IELTS reading question types

  • By Kanan Team
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The IELTS exam is the standardized English language proficiency test accepted by more than 140 countries. The IELTS reading section is used to assess a wide range of reading skills through its various question types. The IELTS reading section has 3 sections with 3 reading passages and 40 questions to be answered in 60 minutes (1 hour). There are 14 question types in the reading section. You have to read the passage and answer the question with the content taken from the passage. 

There are two IELTS test variants. 

  • Students aspiring for education programs in the universities of English-speaking countries take the IELTS academic test.
  • Individuals who are looking for job opportunities or planning to migrate to any English-speaking country like the UK, USA, Canada, etc. can appear for the IELTS general training test. 

To crack the IELTS test with a high score, you must have familiarity with the question types and learn the tricks and tips to solve these questions. In this article, we will discuss the various question types, skills required, challenges faced in answering the questions, etc. 

How many types of questions are there in the IELTS reading test?

There are 14 IELTS reading question types in the reading section. The IELTS academic reading test consists of 14 question types and the general training reading test consists of 13 question types. 

Also read: IELTS reading tips

  • Question type 1 - Matching headings
  • Question type 2 - Locating information
  • Question type 3 - Summary completion
  • Question type 4 - True false not given
  • Question type 5 - Multiple choice questions
  • Question type 6 - Matching sentence endings
  • Question type 7 - Matching features
  • Question type 8 - Sentence completion
  • Question type 9 - Note completion
  • Question type 10 - Yes no not given
  • Question type 11 - Table completion
  • Question type 12 - Short answer questions
  • Question type 13 - Flow chart completion 
  • Question type 14 - Diagram labelling

IELTS reading matching headings questions

Task

The IELTS reading matching heading is to test your ability to understand the main idea of each paragraph and choose the matching heading from the given list. Here you will have to match the given heading to the correct section of the reading passage. The strategy for answering the questions are

  • Strategy 1: Read the passages, understand the main idea and then read the heading.
  •  Strategy 2: Read the headings, then read the paragraphs and understand the main theme to find the correct match.

The passages used for the matching heading question types have paragraphs with clearly defined themes. The paragraphs will be named using alphabets (A, B, C, etc). Your answers will be the letter corresponding to the paragraphs that match the given heading meaning. 

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading matching headings

  • More headings will be provided than the number of paragraphs. This makes it difficult to narrow down the correct headings as per the paragraphs.
  • Two or more headings may have the same meaning.
  • Differentiating between the main idea and the supporting idea is challenging.
  • You may spend more time reading the paragraphs to identify the main idea

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading matching heading question type

  • Understanding the main theme of the individual paragraphs.
  • Paraphrasing and summarising skills to identify the main idea.
  • Locating the keywords in the paragraphs.

Tips for solving the IELTS reading matching heading question types

  1. Read the heading and try to get the idea behind the heading. 
  2. Use your summarizing and paraphrasing skills to understand the heading.
  3. You must follow the instructions carefully to give the correct answer format.
  4. As you find the correct paragraph, eliminate the paragraph from your consideration. This will make it easier to choose the correct answer. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading matching heading question type.

IELTS reading locating information questions

Task

The IELTS reading locating information question is to check your ability to locate the specific information in the reading passage. In this task, you will be given a set of information taken from the passage. You have to read the information and answer the question by writing a paragraph letter. 

You can solve this question type by reading the given statement first and scanning for the relevant content in the reading passage. The statement may use synonyms or paraphrase words. You can skim the passages to locate the information.

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading locating information

  • Answers for two statements can be found in the same paragraph.
  • You must write the paragraph’s corresponding letter as the answer.
  • While scanning for the information you may spend more time in locating the Information.
  • Searching for the keywords in the reading passage. It may be in a synonym or paraphrase format of the keyword.

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading locating information question type

  • Scanning for specific information
  • Locating the keywords to identify the information.
  • Adequate concentration to follow the instructions carefully.

Tips for solving the IELTS reading locating information question types

  1. You have to skim the reading passage to understand the content of the passage.
  2. After reading the given statement, skim the passage to identify the location of the information.
  3. Make sure to write the correct answer in the answer sheet.
  4. Some paragraphs may not be used as answers, thus do not spend more time reading the passage if you feel there are no answers.

Click to know more about the IELTS reading locating information question type.

IELTS reading true false not given questions

The IELTS reading true false not given questions, is to understand the information provided and check whether they are true or false or not given as per the reading passage. You will be reading the statement as well as the passage and decide what answer to be written based on the following criteria,

  • True- if the statement agrees with the information in the passage
  • False - if the statement disagrees with the  information in the passage
  • Not given - the given statement is not mentioned in the passage.

The answers will be in progressive order. Thus if you find the first answer, you can scan for the keywords in the following sections, to find the answers easily. The statement will not be a word-to-word match as the synonyms and the paraphrases are used. You have to carefully read the passage and write whether the statement is true, false, or not given, according to the reading passage irrespective of your own knowledge of the topic. 

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading true false not given question type

  • You may get distracted with the qualifying words like every, unlikely, occasionally, often, etc.
  • Look out for words that express doubts like seem, possibly, probably, claim, etc.
  • You may spend time searching for the information that is not present in the passage.
  • Using your own general knowledge about the topic to answer the questions. 

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading true false not given question type

  • A clear understanding of the given statement
  • Decision-making skills
  • Scanning for details.
  • Seeking factual information

Tips for solving the IELTS reading true false not given question types

  1. Realize the meaning of the answers, true, false, and not given.
  2. Identify the keyword in the statement to locate the information in the passage.
  3. The statement may contain the synonym or paraphrased content. Thus you must have a strong vocabulary to identify the statement. 
  4. There will be at least one “not given” answer in the question type. If you did not get any NG answers, then recheck your answers. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading true false not given question type.

IELTS reading multiple choice questions

The IELTS reading multiple choice question is used to assess your detailed reading technique to recognize the main idea to choose the correct answer among the possible options. In this question type, you will be given a sentence with a blank and a list of alternatives. You have to read the passage and fill the blank with the best option that matches the sentence grammatically as per the passage. 

The answers can be found in the passage order i.e answer for the second question will follow the first answer. The three types of MCQs included in the reading test are,

  1. Choose one option from the 4 alternatives.
  2. Choose two options from the 5 alternatives 
  3. Choose three options from the 6 alternatives

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading multiple choice question type

  • You will find it difficult to decide your answers among the similar alternatives provided.
  • You may be confused by the antonyms or opposite-meaning words. 
  • Extra information is given in the questions but is not related to the answers.
  • Find it difficult to segregate between the answer and the related information.

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading multiple choice question type

  • Skimming
  • Keyword identification
  • Paraphrasing
  • Predicting the correct answer

Tips for solving the multiple choice question types

  1. Read the question and identify the keywords in the statements.
  2. While choosing the answers, think about the meaning of all the alternatives and choose the best alternative that will suit the sentence's meaning and grammar.
  3. If you are stuck in choosing the correct answer, then you can strike out the least possible opinion and then try thinking about the remaining options. Even then if you are not able to find the answer, choose the option that is closely related to the statement.
  4. Never leave any question blank. Even if you don't know the answer, try filling the blank with the option you think may be correct. There is no negative marking in the reading section. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading multiple choice question type.

IELTS reading summary completion questions

The IELTS reading summary completion question requires you to complete the summary of the reading passage with the texts from the passage. Here you will be given a reading passage along with an incomplete summary of the passage. You may be asked to,

  • Fill the blanks with the words from the passage or
  • Fill the blanks with the words listed in the given options.

Here the main ideas and facts given in the passages will be used as the answers. While answering remember the texts must be taken from the passage only and the instructions will give the answers word limit. As this is one of the most important question types in the reading section, you must have persistent practice to solve the questions with ease. 

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading summary completion question type

  • Your answers may exceed the word limit.
  • Found it difficult to spot the required information.
  • Choosing the texts that do not match grammatically.
  • Getting confused with the synonym of a word or the paraphrased sentence structure.

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading summary completion question type

  • Scanning and skimming
  • Keyword identification
  • Predicting the summary context
  • Strong vocabulary.

Tips for solving the IELTS reading summary completion question types

  1. Follow the instructions carefully and write answers with texts that are taken from the reading passages only.
  2. Before trying to locate the answer, try to predict the answer on your own, and then try finding the answer by searching the word similar to the predicted text.
  3. Watch the time spent answering the questions. Have a familiarity with the question type and the ways to solve them strategically.
  4. Here you need not read the whole passage, as the summary will be given for a particular paragraph or a section of the reading text. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading summary completion question type.

IELTS reading matching sentence endings questions

In the IELTS reading matching sentence ending questions, you have to fill the incomplete sentence by choosing the answer from the alternatives given. You will be given two lists of sentences, one will be the sentence beginning and the other will be the sentence endings. The number of endings will be more than the beginnings but each question can have only one answer.

You have to choose the ending that will match the sentence grammatically and the content meaning must be similar to the passage context. Here your ability to understand the main idea of the passage is assessed. This question type is very simple and at the same time the trickiest one too.

Challenges faced in solving the matching sentence endings question type

  • The sentence ending must be chosen only based on the passage. Own answers cannot be used.
  • As there are more endings, you may be spending time identifying the irrelevant endings.
  • Find it difficult to locate the sentence in the passage as synonyms or other word forms may be used. 

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading matching sentence endings question type

  • Scanning
  • Recognizing grammatical structure.
  • Synonyms and paraphrase identification
  • Prediction 

Tips for solving the IELTS reading matching sentence endings question types

  1. You can use the elimination process to identify the endings easily.
  2. Improve your vocabulary and grammatical skills to find the matching endings.
  3. You must have a regular practice to understand the ways to answer the questions easily within the time limit. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading matching sentence endings question type.

IELTS reading matching features questions

The IELTS reading matching features question is used to assess your ability to look for specific details in the reading passage to find the matching information. The specific information may be a 

  • Event
  • Example
  • Description
  • Comparison
  • Summary
  • Explanation
  • Process

You will be given a piece of information from the passage and asked to match the information with the list of features given. The same feature can be used as the answer to more than one question. You must have a clear understanding of the reading passage to solve the question at ease. 

Challenges faced in solving IELTS reading matching features question type

  • Information given has a similar meaning in different contexts.
  • Identifying the keyword may be a little tedious as the synonym or the paraphrase is used.

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading matching features question type

  • Scanning for information
  • Specific detail identification
  • Skim for overall understanding.

Tips for solving the IELTS reading matching features question types

  1. The answers will not be in the same order as the reading passage. 
  2. The information need not be the main idea. This question type is to match the information with the respective feature. Thus you must read the full passage to identify the answers.
  3. The matching information will be found as a phrase or a sentence in the reading passage. It will not be given as a single word.
  4. Match the easiest information first. You can first start matching the numerical data, and names. This will help in saving your time for the difficult questions.

Click to know more about the IELTS reading matching features question type.

IELTS reading sentence completion questions

In the IELTS reading sentence completion question types, you have to fill the gaps in the given sentence to complete the sentence meaningfully. In this question type, you must follow the instruction to know the word limit. It will be stated as

  • No more than two words or
  • Only one word.

If your answer is exceeding the given word limit, it will be considered incorrect. The texts in the answers must be taken from the reading passage only. The answer must fit the sentence grammatically as well as spelling error-free. If you are struggling to find the answers, you can read the complete sentence to make your guess in answering the question.

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS sentence completion question type

  • The sentence in the question will be structured differently than the original sentence. So you have to look for the paraphrased meaning of the keywords.
  • You may tend to fill the blanks with texts that are not grammatically correct.
  • While transferring the answers to the answer sheet, you may get spelling errors.

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading sentence completion question type

  • Synonym identification
  • Reading for specific details
  • Scanning
  • Paraphrasing 

Tips for solving the IELTS reading sentence completion question types

  1. Read and follow the given instructions while answering the questions.
  2. There is no need to read the full passage. You must only scan the passage to look for specific information. 
  3. Manage your time effectively while answering these question types.
  4. First find out what kind of information is required to fill the blanks i.e noun, verb, adverb or adjective, and spot the missing information in the reading passage. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading sentence completion question type.

IELTS reading short answer questions

The IELTS reading short answer questions is considered to be one of the simplest question types by the IELTS test takers. This is because here you will be given a set of questions and the answers will be written with the texts taken from the passage. Usually, the short answer questions will be demanding for 1-3 word answers. You must maintain the word limit to get your answers correct. 

You must answer the questions with the details taken from the passage. You must have a clear understanding of the passage to answer the questions. Sometimes, the question may be about the overall understanding of the passage. 

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading short answer question type 

  • As the question type is simple you may rush to answer the question on your own. You must use text only from the passage.
  • You may exceed the word limit while answering the questions.
  • Not able to differentiate between the main ideas and the supporting details.

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading short answer question type

  • Skimming 
  • Scanning
  • Keyword identification
  • Recognizing synonyms

Tips for solving the IELTS reading short answer question types

  1. Have a clear understanding of the questions before reading the passage.
  2. Remember the answers will be given in progressive order. You can easily sort the answers from the passage.
  3. Do not cross the word limit. Your answer should be within the word limit or will be marked incorrect.
  4. The questions will mostly be having synonyms or paraphrased texts. You have to identify the correct information that will guide you in answering the questions.

Click to know more about the IELTS reading short answer question type.

IELTS reading note completion questions 

In the IELTS reading note completion question, you will be filling the blanks in the given notes with the words from the reading passages. While giving the answers you must follow the instructions like 

  • Write one word only
  • Write one word / a number
  • With no more than two words
  • With no more than two words or numbers
  • With no more than three words.

The instructions mainly deal with the word limit. You must make sure, your answer is spelling error-free and completes the given notes meaning as per the reading passage. For this question types, mostly descriptive passages are used. 

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading note completion question type

  • You may spend more time predicting the answers.
  • You may be finding it difficult in spotting the section of the passage for which the notes are given.
  • Skip reading the instructions and eventually answer the questions exceeding the word limit.

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading  note completion question type

  • Quick reading speed.
  • Passage understanding 
  • Locating specific information
  • Summarizing. 

Tips for solving the IELTS reading note completion question types

  1. While reading the passage underline the keywords to use them later in finding the answers.
  2. Read the given instruction and follow the steps provided in the instructions. This will also help you in finding the required answer type.
  3. Enrich your skimming and scanning skills to increase your reading speed.
  4. You must improve your vocabulary to understand the synonyms and other word forms. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading note completion question type.

IELTS reading flow chart completion questions

The IELTS reading flow chart completion questions consist of a series of boxes connected with the arrows indicating the flow of a process or a sequence of events. You will be filling the incomplete steps with the texts from the passage. You have to identify, where the series of events are mentioned in the passage to identify the answers to fill the blanks. 

This question type is used to assess your ability to identify the specific information in the reading passage. As the flow chart is about the series of events, the answers will also be found in progressive order. This question type is one of the rarely appearing question types even though you must be well prepared to answer the questions.

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading flow chart completion question type

  • As the word limit is mentioned, surpassing the word limit will reduce your marks.
  • The appropriate word used in the reading passage must be used. You cannot answer on your own.
  • You may skip the grammatical structure of the sentence given. 

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading flow chart completion question type

  • Time management
  • Scanning and skimming
  • Keyword identification
  • Reading for detailed information
  • Locating the required data.

Tips for solving the IELTS reading flow chart completion question types

  1. You must completely read the flowchart and understand the sequence of steps to identify the location of the text in the reading passage. 
  2. You must know to scan the reading passage to find out the necessary information.
  3. Try using all the clues to find the answer. You must read the whole sentence or the words around the blanks to find the reading answers. 
  4. Follow the arrow to understand the flow of events in the passage.

Click to know more about the IELTS reading flow chart completion question type.

IELTS reading yes no not given questions 

In the IELTS reading yes no not given question type, you will be checking whether the given set of statements matches with the writer’s views, opinion or attitude. You will be giving your answers based on the following criteria,

  • Yes - if the statement agrees with the writer’s opinion
  • No- if the statement disagrees with the writer’s opinion
  • Not given - if the statement has information where the author’s views are not known.

The important step in solving this question type is to understand the given statement and decide which option to be chosen for the particular statement. This question is used to assess your ability to identify the author’s view on a topic. Argumentative or discursive passages are used for this question type. 

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading yes no not given question type 

  • You must not confuse this question type with the true-false question type. Make sure to write the answers as yes, no, or not given.
  • Spending time searching for relevant data for a not given statement. 
  • Overthinking the statements with qualifying words.
  • Searching for the view or opinion of the author in direct statements. You have to sort out their opinion from the information given in the passage. 

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading yes no not given question type

  • Scanning
  • Identifying qualifying words
  • Decision making
  • Reading for details

Tips for solving the IELTS reading yes no not given question types

  1. Answers are given in progressive order. You will be able to find the answers one after the other.
  2. Reading the complete passage is not required in this question type. You have to just scan for the keywords to identify the author’s view.
  3. Remember, there will be at least one Yes, No, and Not given answers in the questions. If your answer is lacking any one option you have to recheck your answers.
    Keep an eye for the qualifying words that will express the possibilities or doubts and create a distraction. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading yes no not given question type.

IELTS reading table completion questions

The IELTS reading table completion question has a table with blanks in the content given inside the table. You have to fill the gaps with the appropriate words taken from the passage. All the information given in the table will match the content in the passage but paraphrased texts will be used. 

You will be reading the content in the table, identifying the keyword and locate the information in the reading passage and filling the gaps. The common instructions given for this question type include the word limit. The information given in the table is not in order, it may be found anywhere in the passage. 

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading table completion question type

  • Skipping the instruction part and thus you may exceed the word limit.
  • Fill the blanks with the words from your own knowledge. Even if you know the topic you have to fill the gaps only with the words taken from the reading passage.
  • As paraphrased information is used, you may find it difficult to locate the answer within the passage. 

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading table completion question type

  • Scanning 
  • Skimming
  • Paraphrasing
  • Keyword identification
  • Detailed reading 

Tips for solving the IELTS reading table completion question types

  1. You have to fill in the blanks with the exact words from the reading passage. Never use the synonyms or the paraphrased words. 
  2. Before looking for the answers, try identifying what kind of information is missing. The missing information may be a number, noun, verb, adjective, etc. 
  3. The answers must be grammatically fit with the given sentence. 
  4. While transferring the answer to the answer sheet, remember to write the answers with correct spelling. Incorrect spellings will reduce your score. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading table completion question type.

IELTS reading diagram labelling questions

The IELTS reading diagram labelling question will have a plan or a diagram. You are required to label the parts of the diagram with the texts taken from the passage. The given diagram may be a 

  • Design or a plan 
  • A technical drawing about the machinery or an invention
  • A diagram of the living or nonliving things. 

There are two variants in the diagram labelling answers, they include filling the blanks with the words from the passage or filling the words from the list of options provided. There will be more words than the blanks. This question type is used only in the IELTS academic reading test. 

Challenges faced in solving the IELTS reading diagram labelling question type

  • Going beyond the word limit while answering the questions.
  • Identifying the answers within the passage may consume your time.
  • As the answers are not given in the same order, you have to read the full passage to locate the required information.

Skills required to answer the IELTS reading diagram labelling question type

  • Diagram interpretation
  • Reading the passage for details
  • Scanning
  • Locating specific data.

Tips for solving the IELTS reading diagram labelling question types

  1. The diagram is just a pictorial representation of the process. You need not panic over the question. With regular practice, you will be able to solve the questions easily.
  2. You must find clues from the numbers, names, features, etc given in the passage to identify the answers. 
  3. At times you may be given a glossary for unfamiliar words used in the passage. You can use these words to understand the meaning of the sentences used. 
  4. Understand the diagram first and then start labelling the parts. This will help you in finding the answers easily. 
  5. If you are not able to label any parts, you can move on to the next question and come back later to this question. Manage your time effectively. 

Click to know more about the IELTS reading diagram labelling question type.

Summary:

In this article, we have covered all the required information about the IELTS reading question types. Having a clear understanding of the question types and the ways to solve them will help you in scoring a high band score in the IELTS exam. We hope this article will help in your preparation for the reading question types. All the best for your IELTS exam. 

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Global Headquarters

Kanan Intl EdTech Inc

Ph-1, 220, George Street, Toronto Ontario, Canada M5A 2N1

India Headquarters

Kanan International Pvt. Ltd.

D-wing, 2nd Floor, Trident Complex, Ellora Park Vadiwadi Road, Vadodara, Gujarat 390007

IT/ Digital Campus

Chennai Office

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About Kanan International

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Copyright © 2022 KANAN INT EDTECH INC. All rights reserved.