. The reading texts are different in different versions of IELTS.

  • IELTS Academic Reading Test: The texts will be from magazines, books, journals or newspapers. The topics will be of general interest for a non-specialist group, appropriate for candidates who intend to go for university courses or seeking registration.

The range of the text can be from descriptive and factual to discursive and analytical. The text might have diagrams or graphs which the candidate might need to explain in the answers.

  • IELTS General Reading Test: The texts will be from newspapers, company handbooks, advertisements or books. The topics will be based on materials one could come across on a daily basis in an english speaking environment.

The three sections are:

  • Section 1: It consists of two to three short factual texts, one of which might have 6 to 8 short texts related to the topic. The topics are related to everyday life events.
  • Section 2: It consists of two short factual texts related to work issues. E.g. work training and development.  
  • Section 3: It consists of one long and complex text on a topic of general interest.

There will be 40 questions. The questions can be of many types. It can be one-word answer type question, sometimes you might have to write a short phrase or sometimes a number or symbol. The questions can also be multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks type or complete the sentences.

Each answer carries one mark. The scores are then converted into the 0-9 band scale of IELTS.

Purpose of the test

Reading test is designed in a way that it assesses a wide range of reading skills. It will measure:

  • How well one gets the general sense of the text by reading.
  • How well one is able to understand the main idea of the text.
  • How well the reader can mark details of the content.
  • How well the reader can understand the writer’s opinion and develop an argument.

Preparation for the Test

The most important and first step while preparing for this section is to understand the format for the test thoroughly. Once the format and the purpose of the test are clear to the candidate, he/she can start preparing according to that.  


The candidate must understand the content of the test. If the candidate is clear on which version (academic or general) of the test he/she will be taking the practice of reading and understanding the questions become easy. The reading practice will depend on the version of the test one is taking. If the candidate is taking IELTS Academic then he/she will have to practice reading general interest books and newspapers. The candidate can also practice from reading basic journals or magazines which interest them. If the child is taking IELTS General then he/she will have practice reading factual books, company advertisement handbooks, work journals etc.


Next important step is the time management during the test. The candidate is required to read quickly and efficiently during the test and manage to complete all the sections of the reading test in 60 minutes. For this, the candidate can practice reading books and newspaper and increase their reading speed. But reading fast is not the only thing that is required. Efficient reading is necessary to answer the questions that follow the text. Therefore, quick and efficient reading is required. Reading should be done in a manner that one understands the context deeply so that it becomes easy for them to answer the questions. There is no extra time to transfer the answers in the answer sheet, the answers should be written simultaneously. So speed is required there as well. It is recommended that you finish one section of the reading test in 20 minutes.


  • Make reading a habit and underline things that you feel are important.
  • Start writing important things side by side on a sheet of paper that you notice while reading.
  • Time yourself while you are reading.  
  • One can take an online practice test for better practice. Make sure you time yourself even when you are giving practice test.
  • One can also buy IELTS self-study book and practice from there.

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