Reading is an important module in IELTS test. Unlike speaking and listening share same test for both General and Academic versions, reading module has separate test papers for each version. The reading objects are different: the General module uses easier texts from social, school, and work contexts, and the Academic module chooses more advanced texts, usually around college level, from academic sources.
So, test takers must know the difference and prepare right version. If working on wrong version, the effort wouldn't be rewarded as expected.
If ignoring the reading objects, the Academic and General tests are similar in many ways. Both should be finished in 60 minutes, contain 3-4 passages and 40 questions, and are scored in the same way. In two versions, test takers must answer all questions to the answer sheet in one hour, both have no extra time to fill in answer sheet.
In both General and Academic modules, one mark is awarded for each correct answer. A special table converts your actual score, possibly out of 40, into a band score on the IELTS band scale, such as 6 or 6.5. The primary scoring rule is same for both General and Academic tests, but actual converting tables are different among various test papers, because reading contents may not be in same difficulty, the converting table adjust the final IELTS band to compare with other test papers. If you did 20 questions right on two test papers but got different IELTS bands, the reason is the converting table is different.
Question Type There are more than 10 question types in reading module. General and Academic tests share these question types.
As a matter of fact, question types are very flexible and updated from time to time. One test paper usually doesn't include all types. In reading test, you may see some of them, or even find new question types.
Although we cannot predicate all question types, practice and familiarize some common ones helps very much to speed up your reading and answering in test day. When you exercise, pay attention to these question types:
- Multiple Choice:Letters
- Short Answer:Words
- True/False/Yes/No/Not Given:Words
- Matching Information/Features:Letters
- Paragraph Headings:Numbers
- Sentence Completion:Words and/or Number
- Summary, Note, Table, Flow-chart Completion:Words and/or Number
- Diagram, Label Completion:Words and/or Number
- Identifying Views or Claims:Words and/or Number
- Classification:Words and/or Number
Lots of practice will help you to familiarize with common question types. Based on these practices, you can find which types are easier and which types are not. Try to pay more efforts on shortcomings, it will improve your IELTS reading test efficiently.
Reading Skill IELTS reading test is to check English reading skill for General or Academic purpose respectively. It doesn't imply any special requirement. However, understanding the convention of checkpoints is a shortcut to get a good score.The IELTS reading test papers are used to focus on these skills:[list]Get the big picture as well as the minor pointsSeparate facts from opinions and attitudesDetect the overall purpose of the passageFollow the main argumentsTrace specific details and relevant informationDigest the key pointsSymbolize written information in graphic formKnow accurate spelling and correct grammar
On summary, we emphasize three key abilities you must have for high score:
- Skimming: reading quickly to get the main idea, or say big picture
- Scanning: reading quickly to look for a specific piece or specific words
- Reading for detail: reading every word in detail to really understand information
At IELTS reading test, test takers have to use all three techniques at different stages. Start by skimming through the entire text to get a big picture, then jump to the questions to see what kind of information is required; finally scan for a specific piece of information or read a particular section to discover the detail.
Test structure and Time IELTS reading is the biggest one in all 4 modules, lasts 60 minutes. The reading objects are totally 2500 words around. If you cannot finish all answers in one hour, you have little chance to pass the test.
A normal IELTS reading test paper has three passages and forty questions. Test takers should read and answer all of them in only one hour. In most cases, the three passages become increasingly difficult.
Because the sections aren't equivalent in difficulty, suggest to start from easiest one. If you're confused with a particular question, move on to the next and come back later if possible. If you finish early, review difficult questions.
High score hunters should arrange more time on difficult section in order to complete all questions with high quality. E.g.
- 17 minutes on section 1
- 20 minutes on section 2
- 23 minutes on section 3
2 General vs Academic Reading
As we know General and Academic reading tests are same in view of format, including the test time, passage number, question type and number. However, the core of the test: reading contents are different. Test takers must know the difference and prepare for just own test in right way.
General Reading IELTS General reading is organized as three sections. Each is more difficult than previous one. There are 40 questions in all, in general, 14 in Section 1, 13 in sections 2 and 3.
IELTS General reading test contains texts from a variety of materials, such as newspapers, books, and even advertisements. To reflect the requirements of General Training, the reading contents focus on daily life and school activity. The usual pattern is as:
- Number of Texts: 2-3 short texts
- Types of Texts: Notices, advertisements, publicity booklets, timetables, etc.
- Number of Texts: 2 texts
- Types of Texts: College catalogues, course descriptions, rules and regulations, library guides, etc.
- Number of Texts: 1 long text
- Types of Texts: Newspapers, magazines, journals, books, etc.
Academic Reading IELTS Academic reading is organized as three sections. Each is more difficult than previous one. In general, there is a total of 40 questions, with about 11-15 questions in each section.
IELTS Academic reading tests' contents are at undergraduate or graduate level, which usually are taken from mainstream books, newspapers, and magazines, e.g. The Economist.
In common cases, one of the passages is general academic topic, one passage presents a logical argument, and one passage involves a diagram, graph, table, or illustration. Test takers don't need any special knowledge or background to understand the texts. If the context contains any technical term, a glossary should be attached. However, no dictionaries or books are allowed to be in testing room.
3 Reading Material Lis