IELTS reading practice

IELTS reading practice

What is the IELTS Reading Test?

IELTS Reading Test  

  • The test takes 60 minutes
  • There are 40 questions
  • You will be asked to read 3 different passages
  • The content of reading is different for the Academic and General test

The reading paper tests you on the following (academic and general):

  • read for the general sense of a passage
  • read for the main ideas
  • read for detail
  • understand inferences and implied meaning
  • recognise a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • follow the development of an argument

What kind of texts will be used? (Academic)

Each of the three texts will range from descriptive, factual to discursive and analytical. These may derive from books, journals, magazines or newspapers. The texts are selected for a non-specialist audience, meaning that you don’t need to have prior knowledge and can extract meaning in your first encounter with the material. The texts are appropriate however for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

What kind of texts will be used? (General Test)

Extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. Noticeably, these materials are ones in which you are more likely to encounter on a daily basis, and so the language is therefore simpler as the materials are intended to reach more of a mass, instead of more specialist or advanced language.

What are the task types?

  • Fill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table
  • Match headings to written text to diagrams or charts
  • Sentence completion
  • Provide short answers to open questions
  • Answer multiple choice questions

The task types are the same for the General Reading paper!

How is the paper marked?

Each correct answer receives one mark. The scores are given in whole and half bands, which is then applied to the IELTS 9-band scale.


Academic reading practice
The reading exam requires a strong level of comprehension that needs close reading skills. Close reading skills require what the title suggests; a keen focus on the language at play with the ability to think outside and beyond the language. Imagine looking at a painting, at first you see what you see but the longer you look at it, the more your perspective and opinion of it will develop. Language is similar. There are always multiple meanings at play.
Unless however, you are reading something that is fact-based or instructional, like a recipe or directions- then the intention is clear.

IELTS reading practice 1:
These resources are part of my CELTA studies and were marked by internal and external examiners. They are useful resources to help practice the reading skills that you are tested on.

Resource 1

Resource 2

Resource 3

Resource 4

IELTS reading practice 2:
When I was teaching in secondary schools, I used this method for close reading skills with success.

Method 'FIA':

  • Factual
  • Inference
  • Analysis

*Bear in mind the ‘FIA’ method is part of your practice and revision in the lead up to taking your IELTS exam. The overall purpose with ‘FIA’ is to practice comprehension skills in a way where it increases in difficulty, so that when you are presented with any text, you know you can read for gist and for detail, you can skim and scan information, detect implied meaning and recognise an argument or opinion developing.

Let's put FIA into practice:

We’re going to take a look at a descriptive piece of writing. A well-known short story by Franz Kafka called, ‘Metamorphosis’

When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. He was lying on his back as hard as armor plate, and when he lifted his head a little, he saw his vaulted brown belly, sectioned by arch-shaped ribs, to whose dome the cover, about to slide off completely, could barely cling. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, were waving helplessly before his eyes.


  • the character is called Gregor Samsa
  • He woke up in his bed


  • ‘Monstrous vermin’- he is unsure what he has transformed into as he has categorised himself as ‘vermin’, he is disgusted with what he can see ‘monstrous’ implies he believes himself to be ugly and is frightened of himself


  • ‘Waving helplessly before his eyes’- he is frightened and it has dawned on him that he has in fact become an insect. The act of ‘waving helplessly’ makes us realise his own realisation and that ‘helplessly’ reveals his emotional state

Try using short examples of text- stories, articles, advertisements, poems, instruction manuals, recipes, guides, transcriptions, interviews- the more you read the better, and practice using ‘FIA’ in order to access the skills you are tested on; general sense, gist, main ideas, detail, inference, opinions/attitudes, purpose, development of ideas.

If you would like one-to-one IELTS tutoring I would love to help and assist you with your preparation.