IELTS reading Tips, Tricks & Strategies for band 9

  • By Kanan Team
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The IELTS reading section is considered to be one of the hardest sections in the IELTS test. In this test module, you will be reading the given passage and answering the questions with the text taken from the passage. In this blog we will be discussing the expert proven tips that will help you secure a high band score in your IELTS reading section. 

What is the difference between the IELTS academic reading and the IELTS General reading test?

The difference between the IELTS academic reading test and the IELTS general reading test is listed below for your reference.

S no IELTS academic reading test
IELTS general training reading test
1 The academic test is intended to help in students graduate program The general test is related to the individual's daily living experience in an English country.
2 Passages are related to the educational background. Passages are related to work survival, social life survival and general interest topics.
3 The passages are taken from articles, publishings and journals corresponding to the academic topics. The passages are taken from the newspapers, books, labour laws, advertisement, sports new, etc correlated to your  everyday life
4 Students applying for the study programs in the international university appear for the academic reading test Individuals seeking job opportunities or migrating options, take the IELTS general reading test.
5 There are 14 question types in the academic reading module. There are 13 question types in the general reading module.

What are the skills tested in the IELTS reading test?

The IELTS reading test is used to assess your overall reading skills. The skills tested in this module are given below

  • Ability to understand a detailed description
  • Relating the informations given in the passage
  • Recognizing the writer’s opinion or view
  • Identifying specific information
  • Recognizing the main idea and supporting details
  • Locate specific details or description
  • Understanding precise information.

IELTS reading format & question types

The IELTS reading test consists of 3 sections with 40 questions to be answered in 60 minutes (1 hour). Each question will be given 1 mark, thus the total score will be 40. The raw score obtained out of 40 will be graded on a 0-9 band scale. The test format is the same for both the academic reading test and the general reading test. The reading test questions are framed in a way to test your overall reading skills. 

In the reading section, there are 14 types of questions. Each IELTS reading question type is used to assess your English proficiency in the reading aspect. The question types are 

Also read: IELTS reading score 

20 tips for scoring high in IELTS Reading

Our internal survey conducted among the IELTS test achievers, showed that these 20 tips have helped more than 81% of them to achieve a 8 band score. The study also showed that 92% of the students have improved their score by 2 bands after following these tips. Without further adieu, here are the expert proven tips that will help you in achieving a high score in the IELTS reading test. 

Tip #1: Read regularly 

To excel in your IELTS reading test, you must have a persistent reading habit. This will enhance your reading skills. Reading the books, blogs or articles of the native writers, will increase your reading stamina, vocabulary and speed of reading. This reading habit will not only improve your reading competency, but also increase your knowledge in various topics. If you are planning to take an academic reading test, then you must concentrate more on reading academic related books and articles.     

Tip #2: Understand the reading question types

The reading section comprises 14 types of questions in the academic test and 13 types of questions in the general reading section. You must have a clear understanding about each question type and the ways to answer the questions. If you find any difficulty in answering any of the questions, you must spend more time practicing the particular question type. Remember, each question requires a different type of answer i.e, it may be a text, number, phrase, letter, etc. Thus while preparing for the question type, know the type of answer each question is demanding. 

Tip #3: Improve your vocabulary

A strong vocabulary is required to answer the reading questions as synonyms and paraphrasing of the words are widely used here. Thus you can follow the read, note, and revise rule to improve your vocabulary. This means, once you come across a new word, you must look at its meaning, spelling, synonym and antonym. Then you must have a written note about the word to use it for your reference. Until you get used to the word, revise the notes daily. 

Tip #4: Know what kind of text used in the passage

In the reading test, generally descriptive and discursive kinds of texts are used. 

  • Descriptive text - This passage will have factual information about any particular topic. Here you must pay attention to the various facts provided as the question will be based on the dates, features, events, etc given in the passage.
  • Discursive test - This passage will be revolving around any theory or hypothesis based on any general topic. Here your focus must be on the author’s views, purpose, argument, etc. 

Tip #5: Strong grammatical knowledge

Some reading questions will demand for writing answers or matching the sentences or completing the summary. In these cases you must make sure the sentences are grammatically correct and the sentence structure is perfect. Though it is a reading test, grammar plays a vital role in the reading section. Having a good grammatical skill may help you in finding the answers easily. 

Tip #6: Practice your reading skills

To solve the reading sections in a smart way you must possess the reading skills like, scanning, skimming, paraphrasing, summarizing, etc. These skills will help you in reading the passages and locating the answers within a short period of time. First you have to skim the reading passage to know the main idea and the supporting details. Skimming must be done only for 2-3 minutes before reading the question. Scanning is the process of searching for specific information inside the passage. 

Tip #7: Follow the instruction carefully 

You can find instructions given before the questions. You must read the instructions carefully as the word limit, answer type, question type are all explained there. Instructions like “No more than three words”, “only one word answer”, “same answer can be used more than once”, “pick three alternatives from five options”, etc are some of the instructions to be followed. Following these instructions will guide you in answering the questions in the correct format. 

Tip #8: Time management

The time allotted for the reading section is 60 minutes. Within this 1 hour, you must complete answering the 40 questions in the 3 sections. Thus you can use 20 minutes for answering each section. This 20 minutes can also be broken as 16-17 minutes for reading the passage and answering the questions, remaining 3-4 minutes for transferring the answer to the answer sheet. Make sure you are not spending more time on any 1 question or section. If you are not able to answer any question, skip the question for the time being and answer that question later. 

Tip #9: Being focused while transferring the answers to answer sheet

In the reading section there will be no separate time allotted for transferring your answers, thus it has to be completed within the 60 minute duration. So you have to reserve some time for transferring your answers in the answer sheet. While transferring the answer you must be cautious to mark the correct answer against the question as people tend to miss it due to pressure. Thus you must practice transferring answers while you prepare for the IELTS test. 

Tip #10: Answer all the questions

Try answering all the questions given in the reading sections. If you are not able to find the answer for any question, you can answer the nearest possible answer. The choice elimination method will be useful in answering the questions that have options. Even if you dono the answer, just try to fill the answer with the information you have in the passage. If it is correct you will be getting marks, if not there is nothing to lose, as there are no negative marks in the reading section. 

Tip #11: Ignore all the facts you know about the topic

The reading test is only to check how well you are able to understand the given passage and answer the questions. Even if you are familiar with the passage topic, your knowledge must not be used while answering. If your own answers are given, you will be marked incorrect. You must follow the reading passage carefully and the answering texts must be taken only from the passage. 

Tip #12:  Increase your reading speed

The reading is strictly timed and the answers must be given within the stipulated time. To complete the session, you must have an increased speed of reading. Reading doesn't mean just reading the passage, it means you have to understand the main idea, look for the keywords, understand the purpose of the passage, etc while you are reading. In order to accomplish this, you must have a good reading speed, which can be enhanced by consistent reading practice. 

Tip #13: Do not try to understand the overall passage

The reading questions expect you to look for specific information or facts from the passage. Thus trying to understand the overall meaning of the passage is not necessary and it is a time consuming process. Hence you can first skim the passage to find the overall gist of the content and scan the passage for the tasks to save enough time for answering . 

Tip #14: Know your weaknesses

You can improve your skills, only when you know where you are lacking. Thus you have to self evaluate yourself with practice tests to check your progress level and to find out the difficult questions you are not comfortable answering. After the evaluation, you must pay special concentration to the topic and practice more to get yourself familiar with answering the question type. 

Tip #15: Plan your preparation

Schedule your preparation plan, well ahead of the test date and try to follow it. Your preparation plan must give equal attention to all the topics and question types. You must also include practice tests and mock tests. You must be able to spend at least 3-4 hours daily in preparing for the IELTS test. 

Tip #16: Use the best study materials

The study materials used for your preparation must cover all the topics mentioned by the official exam board. As the IELTS is conducted by the Cambridge, IDP and British COuncil, you can check for the latest syllabus in their official website and choose the books that will have the entire syllabus. There are also numerous online resources to help you in your preparation. 

Tip #17: Know the different strategies to solve the reading section

There are two strategies in solving the reading section, they are,

  • Reading the passage first, understand the main idea, underline the keywords, and then go to the question section. After reading the question section, you will be looking for the answer in the passage. 
  • You will be directly reading the question and then come back to the passage to look for the required information from the passage. 

You can choose whichever strategy is convenient for you in answering the reading section questions.

Tip #18: Do not panic over any unfamiliar words

In the reading passage or question, if you come across any new word, don’t get panicked. You can grasp the meaning of the word from the texts around the word or by reading the full sentence. You can also look at the prefixes or suffixes to understand the word usage. Sometimes your grammatical skill may also guide you in finding the meaning of the word.

Tip #19: Do not overthink the answers

The reading test requires you to answer the questions with the texts taken from the given paragraphs. Your task is to locate the information and write the answers, without spending time on thinking about the synonyms or keywords. Thinking too much over a question, will make you spend more time on a single question. 

Tip #20: Get expert guidance

If you think you have expert guidance while preparing for the reading section, you can choose to enrol in the IELTS coaching centres in your city. The trainers in the institute will help you in understanding the question types and the ways to solve them effectively. 


The IELTS reading tips, tricks and strategies, mentioned above will be very useful in answering the reading questions. Like all the tests, keep yourself fully prepared with the reading lessons to accomplish a high IELTS reading band score. 

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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

132, Habibullah Rd, Satyamurthy Nagar, T. Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600017

kanan-ftr-phone+91 63597 73959



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About Kanan International

A truly global higher education partner to learners and education institutions. Supports learners at every point in their global education journey with its reliable services, products and solutions.

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