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6 Tips to Improve Your IELTS Academic Reading Score

Friday | February 21, 2020 | by Roshan Patroo

ielts reading

The IELTS Academic Reading test can be challenging, so it is important to make sure you are well prepared. Never take any IELTS test for granted. Prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more—the six tips below will help you. Make sure to put them into practice by doing lots of sample tests.

  1. You do not need to be knowledgeable about the reading topics.

The Academic Reading section contains a wide variety of subjects, but you don’t need to have any prior knowledge to answer the questions successfully. All the answers will come from the reading passage itself. Do not use any previous knowledge you have on the topic to answer these questions.

  1. Focus on the questions first.

Instead of spending time reading the text first, focus on the questions. Read them carefully and highlight any key words—names, dates, numbers, adjectives, and adverbs. Next, skim the text to find the section that contains these key words. You will then have to read this section carefully and compare information here to the information in the questions. If you can’t find the answer, you may be reading too quickly. Slow down and read the section again.

  1. Synonyms and paraphrasing are important.

The Reading section is primarily a test of vocabulary comprehension. The passage will express ideas like those that the key words convey in the questions, but the ideas will be expressed differently, with synonyms and paraphrasing. They will not be communicated with the same key words. Having an extensive vocabulary will help you to understand ideas in the reading passages.

  1. Manage your time.

Forty questions in 60 minutes. Do the math. If you spend five minutes on each question, you will not finish the test in time and you will leave a lot of unanswered questions.

Make sure you answer all the questions, even if you must guess on some of them.

If you are struggling with a question, leave it and move on. This strategy will help you to progress more quickly through the test. Leave some time at the end of the test to go back to any unanswered questions, and make sure you answer them.

  1. Computer or paper?

As there are now two versions of the IELTS test, paper and computer, you may be wondering which to choose. The answer depends on how you like to read. Some people prefer to read on paper and write their answers using a pencil, while others are more comfortable using a computer.

Neither format is easier or more difficult, but now you have the choice of sitting for the test in a way that works best for you. Using the paper version, you can circle or underline key words; using the computer version, you can use the highlighting function.

  1. Practice.

You can have the best IELTS teacher in the world or read hundreds of test tips. However, if you don’t put in the practice, you won’t feel truly ready on test day. With consistent practice, you can achieve the reading score you need. Good luck!

To access free practice materials, visit the IELTS prepare page, which offers the following:

  • Practice activities and resources
  • Paper and computer practice tests
  • Hints and tips webinar
  • Preparation app

For more information on IELTS in Canada, visit the IELTS Canada website.

Related Reading

An Introduction to the IELTS Exam

Preparing for the IELTS Exam

6 Tips to Improve Your IELTS Academic Writing Score

Roshan Patroo

Roshan Patroo is the IELTS Marketing Officer for British Council IELTS Canada.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).