The IELTS Reading Test consists of 40 questions in total, and one mark is awarded for each correct answer. The IELTS exam for reading evaluates the candidate’s reading and comprehension skills based on several criteria. Read along to know how to practice for the IELTS reading test and achieve a better band score.

The exam is designed to test reading for essence, for the main ideas, for elaboration, skimming, understanding valid debates, and identifying the purpose and opinion of the writer. The task types can be numerous for this exam, like multiple choice questions, matching the headings, sentence completion, short answer type questions, etc.

 IELTS Exam for Reading – Format

The IELTS exam consists of three passages with different questions and different task types. The passages are taken from books, magazines, journals, and are drafted for non-special readers. Still, the topics are of general interest and suitable for those who are going for graduation, master’s, and professional courses to universities. The duration of the exam is 60 minutes.

There are a variety of task types that are used in the Reading IELTS exam. These include multiple-choice, matching information and headings, matching sentence endings, summary completion, note completion, diagram label completion, and short answer type questions. The candidates are required to copy their answers to a separate answer sheet, and no extra time is allotted for the same.

IELTS Mock Tests Online for Free

A solid way to prepare for the reading exam is to attempt free IELTS practice tests available online. The mock tests are aimed at strengthening the foundation skills, expanding the vocabulary, and understanding what type of questions can be asked in the exam. These tests are also helpful in self-assessment to check if there is development or not.

You can access different IELTS online practice tests for free by clicking here. Constant preparation is the key to attaining a good score, and that can be done by attempting these mock tests. Even native speakers require preparing and practising these tests in order to understand the format and type of questions in the exam.

Also Read: How to Find the Right Keywords in Reading Comprehension in the IELTS? Here’s How

Tips for IELTS Reading Exam Preparation

Developing dexterity for all task types in reading

There are more than a dozen types of tasks that can be put as questions in the IELTS reading exam. The answers to some may be chronological and orderly while some maybe not. It is important to devise a strategy for each type of question. Doing this will enable the test taker to be more time-efficient at the time of the exam and find answers quickly.

Examining and Skimming

Examining and skimming through the passages in the reading exam gives a general overview of the content. This should not take long and can be done in a couple of minutes. The idea is not to go into the details, but to have a glimpse of the overall material. Any important keywords can be noted and underlined, which will help in tasks like matching the headings.

Building the Vocabulary

The vocabulary can be easily enhanced by reading practice passages. A strong vocabulary is essential not only for understanding the meanings of words but to also be aware of where, when, and how words are to be used. It is also related to the various juxtapositions to be used with the words.

Focussing on the Grammatical Part

It is important to take care of the grammatical part since it is of utmost priority in question types like sentence completion or summary completion. Usage of proper grammar will actually help in locating the correct answer from the passage itself for such question types. The slightest error in grammar can be the deciding factor for an answer being right or wrong.

Practicing Speed Reading

The test evaluates the ability of the test taker to perform 40 questions in a duration of 60 minutes. The time limit may seem tight if too much time is spent in reading and understanding the passages. So it is important to develop speed reading skills so that quick pointers and keywords can be highlighted, and locating answers from within the passage becomes easier.

Also Read: Reading Passage In IELTS Test: Here’s How To Ace IELTS Reading Passage

Looking for Keywords

Any question contains some sort of keywords that make navigating the answer from the passage possible. While some keywords like the name of a place or a person, or a date can be evident and clearly visible, others may be a bit elusive. So it is important to learn how to spot the keywords and also to check if the content can be paraphrased.

IELTS Online Practice Tests

There are several IELTS practice mock tests available online for sharpening the reading skills. These will help in improving the vocabulary and grammar, and also assist in self-evaluation. Performing such mock tests also helps in finding any weaknesses and how to work on them for an improved score. Like any exam practice is the key to success here.

Reading Score Chart for IELTS Exam

Understanding the scoring chat and marking for IELTS reading exams will help the test taker to know what to expect from the exam. For a total of 40 questions, one mark is awarded each for a correct one, and there is no negative marking for wrong answers. The cumulated score is then added up and compared to the scoring chart to determine the final band score.

The band scores range from 0 to 9, 9 being the highest band score. Getting a score of 9 requires exceptional and flawless performance in the exam. The following table shows the scoring chart for reading the IELTS exam for the Academic part:

          Correct Answers           Band Score
40-39 9
38-37 8.5
36-35 8
34-33 7.5
32-30 7
29-27 6.5
26-23 6
22-19 5.5
18-15 5
14-13 4.5
12-10 4
9-8 3.5
7-6 3
5-4 2.5

Difference between IELTS Academic and General Training Reading Exam

The main ideas behind Academic and General Training exams are different. The topics covered in the Academic Exam are related to admissions for universities and professional institutions. The General training exam is conducted for those who wish to work, migrate, or enrol for any professional course in other countries. The topics in this exam are of general interest.

The General test for reading is similar in duration, i.e. 60 minutes, and comprises three sections. The first section consists of two or three short passages, the second consists of another two short passages, and there is one long passage in the third. The Academic test has three long passages and that is it. The content for General Training can be taken from advertisements and notices.

Also Read: MCQ Types of Questions in IELTS Reading Exam: Here’s How to Do it

 How do IELTS Mock Tests Help in Preparation?

The IELTS mock tests are available online for free on several websites. They provide an exam-like scenario, so that test-takers can get familiar with the process. Also, there are a lot of types in which questions can be asked in the exam, which can not be certain beforehand. Practising multiple mock tests will help in knowing about each type of question so that there is no confusion in any of them.


It will provide clear instructions before the start of the exam, and also provide feedback post-exam, which can be checked for improvement. So it is surely a good idea to give these tests a try, as they will only add to the existing knowledge and provide valuable insights to the test takers.

Additional Information for IELTS Preparation – Band Descriptors

The following band descriptors should be noted for the IELTS exam preparation:

Band Score English Level Description Key points
9 Expert Complete command in the English language with accuracy, flexibility, fluency and full understanding Full understanding


8 Very Good Complete command but with rare errors. Deals with complex situations well, with occasional difficulty Rare errors

Uses complex language well

7 Good Good command of the language with little inaccuracies, misunderstanding of inappropriate words Occasional errors

Uses complex language well in most situations

6 Competent Effective command of the language, but with errors at times. Uses complex language only in familiar situations Some errors

Uses complex language in familiar situations

5 Modest Partial command of the language, frequent errors, does not deal with complex language well Frequent errors

Does not deal with complex language well

These are the basic band descriptors which define the band score of an individual. Keeping these in mind will help in determining the strong points as well as errors for each of the band scores from 9 to 5.


To conclude, the main key to a better score in the IELTS reading exam is a constant practice. This blog covered in exhaustive detail about the free IELTS practice tests, and the various other tricks and tips which test takers can use while preparing. Other important points are the band descriptors and the scoring charts, which help in predetermination and checking of self capability. For more information on the IELTS exam preparation, click here.

Also Read: IELTS Reading Summary Completion Tips: Guide To Boost Your IELTS Reading Test Score

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