updated on 23-03-2023


IELTS reading

IELTS Reading

The IELTS reading module has 3 sections with 40 questions. Each section has 10-17 questions based on the 14 reading question types to assess your overall reading ability. You have to read the 3 passages and answer the questions within 60 minutes. You can spend 20 minutes per passage. Each question carries 1 mark and the total raw score obtained out of 40 will be graded in the 1-9 band score. 

The IELTS test is the most widely accepted English proficiency exam by the universities and the immigration offices of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, etc. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is conducted by the British Council, IDP and Cambridge. The test is intended to provide a fair and accurate assessment of your English competence through various tasks. As IELTS reading is one of the most important sections, in this article, we will be discussing the types of reading test, its format, marching scheme, etc. 

IELTS academic reading

The IELTS academic reading section comprises 3 reading passages taken from the books, journals and publishings related to the educational topics. You have to answer the 40 reading questions within the 60 minutes. Your marks obtained out of 40 will be converted into the 1-9 scale. The IELTS academic reading test is undertaken by individuals, who are aspiring to pursue their education in the universities of English speaking countries.  Your ability to read and understand the passages, following the arguments, identifying the writer’s opinion and views are all assessed. 

IELTS general training reading

The IELTS general reading consists of 3 sections with 40 questions to be answered in 60 minutes. The 3 reading passages are taken from the advertisements, sports news, books, officials schemes, pay roles, etc. The individuals who are looking for job opportunities, or migrating people appear for the general reading test. The IELTS general reading test is conducted to check your English competency level of understanding and conversing to survive in the English country. 

Difference between the IELTS academic reading test and IELTS general reading test

The difference between the IELTS academic reading test and the general test are listed below. 

S no IELTS academic reading IELTS general reading
1 Evaluates your English proficiency in the academic environment.  Evaluates your English competency in day-to-day life. 
2 Your ability to handle the study loads, follow the instructions, and accomplish the educational goals are assessed here.  Your ability to survive and handle your daily activities are assessed in the General test. 
3 Content used will be illustrating your academic topics like researches, inventions, process, etc.  Content used will be illustrating your work life and social life
4 Consists of 14 different question types Consists of 13 different question types.

IELTS reading exam pattern

ielts reading exam pattern

The IELTS reading exam pattern is framed to test your English language reading skills. In the reading test, you will be reading the given passages and answering the questions with the texts taken from the reading passage. The reading exam format is explained below. 

IELTS reading test duration
Number of sections

Number of questions

Number of question type
Band score
60 minutes 3 40 14 1-9

For more details, check IELTS exam pattern 

IELTS reading sections

The IELTS reading module consists of 3 sections. In each section you will be given a passage and 10-15 questions from 3-4 question types to be answered in 60 minutes. The passages are related to academic topics in the academic test and related to general interest topics in the general reading test. 

Section 1

The section 1 passage with factual information is provided in this section. You have to read the passage and answer the questions within the 20 minutes. Authentic tests taken from the books, journals, etc are used in the academic test and social survival related content are used in the general reading passages.

Section 2

A long form of descriptive content is to read and answer in the second 20 minutes. The academic passages are used to assess your English level appropriate for the academic environment. The general passage is used to assess your work life survival in the English country. 

Section 3

Section 3 is the difficult section compared to the other two sections. Here passages of general interest are used. This section consists of long and complex paragraphs that are used to assess your English competency level. 

IELTS reading band descriptors

IELTS Band Score Chart for Academic Reading Test
S no Band Score Raw scores  Skill level
1 9 39-40 Expert user
2 8.5 37-38  
3 8 35-36 Very good user
4 7.5 33-34  
5 7 30-32 Good user
6 6.5 27-29  
7 6 23-26 Competent user
8 5.5 19-22  
9 5 15-18 Moderate user
10 4.5 13-14  
11 4 10-12 Limited user
12 3.5 8-9  
13 3 6-7 Extremely limited user
14 2.5 4-5  
15 2 2-3 Intermittent user

Get a details explanation about the scores in IELTS academic reading scores

IELTS band score table for General training test
S no Raw scores Band score Band descriptor
1 40 9 Expert user
2 39 8.5  
3 37-38 8 Very good user
4 36 7.5  
5 34-35 7 Good user
6 32-33 6.5  
7 30-31 6 Competent user
8 27-29 5.5  
9 23-26 5 Moderate user
10 19-22 4.5  
11 15-18 4 Limited user
12 12-14 3.5  
13 9-11 3 Extremely limited user
14 6-8 2.5  
15 3-5 2 Intermittent user
16 1-2 1 Non user

Get a details explanation about the scores in IELTS general reading scores 

IELTS reading question types

There are 14 IELTS reading question types. These question types are framed to assess your overall reading skill. To score high in the IELTS reading section, you must have a clear understanding of the question types and the ways to solve the questions smartly. The IELTS reading question types are listed below.

IELTS reading time management

The IELTS reading section has 60 minutes (1 hour) to complete the 40 questions. The most crucial part in answering the reading section is to complete the task within the time limit. As there are 3 sections you can use 20 minutes per section. As there is no separate transferring time you can use the first 16-17 minutes to read and answer the questions and use the final 3-4 minutes to transfer the answers.

IELTS reading preparation tips

To help you ace in the IELTS reading section, our IELTS trainers had laid out a few preparation tips. Our international survey has stated that, using these tips, our students were able to move two bands higher in their IELTS reading section. 

  • Time plays a vital role in the reading section. You must know how to manage the time effectively in order to read, and understand the passage, go through the questions and respond to it in a way it is required and finally transfer the answers to the answer sheet. 
  • Have a clear knowledge about the reading exam pattern, its time duration, number of questions, question types, etc. 
  • Read the given instructions carefully, to answer the questions. Pay attention to the phrases like, “No more than two words”, “only one word answer”, etc. to know the word limit and the answering format.
  • Enrich your vocabulary, grammar and spelling skills. 
  • If you find any difficulty in understanding a single word, read the words around it or read the complete sentence to sort out the meaning of the words. 

For detailed preparation tip, visit IELTS reading tips and strategies

How to prepare for the IELTS reading section?

Preparing for the IELTS reading section requires a lot of preparation combined with a number of evaluation tests. To support you in your preparation, we launched our AI powered web portal, where you can take the IELTS reading lessons and practice for the various question types. The test series are structured as per the actual IELTS test to guide the students in time management, vocabulary, reading skills, etc. Take the full IELTS practice test now, to prepare and evaluate your performance. 

How do I get a good score in the IELTS reading? 

To get admissions in the top universities or for a hassle free immigration process, you must secure a high score in the IELTS exam. Now scoring a good band score is easy, if you have a persistent reading practice along with a strong knowledge on the reading question types. While reading the passage you must grasp the main theme and the underlying keywords in the content. Make yourself a strategy to answer the reading sections within the time limit. 


1.   How many passages are given in the IELTS reading section?

There are 3 reading passages in the IELTS reading section. Each section comprises 1 reading passage with 10-14 questions. You have to read and answer the reading questions within 60 minutes.

2.   Is the IELTS reading score of 7 good?

The IELT reading score of 7 is considered to be a good score, as band core 7 is the required eligible score in most of the universities and immigration offices. However to have a score above 7 is better as the overall IELTS score depends on the average score of the individual section. A score above 7 may help to adjust overall score if there is a lack in any other section.

3.   Will I have extra time to complete the reading section?

You will not be given any extra time to complete the reading section. You must complete the reading section within 60 minutes. Thus you can manage the time by using 20 minutes per section.

4.   Are negative marks given for the incorrect answers?

There is no negative marking system in the IELTS reading section. Thus try answering all the questions with the nearest possible choice. This may gain you an extra mark if not there is nothing to lose. 

5.   Is it possible to switch the sections or Do I need to answer only in the question order?

No, you can fill the answer in the order of your choice as well you can move between the sections during the reading section. If you are stuck in any question type, you can skip the question and answer it later after completing all other sections. 


About Author Nivethitha

Nivethitha is an experienced IELTS trainer based in Chennai, who has helped over 1000+ students achieve their desired band scores and gain admission to their dream universities. With over 3 years of experience and a strong educational background in English literature, she is an expert in the language and its nuances. She holds both TEFL and Business English communication certifications, further enhancing her skills and knowledge in the field. Nivethitha believes in the importance of practice tests and incorporates them heavily into her training to help boost her students' confidence and skillset. She aims to provide practical tips and actionable advice to make the aspirants achieve their academic and career goals through her trusted authority in the field of IELTS training.

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