Understanding the IELTS reading test

There are three reading passages, which may include pictures, graphs, tables or diagrams. The reading passages are of different lengths, from approximately 500 to 1,000 words.

The reading module is the second test you do on the test day. You are given a question booklet and an answer sheet. There is no time, unlike in the listening test, at the end to transfer answers so you have to write your answers directly onto the answer sheet. You are given 60 minutes for the test. The test instructions indicate how much time you should spend on each section of the test.

The test is divided into three sections. You are given a reading passage with questions in each section. The questions can be both before and after the passages. The topics of the passages are of general interest and come from magazines, journals, books and newspapers. At least one of the passages will present a logical argument. The texts increase in difficulty as the test progresses. There may be a glossary of technical words.

There are 40 questions in total. Each of the three sections has either 13 or 14 questions and there are at least two types of questions in each section. are given a mark for each of the 40 questions. Your result is converted into a score that corresponds to one of the bands from 1-9. You will see the band on your result sheet. You can be awarded a whole band or a half band for the reading section.

The reading passage topics vary, but are all of an academic nature. Candidates sometimes panic when they are faced with a reading passage on a subject about which they know nothing at all. It is important to remember that the answers to all of the questions are in the text itself. You do not need any specialist knowledge of the topic to be able to answer the questions. The test is designed to test your reading comprehension skills, not your knowledge of any particular subject.

You must complete the answer sheet within 60 minutes. You will not have extra time to transfer your answers from the question paper to your answer sheet. Candidates often think that, because they have time to transfer their answers in the listening section, the same thing happens in the reading section. It doesn’t.

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