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IELTS Reading Test Format


60 minutes (no extra transfer time).


There are 40 questions. A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, identifying information (True/False/Not Given), identifying a writer’s views/claims (Yes/No/Not Given), matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.

Skills Assessed

A wide range of reading skills are assessed, including:

  • reading for gist
  • reading for main ideas
  • reading for detail
  • understanding inferences and implied meaning
  • recognizing writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • following the development of an argument.

Reading Marking

Each correct answer receives 1 mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

For test specifications visit
For marking information visit
For sample questions visit

Sections of the IELTS Reading Test

There are 3 sections. The total text length is 2,150-2,750 words.

Academic Reading

Each section contains one long text. Texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest. Texts are appropriate to, and accessible to, test takers entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses or seeking professional registration. Texts range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms, then a simple glossary is provided.

General Training Reading

Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts, one of which may be composite (consisting of 6-8 short texts related by topic, e.g. hotel advertisements). Topics are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country. Section 2 contains two short factual texts focusing on work related issues (e.g. applying for jobs, company policies, pay and conditions, workplace facilities, staff development and training). Section 3 contains one longer, more complex text on a topic of general interest. Texts are authentic and are taken from notices, advertisements, company handbooks, official documents, books, magazines and newspapers.

IELTS Reading Tips

Skim & Scan
Do not try to understand every word.

Go through the passage to get a general idea of the content (Skim), and at the same time keep an eye out for key words and information (Scan).

Questions First
Always read the questions before you start reading the passage. This saves you from reading the text too many times, hence saving your time!

While skimming through the passage, underline the important text. This helps you to locate the answers more quickly.

Watch the Order
The questions mostly follow the sequence of the text; therefore, remember to watch the order. For example, the answer to question 2 will be followed by the answer to question 3 and so on.

Please note, this does not apply to the ‘matching’ exercises. The question order in this section is mixed up

Be Attentive
If a task demands no more than 3 words, stick to it. Any extra word will make your response incorrect.

✅ Develop your vocabulary
✅ Practice specific question types
✅ Work on your skills, avoid practicing under exam conditions
✅ Work on your speed, practice under exam conditions

Additional IELTS Reading Tips

  • You may write your answers directly on the answer sheet or you may write them on the question paper and transfer them to the answer sheet before the end of the test. You will not be given extra time to transfer answers at the end of the test. Nothing you write on the question paper will be marked.
  • You must write your answers in pencil.
  • An example of a completed Reading answer sheet is given on the next page.
  • ‘Completion’ question types (e.g. note completion):
    • The same rules apply to ‘completion’ question types as in Listening (link to listening page).
    • The word(s) you use must be taken from the Reading text. You will not need to change the form of the word(s) in the text.

IELTS Reading FAQs

Will I be given extra time to transfer my answers from the question paper to the answer sheet?
No, unlike Listening Module, you are not given extra time to transfer your answers. You must write all your answers directly on the answer sheet.

How many reading passages are there?

Is spelling important?
Yes, you will be marked down for every incorrect spelling.

Should I read the questions before reading the passage?
You must skim the passage quickly, read the questions and then go back to the passage to find the answers.

Can I go to the washroom during the reading test?
Yes, you may. However, you will not be given additional time. Read more about our washroom policy here.

Free IELTS Reading Practice Test

3 sections, 1 hour to complete. Prepare well with these free practice tests. Access free IELTS reading practice test today!