IELTS preparation | Maximising your IELTS Reading Test Score!

This article will teach you some relevant tips on how to maximise your score in the IELTS Reading Test. Be sure to practice the 3-Steps to improve your reading comprehension and make your preparation time count on test-day! 

IELTS reading test
Get ready to: “knock your opponent of the table”(aka the IELTS exam!) using the following test preparation strategies for IELTS reading.

How can I improve my IELTS reading test score?

A great way to get off to a strong start with your IELTS reading test study is to firstly do some IELTS reading practice tests to find out or ‘diagnose’ what kind of mistakes you are making, and from there where you need to improve.

You might need to focus on increasing your academic vocabulary, improving your grammar or simply your speed of reading and ability to take in the meaning quickly – so tightening up your reading comprehension skills is a great start!

Next, start to read widely from a variety of sources to build up your vocabulary on a range of academic topics and improve your overall reading skills.

IELTS reading tests contain authentic reading passages, so as well as reading IELTS reading tests, articles that can be found in good newspapers, such as:

Also, for more advanced reading material try:

Thirdly and very importantly, it’s not only what you read but how you read! If you just let the information you read ‘go in one ear and out the other,’ and brush over unknown words like they don’t matter, you probably won’t be improving your reading skills much!

If you want suggestions on generalized IELTS study tips (IELTS general and academic), follow the link to the blog here!

3-Steps for IELTS reading practise

In order to achieve a high score in the IELTS reading test, it’s really beneficial to practice your reading comprehension skills using these 3-steps:

Step 1: Skim the passage first

Have a quick look at the whole thing to find out what it’s about and then your mind will start predicting information: read the heading, then the topic or first sentence of each paragraph and quickly speed read through the whole thing.

This will help you with ‘global’ IELTS questions, such as assessing the attitude or the author of the passage or in choosing the best title or heading for the whole passage.

Step 2: Summarise each paragraph as you read

Get into the habit of looking up after each paragraph you have read and then summarise the main idea/points in the paragraph in your own words in just 1-2 sentences.

Not only will this really exercise your brain, it will greatly improve your reading speed and comprehension skills.

Step 3: Keep a record of new vocabulary

After reading an article, note down any new words you have discovered and their meaning on an Excel spread sheet or in a notebook.

Then read this sheet/list everyday whenever you can: before work, during your lunch break, after work, on the train, before bed (!) etc.

IELTS reading test
Even spending a few minutes at the train station reading a news article online, would count as practice towards your IELTS reading exam. 

To note, it’s said that it takes 6 revisits or reviews of a new word or expression in order to remember it properly.

This is at the point where it becomes part of your personal lexicon ( … a new word for you? I will be kind and tell you the meaning this time to help you start your own IELTS reading test vocabulary list!)

A lexicon is the vocabulary of a person, a language or branch of knowledge; it is a countable noun so we can use ’a’ in front of it or put it in plural form by adding ‘s.’ For example: ‘People in the IT industry need to learn a lexicon of computer terms.’

Like I have just done, it is always a good idea to put new words into a sample sentence, so that you ‘engage’ with the word and bring it to life, thus making it easier to retain in your memory.

Overall, widening your academic vocabulary in this way will certainly be helpful for both the IELTS reading test and writing test components.

Even though it might seem like a bit of a ‘hassle’ (something that’s a bit annoying to do and seems like hard work) at the time, you will thank yourself later, and also your overall confidence in your English skills will grow 10-fold!

Making use of your time on test-day

Finally, to achieve a high score in the IELTS reading test, use the full hour to check over your answers once more, even if you have already, or feel confident and that it was ‘easy’.

You may have missed an answer, or made a careless error or an accidental mistake when transferring your answers from the test to the IELTS reading test answer sheet; you might have misread the instructions so you have put 3 words instead of 2, etc.

ielts reading test
Remember: “Practice makes perfect”, so read regularly and stay up-to-date with news items. 

Surprisingly, on test-day it is always quite amazing to observe the number of IELTS test takers who finish early and decide it’s a good idea to have a little sleep or start drawing cartoons when they have finished and are waiting for the hour to be up!

I wonder if they all achieved their target IELTS reading test scores?!

Learn about the format of the IELTS reading test on this informative IELTS Reading Tips article!

Watch the E2 IELTS video below to practice in a real life IELTS Reading mock test!

Do you have any tips for tackling the IELTS reading section? Be sure to let us know what your top strategies are in the comments! 

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Written by Danielle K. 

IELTS Study Tips: How to prepare for IELTS Success

There are many ways to prepare for the IELTS. It can seem like a daunting task, but we’re going to give you some helpful IELTS study tips to help you refine your study habits.

#7 IELTS Study Tips

Tip #1 You must focus on building your Core English Skills

A major mistake some IELTS candidates make when preparing for the test is focusing only on mock tests. Many think that the more mock tests they do, the better prepared they will be. This is a misconception.

The test is skill-based, not knowledge-based. This means that each mock test you do will contain different content that you can’t study for. It’s about the quality of your skills, and not the quantity of your mock tests.

Language (and all its parts) is a skill. So, you need to learn reading skills, writing skills, listening skills and speaking skills. You can’t approach building your language skills the same way when you do mock tests. Although familiarity with the test format is half the battle, don’t underestimate the need to develop your language skills.

So, find a good English teacher, take an English course and immerse yourself in the language through books, newspapers, music and movies. Find some English-speaking friends and organise an English only conversation club. The more natural the language becomes to you, the more comfortable you are going to feel in the test.

For practice on your language skills, try our E2 Core Skills YouTube Channel to build your Core English Skills for IELTS in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.

IELTS Study Tips: Focus on building your overall language skills!

IELTS Study Tips
Learn 7 IELTS Study Tips for success!

Tip #2 Learn from your weaknesses 

Learning from your mistakes and being conscious of your habits and weaknesses is an important step towards success. As a teacher, I have given written feedback to students who have then submitted another writing sample with the same mistakes!

Take your time to really understand your errors. Are they related to spelling? If so, then practice writing these misspelled words correctly. Are your errors related to verb tense? Then go back and re-learn verb tenses and how to use them correctly. Are your errors related to vocabulary? You get my point. Take your mistakes as opportunities to recognize them, correct them and avoid making them again.

Tip #3 Structure your essay writing

Develop your writing skills by learning how to structure an essay paragraph by paragraph. Practice reading and understanding essay questions. It is easy to go off topic or not directly answer the question. Also, read many different sample essay questions and write sample responses.

The more practice you get writing responses to different IELTS essay questions, the more comfortable you will feel with various topics. Be careful not to memorize sample essays. I have seen many candidates make this mistake. Even if you get the same or similar topic in the test, the focus of the question will be different and therefore the answer will have to specifically address the question.

IELTS examiners know how to spot memorized essays and they will give zero no matter how well written it is. It’s also important to practice handwriting 250 words in timed conditions. Your handwriting must the neat and legible. So, if you don’t feel comfortable with writing by hand, then this is a skill you definitely need to practice!

Tip #4 Practice your speaking

The same goes with speaking. Practice as many sample speaking tests with a friend. Become comfortable speaking about yourself and your experiences. You can have some general answers pre-prepared related to your basic information related to the first part of the test, but this should come out as spontaneous and natural.

Also remember to avoid memorizing presentations for part 2. The examiner will know if you are repeating memorized answers. Remember, you are speaking about yourself, your experiences and your opinion. So try to do this on a daily basis before the exam. Even if it means speaking to yourself!

Tip #5 Read a diverse range of articles 

Read up on general topics such as news, current affairs, science, climate change, animals, history, economics, sociology, etc. The more you read, the more familiar you will become with new vocabulary in context.

IELTS Study Tips
Collect a ‘swipe file’ on articles of interest on different topics.

This help you expand your knowledge of English and feel more comfortable with the reading passages in the test. If you are doing IELTS academic, but have never read an academic passage until the day of the test, you might be in trouble. So, use sites like National Geographic, the Economist, the New Internationalist and Science Daily to become and academic reader.

Tip #6 Learn native-like fluency

Become comfortable with different accents and pronunciation by listening to podcasts and Ted talks. Not only can this help you understand different accents, but is also a great way to expose yourself to new vocabulary and different interesting topics. Remember, the broader your general language and general knowledge, the more comfortable you will be with the language and topics in the test.

Tip #7 Know the test tips and strategies

Finally, learn the test tips and strategies and apply them to practice tests. This will help you learn how to manage your time and how to use it effectively to complete each section of the test. One key to success in the test comes down to time-management and test tricks, but this will only take you so far on the road to success if your language skills aren’t up to scratch!

Take time to learn the parts of the test individually. For example, understand the reading test – how many passages there are, how long they are, how many questions there are, the types of questions there are, etc. All of this will help you to know how to manage your time. Learning the question types will also help you to have no surprises on test-day. Once you feel comfortable answering True, False, Not Given questions for example, then you won’t be afraid of them when you see them on test-day.

For more IELTS Study Tips, try our E2 IELTS YouTube Channel, with loads of methods and strategies including this one on IELTS Speaking!

To boost your preparation for IELTS, register and attend the E2Language IELTS General and Academic Live Classes. And check out E2Language’s Blog to practice IELTS activities

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!



Written by: Jamal