The Reading part of the IELTS examination tests a range of skills, such as skimming and scanning, understanding main ideas, reading for detail and understanding opinion and attitude. The passages come from books, magazines, newspapers and journals and are non-specialised.
At least one passage contains a detailed argument. Although the texts are representative of reading requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate students, they are not domain-specific.
That’s the reason why the majority of students find it somewhat challenging. But don’t worry, this tutorial covers everything from IELTS Reading 2023 format, practice tests, and score calculation chart to band 7-9 tips and tricks for both Academic Reading and General Reading test modules.
IELTS Reading Format & Question Types
The Reading module of the 2023 IELTS consists of 40 questions based on three passages, with a total of 2,000 to 2,750 words on average. You are advised to spend 20 minutes on each passage and its questions, and there is no extra time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet given in the end. Answers must be written on the answer sheet within the 60 minutes given.
Here’s a table that breaks out 11 different types of questions in IELTS Reading, and whether you are expected to write a letter, word(s) or number.
|Question Type||Form of Answer|
|5||Matching Headings||Roman numerals|
|7||Matching Sentence Endings||Letters|
|8||Sentence Completion||Words and/or a number|
|9||Summary, Note, Table, Flow-chart Completion||Words and/or a number|
|10||Diagram Label Completion||Words and/or a number|
|11||Short Answer||Words and/or a number|
IELTS Academic vs General Training Reading Modules
While the types of questions on the Academic and General Training Reading Modules are the same, the types of reading passages differ. The Academic Module will usually contain at least one passage organized as a logical argument, while the readings in the General Training module are likely to be more descriptive or instructive.
The Academic Reading module involves reading three passages, with one passage per section. Texts come from books, magazines, newspapers and journals and are non-specialized. At least one passage contains a detailed argument.
Whereas, the General Training Reading module involves reading three or four passages grouped into three or four sections:
- Section 1 usually deals with social survival – for example, public information leaflets.
- Section 2 focuses on subjects related to general training and usually consists of two texts which, for example, give information about a university or college and services or facilities provided.
- Sections 3 and 4 each consist of one longer text related to general training; these may test general reading comprehension on almost any subject.
How IELTS Reading is scored?
IELTS Reading band score is calculated based on the number of correct answers out of 40 questions in total. For instance, if you’ve given 35 correct answers in the Academic Reading test; your score will be 7.0 bands.
It should also be noted that scores are reported in whole (for example; 9.0, 8.0, 7.0, 6.0 etc) or half (for example; 8.5, 7.5, 6.5, 5.5 etc) bands. There’s a detailed explanation of reading band scores given on the official website which will clarify all your doubts regarding IELTS Academic and General Reading.
IELTS Academic Reading band score calculation chart:
|Correct Answers||Band Scores|
Click here to download IELTS Academic Reading band score chart PDF.
IELTS General Reading band score calculation chart:
|Correct Answers||Band Scores|
Click here to download IELTS General Reading band score chart PDF.
IELTS Academic/General Reading Band Descriptors:
|IELTS Reading Band Scores||Score Descriptors|
|Band Score 9||Expert Reader|
|Band Score 8||Very Good Reader|
|Band Score 7||Good Reader|
|Band Score 6||Competent Reader|
|Band Score 5||Modest Reader|
|Band Score 4||Limited Reader|
|Band Score 3||Extremely Limited Reader|
|Band Score 2||Intermittent Reader|
|Band Score 1||Non-Reader|
|Band Score 0||Did not attempt|
IELTS Reading Test Samples 2023
Cambridge Reading Practice Tests:
- Cambridge Reading Test 1
- Cambridge Reading Test 2
- Cambridge Reading Test 3
- Cambridge Reading Test 4
- Cambridge Reading Test 5
Check this out:Cambridge IELTS 1-16 Tests from all booklets released to date
IELTS Academic Reading Sample Practice Tests:
Make sure to try our:190+ IELTS Academic Reading Practice Tests to boost your passage comprehension
IELTS General Reading Sample Practice Tests:
Also try:185+ IELTS General Reading Practice Tests for the perfect 9 band score
IELTS Academic/General Reading Tips
Here are a few tips on how I scored band 8/8.5 more than once in IELTS Reading:
- READ DAILY: First and foremost, you should make reading a habit. Online articles, newspapers, novels, and journals are excellent resources to start with.
- KNOW SYNONYMS: Reading will assess your ability to understand the same (or similar) ideas hidden behind different wordings and expressions.
- SKIMMING & SCANNING: These two are by far the most useful tricks to get a high band score in Reading. By mastering these techniques, you’ll get a general overview of the passage in least possible time.
- READ & RE-READ THE QUESTION: Many students fail to get their desired band scores in Reading because they quickly jump onto finding the answers. Instead, understanding what the question wants can give you a real leg up during the test.
- UNDERLINE KEYWORDS: Look for words in the passage that are mentioned in the question statement and underline them.
- WATCH OUT FOR TRAPS: Some questions are designed to trick you into thinking the solutions are obvious. Always re-read your responses to ensure that they are answering the question. Don’t be caught in a trap!
Frequently Asked Questions
To get a band score of 8.5 in IELTS Academic Reading, you should answer at least 37/40 questions correctly. Whereas, you should aim for 39/40 correct answers in order to achieve band 8.5 in the General Reading test.
Enriching language vocabulary, understanding different questions types, and knowing some useful tips and strategies beforehand are the key to get a high band score in the test.
Practice Reading from the Cambridge IELTS booklets should be the ideal thing for you to prepare for the test. You can understand the real exam structure and practice different question types using these books without needing any tutor.
The IELTS Reading section is difficult because you must grasp a huge amount of content and accurately answer questions about what you read in a short amount of time. Moreover, determining the correct responses require good language comprehension which makes it difficult for many candidates.
To get a band score of 7 in IELTS Academic Reading, you should answer at least 30/40 questions correctly. Whereas, you should aim for 34/40 correct answers in order to achieve band 7 in the General Reading test.
If you’re an average learner, start off by doing a practice test or two to find out your strengths & weaknesses, and understand what it takes to get 7 in IELTS Reading.
To get a band score of 9 in IELTS Academic Reading, you should answer at least 39/40 questions correctly. Whereas, you should aim for 40/40 correct answers in order to achieve the perfect band score in the General Reading test.