Reading Tips & Techniques

Do you know how you’re going to manage your time in the IELTS Reading test?


The official advice from IELTS is to spend 20 minutes per text in the IELTS Academic Reading test (or 20 minutes per section in the IELTS General Training Reading test).

But I know that many IELTS candidates spend too long on one text/section and don’t have enough time to answer all of the 40 questions in one hour.

If you’re worried about spending too long on one text/section in the IELTS Reading test, here are two suggestions about how to manage your time.

 Start with the text that’s easiest for you

A good way to manage your time in the IELTS Reading test is to start with the text that’s easiest for you. If you start with one of the more difficult texts/sections, you’ll probably spend longer than 20 minutes on it and have less time for the other texts/sections.

In the IELTS Academic reading test, you don’t have to start with the first of the three texts you are given; it may not be the easiest one.

What you could do is…

  1. take a quick look at all the texts and/or questions; (I mean a really quick look, i.e. no more than one minute)
  2. choose the text and/or questions that you feel most confident with and start there

For those of you taking the IELTS General Training Reading test, it’s probably better if you start with the first of the three sections because the first section is always the easiest.

 Don’t get stuck on the difficult questions

As you probably know, in both the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training Reading test some of the 40 questions are more difficult than others.

What you may not know is that each of the 40 questions is worth the same number of points.

The easiest question is worth one point and the most difficult is worth one point.

Because each question is worth the same, it’s important that you spend most of your time answering the questions you do understand because they are the ones you’re most likely to get right.

So, if you’re faced with a reading question that you don’t understand, just leave it and move on to the next question. If you have time at the end of your test, you can have another look at the question(s) you haven’t answered. If you haven’t got enough time, just guess the answer(s).

And don’t forget to keep an eye on the clock! I suggest you follow the advice from IELTS and spend around 20 minutes on each reading text/section.

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