IELTS Reading test: how to manage your time?

Start by just doing 20-minute texts. Then build up to 3 texts in 60 minutes, using an alarm to stop and move to the next text after every 20 minutes. Now you can focus on strategy.

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The IELTS Reading test consists of 40 questions, designed to test a wide range of reading skills. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

You will get similar question types in both the IELTS General Training and Academic tests, however, the reading text topics are different.

Managing your time in the test is important as you only have 60 minutes to answer 40 questions. It is always recommended to spend no more than 20 minutes on each part of the Reading test, however, if you find the first passage easy, you may finish it in a shorter time, allowing you more time to answer questions in the next two passages. The passages get harder as you move through the test, so make sure you keep enough time to tackle the final passage.

General Training Reading

The IELTS General Training Reading passages are extracts from materials that you can find on a day-to-day basis in an English-speaking country. The questions in this section will test your ability to understand content present in everyday materials such as:

  • Newspapers
  • Advertisements
  • Handbooks
  • Notices.

By familiarising yourself with a range of texts and question types before test day, you will be able to manage your time better as you will be better prepared.

Academic Reading

The IELTS Academic test is used for university admissions and professional registrations around the world, so the questions in this section will test your ability to understand content present in academic materials.

To prepare for test day, make sure you read a range of texts on different topics from:

  • Books
  • Journals
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers

When you have experience with reading a range of different text types, you will be able to focus more on the questions linked to each text type.

Question types (Academic and General Training)

You can expect a variety of question types in the General and Academic Reading tests such as:

  • Multiple choice
  • Identifying information
  • Identifying a writer's views/claims
  • Matching information
  • Matching headings
  • Matching features
  • Matching sentence endings
  • Sentence completion
  • Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion
  • Diagram label completion
  • Short-answer questions

To ensure you can accurately answer a range of question types in the 60 minutes, you will need to manage your time. Take a look at the following advice on how you can manage your time during the IELTS Reading test.

Tips to manage time

Skim through the passage

Your Reading test will have 3 different reading passages. You can quickly skim through the entire passage to understand the gist. Do not spend time reading every sentence in detail as this can be time consuming and unnecessary. Focus on headings, sub headings and look for main points that describe the passage. This will help later with finding answers.


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