Tips for answering different task types in the IELTS Reading Test.

reader-310398_150In this post, I’d like to give you some IELTS Reading Test tips.  I’m going to refer my tips directly to one of the practice reading tests in my post IELTS practice Reading Tests.

Passage 1.

In questions 1-9, you have to choose the correct heading for each paragraph.

Please note that each heading will fit only one paragraph.  This is a good thing as it should help avoid any confusion.

  • Read through the list of headings.  Each heading expresses a main idea.
  • In this example, there are twelve headings but only nine paragraphs so three of the headings will not fit any of the paragraphs.
  • Skim read the whole passage (read through quite quickly for the general sense) to get a good idea of what it is about.
  • Go back and read each paragraph carefully.  Do not worry if there is any unfamiliar vocabulary; your aim here is to understand the main idea or the theme of the paragraph.
  • Now choose the heading that best describes the main idea of each paragraph.

Questions 10-13 require you to scan read for specific information.

  • Hopefully, by this stage you will have a good idea of what the passage is about as you’ve already skim read it and know the main idea of the different paragraphs from the last exercise.
  • Read question 10 very carefully and locate the part of the passage where you can find this answer.  Once you’ve decided on the answer, read the question again and mentally decide why the other answers aren’t possible.
  • Repeat this procedure for questions 11-13.

Passage 2.

In questions 14-19, you must complete a summary using words from the box.

  • First of all, read through the summary so that you have an idea of what it’s about.
  • Note that you must choose one word for each gap from the box below the summary.
  • Next, skim the passage and find out where the part that has been summarised begins.  In this case, it is from the eleventh line in the first paragraph.
  • Look at the summary and read the words around the gap carefully.  Try to predict the answer or the type of word you’re looking for.  E.g. is the answer a number, an adjective or a noun etc.
  • After you have chosen the words for your summary, read it again.  Check that it makes sense both in terms of meaning and grammatically.

Questions 20-26 test your understanding more thoroughly.  You must decide if the statements agree with the information in the passage and you have three choices:

True                if the statement agrees with the information

False              if the statement contradicts the information.

Not Given       if there is no information on this.

Sometimes questions of this type require the answers Yes, No or Not Given.

  • Note that the questions follow the order of information in the passage.
  • Read question 20, noting the key words.
  • Skim or scan the passage until you come to the part that contains the information in the statement.  If you cannot find the information, it is possible the answer is ‘Not Given’ but please check this carefully.
  • If you do find some information, you must decide if the statement agrees with the information or contradicts the information.
  • Repeat this procedure for questions 21-26.

Passage 3.

In questions 27-33 you have to match the paragraphs to a question which contains a paraphrase of detailed information within the paragraphs.

  • In this task, the questions do not follow the order of information in the passage.
  • Quickly read through the passage and look for main ideas and key words within each paragraph.
  • Read the questions and underline the key words.
  • Now look at question 27 and skim the passage to find the same idea.
  • Repeat this procedure for questions 28-33.

In questions 34-39, read the rubric carefully; you have to answer the question with words from the passage and it is very important to note the instruction USE NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer. One word is OK, two words are OK, three or four words are not.

For question 40, you should skim the passage for the main idea to choose your answer.

Implementing these strategies will help you answer questions in the IELTS Reading Test more accurately.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!




17 thoughts on “Tips for answering different task types in the IELTS Reading Test.

  1. I am always getting score like 20 to 28 or 29 in general training (GT Paper)in (IELTS EXAM). Please help and give me more tips in fill in the blank area

  2. HI Alanna,

    Your web is doing a great job for us, Thanks for that.

    I m having a big time trouble in false & not given questions. I m not able to identify should i go for true or not given!

    any strategic approach to overcome this situation?

    also, my final / last part of reading also struggles a lot.

    always 28 – 29 in GT

    your suggestion would be a life time help for me,

    Thanks in Advance

    Vasanth kumar P V

  3. HI Alanna,
    I am writing IELTS on 27th of this month.I am scoring very less in reading,i am not able to manage time in reading section.I am expecting 26-28 in ACADEMIC but i am getting only 21-23
    I m having a big time trouble in false & not given questions, I m not able to identify should i go for true or not given!
    please suggest an approach to overcome this situation?
    also, my final / last part of reading also struggles a lot.
    In list of headings also im getting troubled
    Its only 5 days left for the test.your suggestion would be very useful for me,
    Thanks in Advance

  4. i have some problems in reading section.time management is one of them.i can finish 2 passages during the giving time.i cannot catch up heading questions properly.. so. how can i improve skills in reading?? for your kind information, i am going to sit for ielts exam next month….

  5. Hi, Alanna, First of all thanks for kindness,, You are giving a great advice for us all,
    I am One who is new in your web ,,I’m having a trouble solving test on time,
    Could you tell me how can i solve Academic Reading on time and find more ?

  6. As a quick suggestion, you need to do lots of practice. Read as much as possible and always do any practice tests in an hour or less.

    Kind Regards,

  7. My dear internet tutor i need your advice in reading because i got only 18 to 2o in practice time.
    Please, can you give me specific method for reading?

  8. Hi
    I am writing the exam(academic) on 15th of the coming month.
    I am getting lot of problems in my Reading section, specifically when it comes to choosing between Not given and false/no answer type questions.
    I have been practising a lot lately but still the same confusion is coming up.
    What to do?

  9. hi, i have tried to focus but i fatigue can’t focus on topic and left in mid. when i made focus can’t easily get through heading unable to skim paragraph i can’t understand by skimming. in 2009 i got 5.5 band in reading but now it seem difficult test as compare to before i need 6.5 this time. when the topic are related to my area of interest(information tech or Computer Science) i easily get on it but mostly that doesn’t happen

  10. I am worried about time control… when I spend more time than it is allowed ( 2 hours for full package) I am getting score like 30-34.. But when I try to hurry up, it is being like vice-versa… Can you suggest any idea about that?

  11. Each time you do a practice test, spend ten minutes less time on it until you get down to the 1 hour time limit.

    Kind Regards,

  12. Could any plz help how to get better in selecting the heading of reading test of ielts. I really can’t do this at all.

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