How to Prepare for IELTS Academic Reading Test?

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IELTS Reading Test

The IELTS Academic Reading segment is structured to evaluate an array of reading skills encompassing comprehension of summaries, main concepts, detailed explanations, skimming, logical reasoning, as well as authors’ viewpoints, attitudes, and intentions. Typically, the IELTS Academic Reading assessment encompasses three extended passages that range from descriptive and factual content to discursive and analytical paragraphs. These passages are sourced from various materials such as books, journals, periodicals, and newspapers. They are specifically chosen to cater to a general readership but remain suitable for individuals embarking on university studies or pursuing formal registration in their respective fields.

IELTS Academic Reading – Test Format

  • Test Format: Three reading Passages with a number of task types
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Questions: 40 questions
  • Type of Questions: Multiple Choice Questions, identifying information, identifying writer’s views, Matching information, Matching headings, features, sentence endings, and sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, and short-answer questions
  • Marks: 1 Mark Each per question
  • Note no extra time is given for transferring the answers
  • Poor spelling and grammar are penalized

IELTS Academic Reading Test – Type of Questions

Type 1 – Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple-choice questions are crafted to evaluate an extensive spectrum of reading abilities, encompassing a comprehensive comprehension of particular details or a holistic grasp of the primary themes within the text. Individuals undertaking the examination are tasked with selecting the most fitting response from a provided set of options, which may comprise four alternatives (A, B, C, or D). Alternatively, the question might prompt the selection of the top two answers from five options (A, B, C, D, or E), or the best three answers from a set of seven alternatives (A, B, C, D, E, F, or G).

Type 2 – Identifying Information

The second category of questions involves the identification of information within the given text. These question types are strategically crafted to evaluate the proficiency of test takers in recognizing specific pieces of information presented in the text, particularly when dealing with factual texts. In this scenario, examinees are presented with a series of statements and are tasked with determining whether these statements align with the information conveyed in the text. To respond, candidates are required to indicate ‘true,’ ‘false,’ or ‘not given’ in the designated boxes on their answer sheets.

A crucial aspect to comprehend here is the distinction between terms like ‘false’ and ‘not given.’ In this context, ‘False’ signifies that the passage contradicts the statement under consideration, while ‘not given’ indicates that the statement’s affirmation or negation is not confirmed by the information in the passage.

Type 3 – Identifying Views or Claims

These question formats are specifically designed to gauge the candidates’ aptitude for comprehending and deducing from opinions or ideas, often utilized in conjunction with discursive or argumentative texts. In such instances, candidates are presented with a series of statements and are prompted with the question, “Do the following statements align with the viewpoints or assertions of the writer?” Responding to this, individuals are tasked with indicating ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘not given’ in the designated spaces on their answer sheet. An essential aspect to grasp here lies in understanding the nuances between terms like ‘No’ and ‘Not given.’ In this context, ‘No’ signifies that the writer’s perspectives or claims overtly oppose the statement, implying that the writer has articulated a viewpoint or assertion that is contrary to the one presented in the question. Conversely, ‘not given’ conveys that the writer’s viewpoint or assertion neither confirms nor contradicts the statement.

Type 4 – Matching Information

The Matching Information questions are meticulously crafted to evaluate the proficiency of candidates in scanning and associating specific information. In such instances, individuals are tasked with pinpointing particular details within the designated lettered paragraphs or sections of a text, subsequently inscribing the letters corresponding to the correct paragraphs or sections in the designated spaces on their answer sheet. This variant of question aims to prompt the identification of specific details, examples, reasons, descriptions, comparisons, summaries, or explanations. This format necessitates a heightened level of attentiveness on the part of the test taker, compelling them to meticulously comb through each section of the text to uncover the requisite information, and then accurately link it to the given paragraph or section.

Type 5 – Matching headings

Within these question types, examinees are tasked with aligning headings with their corresponding sections in order to gauge their capability to discern the central concepts within the provided text or specific sections of it. Generally, the inquiry will present a compilation of headings, each pertinently associated with the central notion of a paragraph or text section. Aspirants are then mandated to correctly pair the headings with the respective paragraphs or sections. This particular format of questioning features texts housing paragraphs or sections that inherently encapsulate distinct thematic subjects.

Type 6 – Matching Features

Matching features questions are formulated to assess the adeptness of examinees in discerning connections and correlations among facts within the text, as well as their proficiency in recognizing opinions and theories. These queries can be applied to texts containing both factual data and opinion-based discursive content. Aspiring candidates are anticipated to grasp the crux of the questions and peruse the text to pinpoint the requisite information while engaging in meticulous reading.

In this category of inquiries, candidates are mandated to associate a series of statements or information with a designated array of choices. These choices encompass an assemblage of attributes derived from the text, demarcated by letters. Certain options might remain unutilized, while others could be employed more than once. Clarity regarding the possibility of reusing options will be furnished in the instructions.

Type 7 – Matching sentence endings

The questions asking for matching the sentence endings have been designed to assess the ability of the test taker to understand the main ideas within a sentence. In which case, first half of a sentence will be given based on the text and then the test taker will be asked to choose the best way to complete it from a list of possible options. Note these type of questions may be used with any type of text.

Type 8 – Sentence completion

The fundamental aim of matching sentence endings is to evaluate the examinee’s proficiency in discerning specific details within the text. Test takers will be tasked with completing sentences using a designated number of words extracted from the text. They are required to transcribe their responses onto the answer sheet. The guidelines stipulate the precise word or numerical count that candidates are to incorporate in their answers. For instance, the instructions may specify, ‘Use no more than three words and/or a number from the passage,’ or ‘Limit your response to one word only’ or ‘Restrict your answer to no more than two words.’ It is essential to note that exceeding the designated word count will result in penalties. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that contracted words will not be evaluated, and hyphenated words will be regarded as individual words.

Type 9 – Summary, Note, Table, Flow-Chart completion

This question format entails condensing text, evaluating the test takers’ capability to grasp particulars and the principal concepts of a segment. When dealing with variations involving a summary or notes, examinees should be well-versed in the specific kind of word(s) that appropriately fit within a designated gap (whether it necessitates a noun, verb, and so forth). In this category of questions, candidates are presented with a summarized version of a text and subsequently tasked with completing it using information extracted from the original passage. Typically, the summary pertains to a singular part of the passage, not the entire text. The provided information might manifest as a series of interconnected sentences from the text, a set of notes, an incompletely filled table, or the like. It’s essential to recognize that the sequence of answers may not mirror the original text, though they often originate from a specific section rather than spanning the entirety of the text.

Type 10 – Diagram Label completion

Examinees need to comprehend an elaborate explanation and subsequently link it to details presented through a diagram. Participants could encounter tasks that involve filling in labels on a diagram, which corresponds to a description found in the text. Clear guidelines will be provided regarding the maximum word count permissible in the responses, with exceeding the specified limit resulting in penalties. The diagram might depict a machine, components of a structure, or any pictorially representable entity. This particular question format is frequently employed in conjunction with texts describing processes or offering detailed descriptions.

Type 11 – Short-Answer Questions

The main purpose of these question types is to assess the examinees’ skill in pinpointing and comprehending specific details within the text. Typically, these questions pertain to factual data present in the text. This format is commonly employed when the text is rich in factual content and intricate details. Participants are usually tasked with recording their answers on the answer sheet using words or numbers taken directly from the text.

IELTS Academic Reading – Marking Scheme

Certified markers evaluate the Academic Reading Test, and their consistency is regularly supervised to ensure accuracy. Once the answer sheets have undergone marking, they are submitted to Cambridge Assessment English for further analysis. Subsequently, a band score conversion table is generated for each iteration of the Academic Reading test, which translates the raw scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale. The final scores are then reported using both whole bands and half bands.

Tips and Tricks for IELTS Academic Reading Test

Following are some of the suggested points that the test taker must keep in mind before attempting the final reading test –

  • It is crucial to begin by scanning for the title, headings, and any distinctive elements such as capitalization, underlining, italics, figures, graphs, and tables.
  • Next, fully comprehend the questions and diligently adhere to the instructions provided.
  • Maintain an awareness of time and avoid dwelling excessively on a single passage or question.
  • Keep in mind that your reading serves a specific purpose, so there’s no need to read every single word.
  • If you encounter an unfamiliar question, consider postponing it or making an educated guess, since incorrect answers do not incur penalties. Swiftly move on to the next question.
  • Bear in mind that all answers can be located within the text, even if you’re unfamiliar with the subject matter.
  • Maintain the exact form of words from the Reading text and avoid altering their structure.
  • Thoroughly review your spelling and exercise caution when distinguishing between singular and plural forms.
  • Concentrate on precisely fulfilling the requirements of “completion” type questions and remain within the specified word limit.
  • Remember, there is no negative marking for incorrect responses, so make sure to attempt all questions.
  • Prior to submission, double-check your answers against the questions paper.

Quick Suggestions

  • Cultivate efficient reading habits by engaging with news articles, blogs, and journals to connect with their ideas.
  • Give the passage a swift overview before delving into the questions, and subsequently identify the key points you need from the passage.
  • As time constraints apply, it’s advisable to enhance your reading skills through practice sessions before taking the final exam.
  • Often, inadequate vocabulary leads to candidates not passing the exam, hence it is recommended to expand your vocabulary. Vocabulary expansion goes beyond word meanings; it entails understanding the appropriate context for word usage.
  • Train yourself to identify keywords while reading, as this enhances effective time management.
  • Enhance your grammar proficiency through consistent practice and self-assessment of your weaker areas.