Tips for IELTS Reading – All Question Types

Nov 21,2022

Tips for IELTS Reading - All Question

Test Format:

There are two types of reading modules in IELTS:

  1. General Training
  2. Academic

Both IELTS Academic and General training can be taken at a test center on paper or on computer.

Duration: 60 minutes

No. of Questions: 40

The only difference is the type of text given in the passage. The passages are taken from academic sources, various research articles, books and newspapers for academic reading module. On the other hand, the passages for reading general training module are the mix of long and short texts relevant to workplace or social situations or are taken from notices, timetables, documents, some manuals, instructions and manuals. You will get similar types of questions in both Academic and General training.

This test is designed to test your range of reading skills including gist, reading main ideas, reading for detail, identifying writer’s opinion, attitude and purport, skimming, scanning, and understanding the logical match of the questions and the passage.

Must – IELTS Exam Preparation: Where & How to Begin?

Question Types (Academic and General Training)

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

  • Multiple choice
  • Short-answer questions
  • Sentence completion
  • Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion
  • Yes/No/Not given
  • True/False/Not given
  • Matching headings
  • Matching questions
  • Scanning and Identifying the location of information questions
  • Labeling the diagram questions

1. Multiple Choice Questions:

There are three types of multiple-choice questions in the IELTS Reading Test.

Type 1: find only one possible answer

Type 2: find multiple answers for only one mark

Type 3: Find multiple answers each for one mark

For these question types, you may be given start of a sentence, which you have to complete with one out of four options.

OR

You may be presented with a question and asked to find two, three or four items in the list of options.

How to Solve It?

  • Read the instructions carefully, and check how many answers are required.
  • Read the question twice without looking at the options.
  • Locate the information in the passage and try to make implications as the information will the paraphrased.
  • As you do this, underline the keywords.
  • Look for the transition words like but, however, etc. as they direct you to the answer.
  • Go back to the options, and try to make a match with the right answer.
  • All the questions would be in order.
  • Do not leave any questions unanswered.

2. Answer Short Questions:

The most common instruction, you will find in this question type is to answer No More Than Three Words. So, you have to answer in one, two or three words, but not more. However, this may not always be the case. So read the instructions carefully.

For these questions, you have to use skimming and scanning techniques. Contracted forms (don’t) are not allowed. If the answers require a number then for example, 4 or four, either is correct.

How to Solve It?

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Understand the question, and highlight the keywords quickly. Look for the information related to place and person if given.
  • Skim and highlight the similar nouns in the passage, and decide what part of the text you need to read.
  • You may use your own words, but it has to be grammatically and logically correct answers.

3. Sentence Completion Questions:

The two types of sentence completion questions are mentioned below:

Type 1: With the options of possible answers.

Type 2: Without the options of possible answers where you need to complete the end of the sentence.

Type 3: Questions similar to short answer questions with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.

How to Solve It?

  • Quickly go through all the sentences. Highlight the keys words, and look for the information you need.
  • Locate the information in the text, and read it carefully.
  • Check for parallel expressions because the text will be paraphrased using synonyms.
  • Go back to the given options, and make a match with that of the text, ensuring that it makes sense grammatically and logically.
  • The questions appear in the same order as the information in the text.

4. Notes/Tables/Forms/Summary/Flow Chart/Diagrams Completion Questions

There are two types of completion questions in the IELTS Reading Test.

Type 1: With options of possible answers.

Type 2: Without options of possible answers. This question type is similar to answering a short question with no more than three words.

These questions require you to insert the phrase/word within the sentence. Whenever choices are given, you need to select and write the correct letter.

How to Solve It?

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Identify which part of the text the summary relate to.
  • Skim the table/form/summary/flow chart, and try to understand the overall meaning.
  • Try to predict the answer if it is a verb, noun, adverb, or adjective. Look for synonyms or parallel expressions as the questions are not likely to use the same words as the passage.
  • If the options are given, try to guess two or three possible answers by checking whether they grammatically make sense.
  • Go back to the passage, and confirm your answer.

5/6. Yes, No, Not Given or True, False, Not Given

  • Yes/True: If the given statement agrees to the claims of the writer.
  • No/False: When the fact in the question is different than the fact in the passage, the answer is a ‘NO’. Also look out for controlling words such as “only”, “all”, “never”, etc. For example, if the fact in the question says ‘some’, and the fact in the text has ‘all’, then the answer is no or false. Most of the IELTS books mention that if the matter is contradictory or opposite to the fact in the passage, it is NO. This is not always the case. I repeat, if the fact in the question is different from the fact in the passage, it is false/no.
  • Not Given: A part of the question is given, but not the entire information is given in the passage. When there is a prejudice, and when you assume something beyond the fact given, it is NOT GIVEN. Every student should reduce their prejudice to have an understanding of the passage and the answer.

How to Solve It?

  • Read the first two questions, and underline the key words of these questions. Go to the passage, and look for the key words.
  • As all the questions are in order as the passage; you will locate the key words of one of the questions. This way you can easily locate the other answers.
  • Understand the theme of the questions through verbs. Look for the synonyms of these verbs in the passage. If the verbs or its synonym and other information match then the answer is YES/TRUE.
  • If the verb in the question matches with the text, but some information in the question is altered then the answer is NO/FALSE. For example: Teachers assess homework (question). In the passage, it states, Pupils assess homework then the answer is obviously FALSE/NO. But it is not that simple as it seems. Here, assess is the theme at both the place, but the remaining information is changed, so the answer is NO/FALSE.
  • If the verb in the question does not match or is not given in the passage in any form of its synonym or parallel expression then the answer is NOT GIVEN. 

For Example:

Nowadays, most glass is produced by large international manufacturers. (Question)

Modern glass plants are capable of making millions of glass containers a day in many different colors, with green brown and clear remaining most popular.(Passage).

In the above text, it is mentioned that glass plants are capable of making millions of glass containers, whereas, in the question, it is about the making of glass by manufacturers. The themes do not match. Hence, the answer is NOT GIVEN.

Note: if for two minutes you are unable to find the answer then write down NOT GIVEN and move on to the next question.

7. Matching Questions:

Such questions require you to match the list of the opinions to the sources mentioned in the text. The opinions are given a letter each, and the questions are numbered. There are more opinions than the required answers. The extra opinions tend to be distractors or traps.

How to Solve It?

  • Look at the given list of opinions, and underline/highlight them.
  • Go to the questions one by one, and try to related its key words with the passage. The questions are in order.
  • Once you find the names located in the text, read the information carefully.
  • Go back to the given list of options, and start eliminating the once which are irrelevant.
  • If two options are equally confusing, you may leave that for a while and focus on the other question types from that passage.
  • Once you have solved all the questions, go the back to the left out question, and based on your understanding about the passage, select the most logical answer.

(Note: After solving remaining questions first, you would have got the gist of the whole passage, and with better understanding, you can have more accuracy at finding the answer).

8. Choosing Headings

There are two types of heading questions:

Type 1

Choosing headings from the paragraphs or the sections of a text.

Type 2

Choosing heading of the whole text. (this is the last question of the given passage in the form of multiple choice question).

Type 1 questions require you to sum up the meaning of the paragraphs or sections, and make the possible match from the list of headings given.

Type 2 questions require you to find the outline of the whole text.

How to Solve It?

  •  Look at the given list of opinions, and underline/highlight the.
  • Read the shortest paragraph first. The shorter the paragraph, the lesser the irrelevance. This way, you can save time, and increase the chances to find the correct answer.
  • Go to the list of the headings, and knock out the unrelated options, and look for the correct match.
  • If two options are equally confusing, you may leave that for a while and focus on the other question types from that passage.
  • Once you have solved all the questions, go the back to the left out question, and based on your understanding about the passage, select the most logical answer.

(Note: After solving remaining questions first, you would have got the gist of the whole passage, and with better understanding, you can have more accuracy at finding the answer).

9. Finding the Location of Information

These questions require you to scan the passage and find the exact location of information. Some statements will be given, and you need to find the paragraph consisting of that information. It is the most time-consuming question type.

How to Solve It?

  • Solve these questions after completing all the remaining questions of the given passage.
  • Quickly skim the list of the statements given as options. There are more options than questions, and underline the key words.
  • Most of the time, the questions of the passage are in order with that of the passage.
  • Scan the given passage to find where the information is located.
  • As all of it will be paraphrased, you need to find confirm your answer twice from the given list. The closest match is the right answer.

10. Labeling the Diagram Questions

A diagram is given, and it is asked to label it with words from the text or labels (if given).

  • The information is given in the same order as the numbers on the diagram.
  • Underline the already labeled part in the diagram, and scan the same in the text.
  • If you are able to locate this then other answers are right in the same section.
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Written By

Kirati Shah

Kirati Shah is a certified IELTS/TOEFL/PTE Trainer with 10 years of experience. She is on a mission to provide good quality lessons about IELTS and PTE through blogs and videos that can help students get their desired score and achieve their dream to migrate/study abroad.

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