WHAT is the IELTS Reading Test all about?
This is one part of the IELTS Exam, to measure your reading ability.
WHAT ability exactly?
Your ability to get the general message, the main ideas, to grasp detail, to find relevant facts, recognize and understand arguments, opinions and purposes.
But HOW does it do that?
Well, let’s look at the format of the reading test. Remember you have the choice between IELTS Academic and General Training. With Reading, there are similarities and important differences.
BOTH tests last 60 minutes. Each has 40 questions. The 60 minutes includes the time you have to fill in the answer sheet.
The ACADEMIC test has 3 texts taken from magazines, newspapers, journals, books. These texts can be descriptive or factual or more discursive and analytical. Topics are of general academic type interest but not too specialised and they can include diagrams, graphs and drawings.
GENERAL TRAINING is divided into 3 parts. In Parts 1 and 2, the texts are short and test your ability to engage successfully with written communication in your daily life, for example, timetables and advertisements in Part 1 and the working environment such as job descriptions, staff notices and training information in Part 2. The text in Part 3 is similar to the texts in the Academic test.
HOW ARE THE TESTS SCORED?
40 questions, 1 mark per question. The total out of 40 is then converted into a score out of the IELTS Band of 0 to the maximum 9.
BUT because General Training is easier, you need a higher score to get a Band Score of at least 7.0.
In this test, you are aiming for at least a 7.0. How can you guarantee that?
Yes, I know ….practice and more practice. There are many reading practice tests available.
But how best to PREPARE for this practice. Let’s look at what types of questions there are and what they aim to do.
We can classify the questions into FOUR main groups; each tests different reading skills. There are variations within each group and it is vital that you become very familiar with all of them.
But in general we have:
- Multiple choice questions: you have to choose the correct answer to a question or the correct option to complete a sentence, usually through lettered choices (A, B, C, D). This type of question is checking your understanding of information in the text or asks you to scan for specific information.
- True/False/Not given: does the statement correspond to what is in the text? Yes or no is sometimes used instead of true or false. If there is no evidence, if it’s not mentioned, the answer is not given. This type of question is checking your understanding of specific information and your understanding of the writer’s opinions.
- Matching: you may be asked to match Headings (one sentence summaries) to the lettered paragraphs to check your understanding of the aims of each or what the main ideas are. Variations are matching the information in the question to a particular paragraph to check your ability to find specific information.
- Completion: there are several completion type questions. All of them require you to fill in gaps with a precise number of words, anything from one word only to perhaps no more than three. What they all have in common is that you find the words themselves in the text.
For some more resources, have a look at our full guide for information on the reading test
We also have some helpful IELTS reading tips to help you prepare for your reading test