Looking for some tips to get a high band score in the IELTS Academic Reading exam? If so, then you’re in the right place!

Let’s take a look at what the IELTS exam is, how many sections are in the reading exam, the types of questions you’ll find, and some top tips to make sure you pass with a high band score.

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Reading Exam Differences


There are two types of IELTS exams: IELTS Academic, and IELTS General. The styles of questions are the same for both papers; the only difference is the types of texts you will be given.

The Academic paper has three long academic-style texts which are often taken from newspapers, books and journals.

The General paper has texts which are usually taken from more general every-day sources, such as flyers, documents or manuals, and will usually vary in size.

Read more about the differences between the two exams in this blog post.

How many sections are in the IELTS reading section?


There are three sections in the IELTS reading exam. You’ll be given 60 minutes to answer 40 questions, so it’s best to dedicate 20 minutes to each text.

There are 11 types of questions in total. The table below explains what they are.

Sections in the IELTS Reading section_Oxford House Barcelona

Find out more about these sections and practise different question types for free on the official IELTS website.

How is the IELTS Reading section scored?


To know how many correct answers you need in the IELTS Reading exam, take a look at the table below. Remember that there are 40 questions in total.

Score IELTS Reading section_Oxford House Barcelona

How to get top marks and pass the IELTS Reading section


Be sure to follow these tips to get the best score in your IELTS reading exam!

  • Don’t rush straight into timing yourself. First, take your time and get familiar with the different types of questions. Remember to also analyse why you make mistakes. When you’re more comfortable and exam day starts looming closer, then it’s time to start timing yourself!
  • Transfer your answers very carefully. During the exam you can write on your exam paper; however, be sure that when transferring your answers to the answer sheet, you don’t make any spelling mistakes as you won’t get any points!
  • Never leave a single answer blank. You will never lose points in the IELTS exam for incorrect answers. So if you don’t know the answer to something, just have a guess!
  • Don’t expect to understand every word. There are words in the texts that even native English speakers don’t know to try and catch you out! Just remember to stay focused on the questions.
  • Read the task instructions carefully. For example, be sure to check that the question doesn’t ask for something like ‘two words and a number’. If you ignore this and write ‘2 cars’ as your answer, instead of ‘2 red cars’, it will be marked as incorrect.
  • Look out for synonyms and paraphrasing. It’s very rare that the exam will give you the exact same wording or vocabulary in the questions as it does in the text. Usually these are traps, so watch out!
  • Don’t bring your outside knowledge of the topic into the exam. No matter how much you know about the topic, you must forget your knowledge of it and answer the questions using only the information in the text.

With all these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to passing the IELTS exam.

Best of luck!

Need help preparing for your IELTS exam?


Are you planning to go to university in an English speaking country and need to pass the IELTS exam? Then our IELTS preparation courses are perfect for you!

We offer an 8 week intensive course for 4 hours a week which is designed to help you prepare for all parts of the IELTS Academic exam. Classes are both online and in person, and are always in small groups of up to 8 students.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

manual (n): a book that gives you instructions on how to do something or how to use something.

statement (n): something that someone says or writes.

flow-chart (n): a diagram which shows the stages of a process or activity.

loom (v): something that is approaching quickly, usually something unpleasant like an exam or a storm.

catch someone out (pv): to trick someone into making a mistake.


n = noun

v = verb

pv = phrasal verb

Pass your IELTS Exam with Oxford House Barcelona

Interested in taking an IELTS preparation course at Oxford House Barcelona? Check the intensive IELTS preparation course we can offer you or contact us for more information.

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