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.
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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.
Manal
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 🙂
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Comments

  1. Hi Liz!
    Reading used to be one of my weak areas but after reading the tips here along with your youtube videos, I managed to score a perfect score of 9 in Reading!
    Thank you so much. I’m extremely grateful!

  2. Hey Liz!
    I would like to take this opportunity to thankyou for your guidance.
    I gave my first attempt for general training IELTS on June 15 2019, and got my results on 20th June 2019. The following are my scores
    Listening :9
    Reading: 8.5
    Writting: 7
    Speaking: 8.5
    Overall: 8.5

    I prepared for almost 3 months considering the only time available is post office working hours and weekends.
    I think instead of just focussing on practicing too much, identifying your mistakes and improving on those would be beneficial.
    Also, a clear understanding of what is actually being tested in each exam section and focussing to excel in that area can help you score better.

    Thankyou and best wishes to you!

    • Great score – very well done 🙂 Thanks for sharing your results and also sharing your insights into the test 🙂

  3. Hi Liz,
    I haven been reading your tips for IELTS ever since I knew your website. About reading, is it time consuming when you skim and scan again and again whenever you have a new question? I am struggling with it, applying the tips to my reading, my result from taking the sample test varies from 8.0 to 6.0. I am trying my best to learn from my mistake.
    Hope can receive guidance from you.
    Thanks

    • I think you might not be clear on what the difference is between skimming and scanning, and also when to use them. Skimming means casting your eyes over the passage to get a basic understanding of layout and a gist of content – it is not about understanding the meaning. Skimming is done only once for each passage and it should never take more than 2 mins. The idea is that once you have cast your eyes over the passage and checked the layout, you will be a bit quicker with locating areas of the passage.
      When you read a question, you look out for the keywords in the question and think of how they might be paraphrased. You do this before looking for answers. Once you are ready, look for those paraphrases to locate the area of the passage and read around that area to decide your answer.
      So, skimming is done once per passage and is very quick. Scanning is the art of locating words.

  4. Divya Handa says

    Really effective…

    • Wow excellent tips; tried practicing some few MATCHING HEADING QUESTIONS and my answers were correct. Thank you very much

  5. sabiya sultana says

    Hi Mam,

    Can you please help me to understand the difference between Direct and Opinion questions in Writing Task 2.

    Should I answer the both aspects of the questions or can I go with on writing with one aspect of question?

    Please answer me Mam, I’ve my exam on 13th of this month!!

    • Most direct questions ask for your opinion but not all. It just depends whether they ask you to choose between two options (positive or negative for example). The essay question is usually written as a true situational statement with a direct question to you. An Opinion Essay is one where IELTS present a position (someone else’s view) and ask if you agree or disagree with it.
      Please note that the name given to the essays are from teachers, not from IELTS. Each teacher gives them slightly different names. For this reason it can be confusing. Teachers give them names to help students with technique and strategy.

  6. Brilliant Manal! very useful tips

  7. is there any difference in writing criteria from idp or British Council?

    • They are both IELTS – both owners of the same company – IELTS rules are fixed and cannot be altered by only one partner.

  8. Hi Liz,
    This is the first time I am going to take IELTS. I tried the writing task 2 for the first time, I need to send that to you for correction how can I contact you?

  9. Mahmudul Hassan says

    Hi Liz,
    I have been going through your site since last month and found it really useful. However, I still find it difficult to answer ‘Information matching’ question i.e. which paragraph contains following information.
    I particularly struggle with it as I don’t understand from where I should start scanning. As a result I try to read the whole paragraph quickly and kill a lot of time.
    Is there any tip to deal with this type question?
    Thanks Liz.

    • When you are asked to find information, the answers can come in any order. This means take a look at the information in the questions and choose the words that you feel will help you locate that same information in the passage. When you underline the words, you need to decide if they will probably appear as they are or if they will be paraphrased. If they are likely to be paraphrased, you need to think of those paraphrases before you start looking in the passage. The more you process the information in the questions, the easier it becomes to locate it in the passage. When you look in the passage, the answer might be anywhere. You need to develop the skills of scanning – that means to scan for a specific word or specific information. This is a skill you need to work on again and again. Always read all the questions before you start looking for the first one – because you might spot other answers as you look.

  10. Hi Liz,

    Hope you are fine. I emailed you as well with details about my case. The simplified version is below:

    Test date: 08 Sep 2018 (Paper based in Abu Dhabi)
    LRSW 8.5 8 7 6.5

    EOR: 15 Oct 2018
    New result LRSW 8.5 8 7 7

    Since I had already booked another test I went anyway without any real prep even as these marks were ok.

    Test date: 20 Oct 2018 (Computer delivered in Abu Dhabi)
    LRSW 9 8.5 8 7.5 (Overall 8.5)

    I prepared for two weeks only before first attempt and only followed your website and videos online in addition to a couple of books. I did Cambridge tests from book 6 and 7 only. I think I’m one of the lucky ones who were able to clear this test and the psychological 7 band mark both times I attempted within a span of few days. You’re doing excellent work and your advanced videos definitely helped. Even though you don’t have a problem solution essay advanced writing video, I just used the same technique from other essays and it got me a 7.5 band in that. My wife continues to use your ever informative outlet. Thank you again.

    • You made it! Well done 🙂 It can be a long struggle sometimes. Band 8.5 overall is great 🙂 Glad my Advanced Writing Task 2 lessons helped. The techniques once learned can easily be applied for almost all essays. Thanks for sharing your results and good luck to your wife 🙂 don’t forget to mention your profession.

      • Thanks Liz. It’s so true. I’m happy to have completed the journey so soon. You’re so right about the techniques. I was surprised to get 7.5 in writing by applying a different essay’s techniques.
        I work as an oil field mechanical engineer. Since I work most of the 11 months a year in the field, it’s quite difficult to find time to study let alone book a test because of unscheduled work days. Anyhow, that’s all history now.
        However, my wife is still benefiting from your website. Her second test is on 15th December so hopefully I’ll have good results to share from her as well. I hope you are putting out new material soon (I saw one of the samples for essay writing) as it will greatly benefit her and other test takers on here.
        Have a happy Christmas. May God bless you for being so charitable by keeping this material free.

  11. Congrats Manal. That is exactly what I needed right now. I’m sure these insights will be help a great deal. Good luck with your future aspirations.

  12. Hey Liz
    I was hard pressed on time to prepare for the IELTS Academic(had only one day to prepare to be precise).
    I relied solely on your videos for both speaking and the written parts.

    Got an overall band score of 8.0.
    S-8.0
    L-8.5
    R-8.5
    W-7.0

    I can’t thank you enough Liz! All credit goes to you and your concise, to the point, fun videos!
    Thanks a ton 😀

    • That’s a great result – well done 🙂 Glad you found my videos useful 🙂 Don’t forget to let me know your profession.

      • Thank you Liz! 😊
        I’m in college, senior year(Computer Engineering).

        Best,
        Avantika

        • Congragulations Avantika. Im master student of computer engineering and preparing ielts with liz videos thank you very much @liz 🙂

  13. Dear all,

    It is taking the test, NOT giving the test. In English language, students take the examination and teachers give them. Please correct yourself!

  14. Mohit Kumar says

    Dear Liz,

    Wanted to share my results and thank you for the online guidance which really helped in the preparation.

    My Scores
    Overall – 8
    Listening – 8.5
    Reading – 8.5
    Writing – 7.5
    Speaking – 7

    One important tip from my side would be on Speaking – You need to practice (with friend, in front of mirror, thru recording) irrespective of how good your speaking skills are.

    Regards
    Mohit Kumar
    Mumbai, India

    • Very well done with your results 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂

      • Dear Liz,
        I’m Microbiologist by profession.
        Tons of thanks to you for your valuable advice and this website.

        I want to share my results with you:
        my 1st attempt was in September 2017, at that time I followed some other website and my score was:
        Listening: 7, Reading : 6, Speaking : 6.5, Writing: 6
        My 2nd attempt , February 2018, I use your website for reading and some techniques of writing.
        My score was:
        L/R/S/W: 7/7/6.5/6.5
        This time I totally relied on your website and Purchased advanced lessons.
        My score is
        Listening: 8.5
        Reading 8
        Writing; 7
        Speaking 7.5

  15. Aishwarya says

    Thanks a lot Liz for your wonderful and meticulously structured lessons for cracking IELTS.
    I like to share a tip here. I want to emphasize the importance of reading newspapers regularly, especially the editorial section which would provide us with a variety of vocabulary. By this we would be acquainted with many new words and their corresponding synonyms.This will definitely help us in scoring better in almost all sections of IELTS.

    -Aishwarya

  16. Hi Liz,
    Please post this comments as it will be very usefull for candidates giving tests in India particularly in this Summer season.

    Today i have given test and below are my observations.

    1 – Generally test starts on 1.00 PM and they mention reporting time as 11.30 AM. Once you entered into the test hall they force you to go for registration process. It usually takes 10 minutes. Though you reach on 11.00 AM they force you to go for registration. Once you registered, they give you seat and you can’t leave your seat at any reason, even for washroom breaks.

    Usually in summer season, you drink plenty of water and it ends up with many washroom breaks. If you entered 2 hours before starting of exam then it will be problem for you, you have to hold yourself till 4.00 PM. During exam you can loose concentration. I saw this was happened with many people there. Therefore go on 12.20 to 12.30 to the test center after usage of washrooms.

    2 – There are around 200-240 people giving test at the same time so there will be chance that you will loose concentration. Please be focused, never look around, concentrate on your question and answer sheet.

    3 – To show current time, they usually use digital clock and it is displayed in front stage. These days people mostly using analog watches so it is very difficult for people to quickly check how much time remaining. I saw people complaining about this.

    Remember you are not allowed to take your watch to exam hall therefore do practice in home using digital watch.

    4 – You will get 2 different answer sheets for writing section. One is for Task 1 and second one for Task 2. Use right answer sheet for tasks. Some people mistakenly used answer 2 sheet for task 1 and vice versa so they will end up with 0 marks in writing section as per IELTS examiner told to us.

    5 – You will get supplementory answer sheets for writing section. Today one bastered examiner told this us after 30 minutes starting of the writing test, till that moment many people had finished either task 1 or 2. So always keep in mind that you will get supplementory answer sheet at any time.

    I hope this will help students who are giving test in coming weeks.

  17. Congratulations Manal.

    Liz/Manal,

    I plan to take my exam through British Council. In your comments, I read that Manal has practiced using Cambridge IELTS book.
    I would like to know if the strategy should differ if I plan to take the exam through British Council.

    Regards
    Sandeep

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

  19. Tshering Yangzom says

    Big congratulations! great score

  20. 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 😊

  21. See my main speaking page: https://ieltsliz.com/ielts-speaking-free-lessons-essential-tips/ and my main writing task 2 page: https://ieltsliz.com/ielts-writing-task-2/. If you want extra training for writing task 2, purchase my advanced lessons: http://subscriptions.viddler.com/IELTSLizStore

  22. 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.

  23. 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

  24. 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.

    • 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

    • Syed Minhas Ali Shah says

      Thanks, Manal for your tips. Appreciate!!

      Syed

    • Thank you so much for your valuable tips, Manal!☺️

    • Manal you are truly a God’s sent. Big Thanks to Liz, I’m immensely grateful for your tips and vedios. Your multichoice vedio tip is the best ever, I’ve practice your T/F/NG tip, they are the best ever online.

      Your website is a big blessing to me. I’m having my test in two days time, precisely 6th July. I feel confident having gone through all your tips on my weak parts.

      I can’t thank you enough Manal for sharing your personal experiences and tips, it’s a huge summary just in one piece. Hitting the nail on the head at various tests.

      I’m highly encouraged, like super motivated with your website Liz, I would recommend it to as many test takers that I come across.

      Although, I’m still struggling with timing for the reading test and matching questions for the listening.

  25. 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.

  26. 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…

  27. Dr watson says

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

    God bless. Thanks and congrats

  28. 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

  29. 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.

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

  31. 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!

  32. Liz is here to help guys.trust her material

  33. Wow, congratulation Manal

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