What Is The IELTS Exam Reading Task All About?

The Reading section of the reading test is designed to assess your reading comprehension skills. You will have to answer different types of questions based on different reading texts/passages. The texts are all authentic and taken from trustworthy sources.

The texts encountered in the IELTS reading exams are chosen to reflect the type of content you might naturally come across as a student or resident of an English speaking country. it is quite different to the kind of conversational English students from Singapore are accustomed to. Therefore the test is not always as easy as students assume it to be. In this article, I’ve provided an in-depth account of the IELTS exam Reading Task format.

The Reading Test Format

  • The reading task is one hour long.
  • It has three parts for both the IELTS  Academic and the IELTS General Training modules.
  • It follows the listening task.
  • There are a total of 40 questions.
  • You will have 20 minutes to answer each task with no extra time for transferring answers

The Difference Between Academic Reading And General Training Reading Tests

The Academic module contains three reading passages. Most of the texts are related to academics. The passages are sourced from books, textbooks and journals, etc.

The General Training module contains three sections. 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 and advertisements

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

The third section is about general interest issues. The passages in this section are quite similar to the academic reading test passages

Reading Question Types

The IELTS reading test consists of a number of different question types. According to the British Council and the IDP these questions can be divided into the following types:

  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Matching Headings
  • Matching Features
  • Matching Information
  • Matching Sentence Endings
  • True/False/Not Given questions and Yes/No/Not Given questions
  • Summary, Table, Note, Flowchart Completion
  • Diagram Labelling

Important Things To Note About The Reading Test

The test is really a vocabulary test since it depends on your understanding of words and phrases. Each of the different questions requires different types of answers, so make sure you read the instructions carefully. For example, some questions require answers in the form of words while others require letters

Proper spelling is crucial as an incorrect spelling will result in an incorrect answer.  There is no extra time at the end of the test to transfer your answer, so time management is crucial and not all questions follow the order of the passage.

The passages can be quite challenging and preparation for the reading test often includes the mastery of certain reading skills. This is why its important to consider enrolling in a good IELTS preparation course to help identify your weak areas and help you to familiarize yourself with the skills needed to ace the IELTS reading test. You can also go through authentic IELTS sample passages and answers, that are provided by the British Council and IDP.

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.