What Are The Essential Skills Needed For The General Reading Test?

If you are seriously considering immigrating to an English speaking country, then you probably have done some research into taking the General Training IELTS test. This exam is a language proficiency test that is designed to assess whether or not a candidate has sufficient English skills to survive everyday life in an English speaking country.

Although the general training test is very similar to its academic counterpart, the reading and writing components of the exam have some significant differences.

In this article, we will deal specifically with the general training IELTS reading test and the reading tips and skills candidates from Singapore and other parts of the world need to ace this component of the IELTS exam.

IELTS General Training Reading Format

The General Training module contains three parts. Section 1 and 2 might have one or two passages.

The passages in the first section usually relate to everyday English life situations which are sourced from magazines, flyers, newspapers, notices and advertisements

This reading section is designed to assess your social survival skills and ability in an English-speaking country. The texts will represent situations that candidates will probably have to navigate through during their day to day life.

The second section relates to work issues. These texts are sourced from actual company handbooks, official documents or policies

The third section is about general interest issues. The passages in this section are quite similar to the academic reading test passages and are usually sourced from real magazines or books. These are often more descriptive and instructive texts.

The general training reading texts are much less complex than those found in the academic reading test. Generally, the questions will ask you to simply find and confirm information from the passage. Meaning that in most cases you do not have to read in detail.

The General Reading test questions types include:

  1. Multiple-choice questions
  2. Matching Headings
  3. Matching Features
  4. Matching Information
  5. Matching Sentence Endings
  6. True/False/Not Given questions and Yes/No/Not Given questions
  7. Summary, Table, Note, Flowchart Completion
  8. Diagram Labelling

Essential IELTS General Training Reading Skills

Predicting the Answer

The questions in section 1 and 2 often ask you to find specific types of information such as names, dates or numbers. It’s important to be able to correctly predict which type of answer is being asked for, especially when it is a fill in the blank type of question. you need to have a good understanding of how articles and prepositions are used in order to be able to predict the type of noun needed. Certain prepositions signal that a date or specific place follows. articles like a and or the signal whether or not a singular or plural noun should be placed in the blank. A simple error like using a plural noun instead of a singular noun can result in an incorrect answer, so it is important to practice these grammar topics


Scanning is one of the most important skills needed for section 1 and 2 since the texts for these sections are more factual than descriptive. Scanning involves searching for certain pieces of information without much further thought or understanding. This will be easier to do once you have predicted the type of answer you require and know what to keep a lookout for.

There are different methods of scanning to find specific details, these include:

Method 1: use your finger to drift over each line from right to left without reading in detail. You will merely be looking for the important keywords that were mentioned for that particular question. over each line looking for the keyword. You don’t do it over the whole passage only for the paragraph in which you think your answer might be located

Method 2: Put your finger in the middle of the line. Move your finger straight down the middle of the paragraph. Let your eyes drift from right to left and left to right.

Try practising both ways to see which method suits you best.

To best prepare for the reading test, it would be best to enrol in an IELTS course with an experienced IELTS teacher. Make sure that the course you choose also has practice tests and questions that reflect the actual levels of the IELTS exam.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.