Category Archives: Reading

Best IELTS practice reading tests.

reader-310398_150Here’s a practice Academic IELTS Reading Test I found at Oxford University Press:

IELTS Reading Test        section 1,          section 2,          section 3,          answers.

The British Council website also has practice IELTS Reading Test exercises:

Test 1 section 1,          Test 1 section 2,              Test 1 section 3.

Test 2 section 1,          Test 2 section 2,             Test 2 section 3.

Here is a General Training Reading sample and an Academic Reading sample taken from the official IELTS website.

If you have any questions about the test or the answers, please feel free to contact me.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

Best IELTS preparation – The IELTS Reading Test.

reader-310398_150Students often ask me, ‘What is the best way to prepare for the IELTS Reading Test?’

First of all, read a lot! You must also train yourself to read in a certain way; it isn’t necessary to understand every word or everything in the article.  Decide what sort of information to look for and focus on that.

If you read long newspaper articles, look at the introductory and concluding paragraphs first.  These paragraphs will contain summaries of the article.

Another question that students ask is ‘What should I read?’ This really depends on whether you are taking the Academic or General Training format.


The texts used in the Academic format of the IELTS Reading test are of general interest and appropriate to someone entering a degree course.  They are taken from the following sources:

  • Magazines
  • Journals
  • Books
  • Newspapers

As buying magazines etc can be expensive, I usually suggest that students check what is available at their local library.  Alternatively, the internet is an excellent way to find suitable texts.

General Training

The texts used in the General Training format of the IELTS Reading test contain the type of English you need to survive on a day to day basis in an English speaking country.  They are taken from the following sources:

  • Notices  (newspapers)
  • Advertisements (newspapers, magazines, internet)
  • Official documents (internet)
  • Booklets
  • Newspapers
  • Instruction manuals (internet)
  • Leaflets
  • Timetables (internet)
  • Books
  • Magazines

I usually suggest that students check what is available at their local library and use the internet to find suitable texts.  Another excellent source of practice material is to read things like instructions on food packets or tourist leaflets etc.

Of course there are many other sources of listening materials. Over the years, I have taught from many different IELTS books and I always recommend that my students purchase Adams & Austen IELTS books. These books contain so many useful practice exercises for IELTS.

Don’t forget that if you buy these books here, I will mark an IELTS Task 1 Writing and an IELTS Task 2 Writing from the book you have purchased.


As with anything in life, the more you prepare, the more you will reap the benefits.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

Working out unfamiliar vocabulary in the IELTS Reading Test part 2.

reader-310398_150In my post Working out unfamiliar vocabulary in the IELTS Reading Test part 1, one of the strategies I suggested was to break the word down into syllables; in other words use your knowledge of word formation to help with your understanding of the unfamiliar word.

Many English words use prefixes; added to the beginning of the word, and suffixes; added to the end of the word, to make new words.  Let’s deal with them separately:



One of the most useful parts of a word to look at when dealing with unfamiliar vocabulary is the prefix.  Prefixes are ‘pieces’ added at the start of a word which change the meaning of the word.  The actual word prefix is a good example in fact; contains the prefix pre-.  Here, pre- tells us that an extra ‘piece’ is fixed to the front of the word.

The following table gives examples of some common prefixes in English, together with their meaning and examples.

Continue reading Working out unfamiliar vocabulary in the IELTS Reading Test part 2.

Working out unfamiliar vocabulary in the IELTS Reading Test part 1.

reader-310398_150One question I hear regularly from students is ‘What do I do if there are words I don’t understand in the IELTS Reading Test?’

Well, let me tell you first of all that there will ALWAYS be words you don’t understand.  I’m sure that even in your own language, you come across words you don’t understand when you’re reading but you still manage to understand .

In this post I’d like to discuss what to do when you come across unfamiliar words when reading a passage in the IELTS test.

Sometimes you might not need to understand the exact meaning of an unknown word, unless there is a question directly related to it.

Sometimes you do need to know the meaning.  OK, first of all, don’t panic!  I’m going to teach you some strategies to work out the meaning of unknown words.



You can often work out the meaning of a word by checking the context it’s written in.  The context is the words and phrases surrounding the word and it often contains clues about the meaning of the piece of unfamiliar vocabulary.  The words and phrases just before and just after the word are particularly useful.


Sometimes writers give a definition of a word, they explain it or they give an example.  There are certain words that express meaning:

  • is
  • means
  • refers to
  • that is
  • consists of

e.g.  A philanthropist is a person who loves his fellow human beings.

In this example, the word ‘is’ shows us that a definition is about to come.

Word Class and Punctuation

Look at the unknown word in the sentence and decide  if it is a noun, an adjective, a verb or an adverb.  Punctuation can also sometimes be a clue; you should look for colons or question marks in particular.

Connective Words

Connective words e.g. however give clues about the meaning of the unknown word.  They usually help to identify the general direction of the argument.  If you understand the general direction of the argument, this will help with the understanding of the unknown word.

For example, if you see the words ‘in addition’, then you know that the writer is giving more evidence to the previous argument.

Break the word down.

If you break the word down into syllables; looking at he root of the word, prefixes and suffixes, this may help you with understanding.  My post Working out unfamiliar vocabulary in the IELTS Reading Test part 2 discusses this point further.


The tips here obviously require some practice so don’t just leave it till the day of the IELTS test.  Do practice reading tests at home without a dictionary and try to work out the meaning of any unknown words.  I’m sure you don’t use a dictionary for every word you don’t know in your own language, so transfer these skills to English.

Also, do plenty of exercises to improve your reading skills.  Over the years, I have taught from many different IELTS books and one of the best I have found for self study is 202 Useful Exercises for IELTS ~ Academic & General Training Module.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

The IELTS Reading Test.

reader-310398_150The IELTS Reading Test begins immediately after the Listening Test question papers have been collected.  You’ll be using the same answer sheet as you did for the listening test except you’ll write your answers on the ‘IELTS Reading Answer Sheet’ side of the paper.

Now, when I’ve done practice papers under mock exam conditions with students, there is ALWAYS someone who goes into a panic at this point as they discover they’ve written their listening test answers on the wrong side!  If this happens to you, don’t panic, just raise your hand and tell the invigilator immediately.

Once the invigilator has given out the IELTS Reading question papers (do NOT open them until you are instructed to do so), put your name and candidate number on the paper, the same applies as for the listening test; anything you write on the question paper will be ignored.  At this point, you should also check that you have the correct paper; Academic or General Training as they are different for the reading test.

For both Academic and General Training, the reading test lasts 60 minutes and consists of 3 sections. Like the listening test, the reading test increases in difficulty as it progresses.  Unlike the listening test, however, you are NOT given extra time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet so you must make sure you do it as you go along.

The invigilator will tell you when the time is up and as with the listening test, you MUST stop writing immediately.  At the end of the IELTS Reading Test, both the Reading question sheet and the answer sheet will be collected.

OK, 50% done now, next test is the Writing Test.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!