Reading Section of IELTS

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Reading section of IELTS includes 3 passages for reading with increasing difficulty and there are 40 questions in total. The content may be of descriptive, factual, discursive and analytical. The texts are mainly taken from books, journals, newspapers and magazines. A variety of question types is used to evaluate a wide range of reading skills.


Reading Section of IELTS


 Duration of the reading section

 60 minutes

Number of Questions


Number of tasks



Types of the question in the IELTS Reading section

There are several types of questions you will come across in the IELTS Reading section. The descriptions of the question types and tips below will help you to understand this section very closely. First, let us discuss the types of questions included :

Multiple Choice

In this kind of question, you will have to select the answer option which you think right from the given choice. Some will focus on main ideas, while others will focus on details. First, you should look for keywords in the given passage and the answer choices then you should scan the whole passage for answers.

True/False/Not Given

These kinds of questions consist of a few statements. You need to decide whether each one is TRUE if the information in the question statement agrees with the information in the text or FALSE  if the question statement contradicts something found in the passage

The third option is also possible when the information in the question statement cannot be found in the article. It is a bit difficult to search for something that is, in fact, not there. Try your best but do not spend more time on these questions. If you can’t find an answer after you have searched for it thoroughly in the passage, mark NOT GIVEN and move on. 

Yes/No/Not Given

These kinds of questions are almost the same as True/False/Not Given questions. The difference is that they concentrate on ideas and not facts. Your job is to mention whether the statements given in the questions agree (YES) or disagree (NO) with what the author has written in the essay. If the information isn’t discussed directly, you have to answer NOT GIVEN.


There are different kinds of Matching questions on the IELTS Reading paper. We have discussed them below:

  • Matching Headings

In this kind of question, you are required to match a list of given “headings” to each paragraph in the passage. A correct heading expresses the main idea of one paragraph in the text. To get headings to question correct, you must find the heading that connects the main idea of a paragraph. 

  • Matching Information

This type of question asks you to match information from a list with one of the paragraphs given in the passage. Matching Information questions is a bit tricky because you have to search for details. To answer them correctly, you are required to find that paragraph which contains the information given in the question. The given information will be paraphrased, so don’t look for the exact wording in the passage, instead search for the same idea.

  • Matching Features

This type of matching question provides you with a list of items in a box. These items will be categorized in some way and each item will be given in the reading passage. Your job is to match phrases or sentences in the questions with the appropriate items given in the box. 

For example: If the box includes a list of people mentioned in the passage, then the questions may ask you to match statements with the person who said them. 

Try to scan the passage for giving answers to each question, rather than using the items in the box to direct your scanning. This is because some answer choices in the box may not relate to any of the questions, you might waste your time scanning for information.

  • Matching Sentence Endings

To answer these questions, you have to match two parts of a sentence. The question will provide the starting part of the sentence. You will have to select an appropriate ending to the sentence from a given list of options. To get the correct answer, you will have to search for information in the passage to confirm that your combined sentence relates to the passage. Keep in mind, correct answers must:

  1. be logical.
  2. be grammatically correct.
  3. agree with the information of the passage.

Sentence Completion and Short Answer

In Sentence Completion questions you need to fill in a blank at the end of a sentence with some words taken from the text. Short Answer questions also require you to choose some words from the text for your answer, but the words you need to fill in are not located at the end of a sentence. You simply need to answer a question about the text for Short Answer questions. It is very important to read the instructions carefully as the word limit will be mentioned in it. If you exceed the limit, you may be penalised, so pay close attention to word limits.

Note, Diagram, Table or Summary Completion

In this question, you are required to complete a set of notes, a diagram, a table or a summary with information from the passage. It may be a Short Answer question or you will have to choose from a set of answers in a box or from a list. Diagram label completion questions are usually associated with hard sciences, mainly biology. 

Preparation tips for the Reading section of IELTS

  • Read general topics like news, current affairs, climate change, science, animals, history, sociology, economics etc. The more you read, the more you will improve your understanding power of the context of the sentences and new vocabulary.
  • Pay more focus on the structure of grammar. There are various types of grammar structures, try to understand all of them, it will help you with writing. If you have limited vocabulary still you can find a way, but if you are weak at grammar, you will not know what the text refers to, due to which you will not understand the main idea of the content.
  • You must have known that skimming(reading quickly so as to note the important points) and scanning are two essential tools in reading. Both rely on an understanding of the main ideas. Therefore, if you can not understand the main ideas in a short time, you will lose time. This can be learned by reading various types of articles every day.
  • Make Use of sites like the Economist, National Geographic, the New Internationalist and Science Daily to become an expert academic reader.
  • Practice with sample papers and know your weakness. When you know your weakness, you will know what to improve. If it is due to your wrong understating of the passage, then you know that you have to improve your English language. If you are getting out of time then there is a problem in your strategy.
  • In many ways, the IELTS Reading section is more of a vocabulary test than just a reading test. To crack this section well you will need a wide range of vocabulary to understand the given passages. You must also have knowledge of synonyms and paraphrasing if you want to identify the information you will need to answer the questions correctly.

Useful tips during the IELTS Reading Exam

  • You will just have an hour to complete the 40 questions of the reading section of IELTS, so you must manage your time wisely. It is suggested to try and get each section finished in 20 minutes. You can use 16-17 minutes to read and answer the questions and 3-4 minutes to transfer and check your answers. 
  • Many candidates who are well-prepared lose marks in the Reading module of IELTS because they don’t read the given instructions properly. Pay close attention to the instructions given to you so that you won’t make silly mistakes.
  • Some of the questions will be easy and some may be extremely difficult for you. The wrong thing to do is spend a large amount of time on a difficult question. If you find it too difficult to answer, move on to the next one. You can always come back to the leftover questions later. In these situations, you should stay calm and don’t panic. 
  • If you don’t understand a word given in the text, you should look at the words and sentences around to get some clue about its meaning. Or else you can move on and forget about it. Concentrate on the words that are related to the question and don’t worry about the words you don’t understand.

So, now you are totally informed about the reading section of the IELTS and also we have mentioned all the tips and tricks you can take advantage of and crack the reading module well and score high.

All the best..!!