IELTS reading: Overview, pattern, syllabus, score, tips & tricks

Updated on: Sep 12, 2023

The International English Language Test System (IELTS) is a standard assessment that assesses the candidate's fluency in the English language. IELTS is widely recognised by international students who wish to pursue higher education abroad. It is accepted as proof of English language proficiency in over 11,000 educational institutions across the globe. The exam contains four sections that determine the candidate's level of fluency in English. Let's look in detail at the IELTS reading section.

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IELTS reading section: An overview

No. of parts3
Total no. of questions40
Total raw score40
Duration (in minutes)60
Is the syllabus the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training?No

IELTS reading section: Key takeaways

The IELTS reading section consists of 40 questions divided into three parts. The candidates are required to complete this section in 60 minutes.

The IELTS exam syllabus for reading section differs from the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training versions. Make sure you prepare for the test you have applied for.

The IELTS reading section analyses your reading skills like skimming, grasping the overall meaning, identifying the main ideas, and understanding the logic, opinion, and purpose of the text.

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IELTS reading section: Differences between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

IELTS AcademicIELTS General Training

The reading section includes three long texts with a descriptive, factual, or analytical tone.

You can get a high score in IELTS Academic reading with regular practice and preparation.

The reading section includes three parts containing long texts relevant to an English-speaking environment.

Reading parts: Social survival, workplace survival, and general reading.

The texts can be derived from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers.The texts and passages will be obtained from famous books and magazines, mainly in a general context.

What is the IELTS reading pattern for 2023?

The IELTS reading contains 40 questions; the section should be completed in 60 minutes. While the pattern remains the same, the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training exams' syllabus differs.

IELTS reading section: Question formats to expect

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Identifying information
  • Identifying the writer’s views/claims
  • Matching information
  • Matching headings
  • Matching features
  • Matching sentence endings
  • Sentence completion
  • Summary, note, flowchart completion
  • Diagram label completion
  • Short answer questions

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IELTS reading section: Questions to expect

IELTS AcademicIELTS General Training

The texts can be obtained from books, journals, newspapers, and magazines.

The sources have a general tone and do not target any specific audience.

The long texts may contain diagrams, graphs, or illustrations.

Social survival - The texts discuss about basic linguistic survival in an English-speaking society.

Workplace survival - The texts will be relevant to any workplace content, like job descriptions, training materials, contracts, and others.

General reading - The texts include extended prose with a descriptive tone. 

IELTS reading section syllabus 2023

The IELTS reading section analyses your ability to read and understand the idea and opinions of the texts provided. Gaining knowledge about the tasks you would likely encounter in the exam is essential. The question format is the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training exams.

Multiple choice questions

You should find the correct answer from the given list of options to the question. MCQs evaluate your ability to have detailed knowledge and overall understanding of the text.

Identifying information

You are required to identify if the information provided is ‘true,’ ‘false,’ or ‘not given’, based on the long text. Note that the ‘false’ and ‘not given’ options hold different opinions. These questions analyse your understanding of the facts in the text.

Identifying the writer’s views/claims

The question contains a set of statements, along with the question, “Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer?” You are required to answer with ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘not given.’ This evaluates your knowledge of the opinion and ideas conveyed in the text.

Matching information

The task requires specific details from the long text; you should locate them and answer the questions. These tasks determine your ability to identify specific information from long texts.

Matching headings

You should match the list of headings with the paragraphs that suit the best. The heading must be relevant to the main idea of the paragraph given. These questions show your understanding of the main idea or opinion of the text.

Matching features

You should match a set of information to the right options. The matching features task includes matching age groups to characteristics, historical events to the period it belongs to, and others. These questions assess your ability to find the connection between several features in the text.

Matching sentence endings

As the name suggests, you should match the sentences with the correct endings. The answers show your understanding of the main ideas of the long text.

Sentence completion

You should complete the given sentences by filling in the words. Make sure to adhere to the instructions given for each question, or you might lose points. Sentence completion tasks analyses your ability to identify specific information.

Summary, note, and flowchart completion

You are required to complete the summary, note, or flowchart of a section from the long text. Remember to provide your answers based on the instructions given. These tasks evaluate your ability to understand the details of the long text.

Diagram label completion

The tasks require you to complete the labels in the diagram with the help of the long text. It assesses your understanding of detailed descriptions and the ability to relate the information to visual data.

Short answer questions

You are required to provide factual answers to the questions based on the long text. The questions analyse your ability to understand and deliver the specific information provided in the text.

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IELTS reading score calculator


Raw score (out of 40)

IELTS reading band score
IELTS AcademicIELTS General Training

IELTS reading tips & tricks

With regular practice and development of language skills, you can easily ace the test. Here are some vital tips on how to prepare for the IELTS exam.

  • Understand the exam format. It eases the preparation for the IELTS reading section.
  • Create a study plan to streamline your preparation and achieve your study goals effectively.
  • Develop your vocabulary by reading more books, magazines, and newspapers. Reading facilitates the development of your skills in the English language.
  • Improve your grammar by observing sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation while reading.
  • Improve reading long passages by skimming. The IELTS reading section would likely take the longest during IELTS. Practice skimming text and taking mental notes of the main points in the passage.
  • Remember to follow the specific instructions provided for the questions, as you might lose points if you do not adhere to the rules.
  • Make use of online practice materials. IELTS reading practice tests would help you improve your language skills and increase your pace for the exam.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between ‘true,’ false,’ or ‘not given’ options in IELTS reading?

It is important to understand the difference between ‘true,’ ‘false,’ and ‘not given’ options before answering the tasks.

  • ‘True’ means the information provided is relevant to the long text.
  • The ‘false’ option indicates that the information is not present in the passage or is incorrect.
  • ‘Not given’ means the information is not confirmed as correct or incorrect in the text.

How can I improve my reading in IELTS?

Here’s how you can ace the IELTS reading section.

  • Understand the exam pattern
  • Create a study plan
  • Develop your vocabulary.
  • Improve your grammar.
  • Improve reading long passages by skimming.
  • Remember to follow the specific instructions.
  • Make use of online tests and practice materials.

Why is IELTS reading difficult?

Students might find IELTS reading difficult as they are required to obtain information from large amounts of text in a limited time. But with regular practice and reading, you can ace the test.

What is 30 out of 40 in IELTS reading?

The IELTS reading band score for a raw score of 30 is 7.

How to calculate IELTS Reading marks?

The IELTS reading section contains 40 questions. Each correct answer gives one mark, which is known as the IELTS raw score. These raw scores are converted into IELTS reading band scores between 1-9.