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IELTS Reading Test: Format & Grading

What is tested?

The IELTS Reading test your ability to…

  • Identify the writer’s overall purpose.

  • Follow key arguments in a text.

  • Identify options and attitudes.

  • Locate specific information.

  • Distinguish main ideas from supporting ideas.

  • Extract information from a text. 


There are different text types for Academic and General Training modules (passages 1 and 2) but the same question types.


For both modules the reading test is 60 minutes with a total of 40 questions. There are 3 texts with 12 – 14 questions per text.


Texts and questions are more difficult as the test proceeds. Passage 1 is the easiest and passage 3 is the most difficult. 


For more information on how IELTS reading tests are developed visit…

Paper Based Test

Unlike the listening test, there is no additional time at the end of the test to transfer answers to the answer sheet. When answering the questions, always write your answers on the answer sheet.

Click on the link for information about the IELTS Computer Delivered (CD) Reading Test.

Academic Reading Test

There are 3 sections containing 1 text each. That is either…

  • Descriptive/factual. Texts describing a topic.


  • Argumentative/analytical. Texts that contain the writer’s opinions on a topic.

Texts might be accompanied by diagrams and if they contain technical language, there will be a simple glossary.


Texts are sourced from magazines, books, newspapers and journals. Topics are of general interest to candidates who plan to take undergraduate or postgraduate courses or professional registration.

General Training Reading Test

There are 3 sections and sections 1 and 2 contain numerous texts that are sourced from newspapers, books, magazines, advertisements, notices, workplace guidelines & handbooks. Section 3 is a reading passage similar to the Academic module.

Topics for sections 1 and 2 are what a candidate might come across every day in an English-speaking environment. 

Section 1 is “social survival” and can contain up to 5 short texts on social topics giving factual information (notices, schedules etc.)

Section 2 is “workplace survival”. and contains usually 2 texts that have workplace topics that give information (company policies, workplace facilities etc.).

Section 3 is “general reading”. One text that is descriptive or instructive and sourced from fictional/non-fictional books, newspapers & magazines.


  • Each correct answer receives 1 mark.

  • Incorrect spelling & grammar, in written answers, are marked incorrect.

  • There are no minus marks for incorrect answers – so GUESS!

  • You receive a raw score out of 40 which is converted to a band score.

  • Scores are reported in whole and half bands.​

IELTS Academic Reading Score coverter
IELTS General Reading Score Converter
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