When you sit any examination, you can only ace it with efficiency and accuracy. The important factor that plays a notable factor is putting skills per the limited time. The focus of this article is to inculcate reading skills in you or at least try to tell you about these skills and how to develop them for your overall IELTS test especially for the IELTS reading test to get the IELTS score that you desire.

We are talking about reading skills, particularly for the general training paper of the IELTS exam. However, it will also help you with your IELTS academic paper.

I'll brief you about the reading test for the (GT paper) the general training paper. There's a lot of similarity between the academic IELTS and the general training. So even if you are attempting the academic paper, I'd recommend you to go through this article to know more about the reading skill which will help you in IELTS academic reading exam as well. And I think you will pick up some good tips, that will help you with the academic paper.

What is general training Reading Test?

The reading test is 60 minutes long; there are three sections and 40 questions. So that's exactly the same for the academic exam too, but the texts in the academic test are a little difficult than general training. There is no transfer time, and all your answers must be spelt correctly.

What's one of the main problems in the reading test?

Be it academic or general training reading paper , there is a lot to do and that too in a short span of time, and many test-takers find it a bit of a struggle to read the three sections and complete the 40 questions in the hour.

As we've said, time is the central issue to complete either the academic or the general training. Different reading skills, like skimming and scanning, must be used to utilize the time properly and efficiently. This is because you have not got any extra time to read every word of the text and complete the 40 questions, and then have time to check them. Therefore, employment of these different reading skills is integral and these skills are beneficial for IELTS and in real life.

There are various reasons for reading, but here, you read to identify the writer's thoughts or the text's outlook to understand the meaning of it and recognize the progression of an argument. You are very often looking for little chunks of information in the given text. So we skim and then scan to locate information.

Identifying the main gist, the main ideas from the details that support those ideas, to find and transfer information to complete gaps in either tables or summaries were, you don't need to change the language must be made by you. Keep your eyes open. An overview of the text must be grasped as our eyes move quickly over a text because we don't actually read; we are just looking for specific words, numbers, or dates. That in English is relatively easy to do because a number looks very different from a letter. It's also very easy to scan for proper names. For example, if my name were in a text, you wouldn't need to read every word to find it as it will be easily found when you see a capital letter like M or S, Michael, or Sam, etc. So, particularly scanning for proper names is a handy skill. Now, although it sounds quite easy to do, it does require some practice.

Remember, you must complete sentences with words taken from the text, so you mustn't change those words. The words in the text completion tasks, summary notes, tables flowcharts words are in the text and labeling tasks where also the words are in the text. So there, you need to locate the information. It's very often that this is a paraphrase. And then, you need to select very carefully after reading the instructions and complete the number of asked words.

There are a lot of different matching tasks in both reading papers like you've got matching headings. So that's like mini titles for each paragraph, and that is a task that you should be able to do with skimming and scanning, followed by reading very carefully for other questions.

The first sentence of each paragraph, which we call in English, is a topic sentence. A title and heading are very similar to a topic sentence; you've also got matching information. Got matching features and matching sentence endings; remember that all of the options are grammatically correct. You also have multiple choice and summary completion tasks. Sometimes your options are given. And sometimes, it's more like a completed task in the other box where you need to find the options, and you just need to work out which one corresponds to the question. If you're given, for example, the multiple-choice, and you can't quite find the answer. Then an educated guess is a very good strategy. All your answers need to be grammatically correct and with correct spelling. Be precise with your example, and don't beat around the bush; just answer what is asked in the question.

The question type asking Yes, No, or not given refer to the writer's opinions or something like that. As a test taker read what the question wants and answer carefully whether the writer's thoughts coincide with statements in the question.

Question Types in Reading Section

  • Complete sentences
  • Short answer questions
  • Completion tasks -summary, table, notes, flow chart
  • Labelling
  • Matching: headings, information features, sentence endings
  • Multiple Choice
  • Summary completion (options given)
  • True/False/Not given
  • Yes/No/Not given

Remember, there is no prior knowledge or background information required anywhere in IELTS; all answers are in the texts. Locate the information and write it as such.

Quick note: If it's given in the instructions, write no more than two words and/or a number. Write no more than two words and or a number. For example, if the question was about a particular colour and in the text, it says black and white. On your answer sheet, only write one colour which satisfies the question.

I find it heart-breaking when I work with students while working on their IELTS preparation, and they get questions wrong because they haven't read the instructions carefully. I believe that the instructions need to be read as carefully as everything on the reading paper. Also, remember that instructions change from paper to paper.

Question Types in Reading Section

In academic, there are three sections in IELTS reading section; they are three long texts, while in IELTS general reading section, it's slightly different because there are three sections, 60 minutes, 40 questions. However, in section one, you might have as many as five short texts. The theme, the topic of all these texts in section one, is social survival. So, things that we might come across in our everyday life, daily routines, the things that we do when we're out of work, and we're not studying. In section two, there are always two texts moved from everyday survival to professional workplace survival. All of the texts in part two are concerned with what you might encounter in an English-speaking working environment; these texts are informative and descriptive.

In section three, the theme here is very general, and it is one long text. Remember, as each section will get progressively more difficult with all parts of the IELTS papers. So ideally, try to spend less time on part one, leaving yourself longer for part three, which is more challenging, but also remember that to reach those bands that I know you would like to reach those sixes, sevens, and eights, you need to get the majority of answers correct in part one, and ideally in part two, as well. So, you do need to balance your time appropriately.

Reading Skills

  • Identify the writer's purpose
  • Follow the progression of an argument
  • Identify attitudes and opinions
  • Locate specific information
  • Distinguish main ideas from supporting details
  • Find and transfer information complete gaps

We've established that scanning for names and numbers is relatively easy to do. Relatively yes, but you need to practice, but particularly if your script so the way you write if your letters are not the same as in English, you need to familiarize yourself with looking at English text and looking for those capital letters.

So, we've looked at paraphrase, we've looked at scanning. We also said we were going to look at multiple texts. In section one, as already mentioned remember, we might have up to five different texts. Now, all of the texts will be based on a similar topic. They might be adverts for restaurants, for example. Or they could be a collection of advertisements selling something, they will have a common theme. And that's the first thing you need to identify what the common theme between them is? Now obviously, your question types, you'll be looking at the differences between these items if you like.

So that's what you'll be searching for the differences, and again, paraphrasing is fundamentally important. So, paraphrase meaning saying the same thing differently.


The following is an example of the IELTS reading question that you might get along with answers. Scan and skim through the text first and look for key words, do not read the entire text. Then try answering the questions on your own and check for the correct answer by tallying with the ones given below. Do not look at the answers before solving then many did you get right

Morpeth is today a small town about two hours' drive north from Sydney. The town of Morpeth grew from an original 2000 acres of land given to an English army officer Lieutenant Edward Close (1790 - 1866). in 1821. During the 1830s and 1840s Morpeth became a major river port, duo to its favorable location. Produce, hides and umber were brought to Morpeth from inland New South Wales and shipped down the Hunter River to the coast and then to Sydney. However, in 1870 a railway line reached the town, and the importance of River shipping began to decline. Today. Morpeth, with its beautiful old buildings is a popular tourist destination.

Answer the following questions:

  • When was Lieutenant Close given the land on which Morpeth grew?
  • On what river is Morpeth situated?
  • When did trains first get to Morpeth?

(Answers: 1. 1821, 2. Hunter River, 3.1870)

The following is another example of a text where you have to skim, scan and find paraphrase and answer whether the questions are True/False/Not given

Volunteers Thank you for volunteering to work one-on-one with some of the students at our school who need extra help

Smoking policy Smoking is prohibited by law in the classrooms and anywhere on school grounds

Safety and Health Volunteers are responsible for their own personal safety and should notify the school of any pre-existing medical conditions. Prescription and any other medications that you normally carry with you must be handed in to the school nurse on arrival and collected on departure. If you require them, the nurse will dispense them to you in her office.

Sign-in A sign-in book is located at office reception Please sign this register every time you come to the school This is important for insurance purposes and emergency situations.


  • As a volunteer, you will be helping students individually.
  • You may smoke in the playground.
  • You cannot take any medicine while at the school.
  • If you forget to sign the register, you won't be insured for accidents.

(Answers: True, false, false, not given, respectively)

So, that's all about reading skills and how you can hone these skills by practicing. Practice skimming and scanning as much as you can. Answer whatever is asked, keep it to the point, and follow the instructions carefully.

To move up your overall IELTS band, one of the areas is called lexical resource and grammatical range. And to reach those higher bands that many of you aspire to, you need examples of less common lexical items, more difficult, rarer vocabulary. A good vocabulary can help you understand texts better and you can easily understand meaning of difficult words as you skim through the sections.

You can easily accustom and enhance your reading skills and get through the reading section, no matter what level you are on. We at Marvel guide IELTS candidates towards the best ways of IELTS preparation and give valuable tips that will assist you in your IELTS general training exam and IELTS academic exam, overall, as well. We suggest you practice and practice. There are many such texts and question answer practices present on MarvelIELTS.com. You can go through various IELTS reading practice test, exercises, including reading passage, IELTS reading module, and other question-answers in the IELTS listening test, IELTS writing task, and IELTS speaking test on the MarvelIELTS.com website, and learn more about these exam sections. You can also visit our institute in Zirakpur, where our best IELTS teachers and other faculty can guide you towards achieving your dreams.

Happy Learning!