IELTS Reading Tips: How can I improve my score

Below are some IELTS reading tips about how you can improve your score. The tips include developing both IELTS reading exam skills and also improving your English.

IELTS Reading Tips: How to Increase your Score

  1. Develop skills of each type of question in reading. There are around 14 different types of questions and you need to find a strategy to tackle each one. Some question types have answers that come in order and others do not. This type of information will help you not only save time but also locate the right answers. Follow the link to learn about the IELTS reading question types. Most students struggle with True False Not Given questions, see this IELTS TFNG video to learn how to approach this type of question.
  2. Skimming and Scanning. You should be able to skim and scan passages to do well in IELTS. Skimming is reading a passage to get a general idea of the content. This is recommended to do before you tackle the questions. All types of questions, except one, are given after the passage because it is recommended to skim read the passage before the questions. This does not mean you try to understand the passage. It’s just a chance to get a sense of the topic and content. You should skim read the full passage in between 2 to 3 minutes. At the same time, you should underline any key words you see. The only question types which comes before the passage is matching headings, for that question you don’t need to read the passage first. Scanning is your ability to locate information quickly and has no relation to comprehension of the passage.
  3. Develop your speed reading skills. This test has a strict time limit which will really challenge your ability to complete the questions in time. You must develop speed reading skills to be able to find your answers quickly. This means you must be able to scan the passage quickly to locate information.
  4. Don’t try to understand the full passage. Your task is to locate answers only. Most questions test your ability to locate specific information given to you and then to comprehend the sentence or sentences which contain that information. There are only two types of questions which will require a more detailed understand of the whole passage – matching headings and choosing a title. All other questions are based on locating information. For more tips about reading techniques for IELTS, follow the link.
  5. Developing vocabulary. This is one of the key reasons why students don’t get the score they need. Learn vocabulary is not just about learning the meaning of a word, it is about learning when you can and can’t use a word. It is also about what collocations can be used with words, for example verbs and match nouns.  You should write words lists that include common paraphrases and also common traps. You can do this by learning vocabulary from practice reading passages.
  6. Key words. Each question will have key words to help you locate the information in the passage and to spot the right answer. You should learn to spot key words and use them correctly. You should also check whether the key words can be paraphrased. You will soon learn to use key words correctly when you review your answers in practice reading lessons. Some key words are obvious, for instance names, dates, numbers, places etc. Other key words are more subtle.
  7. Grammar. Question types such as summary completion and sentence completion require that the sentence is grammatically correct when you have put the answer in. This means that grammar can help you to spot the right answer. Many students post question on this blog asking me why one answer is correct and the other is not – the reason is often grammar related. You will see this when you do practice reading lessons.
  8. Practice makes perfect. Unless you practice regularly, you won’t improve. Here’s a link to all my reading lessons for IELTS. The lesson are useful for students taking both the GT test and academic test because they are aimed at building skills, understanding of question types and also vocabulary.
  9. Getting used to difficult passages. If you have time before your test, you should be widening your reading skills and familiarity of complicated passages on a range of topics.  read the bbc news, the new scientist, the economist etc. Here’s a link to a page with useful websites for IELTS which includes links to websites useful for reading.
  10. IELTS Practice Reading Tests. You can find practice tests online for free (see my useful website page for links)or you can buy the IELTS Cambridge Test books (number 10 is the most recent). You should use IELTS practice reading tests for two purposes:
    1. To develop your skills, practice different types of questions and enhance your vocabulary
    2. To test yourself under exam conditions to check your score and check if you have developed or no
  11. GT Test. The first two passages in the GT test are different to the academic test but the third passage is similar. To practice the first two types of reading passages, you can practice reading materials such as instruction manuals, schedules and employment terms. You can find practice tests in the IELTS Cambridge books. The same skills and question types apply to both the GT test and academic test so all lessons on this blog will be useful to Gt students.
  12. Know your weaknesses. Unless you know your weaknesses, you won’t know how to improve. You must check the reasons why you are getting your answers wrong or right. If you are getting answers wrong due to your understanding of the passage, then you know you must improve your English language. If you are getting your answers wrong because your couldn’t find the information or you didn’t understand the question or you ran out of time, then the problem is your technique and strategies. Spend time reviewing your performance.
  13. Be realistic. If your level of English is not strong, don’t expect to get band score 7.
  14. Plan your training for IELTS reading. You should spend time
    1. developing vocabulary and paraphrasing limitation
    2. practicing particular question types
    3. developing speed in locating information
    4. doing practice test not under exam conditions so you can work on skills
    5. doing practice tests under exam conditions to test your score and improvement
  15. You must prepare. Like all tests, you need to prepare. Even native speakers need to prepare by learning about the different types of questions and developing the right skills.

Useful Links for IELTS Reading

Main IELTS Pages

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

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Comments

  1. Hi Liz. Thank you for this wonderful website 🙂
    I’m unable to find your techniques for scanning and skimming long passages. I really need to learn that. Can you please share the link to that?
    Thank you.

  2. ma. esther nakazawa says:

    Hi Liz,
    I just had my exam yesterdayDec 3 2016, Kyoto, Japan
    I wanna say thank you so much for this website of yours
    I had less than a month to study for the exam since I am working full-time
    However , after the exam i felt relieved because i know i did it right especially for the reading exam.
    without your help (this website) i won’t be confident as i took the exam .
    I wish you good luck in your career and more powers !!!!!!
    love you so much,
    May Esther

  3. I have recieved lot of information from your given points but then also i have a fear in mind that i will get better score in reading
    Thankyou for giving us this knowledge

  4. Dear Liz!
    I have my IELTS exam on 22nd october, upto this day I have practised listening and reached 35-38 marks. I haven’t practised reading much but the pratice I did from Cambridge books I scored about 30-34, I am unable to skim well. So cam you guide and how much difference is in real exam situation as compared to cambridge book stuff.

    • The Cambridge books are real tests used by IELTS and published by IELTS. The topics will vary. You might get topics which you find more difficult or easier – it’s just luck on the day.

  5. Hi liz

    OMER here from India am not able to understand reading is there is tips for me .
    when am doing practies am not getting correct ans so pls need ur help humble request
    Regard
    omer

  6. Anudatta says:

    Hi Liz,

    I have one question. In the matching heading of Reading section, are the answers in sequence of paragraphs ideally?

    Thanks,
    Anu

    • It depends on the type of questions – some are in order, others aren’t. See the questions type post on the main reading page of this website for information.

  7. Shokhrukh Erkinov says:

    Hello Liz! Is it all right with you? I took the test a few months ago in which overall score was 6.0. I have to confess that reading band score was 5.0. The reason, I think, was that I could read as fast as required but I could not understand the meaning in detail. So I got confused to choose the appropriate answers in many cases. Please, give some specific advice in my case so as to improve my ability in reading. Thank you for your potential answer in advance.

  8. Sandeep Brar says:

    Hello Mam,
    Thank you so much. i scored overall and each 6.0 bands in IELTS(Academic).

  9. Hai,
    I get 6 bands in ielts but i want to achive high score … i follow all instructions which you give us but i does not improve . So what i have to do for high score..

  10. helllooo…
    i couldnt find the videos regarding reading tips.plz help me out

  11. sandeep says:

    hi liz,
    thank you so much, now i am scoring 6 and 6.5 in reading module.

  12. hello Liz
    I’m getting good bands in my practice session(in reading 7, listening 8 and 6 each in rest both) I’m confused because people say that you would get less bands then you are getting in the class.
    I can score the same as well in the exam. Please help me out.

  13. Ruchin Patel says:

    Hi Liz,
    Thank you for the awesome videos and materials.
    My question is, how important is inclusion of an article in the answer? For an example, I lost a point on my practice test since according to the answer key, the answer should have been “The Sun” and I entered “Sun”. One more time I lost point on answering “dependent” instead of “a dependent”.
    Please suggest.
    Thanks again

    • It depends if you are answering sentence completion or other questions which require grammatically correct answers.

  14. i need a speaking partner if someone intrested send me request on skype id sunnygaat.

  15. Gursharanjit Singh says:

    Hi Liz,

    I am doing Reding practice (General Training) daily and unfortunately, I still have not skilled myself to finish task within the stipulated time. Could you please recommend something how I should manage my time.

  16. Harmeet singh says:

    Hi mam,
    ielts reading is very hard to me,and my exam is in coming month. but i do not have good understanding and i correct on 20-23 out of 40 questions.
    please help to enhance my reading skills…..
    wrm regards.

    • All tips are given on this page in the article above. Also follow all links provided on this page.

  17. Hello
    I have a question, I’ve read that in summery questions that you need to fill in the blanks with words from the text, you should not change anything about the word. But in another book, the works needed to be changed grammaticaly to fit.
    so I wonder which one is correct?
    thank you in advance.
    Shima

  18. Thanks For Sharing It.

  19. Hi Liz,
    I would like to thank you for your tips in IELTS. I am learning reading, speaking, writing and listening and I find your teaching is easy to follow. I can see a significant improvement to myself.

  20. hi LIZ
    I am SRIKANTH iam attending IELTS exam (acadamic) on April 23, 2016 from BRITISH COUNCIL . I am not able to score in reading .please tell from which news paper or books the passages would come please tell me .i am so scared about exam please ,please ,please ,please .when on wards to read the news paper and which is it

  21. Shokhrukh Erkinov says:

    Not any but many cases

  22. Madhuri Sarat says:

    5……

    ….

  23. Hi! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas!
    Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

  24. Hello mam
    I face problem in reading my score is stuck around 18 and i tried alot to improve but scores are still same
    Plz help me

  25. Ansu Susan Ipe says:

    Hey Mam…thanku so much for ur lessons ..I wish to get essay answers too along with questions. .kindly do the needful

  26. Helo Liz
    My name is Preeti and I m going to take the IELTS exam on 14 January 2016 and i have no knowledge regarding all module and i m big confuse how can i got 7 band please tell me how can i gain score in reading and listening and all…..

  27. wonderful blog for IELTS

  28. Hi Liz,
    I have been going through your site, videos from quite sometime and I must say they are excellent.
    I have some queries and I hope to get them resolved by you.
    Q1: Reading Section
    If I’m answering the questions in upper-case and the questions expects
    “Choose i-ix or choose a-e to answer the below questions”
    should I be writing the answers to these questions in upper-case or as they are expecting that is i-ix or a-e which are in lower case?
    Q2. Writing section
    Post completion my essay when I check my task 1 and task 2 content, there are cases where I have missed the words( I write using a pencil). So can I use character ‘^’ and add the word in between the way we usually do in normal writing.
    Will it look messy and impact my score?

    Awaiting for your response as I would be giving my exam on this weekend.

    Regards,
    Zarina

    • Question 1: use capitals as that follows your choice. Question 2: Yes, it can use “^” to insert a word that you have missed. As long as it is neat and the examiner can easily read it, it’s fine.
      All the best
      Liz

  29. Hi Liz,
    It was in deed such a helpful advice but unfortunately the copy right rule didn’t allow me to could get a hard copy of it and to learn more.

    Best,
    Abdullah

  30. Any special advice to get band score 8

    Regards
    Ravindra

  31. Hi Liz:
    Hope your are doing well.

    May I have some ideas about key words?

    Thanks,
    Himu

    • Key words are words that firstly help you find the location of the answer in the passage and second tell you what kind of answer you are looking for. Each type of questions as different types of key words. They are just useful words. I’ll try and make a video about key words some time in the future.
      All the best
      Liz

  32. Dr. Syed Iqtidar Ali Raza says:

    Dear Liz
    Thanks for your satisfying answer.
    It seems to me unreal to find someone like you who is so caring and replying to the questions of whole world. Keep it up with the good work.
    I have a hard task in front of me
    I need to score 7.5 overall and 7 in each band. Don’t know whether it will be possible or not.
    Pray for me

  33. Dr. Syed Iqtidar Ali Raza says:

    Dear Liz
    Also wanted to know if in reading one has to read all the passage throughly?????
    What do you mean actually by skimming and scanning ?????
    Having not read the passage fully, is it still possible to reply to the questions accurately and in the required time?
    Help kindly

    • Skimming means reviewing the whole passage (not reading in detail) in order to know the topic and layout. You will also notice key words when you do that. Skimming should take no more than 2 mins. Then you go to the questions. Spend time preparing the first one and then locate the answer. Scanning means to look for not to understand. The actually aim of IELTS is to be able to locate information in a passage and then understand that information in detail (understand the sentences containing the answer) not to understand the whole passage. This is a points system – find answers and win points.
      Liz

  34. Dr. Syed Iqtidar Ali Raza says:

    Dear Liz
    Thanks for your amazing site.
    Wanted to ask you a question regarding reading
    There is a passage on your website namely
    ORIGINS OF BREAD
    the information in the passage is
    BREAD IS THE MOST WIDELY CONSUMED FOOD IN THE WORLD.
    The question is
    BREAD IS EATEN IN ALL COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD.
    The answer given to this ques is NG.
    while I understand that this answer is correct but why not the answer could be false?????
    This confuses me a lot.
    I know there exists a thin line between these but just want to understand it. Kindly help

    • The question is “Bread is eaten in all countries in the world”. A false answer would mean that in the passage you can find the opposite meaning which is “Bread is NOT eaten in all countries in the world”. However, this passage gives no information about countries so it’s NG. Always make sure you have a very clear understand of the FALSE meaning of the statement before you look for an answer.
      All the best
      Liz

  35. Dear Liz,

    I am going to take IELTS exam on 10th of October and I have problem with skimming. Generally I am reading all passage to understand, moreover It is hard for me to find key words ( I can find key words only such as names, addresses ). What kind of words can be key words? How i can distinct them ?

    Regards,
    Zinyat

    • Skim reading is to read a passage to learn the topic and general layout, not to understand. It should take 2 mins or less. Key words are found in the questions first and they help you locate answers.
      All the best
      Liz

  36. hello liz,
    i need help, i had given a test and my score was L6.5,R6.5,S6.5,W5.5 .
    i need to improve overall score specially in writing.
    please help me, i want to score atleast 7.5
    thank you

    • To go from 5.5 to 7.5 is not possible unless you improve your level of English. Band score 7 means that you can produce complex sentences with FEW errors. Band score 5 means that you make frequent errors. You really need to review your level of English and how accurate you are. For detailed lessons on writing task 2, you can see my online course lessons: http://subscriptions.viddler.com/IELTSLizStore but unless your English language is strong, you will still struggle to hit band 7.5.
      All the best
      Liz

  37. Good morning teacher,
    I found that Your site is very useful. But most of the times I am not achieving enough score for reading. I have 8 times attempted the test, but always I get 6 for reading and writing. What can I do?
    What can I do? Also please give me some tips for multiple choices questions?
    How many months practice required before test?

    • All my tips are listed above in this lesson about how to improve your IELTS reading. Have you learned the techniques for all types of questions? Are you sure you know which questions have answers that come in order and which do not? You also need to make a list of ALL paraphrases you find in my practice lessons and all traps I have set for students – these are common to IELTS reading. For writing, I can only suggest you seek training. Here’s a link to some of my writing task 2 lessons: http://subscriptions.viddler.com/IELTSLizStore. I can’t tell you how long it will take t develop. Each student is different.
      Liz

  38. Hi Liz,
    How overall scores for the four parts of the IELTS test affect each other?
    Ex: If I get scores like this below:
    Speaking : 6.0
    Reading : 5.5
    Listening: 6.5
    Writing : 7.5
    Will the overall scores be 6.5?
    Another question:
    If I get
    Speaking: 6.5
    Listening: 6.0
    Reading: 6.0
    Writing: 6.5
    Will I get 6.5 for my overall scores?

  39. Hlo liz
    My score is L5, S5:5, W5 , R4.5 I need 5:5 in each module please help me how I get that score please please please please

    • This result probably reflects your level of English. You scored similarly in each skill. Therefore, you really need to work on developing your English and making it more accurate. Knowing the meaning of a word isn’t enough. You need to know how to use it, the collocations, the limitations etc. For reading in particular, you will need to work through all the aspects listed above in this lesson to find your weakness. Only you can do this.
      All the best
      Liz

  40. Hi Liz, Hope your doing well. I got scores like L:7, R:5.5, W:7, S:7 i was hoping to get 7 in all modules but i could not do well in reading. I expected 8 in reading but i got negative results. Can I write Reading answers in all capital letters? like Listening answers.
    Your blog helped me lot for writing thanks for your posts.

  41. Aya Amjad says:

    Hello Liz,
    I really want to thank you for those helpful lessons
    And yes because of you I’ve got a band score 6 in Reading and 6.5 in speaking!

    Regards

  42. Hello Liz. The moment I laid eye on your website, a starange idea struck me right; why don’t I take IELTS. Well, the fact is, I have been teaching English for more than 10 years in my own country “Sudan”. I think it is high time I knew where I am standing in terms of Proficiency. Reading module si really horrid. Should you provide me with some hints and samples I’ll be that grateful.
    Regards

    • It’s always good to have a bash at the test and as a teacher you should do well. My only tip would be to learn as much as you can about the band scores for writing and speaking. The more you understand about how the examiner assesses your English, the better you will do. This is the failing of most students. Unfortunately, I don’t have a collection of extra tips. I just put up more tips on my blog over time. Start practicing and see how your score is in practice tests then think about where you need to improve.
      Good luck – I’m sure you’ll benefit from the experience.
      Liz

  43. Hello Liz,

    A friend of mine recommended your blog and I found it very useful. 1 weeks back I appeared my General IELTS and scored 8.5 in Listening, 6.5 in Reading, 7.5 in Writing and 8 in Speaking. My Reading exam was a lil complex in terms of length and complex content. I guess the content was not that difficult, but reading all the paras in the time slot was very difficult for me. I just panicked and went blank for a minute. I was frozen. Somehow I managed to re-read and tried to answer questions. My confidence has deterred a lil bit. I need 7 in all bands. I am gonna practice more in all the modules, but I require your help especially in reading. Could you please help me here? I will really appreciate it.

  44. Vinod Sharma says:

    Hi liz,
    My name is Vinod Sharma, I just completed my IELTS with an overall band score of 7.5 (9,7,7,7). With the little time I had to prepare for my exams I came across some very useful tips (videos) of yours that helped me to a great extent. I am writing this to express my gratitude and thank you with all my heart. Those tips of yours are simply very effective.

    Regards and best wishes,
    Vinod

    • Hi Vinod,

      Well done in your listening – band 9 is amazing! I’m really pleased I could help 🙂

      Good luck with your future.
      Liz

  45. Really good help for IELTS
    Thanks Elizabeath

    Thanks
    Chirag
    Parramatta
    Sydney
    Australia

  46. I have IELTS book for general and academic training but I have lost it’s CD can you send me it’s audios by email, will really appreciate it.
    thanks sweet Liz

    • Sorry, but I don’t have a copy of the audios to hand. Try posting in an IELTS facebook group – I’m sure one of the students will help.
      Liz

  47. Lucrative says:

    Hi liz ,
    Honestly you are the best since you teach us lots of things which are constructive and crucial .
    With the best wishes

  48. Ramakrishnan says:

    Hello Liz,
    Your tips are amazing and very useful. Keep up the good work.

    Thank you

  49. Hello Teacher,
    I’ve been posted speaking test on blog but
    i can’t see any thing.
    is there any mistake i made either or deleated all posting?
    Hope for reply.
    Thank you.

  50. Thanks a lot madam for your valuable pieces of advice.

  51. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for all your tips. However, I did not see anything related to the Cause/Effect type of questions, gap filling. Appreciate if you could have those as well.
    Thanks a lot.

  52. Lightness says:

    hallow Liz..
    Thank you for your lessons they have been so helpful.. well i have received my IELTS result, my scores are L=6.0, R=5.5, Wr=5.5 and SP = 7.0 overall is 6.0
    So Please i would like to know if this is acceptable in Universities for degree lever or if i want to apply for a job i heard some of institutions do need this results…
    Please advice me anything from what you know..it will be a relief at least.

    • Most universities accept overall band 6. However, you must check the requirements for each university for the particular degree course you want to do. Each university will state their band score requirements.
      All the best
      Liz

  53. Thank you it is very helpful

    • Hello liz.
      i am going to give ielts exam after two months.which book should i read for general reading.

      • All question types in the GT reading test are the same as the academic test. So, any reading book will help and all my lessons on this blog will help.
        All the best
        Liz

  54. How i can improve my vocabulary, and when I make list of words after reading forgot it

    • Don’t try to learn too many words in one day. Always use the words you learn – practice writing sentences using them. At the end of each week, spend one day only reviewing words you learned before. It is important to do lots of review and use the new vocabulary to make the words stick in your mind.
      Liz

  55. Hi Liz,
    Would you please let me know how many answers should be correct for 6 bands in general reading test??

  56. Hello Teacher,
    Thank you soo much indeed,such a sincer advice.

    Regard

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