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Tips for IELTS Academic Reading Exam

The IELTS Academic Reading test assesses your reading comprehension abilities, including scanning, skimming, and in-depth reading. The IELTS Academic Reading exam contains 40 questions to be answered within 60 minutes.

Students often face issues analyzing long-form passages and grasping their core idea correctly within the specified time. Further, some areas students need to improve are lack of time management, wrong spelling and grammar.

This article discusses the best reading tips for IELTS Academic test, which is crucial to crack this section.

Table of Contents

What is the IELTS Academic Reading Exam Format?

Three reading passages are asked in the IELTS Academic Reading test, which can be of the following types:

  • Descriptive
  • Factual
  • Discursive
  • Analytical

Now let's have a look at the IELTS Academic Reading Exam Format, as tabulated below:


60 minutes

Number of Questions Asked

40 Questions

Task types

  • Multiple choice,
  • Identifying information,
  • Identifying the writer’s views/claims,
  • Matching information,
  • Matching headings,
  • Matching features,
  • Matching sentence endings,
  • Sentence completion,
  • Summary, Note, Table, Flow-chart completion,
  • Diagram label completion 
  • Short-answer questions

Source of Tasks

  • Books,
  • Journals,
  • Magazines,
  • Newspapers


40 Marks(1 mark for each right answer)

Tips to Enhance Your Reading Skills for IELTS

  • Build the Habit of Reading: Practice reading several types of English texts to get into the reading routine. For instance, reading books, novels, magazines, journals, etc. You can begin by reading different themes through various mediums to understand which texts are more straightforward or difficult to read. This is a fantastic method to study for the IELTS Academic Reading exam.
  • Practice Word Chunking: Reading a few words simultaneously and interpreting the primary information and details would be best. To practice, read three to five words simultaneously and then check whether you grasp the sentence's meaning. You will improve your speed and comprehension as you continue practising by reading many sections in this manner.
  • Do not read the words again: You usually reread the line when unclear about something you read. However, this causes your eyes to hop back and forth while reading, wasting crucial seconds that can quickly mount up. To avoid this, underline the sentence with a pencil while reading and retain vital information while moving forward swiftly.
  • Comprehend the Main Idea of the Passage: Begin with a superficial reading of the passage to understand what it's about. Once you're comfortable with it, read it attentively, considering the answers to questions you need to find. This is an excellent strategy to identify the main aspects of the passage, like the title.
  • Enhance your vocabulary to improve comprehension: You may start by expanding your total vocabulary. Make a conscious effort by underlining or recording unfamiliar words and using a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. While attempting the exam, ensure your spelling is always proper, especially when copying from the given passage.

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What are the Tips for Completing IELTS Reading On Time?

  • Scan the passage:To get the gist of the passage, you can rapidly scan over it. Spending time reading every sentence in detail is time-consuming and useless. Look for headings, subheadings, and primary points that describe the text. This will come in handy later while looking for answers.
  • Take note of the beginning and conclusion: The introduction and conclusion express the author's point of view. Most questions can be answered by studying these two parts of the passage. After thoroughly studying the introduction and conclusion, skim the passage's body.
  • Underline Crucial Facts: It is best to highlight important words or dates as you read a passage to get better insights. When a question about them is asked, identifying them is more accessible. Further, mark possible solutions as you read; this will help you save some time.
  • Determine specific keywords: A keyword will assist you in identifying the notion related to the paragraph. When skimming through the passage, identify and underline or highlight these terms. This is beneficial in responding to most of the queries accompanying the text.
  • Before you begin answering, review all the questions: Examine all the questions before you start answering. Emphasize key phrases in your questions. You have already reviewed the section and identified keywords, so it will be simple to find the answers.
  • Answer all the questions: Remember to respond to every question, even if you cannot spot an answer or option. If you have limited time, remember that accuracy matters. Make a reasonable estimate, and you may be rewarded with a mark.
  • Examine your replies: You can increase your IELTS Reading score by double-checking your answers. Ensure you answer all the questions and give yourself at least 20 minutes to check.
  • Stay Calm: To avoid confusion, skip any challenging questions and go on to the next; this will help you remain optimistic. In case you have time, return to those questions at the end.

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Last Minute Tips for IELTS Academic Reading Exam

Preparing as extensively as possible is critical, but if you have yet to begin your preparation, don't stress! Read our last-minute recommendations to feel at ease and prepared for test day!

  • Communicate in English: Make a conscious effort always to use English. Talk in English at work, school, home, and public places leading up to the test. This will prepare you for the exam in the most natural way.
  • Comprehend the test format: You will become more familiar with the different question types if you comprehend the exam's format. Practising mock tests will ensure you can quickly solve the exam questions.
  • Start with your weaknesses: Analyze the question types and focus on the difficult ones. Work on your weak areas first. Once you've resolved these challenges, you can work on honing your talents in the other parts.
  • Manage your time wisely: Take out time and dedicate fixed hours daily to prepare for the exam and be consistent. You must first comprehend the test style and question types to receive the finest tips for the IELTS Academic Reading test.
  • Relax yourself: Destress yourself physically and mentally a few days before your exam. This includes eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and engaging in stress-relieving activities like Yoga.
  • Take pre-timed mock exams: Nothing compares to taking actual tests, as they imitate real-world exam settings. This will help you pinpoint your weak points that need to be improved.
  • Be confident: Feeling anxious about taking your IELTS exam is natural! However, believe that you have prepared for the exam and will perform well on test day.

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To ace your IELTS exam, you must master each test section. The reading section is one of the trickier sections in the IELTS Academic exam. Hence, extra practice is required to qualify for this test portion.

Time management is the key to passing this exam with flying colours. Moreover, referring to the best tips for the IELTS Academic Reading test will be helpful in your exam preparation journey.


Matching headings is one of the most tricky sections in the IELTS Academic reading exam. You can consider the following pointers:

  • Read each heading carefully.
  • Underline keywords within each heading.
  • Identify similarities and differences between the headings.
  • Skim through the starting and ending sentences of the passage.
  • Select the most suitable heading.

You need to identify whether a given statement is "not given", "true", or "false" in the passage. Two steps are crucial for answering this question:

  • Read the question thoroughly and highlight the key facts
  • Scan the passage for keywords
  • Read each statement carefully
  • Identify whether the given statement is not given/true/false concerning the passage.

The ideal way to prepare for the IELTS Academic Reading test is to:

  • Improve your vocabulary
  • Read books, novels, articles, and magazines, regularly
  • Take up multiple mock tests
  • Time yourself while attempting practice tests