IELTS

How to ace the IELTS reading section

By Edvoy• Last updated: Nov 8, 2023
How to ace the IELTS reading section
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The IELTS Reading section is one of the most challenging components of the test.

It requires students to read lengthy passages, decipher and interpret complex information, and draw accurate conclusions.

To ace this section, it is important to familiarise yourself with the format in advance. It will allow you to develop key strategies to help you manage your time effectively and answer each question accurately.

This guide will discuss the structure of the IELTS reading section, different question types, and the top 10 tips to ace the IELTS reading section.

Overview of the IELTS exam

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an international standardised English language proficiency test for non-native English speakers. It provides an accurate assessment of English language skills, allowing students to demonstrate their ability when applying for university admission or visas.

IELTS tests are available in two versions: Academic and General Training. The Academic version is designed for candidates who want to study abroad or pursue a professional career.

In contrast, the General Training version is more suitable for those seeking short-term training or work experience abroad. The IELTS exam consists of 4 sections: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Each section tests a different aspect of English language proficiency.

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Format of IELTS Reading Section

The IELTS Reading section is designed to test a wide range of reading skills. It measures the ability to read and understand academic texts in English.

The IELTS Reading section consists of three or four passages, each containing between 500 and 900 words. The passages may be taken from books, magazines, newspapers, journals, or online publications.

Generally speaking, the topics are related to everyday life in an English-speaking country. Each passage is followed by 13 - 14 questions based on the text. The questions can be true/false, multiple choice, sentence completion, summary completion, matching headings to paragraphs, labelling a diagram or table, and more.

Questions in this section will test your ability to identify the passage's main points and key details and your comprehension of the author's purpose and opinion. You must be able to interpret meaning from context and make deductions based on that information.

This section also tests your ability to distinguish between fact and opinion, identify specific examples or to support evidence for a statement, compare one item with another, draw conclusions from the text and understand any changes in tone or emphasis.

The IELTS Reading section is marked by two independent assessors who grade you on three criteria: Task Achievement (how accurately you answer questions), Coherence & Cohesion (how logically the answers are organised) and Lexical Resource (the accuracy and range of vocabulary used).

To ensure that you score as highly as possible in this section, practice reading different types of texts and become familiar with the various question formats.

Watch our IELTS Lessons Playlist on YouTube. Our expert instructor covers all modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Click here.

Different question types in the reading section

The IELTS reading section has various question types, which test the reader's ability to understand, analyse and interpret written texts.

The questions include multiple-choice questions, true/false/not given questions, matching questions, sentence completion questions, summary completion questions, short-answer questions and classification (table or flowchart) completion questions.

  • Multiple-choice questions require you to choose the correct answer from several options given.
  • True/false/not given asks whether a statement is true based on the text.
  • Matching requires you to match certain words or phrases with other words or phrases from the text.
  • Sentence completion questions ask you to fill in the blanks with words or phrases from the text.
  • Summary completion questions require you to write a summary of information in the text.
  • Short-answer questions need you to answer questions based on information from the text.
  • Classification (table or flowchart) completion questions ask you to complete tables or flowcharts with the information given in the text.

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Top 10 tips to ace the IELTS reading section

1. Develop a strategy

Before starting the reading section, ensure you have a plan or strategy. This will help you answer the questions quickly and accurately.

Some methods include skimming to get an overall idea of the passage, scanning for specific information, reading paragraphs in detail, and checking your answers against what is written in the text.

2. Read carefully

It is essential to read the questions ahead so you can focus more on finding answers to them when going through the passage.

When reading through the text, take note of keywords that appear multiple times as they are often repeated within a paragraph or page, which may help you identify an answer faster than if you had just glanced over them.

3. Practice under pressure

Once you have your strategy in place, practice reading passages under timed conditions to get used to the pace and pressure of the test. Doing this will help you build up the speed and accuracy of your answers.

4. Take note of synonyms

When looking for an answer, be aware of synonyms or words with similar meanings that may appear in the passage and not just what is asked in the question.

For example, if a question asks about 'workers', look for words such as 'employees' or 'labourers'.

5. Understand question types

Knowing what questions are asked can also help you prepare better for the IELTS Reading section.

Commonly asked questions require you to match headings, complete sentences or fill in the blanks.

6. Check your work

At the end of each passage, check your work and ensure you have answered all the questions.

If there are any answers that you need clarification on, refer back to the text to double-check before submitting your test.

7. Be prepared for vocabulary tests

The reading section will likely contain some vocabulary tests, so it is important to be prepared with extensive knowledge of synonyms and definitions related to the topics covered in the passages.

This can help speed up your responses and increase your accuracy when answering these questions.

8. Manage your time

Pace yourself throughout the reading section and ensure enough time for each passage. This will help you avoid running out of time before finishing the test.

9. Take breaks

Focusing on a reading passage for too long can cause fatigue and make concentrating difficult, so take regular breaks and refocus your attention when returning to the task.

Doing this can help keep your mind fresh and alert while tackling the questions in front of you.

10. Double-check your answers

Remember to double-check your answers once you have completed them!

Make sure your answers are accurate and well-written; otherwise, it could cost you precious points on the exam. Additionally, it is essential to keep an eye on the time - there is no point in spending too much.

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Conclusion

Acing the IELTS Reading section requires understanding its structure and format and appropriate strategies for managing time and tackling different questions.

However, with adequate preparation and practice, students should make the most of this section and score well.

FAQs

1. How many passages and questions are there in the reading section?

The IELTS Reading section consists of three or four passages, each containing between 500 and 900 words. Each passage is followed by 13–14 questions based on the text. The topics of the passages are related to everyday life in an English-speaking country.

2. What are the different question types in the Reading Section?

The IELTS reading section question types include multiple-choice questions, true/false/not given questions, matching questions, sentence completion questions, summary completion questions, short-answer questions, and classification (table or flowchart) completion questions.

3. Are there any tips to ace the IELTS reading section?

Some tips to ace the IELTS reading section are developing a strategy, reading carefully, practising under pressure, taking note of synonyms, understanding question types, being prepared for vocabulary tests, managing time, etc.

4. How is the IELTS reading section marked?

Two independent assessors on three criteria mark the IELTS Reading section: Task Achievement (how accurately you answer questions), Coherence & Cohesion (how logically the answers are organised), and Lexical Resource (the accuracy and range of vocabulary used). To ensure that you score as highly as possible in this section, practice reading different types of texts and become familiar with the various question formats.

Achieve your highest IELTS score!

Signup for your free IELTS masterclass with Edvoy.

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