The IELTS Academic Reading section is one of the four sections on the IELTS exam. It involves gauging your ability to answer questions based on your comprehension of the given academic texts. Since international students need to achieve a good score on the test to be considered for admission in English-speaking countries, knowing what to expect in the IELTS Academic Reading test is crucial.

While the IELTS Academic Reading test can be quite challenging for non-English speakers, it is possible to improve your score with enough practice. Below are some tips to help you increase your IELTS Academic Reading score.

Overview of the IELTS Reading Test

The IELTS Academic Reading test is a 60-minute test that assesses your ability to read and understand academic texts. The test consists of a total of 40 questions distributed among three passages. The passages are on a variety of academic topics, such as science, humanities, and culture. The questions are designed to test your ability to locate certain words or phrases, analyze the text structure, and identify the main points presented in the text.

The test questions are gathered from a variety of sources including journals, books, and newspapers. Just like the other IELTS sections, the marks scored in the IELTS Academic Reading test are translated to the IELTS 9-band scale, with 9 being the highest score. To achieve a high score on the IELTS Reading test, you need to be able to read and understand academic texts with a high degree of accuracy and fluency.

Tips & Techniques to Increase Your IELTS Reading Test Score

Tip 1: Start Preparing Early

The IELTS Reading test can be very challenging as it measures different aspects of your reading proficiency that you may not have interacted with. Another challenge relates to having to answer many questions in a short time from what you understand in the given text, which could be quite a lot for some students. It is important to start preparing early so that you will be ready to take on the exam when the time comes. Last-minute rush can make you miss out on important points that could be key to how you perform in the exam.

Tip 2: Practice with IELTS Reading Practice Tests

There are many IELTS Reading practice tests available both offline and online. You can get some of these resources from official sites like the British Council Website. Practicing with these tests will help you get familiar with the format of the test and the types of questions to expect in the real exam. You should give yourself plenty of time to practice with IELTS Reading practice tests to help you develop your reading skills to a level that guarantees you success in the exam.

Tip 3: Manage your Time Wisely

The IELTS Reading test is timed and takes 60 minutes to complete, so it is important to manage your time wisely. Since you are expected to answer 40 questions in the time given, if you do not allocate enough time or spend too much time on each question, you might end up not answering all the questions. Remember, getting a good score depends on the number of right answers given. As much as you don’t lose marks for unanswered questions, the higher the number of correct answers given, the higher the score.

Tip 4: Get Help from a Qualified Teacher or Tutor

Sometimes, you might need a qualified hand along the way to help you understand the concepts better and advance your Academic Reading skills. It’s good to consider a qualified teacher or tutor who can help you identify your weaknesses and develop a personalized study plan. This will ensure that you are sticking to your study goals and having someone to help you keep on track. You can get a physical tutor or opt for online tutors from platforms like IELTS Tutors.

Tip 5: Understand the Format of the Test

The IELTS Academic Reading test consists of three passages, each with 13-14 questions. The passages are on a variety of academic topics, and the questions test your ability to understand, locate, and interpret information. Some of the specific question formats you will encounter in the exam include multiple choice, matching headings, identifying the views of the writer, matching sentence endings, and completing the labeling of diagrams. Having this knowledge prior to the exam will help you tailor your preparation to the Academic reading test.

Tip 6: Develop Your Reading Skills

Developing your reading skills is essential to the success of the test. Whether it is how to spot words or your speed, it is essential that you work on your reading skills. Some of the specific ways you can apply to improve your reading skills include skimming, which is a quick way to get an overview of a passage. This will help you spot the main points and any supporting information. Additionally, you could employ the scanning technique to help you identify specific information like a number, name, or date.

Tip 7: Read Lots of Different Media Types

Reading a variety of English texts is a proven way to improve your reading comprehension. You can use different physical and online books, scientific journals, newspaper academic articles, online academic publications, and other academic materials found on platforms like social media. While you sample the various texts, you will expand your vocabulary and understand how certain words are used in different settings. It can also bring you up-to-speed with current academic jargon and speaking patterns.

Tip 8: Polish Your Vocabulary

There are so many English words that you may not have come across or you still do not understand their proper meaning. As you read the different texts, you can highlight confusing words or phrases and look them up to find their meaning. This will help you familiarize yourself with different words, helping you minimize the number of words you may not recognize in the test.

Tip 9: Focus on the Ideas Presented in the Text

Your goal should be to understand the passages, and not to cram the words. As you read, your focus should be on understanding the ideas presented so that you can explain them in your own words. Sometimes the answer you are looking for in the passage could be rephrased, hence understanding the ideas in the text will help you spot any answer even if it is rephrased.

Tip 10: Improve Your Reading Speed

Since you are required to only take a maximum of 60 minutes to answer the 40 questions in the IELTS Academic Reading test, you have to work on your reading speed as you prepare for the exam. Some of the specific ways you can use to improve your reading speed include reading more than one word at a time. Aim to gaze at around 3-5 words at a time. Additionally, you could use a pointer to help you navigate the text by gradually increasing its speed as you learn along. Just ensure that you are also understanding the text even as you improve your speed.

By following these 10 tips, you can improve your IELTS Academic Reading score to boost your chances of studying in an English-speaking country. Remember important tips like starting your exam preparations early, practicing with different IELTS Reading practice tests, and working on your reading skills. With hard work and dedication, you can achieve your target IELTS Academic Reading score.


We hope this article will aid you in excelling in the IELTS exam. Make sure to also check out our IELTS Page for more information on tips and other related articles!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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