7 Common IELTS Reading Question Types

You may be planning to take your IELTS test soon and are in the process of preparing for the big day.  It is important that you have prepared as much as possible and understanding the test content and structure is a vital part of this.  Read our blog to find out more about some of the question types you may encounter in the Reading section so that you can ace the test!

Whether you take the Academic or General Training test, the question types you get in the Reading section are usually similar.  The only difference between the Academic and General Training reading is the actual content.  Read our IELTS reading blog to find out more about this.

The IELTS Reading section contains various different question types. Let’s have a look at some examples below and tips on how to approach these question types.

Flow Chart Questions

You may be asked to complete a flow chart, which requires you to fill in the blanks of a timeline or a process. It is important that you read the process and then find the appropriate section of the reading where the answers will be (this will require you to scan the reading very quickly to find this section). Once you have found this section, go back to the chart and read each section with the blanks carefully then select a word for the text to complete the blank space.  It is important that the word you choose comes from the text and not one you have thought of.

Top tip: Most of the time, the order of the flow chart matches the order in the reading.

Short Answer Questions

Short answer questions require you to read the passage and then choose the correct word based on the question being asked. You should not rush through this section as it can lead to silly mistakes, so you need to make sure that you spend the required time on it. Before reading the passage, it’s a good idea to read the question first so you know what to look out for.

Top Tip: When writing answers, there is a strict word or number limit.  Make sure you don’t go over this word or number limit when you write your answer.

Sentence Completion Questions

In this task, you have to select the most appropriate completions to the beginning of each sentence.  It is almost like doing a matching exercise.  The tip here is to read the first part of the sentence then find the part of the text which is related to this first part.  Underline all the relevant areas of this part of the text and read it carefully to understand the main ideas.  Then go back to the first part of the sentence and read the options for completion.  Choose the most appropriate ending.

Top tip: If you are unsure of which ending to choose, try a process of elimination.  This is where you exclude answers until you can find the most suitable one.

True/False/Not Given Statements

In ‘True, False, Not Given’ statements, you need to decide whether a statement is true or false by reading the text. Read the statement and highlight any key words (i.e. names, places, numbers).  Then scan the text to find the appropriate section and read this question carefully.

  • If you see evidence that supports the statement, then the answer is True
  • If you see evidence that contradicts the statement, then the answer is False

Top Tip: If you can’t find any information in the text for a specific statement then move on to the next one.  Once you have completed all the statements, for all the answers you are not able to find, chose Not Given.

Matching Headings

In the ‘matching heading’ questions, the main idea and purpose of the text are what you are being assessed on rather than specific details in the text. In both cases, the topic and the context are important for completing the task. You will need to hatch heading with certain paragraphs in the text. Read the headings then skim the text to find out which heading matching with which paragraph.  You often have more headings than paragraphs so there will be some heading you do not need to use.

Top Tip: It is important to read the headings first, so you have an idea of what to expect in the reading.  Also, don’t just look for the same words on the reading that are in the headings as you are likely to waste time using this method and get the answer wrong!

Other tips for reading:

  • Answer all the questions. Make steady progress through the test
  • The test usually assesses you on your comprehension of vocabulary and main ideas. Make sure you read widely to improve your overall skill in this area.

Take our IELTS practice test to get familiar with test content and question types and visit our IELTS preparation page for more handy test tips and advice.

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