How to Prepare for IELTS General Reading Test?

  1. Home
  2. IELTS
  3. How to Prepare for IELTS General Reading Test?
IELTS General Reading Test

The IELTS General Reading segment comprises 40 questions, strategically crafted to evaluate diverse reading proficiencies encompassing summarization, identifying key concepts, capturing details, skimming, comprehending logical reasoning, and grasping the authors’ viewpoints, attitudes, and intentions. The IELTS General Training examination encompasses excerpts from a variety of sources, including books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, corporate manuals, and instructional materials.

IELTS General 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 General Reading Sections

Section 1:

The initial segment, categorized under ‘social survival’, encompasses texts focused on fundamental linguistic competence for English communication. The corresponding questions pertain to offering basic factual details, akin to notices, advertisements, and timetables.

Section 2:

The second section related to ‘Workplace survival’, focuses on the workplace context, like job descriptions, contracts and staff development and training materials.

Section 3:

The third segment, linked to ‘general reading’, encompasses the exploration of more extensive prose containing a more intricate structure. The key focus within this section is the evaluation of descriptive and instructional elements, as opposed to texts centered around argumentation.

IELTS General Reading Test – Type of Questions

Type 1 – Multiple Choice Questions

The multiple-choice questions are crafted to evaluate a diverse set of reading abilities, encompassing a comprehensive comprehension of specific details or a broader grasp of the primary concepts within the text. Those taking the exam must pick the optimal response from a set of four options (A, B, C, or D), or they might be tasked with selecting the two best answers from five options (A, B, C, D, or E), or even the three most suitable answers from a pool of seven options (A, B, C, D, E, F, or G).

Type 2 – Identifying Information

The second category of questions pertains to the identification of information within the text. These types of questions have been meticulously designed to evaluate the ability of test takers to discern specific details conveyed in the text, and they can also be applied to texts containing factual information. In this scenario, the examinee will be presented with a series of statements and prompted with the query – ‘Does the following information align with the details in the text?’ Subsequently, candidates are required to record their responses as ‘true,’ ‘false,’ or ‘not given’ in the designated boxes on their answer sheets. It is particularly crucial to comprehend the significance and nuances distinguishing options such as ‘false’ and ‘not given.’ In this context, ‘False’ denotes that the passage contradicts the statement in question, while ‘not given’ indicates that the statement lacks both confirmation and contradiction within the passage’s information.

Type 3 – Identifying Views or Claims

These types of questions evaluate the candidates’ capacity to comprehend and deduce from opinions or ideas. Typically, they are employed in conjunction with discursive or argumentative texts. In this context, candidates will encounter a series of statements and be prompted with the inquiry – ‘Do the subsequent statements align with the perspectives or assertions of the writer?’ To respond, individuals are required to enter ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘not given’ within the designated spaces on their answer sheets.

Of greater significance is the need to discern the meaning and differentiation between options like ‘No’ and ‘Not given.’ Here, ‘No’ signifies that the writer’s perspectives or assertions directly contrast the statement; in other words, the writer presents a viewpoint or makes a claim that contradicts the one provided in the question. Conversely, ‘not given’ indicates that the viewpoint or assertion lacks both confirmation and contradiction within the context of the passage.

Type 4 – Matching Information

Matching information questions assess the proficiency of test takers in swiftly locating and associating specific data. In these scenarios, candidates are tasked with pinpointing precise information within the designated paragraphs or sections of a text. Subsequently, they must transcribe the corresponding letters of the accurate paragraphs or sections into the designated spaces on their answer sheets. These types of matching information questions necessitate the identification of specific details, examples, reasons, descriptions, comparisons, summaries, or explanations within the text. Consequently, candidates must maintain a vigilant approach to unearth relevant information dispersed throughout each section of the text, thereby requiring them to adeptly navigate and retrieve data from the specified paragraph or section.

Type 5 – Matching headings

This category of questions involves task takers matching headings within the assessment to gauge their capability in identifying the principal concept within the provided text or its respective sections. Typically, these questions present a compilation of headings that pertain to the central theme of a paragraph or text section. Subsequently, candidates must align the appropriate heading with the corresponding paragraphs or sections. Such questions center around texts featuring well-defined themes in their paragraphs or sections, prompting candidates to discern and connect these thematic elements.

Type 6 – Matching Features

The questions involving matching features assesses the test takers’ ability to recognize relationships and inter-connection between facts in the text and their ability to recognize opinions and theories. The questions involving matching features can be used both with factual information, as well as opinion-based discursive texts. Candidates are expected to get the gist of the questions and scan the text in order to locate the required information and to read for detail.

In these type of questions candidates match a set of statements of information to a list of defined options. These options are a group of features from the text, identified by letters. There are chances that some options will not be used at all, and others may be used more than once. The instructions will inform test takers if options may be used more than once.

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 assess the candidates’ capacity to identify specific details. Candidates are required to complete sentences using a predetermined word count extracted from the text. Their responses must be written on the answer sheet. The instructions provide precise guidelines on the maximum number of words or numbers that should be utilized in the answers. For instance, the instructions might stipulate ‘No more than three words and/or a number from the passage,’ ‘One word only,’ or ‘No more than two words.’ It is crucial to recognize that exceeding the specified word limit will result in penalties for the candidate. Additionally, it’s important to note that contracted words will not be considered, and hyphenated words will be counted as single words.

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

These type of question requires summarising text to assesses the test takers’ ability to understand details and the main ideas of a section. Now the variations involving a summary or notes, test takers should be aquainted with the type of word(s) that will fit into a given gap (whether a noun is needed, or a verb, etc.).

In these kind of questions candidates are given a summary of a text. And, then they are required to complete it with information drawn from the text. The summary will usually be of only one part of the passage rather than the whole. Given information may be in the form of several connected sentences of text, several notes, a table with some empty cells or partially empty cells, etc. Note , the answers will not necessarily occur in the same order as in the text. However, they will usually come from one section rather than the entire text.

Type 10 – Diagram Label completion

Candidates are required to understand a detailed description, and then relate it to information presented in the form of a diagram. Test takers may be asked to complete labels on a diagram, that relates to a description contained in the text. The will be instructions for the total number of words to be used use in the answers. Such that writing more than specified word limit will be penalized. The diagram can be of a machine, or parts of a building or of any element that can be displayed pictorially. These types of questions are often used with texts describing processes or with descriptive texts.

Type 11 – Short-Answer Questions

These type of questions examine the test takers’ ability to locate and understand precise information in the text. These type of questions generally relate to factual information in the text. These questions are most likely used with a text that contains a lot of factual information and detail. Candidates are generally asked to write their answers in words or numbers on the answer sheet using words from the text. 

IELTS General Reading – Marking Scheme

General Reading Test are marked by certificated markers, who are regularly monitored in order to ensure reliability. All the answer sheets, after being marked, are further sent for analysis to Cambridge Assessment English. After which a band score conversion table is produced for each version of the General Reading test. This converts the scores out of 40 into the IELTS 9-band scale. The scores are reported in whole bands and half bands.

Tips and Tricks for IELTS General Reading Test

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

  • Most importantly when you start you should be on a look out for title, headings and any special features like capital letters, underlining, italics, figures, graphs and tables.
  • Secondly understand the questions and follow instructions carefully.
  • Do not spend time on one passage or question, pay attention to timing.
  • Just remember, you are reading for a purpose and do not try and read every word
  • In case you do not know the answer to a question either leave it for later or have quick guess. Since there no negative marking for wrong answer. Try to move quickly onto the next question
  • Remember all the answers can be only found in the text, so 
    do not panic if you do not know anything about the subject of the text
  • Do not not change the form of the word(s) in the text and use words from the Reading text only
  • Check your spelling and be careful while using singular and plural forms
  • You focus should be precisely on has been asked to do in ‘completion’ type questions and do not over exceed the word limit specified.
  • Remember to attempt all questions as there is no negative marking for wrong answers, so there is nothing to lose.
  • Check your answers from the questions paper before submission.
Quick Suggestions
  • Develop quick reading habits by going through news articles, blogs , journals and try to relate to their thought
  • Give a quick read to the passage before going to the questions. Then come back with key points you are looking for in the passage.
  • Since there are time limit practice your reading skills before finally giving the exam.
  • Usually candidates are not able to clear because of poor vocabulary, so it suggested to learn vocabulary. Learn vocabulary does not mean learning the meaning of a word. But it involves developing the understanding of where you can or cannot use a word.
  • You should be able to spot key words while reading this will help better time utilization.
  • Improve your grammar skills which can only be done by practicing and assessing your weak areas.