How to help people prepare for the IELTS reading test 
The IELTS reading test is a 60-minute test with 40 questions spread over three articles. This video covers the key features of the test and includes some useful tips both for people teaching IELTS reading and those who plan to take the test.

Getting started
It’s important for people taking the test to read the instructions carefully and to familiarise themselves with the different question types. Unlike with the IELTS listening test, they should write their answers straight onto the answer sheet as there is no additional time allowed for transferring answers. 

Skimming and scanning
Skimming and scanning are useful techniques that can help in the IELTS reading test.

  • Skimming means looking over an article or paragraph to identify the key themes or general ideas. This includes paying attention to titles, subtitles, keywords and topic sentences. This can be thought of as a bird’s eye view.
  • Scanning means looking for specific information, such as a number, name or date. For example, if a reader needs to know how much something costs, they can quickly run their eyes across an article looking for a currency indicator, such as pound or dollar sign. This can be thought of as a bird swooping down on a specific detail.

When taking the IELTS reading test, readers should first skim the article to quickly get a sense of the subject, paying attention to the title and any headings or diagrams. They should also read the first sentence of each paragraph to gain a sense of what’s covered. 

It’s important to read each question carefully so that individuals are clear on what to look for. They can then scan for those details before they embark on intensive reading.

Intensive reading
Intensive reading helps readers to understand the details in an article. 

Once skimming and scanning is complete, readers can analyse the questions, carefully circling keywords and thinking of synonyms which may appear in the article. Skimming and scanning help with homing in on the right paragraphs, but intensive reading is still needed to find the specific answer to each question. 

Time, practice and persistence
The best way to improve reading skills – and the chance of achieving a high score – is with regular practice. Those taking the IELTS reading test should be encouraged to read as wide a variety of material in the English language as possible.

These tips are all outlined in the video and also captured in our reading download. And remember, we also have other videos and supporting materials to help with the speaking, writing and listening sections of the IELTS test.