How I Scored 9 in IELTS Reading

“How I got Band 9 in IELTS Reading.”
Manal got band score 9 in IELTS reading with band score 8.5 overall.  Learn how she did it …
Below are her tips for a high score in GT reading:
 Getting 9 in IELTS reading
Manal’s Story and Tips for Band 9 in Reading
Oh I couldn’t believe in my wildest dreams that I scored a 9.0 in Reading. Reading was one of my weakest areas. After I gave the test, I had a gut feeling telling me that probably I scored a 9.0 in Reading. I even got to check all my answers in Listening as well as Reading.
 I re-took the General test. The first time I attempted this test was in October – that time I scored an overall band score of 8.0 with L – 8.5, Reading – 7.0, W – 8.0, S – 9.0. I retook the test specifically to improve my Reading score so obviously I relentlessly practiced tests from the General section of Cambridge IELTS books. I was aiming for a minimum of 8.0 in reading.
Tips for Getting Band Score 9 in IELTS Reading
Here are some tips and strategies which you could post. Please feel free to make any editions necessary. I like to explain things in detail, otherwise I do not feel satisfied. You can make them more brief and concise.
Tip 1
Effective time management I can’t stress enough about it. One thing which I meticulously practiced when I did the reading tests was to enforce a strict time division for each section of Reading. Even though in the cambridge books, it states to keep a minimum of 20 minutes for each section. I’d suggest to keep 15 minutes OR less in Section 1 and 2 and to rely solely on skimming and scanning (I mastered to finish Section 1 and 2 in less than 15 minutes leaving me with ample time to solve Section 3 questions). Keep 30 minutes or more for Section 3- where you will need to do a little bit more than skimming and scanning. I usually managed to have 5-10 minutes for revision.
Tip 2
Do not bother reading the passages. It’s a waste of time.
 First, read the questions and circle the keywords and then try to look for those keywords or a synonym / paraphased text in the passage. For Section 1 and 2  – skimming and scanning will be your best friends. 
 I didn’t even waste time reading Section 3. I just read the text associated with the questions. 
Tip 3
One strategy that worked for me best was “not to overthink” when you are solving the reading questions and to go with your gut instincts – there is no time to think during the 60 minutes of tackling reading questions. Especially this applies to me, because I tend to overthink and over analyze a lot when I am stressed. I struggled a lot with the true false questions. But as I trained myself not to overthink, if the text is there either it will be the same meaning as the question or opposite. If text is not there – not given. 
Tip 4
For paragraph heading questions, only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. A synonym or a related keyword in the heading title should be there. I also sometimes to be on the safe side for some questions read the second sentence as well.
Tip 5
Although, you will keep hearing from people practice and practice. I personally believe practice is inefficient if you do not learn from your incorrect answers. So it really helps to look at your mistakes and compare with the correct answers in the answer key and to reflect on where you made the mistake. I feel that way – you learn more efficiently.
Hope that helps.
Comments from IELTS Liz
Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Manal. I think many students will benefit from this and also be inspired to keep aiming for the higher scores 🙂
Anyone who would like to add more tips, please post them in the comments box below 🙂
Useful Links for IELTS Reading:

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.

Get my free lessons by email

Subscribe for free to get my new IELTS lessons sent to your email inbox.

Sharing is caring...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest


  1. Hi liz, hope you are doing fine.
    I just found this useful blog/website through google. I found it very helpful and enlighten me of how to get better mark in all IELTS bands. I just want to know maybe there are some reading sources that you strongly recommend us to read so that we will get familiar with the level of IELTS reading section. In your blog you said one of the references is BBC news. Kindly need your advice of other reading sources for academic reading. Thanks before hand Liz. Warm regards from Aceh, indonesia.


  2. Er. Harpreet sangha says:

    Hello Liz mam , Er. Harpreet sangha here, today i started my IELTS prepration . I wish, i will get top bands and write tips for others. Thankyou

  3. Thank You Liz, thank You Manal. Most power to you.

  4. Dear Liz,

    Is it correct to use T, F and NG instead of True, False and Not Given?

  5. hello liz.i suffer from true,false,not given questions and how to improve my reading?can you help me?

  6. Hi,
    With the TRUE, FALSE, NOT GIVEN answers……if I write the answers all in lower case (Besides names such as John), but I write the answer for TRUE, FALSE, NOT GIVEN in CAPS, would I be losing the mark? My scores was worst than expected in the reading section.

    • If you expected band 7 but only got band 4, then that might explain it. But it’s unlikely. There might have been other errors – spelling, writing words instead of letters, getting answers in the wrong box etc. I always recommend all answers are written in capital letters.

  7. Tshering Yangzom says:

    Big congratulations! great score

  8. Hi,

    Could you please share tips for matching the sentences with the paragraphs. Can we actually read the topic sentence of each paragraph to see if the information will be there?

  9. Suppose the question in reading is- does she like black colour? Bt in paragraph there is written she likes green colour..then its answer is- not given or false

    • It is false. A false answer means that the statement is wrong or an opposite. In this case, it is wrong so that means false.

      • Hi Liz,
        How come it is false ?!, The questioning is that ” does she like black color ?” That piece of information was not given and she only stated she likes green, i see no opposite word here as black not opposite to green and the question is inquiring about an information was not stated, please shed some light. Thanks

        • The word FALSE has two meanings:
          1) it is opposite
          2) it is wrong
          You will find that it is second option. It is false because it is wrong.

  10. I following
    But not work 😞

    • IELTS is a language test. You need excellent English to get a high score. All tips are to help maximise your score but your level of English will determine your score in the end.

  11. okeke okwuchukwu says:

    Congrats manal,i wish to follow your advice cus i will be sitting for my ielts test tomorrow.
    Please if there is more advice i offer my ears to hear them.

  12. PRIYADARSINI says:

    Hi Manal,
    Thanks for our valuable tips. where is the online reading practice tests material to practice.
    can you suggest practice material.

  13. Hi Manal,

    These tips are really helpful.
    Could you please share your listening tips as well?


  14. Hi Liz
    I hope you re doing well
    Just wanted to say thank you for helping me achieve my desired marks
    Just got the result today Listening-9 Reading-8.5 Speaking -7.5 writing -7 . Overall-8
    I want to thank you so so so much. By reading tips on your website and practice questions, i was able to get desired i can finally get admission in university,
    Just messed up in writing task 2. Topic was”for a rich country, an additional increase in economic wealth does not make its citizens happy”. Just couldn’t find proper points . so i guess i lost marks in task achievement.
    nd before going for exams, i just read manal’s tips.i guess that worked for me. finished reading in 45 minutes while some of my friends panicked as they thought it was difficult.
    You are doing great work. Just keep it up
    Once again thanks a lot

    • I’m really pleased to hear your news!! Well done and good luck at Uni 🙂 I’m sure Manal will be really pleased to know her tips helped 🙂

    • Hi,

      Congratulations! Could you please share your experience about Improving Reading (for beginners) and write ups task-2. I’m very poor in reading section.. I just aim to get a band score of 7. I’ll take my exam in the mid of September, almost 50 days. This will be a great help. Thanks.

      • I think you just need to practice as much as you can getting benefit of the above highlighted techniques.
        Good luck

  15. Alex Onoriode says:

    Hi Liz! Thank you very much for your lectures on IELTS. Manal’s reading tip is everything you need to know on reading. I just checked my IELTS result. I got 8.5 in Listening, 9.0 in reading (Thanks to Manal’s tip), 7.0 in writing and speaking respectively. Overall score of 8.0. In the reading, i had 20mins to spare. I was so shocked, right there i was convinced i’d probably score a 9. Another thing to note is that i underrated the writing and speaking as i didn’t practice, hence the low score. In addition, always practice the Listening, reading and writing together. In my case i didn’t so i was tired after the reading and i spent time on the first task(Letter Writing). I used only 15 mins to complete Task 2 and there was no time to check my work. Always start with task 2 as it carries more marks. Although i was scared, but then i knew i had a good introduction and Conclusion (Thanks to Liz paraphrasing tips).

    • Very well done! I’ve emailed Manal about your score – I’m sure she’ll be pleased her tips helped you 🙂 You are absolutely right about how tiring the test is. Students really should practice a full test of listening, reading and writing at home under the same time constraints before their real test. Thanks for sharing your results 🙂

      • Alex Onoriode says:

        😊. Thank you Liz! Considering the fact that it was my first attempt and I smashed it, i really appreciate your kind deeds and efforts so far. You are the best Liz, Keep up the good work. In a related post, you said u weren’t going to post any video lectures for now because of some health challenges. I hope you are much better now. The world needs more people like you. You should know we care about your wellbeing and you can also reach out to us… Stay fit dear 😊

    • Babatunde says:

      Correct man,Na U biko. I learned a lot from your post and Manal post also,kudos to Liz for putting all this together. All the best

  16. Dear Manal,
    Congratulations for your excellent score.

    I have a doubt where I would like to have Liz’s inputs. For questions “not more than 3 words”, do you suggest adding an article or any connecting words. Like recently I was trying to solve general test from book 9. I came across a question ” If travellers cancelled their trip, they usually receive back the ticket price less ______.” I wrote ” by 15%” and the answer is just “15%”. Now I am confused whether adding articles etc. should be done or not.


    • If you write “less by 15%” it is incorrect English. It is grammatically wrong to write “less by ..”. Therefore the answer MUST be 15% to ensure the sentence is grammatically correct. This is a language test and it is testing your grammar as well as vocabulary.

  17. hy liza my name is salman i wanna improve speaking or writing skill tell me about that thanks

  18. Our primate cousins are particularly vulnerable because they depend on shrinking tropical forests and endangered ecosystems for foraging. Although most have made it through the last 100 years, an estimated 20 percent – some 120 types of prosimians, monkeys, and apes – will be at severe risk of extinction within the next two decades. Among them are some whose faces are as appealing as their names, including the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, the golden lion tamarin, and Miss Waldron’s red colobus monkey.

    No species of primate have yet become extinct.
    Not Given

    My answer: True
    Answer on Cambridge IELTS: False
    Could you please help me with this question? Thank you

    • Could you add the paragraph or sentences before this one. I need to see the broader context.

    • Eripha most was used that mean some primates were gone into extinction. therefore, answer is false. stand to be corrected

      • Babatunde says:

        Abiodun, I was just about to type exactly what you wrote here,we definitely have to pay close attention to key words, just as Liz had been emphasizing. The key word here is MOST,and the question says-NO species,hence false is the correct answer

  19. Hi Liz,
    I solved books 9, 8, 7 and starting 6 now and I still can’t seem to get the reading right, I’m not even progressing at all. I tried different techniques and found out what works for me best but I’m still not making the grade nor the time!!
    And as I solve the questions fast to make the time I don’t understand well so I solve them incorrectly, but if I take my time understanding I go way over time. So I don’t know whether to focus on the right answer regardless to the time or to keep trying to get the time right regardless to the correct answer!! My exam is on 22 April 😔
    (Knowing that on correcting the tests I don’t analyze why I made the mistake, I just mark it as wrong and move on.)

  20. Toyin Akande says:

    Hello Liz,
    Thanks for the great work here.
    I took the general training test in Lagos Nigeria today 25th March and thanks to you, all components were quite easy. I’m a bit worried now though. A friend who took the same test at a different centre just told me he had yes/no questions in section 4 of the reading test but mine was true/false. Is this something i should be worried about?

    • I can’t comment on this because I didn’t see either test. You must wait for your results.

      • Tshering Yangzom says:

        Hi liz, today in India I have given sparking test, it was good, I did not get pause during conversation, but in cue card I had to describe the famous person, so I have choosen to talk about the our prime minister, I was describing properly, but could not pronounce demonitization properly, but then I have explained the meaning. It will effects my score. In speaking too I have to get 7 band.
        please do reply.

        • You will be given band 7 if your English language is band 7. One mistake does not symbolise your level of English. Band score 7 means very strong and accurate English.

  21. I already give exam from British council and got overall 6
    Now I again decide to give exam from British council
    Am I correct?
    Because students told me that they have previous result of yurs and give marks according to previous one ….
    Plz give me right suggestion….

  22. I have my exam on april 8 .I am weak in reading part .Can you help me by giving more tips on it ??

  23. Can u give me the idea regarding essay topic .my exam on 25 march

  24. Swarna Subramanian says:

    Finally got my results – had taken the Academic one (UKVI) on the 11th of February, which was withheld.

    Watching your videos was part of my preparation.

    Listening – 9, Reading 7, Writing 7, Speaking 8.5 Overall Band Score 8

    Thanks for your tips, helped me a lot considering this is my first attempt.

  25. I want to improve my writing score.

  26. Aabideen H says:

    Dear Friends,
    I am looking for a speaking Partner in Skype, I am planing to write a GT IELTS for Immigration Purpose. I am really new to this Exam and i was really Blind at the first time when i heard about IELTS, But after seeing the Liz service i am really wondered that i could able to understand what is IELTS and also i am getting trained by this Wonderful Site! My Skype is “abith4”

    • If you don’t mind I’ll fix what you’ve written as it has some errors.
      Compare what you’ve written and the what I’ve fixed as the grammar is essential in the writing part of the exam

      – I am looking for a speaking partner on Skype as I am planning to pass/take the IELTS general for immigration purpose. I am really new to the exam (and I was really blind at the first time when I heard about IELTS??) , but (after) seeing/ having seen Liz’s service I am really wondering if I could understand / if I’m able to understand what the IELTS is (and how it works).

    • Hasan Ayach says:

      Hello dear I’m training as well for GT ielts i hope that we can help each other in speaking i wounder if u have other communications way than skype like whatsapp or Facebook that we can conduct the interview in plz contact me through my mail

  27. I feel Liz is a good teacher because I have seen the difference in my preparation for ielts. At first, I did not understand paraphrasing and summerizing the reading passages. Currently I am practicing listening which made me fail ielts. Please I need to pass ielts.

  28. muhammadbilal says:

    my kind Mam i like you are in my heart every time

  29. Dr. Ahmed says:

    It’s cool and refresh me that I can do as I failing for several times. Mind says, this idea can do something.
    Congratulation Manal

  30. hai madam am cherry am getting problem in reading module …please help in that

  31. Asif Chaklasiya says:

    i really appreciate your effort , tips and tricks. I really feel very good after reading this. Because my reading is also poor so i want to improve same. I feel that these tricks are helpful to improve my reading score. Thank you. THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  32. Manal Khan says:

    Considering the request for tips for L/S/W, I will post some tips which I’ve found useful while preparing for the Listening test. I will post speaking and writing tips later.

    1) Join an IELTS face-to-face preparation course. – and supplement it with Ielts Liz videos. I won’t deny there are innumerable online resources but I still can’t appreciate well enough the importance of attending an course where you will interact with the instructors
    face to face and ask any questions or doubts. I was lucky that the course I did was conducted in the test center itself where the IELTS exam and Speaking test take place. I also gave mock tests there. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing a whole-length practice test along with the speaking test in the place where you will actually give the exam. It helps you familiarize with that place and will also alleviate anxiety in the day of the test. The teachers who took the classes are certified IELTS instructors as well as examiners but caution is taken to ensure that the ones who take your classes do not take your Speaking exam or check your Writing test to avoid bias. More or less the strategies provided by all IELTS websites and teachers worldwide will be similar, but it is imperative you get yourself familiar with the Writing and Speaking strategies specifically from the teachers in your country because they will checking your Writing test and grading your Speaking exam. This was important for me, because the country where I took the test – their concept of indentation in Writing was different from the one I encountered in the IELTS books I studied. The Listening and Reading answer scripts will be sent to UK for grading.

    2) Listening tips – it may seem like the easiest module but I personally battled with it a lot. I felt like I was playing Tom and Jerry. It is so easy to make mistakes here even if you miss something in a split of a nanosecond. I never got a 9 in a single Listening practice test. I tried really hard. It is so easy to make mistakes in Listening. You may think you heard something but in reality you heard something else. Your brain has to be literally glued to the audio waves emanating from the Listening tape for each and every split of a nanosecond.

    Especially I struggled with those situations in Section 1 (seemingly the easiest section right?) where the lady / guy tells you a street name and you are just waiting there for it to be spelled and spoof – they move on to the next part of the conversation. I made mistakes like that in situations where the answer was King Street (I heard Kingsley) or when they are reading out a credit card number / bar code number – I end up confusing between certain alphabets-like maybe the person said V, but I heard B. In normal situations when you are calm, you can easily differentiate those phonetic sounds but when you are stressed out with elevated levels of cortisol, you’d make the silliest mistakes ever which you normally wouldn’t make in “luxurious conditions”.

    a) This may seem basic but familiarize with yourself the British pronounciation of the alphabets and letters and maybe just
    b) Skim / scan through some popular street names of London / UK which IELTS expects you to be able to write it correctly without it being spelled for you.
    c) Since you hear the tape only once, one strategy that helped for me was to circle the keywords of the questions before the tape is played and only look for those keywords / synonyms in the tape.
    d) What helped me in sentence completion tasks (Section 1 and Section 4), was to put a tick in that part of the text where I already got the answer and inserted the answer in my booklet – that way my brain knows not to make my eyeballs linger there and to focus on the keywords in the next part of the text.
    e) In multiple choice questions, circle the keywords in the question itself as well each of the possible answers. This can be quite tricky especially in Section 3 where 2-3 people talk together. And when they are talking, eliminate the wrong answers everytime you hear a line which is contradictory to a choice, chances are you may not hear something which is synonymous to the correct answer but it can also be antonymous or they can indicate the answer in a very subtle way. You need to be really really careful. There are a lot of traps in Listening. Watch the 25 tips of Listening from Liz in youtube. I can’t explain how invaluable those tips are.
    f) In matching tasks ( this is so hard in Listening!) – especially in Section 3 where 2-3 people are talking, this can get so challenging. Please circle the keywords in the headings as well as the questions. You will get overwhelmed when the tape starts playing if you just circle the questions and your eyeballs will be jumping around here and there looking for answers. I made this mistake but hopefully and thanks to Allah I managed to score 8.5 by making either 1 or 2 mistakes.
    g) Even in this part of the test, I utilized my gut instincts / intuition – whatever you call it. This may not be an “exam exam strategy”. But I advise all of you to get in touch with your intuition. It is an invaluable tool that has helped me throughout my entire life as well as during IELTS exam – which is basically an intuitive game. Because this is a skill test- it is not your regular tests where your knowledge of content or any memory tricks are applicable. I’ve learned to trust my intuition more ever since I sat for my IELTS exams and I got exactly the range of scores I had targetted for.

    • Thanks, Manal. More great tips 🙂

    • Very useful tips dear…and really congratulate to to spent your valuable time ….well done with your score’s its really appreciate…

    • Tshering Yangzom says:

      Hi Manal
      I did not find the 25 th tips for listening . I have watched all most all the videos of her.
      could you suggest specifically??

    • Nirmal Patel says:

      Thank you very much , Manal for your great tips 🙂 and thanks to you Liz Ma’am as for sharing this page with us. 🙂

      – Nirmal

    • hi mr , Iam also would like to clarify several things of writing task onesuch as; should we write the general sentence adding it to the introduction part or in a new paragraph? 2) should we depict in wr task one . if its line chart the colors, or if there are percentage and moneytrends of vertical axis for band score nine

    • Abdul Latif Miah says:

      hi Manal, can i have a contact of you since me also from Bangladesh and i need some help from you as well

    • Rayhana Ferdousi Shimu says:

      Mr Manal,Assalamolikm. I’m also from Bangladesh.And felling proud for u. I’m struglilg for Ielts to get good score.thank u so much sharing ur score and technics.It is most valuable and inspiredable.if u provide some tips in reading section”sentence copmpletion or filling the blanks ” it would be very helpful

  33. Abhishek says:

    Hii Manal, A tonne congrtaulations for your score.
    I’ve got 6.5 Twice in my writing and speaking.
    Will U plx help me how can I improve this two sections.

  34. Tshering Yangzom says:

    I have exam on 25 th March, writing academic module, I am finding difficulty in reading, I have to get 6.5, please somebody help me.
    I felt upset because I did not get reply of previous comment

  35. elite boy says:

    congratulation manal. you done a great job. I cant imagine that I can get band 9 in rearing. pray for me. I am going to face this test very soon.

  36. I completely agree with her.

  37. Amarnath says:

    Hello Manal,
    Really happy for you and I am so kind of you.

    Wholeheartedly I appreciate your attitude

    All the best for your future endeavor…

  38. Dr watson says:

    Thank you for sharing your tips. I will apply these tips to my next exam.

    God bless. Thanks and congrats

  39. Hi Manal
    I would like to congratulate you at heart. I have just started preparing for GT. your advice must be very helpful for me . Thanks n good luck

  40. Congratulations Manal.

  41. Duygu Turkeli says:

    Hey Manal,

    I also would like to congratulate you on scoring Band 9 from the Reading part. That is really awesome. I was wondering if you would have any tips for Academic Module test takers? I have my exam on 25 March as well. Therefore, I would be happy to hear from you. Thanks a lot and congratulations again.

    • Hey i will also appear on 25 th of march. How’s your writing sections preparations ??i am getting very confused for sentance formation. Have any tips for that??

    • Tshering Yangzom says:

      I am also going to write on 25th academic module, in reading section 1 I am able to get up to 10 answer correct, but in section 2 n 3 having problem. As my required score is 6.5
      And in listening part the labeling the floor plan is my greatest weak point and the multiple choice.
      wish you luck, give your best.

  42. All the best

  43. Hi Liz,

    5th March 2016
    Bengaluru, India.

    In speaking test cue card is WEATHER . Part 1(Miror why & room is fool of mirror & Playing music instruments ). Part 1& Part 3 i done good, but
    part 2 topic i couldn’t catch the word properly i talked about like Winter, Rainy, Summer & Sprining.
    But examiner didn’t stoped or suggested me when i continued. I talked about 1.30 mints then exminer stoped.
    So it will effect my score.

    thanks & regard’s

  44. Congratulations for Managing. She deserved it. Thank you Manage for your tips, they are helpful.

  45. Tünde Lagler says:

    I only would congratulate Manal on her band score 9 of Reading test. Really great! As I’ve just read her advice, I find them logical so they can be useful. I’m giong to try them. Congrats again and thank her for advice!

  46. Liz is here to help her material

  47. Wow, congratulation Manal


  49. Asmaa haggag says:

    This is the 4th time to enter IELTS, but unfortunately didn’t get the score, inspite my study was all in English as am working as a doctor, by couldn’t concentrate in proper way in EILTS, am studying now to enter my exam in 18 March.

    • Amair khan says:

      This Is my third time and em also facing the same problem and my test is on 18th March
      Suggest me some good tips please

  50. Kamaldeep kaur says:

    I have my exam on 25 March….. Reading is my weakest point….May be due to concentration problem…Answer skips out of my sight… Moreover as test is arriving my speaking has started going down…Any suggestion or tip for these ??

    • Hi any of the doctor willing to apply for plab kindly just text me and if they really want to practice for the speaking section thank you

    • Hi KAmal

      Exactly I have the same problem ,struggling with Academic reading particularly part 3.My exam is on 25th of March too .I freak out and I don’t know what should I do ?please help me

Speak Your Mind