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Improving Your IELTS Reading Band Score

Watch the video on how to improve your IELTS reading score.

Know the test: Before taking the IELTS Reading test, it’s essential you are familiar with it. You should know the format for General Training and Academic modules, that is timing, how many sections and questions etc. 

Always follow the instructions for each question type. Pay attention to the word count for written answers. Even the strongest candidates often fail to do this and loose marks unnecessarily.

Practice: When practicing the test always use Cambridge English: IELTS Past Papers from 2012 onwards.  These are all authentic, former IELTS tests. 

When using IELTS reading practice tests, manage your time. Spend no longer that 1 hour for a full practice test and 20 minutes for each part. Since Section 1 is the “easiest”, try to spend 15 minutes on this. 


Don’t spend too long on 1 question. Each question is worth 1 point and if a question is taking longer than others, make a guess. There are no minus points for wrong answers.

Know what you should improve: When practicing the test, you will be able to identify the aspects of the test that you need to improve according to your score. It could be you are reading too slowly and cannot finish a full test in time. If so, rethink your overall strategy and strategies for each question type.

Possibly, you are scoring low on particular question types. If so, it could be you are using an ineffective strategy and need to try a different one.


If you unable to improve upon your areas of weakness, find professional advice from an experienced and qualified IELTS teacher.

Have a strategy: Adopt an overall strategy. Whether you choose to speed read the text first or questions, be consistent with your strategy and use the one that works best for you.

Know what is required for each individual question type. Use skimming and scanning reading skills depending on the type of question.

For strategies for each question type, follow the link...


IELTS Reading Question Types

If you unable to improve upon your areas of weakness, find professional advice from an experienced and qualified IELTS teacher.

Develop your vocabulary: The IELTS Reading test is often referred to as a “vocabulary test”. The test certainly relies heavily on the use of synonyms and paraphrase and there will be numerous unknown words in the text.

For the use of synonyms and paraphrase in the questions, be aware that you will usually not be able to match the words from the questions so, when you highlight key words, think of synonyms for them. 


For unknown words in the text, don’t spend too much time trying to work out the meaning. Try to guess the meaning from context but if it’s taking too long, move on.

For tips and strategies on improving your IELTS vocabulary, follow the link...

IELTS Vocabulary

Active reading: Trying to improve your general reading ability by doing only IELTS reading practice tests can be a bit boring and demotivating. Practice tests are essential but you should not forget to read for enjoyment and information.

While doing so, read try “active reading”. This is when you read for enjoyment or information and expand your vocabulary at the same time. When you are reading take note, in your vocabulary notebook of new words and phrases and in this way, you can expand your vocabulary.

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