IELTS Reading Practice – Improve your band score

Are you getting ready for the IELTS Reading section? Have you taken the test and not gotten the score you wanted in this section? Find out how you can improve and perfect your IELTS reading practice so that you can ace the test!

How long is the Reading section?

The Reading section is 60 minutes long and there are 40 questions.  The content for this section is different between the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

IELTS Academic –

You have three parts, each of which has a written text which is between approximately 800 – 1,200 words in length. The topics of these text are wide ranging.

See an Academic IELTS Reading Practice test.

IELTS General Training –

You have three parts, but these sections have texts which are shorter than the Academic version of the test. The third part of the General Training test is longer than the first two.

See an General Training IELTS Reading Practice test

How can I improve my IELTS reading practice?

It is important to have a strategy for your IELTS reading practice. To help with your strategy, you will need the following skills:

Skimming – this is when you read very quickly to get a general idea about the purpose of the text. Questions to consider are:

  • What is the text about? Is it factual or opinion based? If there is an opinion, what are the general thoughts of the writer?

Scanning – this is where you look for specific detail in the text. These could be names of places, people, places or other specific words.

Reading in Detail – this is when you have to pay close attention to a specific part of the text in order to find an answer to a question.  You shouldn’t do this quickly, take you time here (but not too much time!)

A common strategy when approaching the Reading section is to use all the methods above to answer the questions. Here is a step-by-step process:

Step 1: Quickly skim the text (about 1 minute) to see what it is about.  You can ask yourself the questions that you see under the skimming section above. This will give you some knowledge of what the reading is about and also confidence to answer the questions.

Step 2: Read the questions.  It is important to know what the questions are before you read the text in detail, otherwise you may waste time reading the text aimlessly.  Each reading will have several sets of questions.  Read one set of questions and find any key words or ideas. Underline these key words as they are important to answer the questions effectively.

Step 3: Skim the text to find the relevant information for each question. Read the text quickly to find the information that is relevant for the question.  You aim is not to answer the question at this stage, you simply need to find the section where the answer will be.

Step 4: Read in detail to find the answer. In this part, you will need to take some time to answer.  Compare the information in the question to what is in the text in order to answer.

Step 5: If you don’t know the answer or are unsure, leave the question and move on to the next one.  This will mean you will make steady progress throughout the test and will help you to manage your stress levels! Leave some time at the end of the test to answer any questions you skipped.  If you need to guess, do it!  Answer every question in the test (there are 40).  You do not lose marks for a wrong answer.

Analyse your results

Once you have used the above techniques in your IELTS practice test, then you can analyse your score and discover where you may have gone wrong.  There may be specific question types that you had difficulty with.  If there are, make sure you practice these questions so that you know you are working on your weaknesses.

How else can I practice for the reading test?

It is important that you improve your overall reading comprehension and speed.  This means reading lots! Try to read widely as possible.  We have highlighted some useful and free resources for reading material which you can find helpful for your IELTS preparation

Time Magazine (USA) – time.com

Maclean’s Magazine (Canada) – www.macleans.ca

The Guardian (UK) – www.theguardian.com

BBC News (UK) – www.bbc.com/news

Consistency is important too.  Make sure you are reading in English regularly (every day is ideal!)  Find a specific time per day and make this your IELTS reading preparation time.  Over time, you will feel more confident with reading in English and this will help you on test day and will no doubt have a positive effect on your score!

Do you need help with other areas of the IELTS test?  Visit our IELTS blog to find more hints and tips!  Also, visit out IELTS preparation page to get free resources so you can put the hints and tips we provide to practice.

Best of luck with your IELTS preparation!

Are you ready to take you IELTS test?  Find IELTS test dates at a location closest to you by searching for your city to see if we have an IELTS test location there.  With over 100+ locations in Canada, you are certain to find one close to you!