IELTS Reading: ✍️ complete guide for a 9-band score


Some English learners may be considering or planning to take the IELTS test. The score of IELTS is sometimes referred to when studying abroad or finding employment overseas, and the number of examinees is increasing year by year. Many of you who are considering taking the IELTS test are thinking about studying abroad or moving abroad.

IELTS has a section for listening, reading, writing and speaking. This time, for those who are interested in reading IELTS or who are planning to take the exam, we will introduce the outline, difficulty level, efficient learning method, etc. of the exam.

IELTS Reading Test Overview

IELTS is an abbreviation for International English Language Testing System, which is an English test conducted in the United Kingdom and other countries around the world. You can measure your English ability to move to an English-speaking country, study abroad, or get a job.

The IELTS reading exam is divided into an academic module and a general training module. In addition, there are two types of exam methods: computer-based, where you type the answer on a computer, and paper-based, where you write the answer on paper with a pencil. For those who are good at typing, choosing computer-based will be a comfortable test. However, since the examination venues are limited, confirmation is required in advance.

The exam time in the reading section is set to 60 minutes, and multiple-choice and descriptive questions will be given.

IELTS reading
test time 60 points
number of questions 40 questions
form Paper-based or computer-based

Differences in reading between academic and general modules

The test content is different between the academic module and the general module. The Academic Module is a test that measures whether you can enter a university or graduate school where classes are taught in English. More and more English-speaking universities are using academic module scores as admission criteria. It is suitable for those who are studying English with the aim of studying abroad because it tests their English ability in the academic scene. The exam will feature topics excerpted from books, newspapers, magazines, and more. Questions using illustrations, graphs, and charts may also be included.

The General Module is a test that measures your English proficiency to actually live in an English-speaking world. It is suitable for those who are considering training outside of school, and those who are aiming for immigration or permanent residence. You will be able to confirm that you have acquired English proficiency that will not be a problem for living in an English-speaking world. It is said that the difficulty level is relatively easy compared to academics.

In this article, I will introduce the academic module, which is often taken by Japanese people.

IELTS reading score and number of correct answers

The academic module consists of 40 questions in total, and three long sentences of about 900 to 1000 words are given. Each sentence has 13 to 14 questions.

IELTS is not a scoring system, but the result is based on the evaluation score of band score from 1 to 9 in 0.5 increments. Although it is evaluated comprehensively as an overall score, there is also a band score for each section of each of the four skills.

Below are some of the band scores and correct answers in reading the Academic Module.

▼ Band score of only "Reading" section out of 4 skills

band score Number of correct answers
9 39~40
8.5 37~38
8 35~36
7.5 33~34
7 30~32
6.5 29~29
6 23~26
5.5 19~22
5 15~18

How difficult is IELTS reading?

IELTS reading is one of the highest level of English exams. As a result, in the IELTS reading section, some people may not be able to complete the solution due to lack of time, or some may be struggling with the score.

Since the IELTS test is given to those who enroll in overseas universities and graduate schools, the vocabulary used for reading will be more academic and social themes. It is necessary to understand the contents without any problem in the lessons conducted in English.

As a guide, even if you get 900 points in TOEIC, you need to learn more to get 6.5 in IELTS reading. IELTS 6.5 is a standard for admission to overseas universities and graduate schools, qualifications for application, and standards required for employment.

Reasons why it feels difficult 1: Japanese language ability is required

The reason why it is difficult to get points in IELTS reading is that the questions are not clear. As an example, in the question, in addition to the correctness of the explanation, there is an option of "undecidable". There may be cases where you cannot compete with vocabulary and elimination methods alone. It is often difficult to score if you do not understand and understand the idea, because you are often confused by the choices that cannot be judged as mistakes.

In addition to this, many test takers may find it difficult to understand the questions that ask the theme of the paragraph. Reading comprehension is required to accurately read the gist of the text.

Reason 2: The number of questions is large and the exam time is short.

The IELTS reading test reads three sentences of 900-1000 characters within 60 minutes of the test time. It's not an extremely long sentence, but it's not easy to solve it in time due to the large number of questions. Given the review time, each question should be processed within 1 minute and 30 seconds.

You can aim for a high score even if you do not answer all the questions correctly, but in many cases it will be difficult to get a score because there are many questions and you will be impatient.

Reason 3: Words are difficult

Compared to other English exams, IELTS reading may seem difficult to vocabulary. It's not much different than TOEFL, but it may be an academic and somewhat difficult vocabulary. You may find yourself stumbling on advanced phrases in your text.

Also, because the test tendency is very different from TOEIC and Eiken, you need to know some tips for learning. Train your vocabulary so that you can handle academic literature.

[By Question] IELTS Reading-specific problems and tips on how to solve them

If you are trying to read IELTS, it will be easier to get results if you understand the types of questions in advance and know the tips on how to solve them. If you don't know the type of problem, you may get lost and run out of time.

Here, we will introduce the questions specific to IELTS reading and the points to get the correct answer.

True, False or Not Given

One of the characteristic questions in IELTS reading is the question of answering whether each given short sentence fits the content of the long sentence. Select "TRUE" if the presented sentence is correct, "FALSE" if it is incorrect, and "NOT GIVEN" if it is not clear from the text.

Multiple sentences are given, but they are often presented in the order they appear in the long sentences. Therefore, you can save time by reading a short sentence and then reading a long sentence while thinking about whether it is correct or incorrect in your head.

In the short text presented, the content in the long text may be paraphrased in another way. Reading while looking for paraphrases will help you reach the correct answer. If you can't get that information from the text, you'll need to select Undecidable and read it correctly.

Fill in The Blank

It is a question of extracting appropriate words from the text and filling in the blanks in the text presented in the question. The questions will be given in the order of the paragraphs in the long sentence, so let's look for the answer while being aware of the flow. It is also effective to solve it while reading the text, instead of rushing to search around.

Also, finding paraphrase expressions in this question is the key to the correct answer. Read the blank text first, and find the part that shows the same content in different phrases in the text. If you mark the keywords in the question, it will be easier to find the relevant part in the text.

Furthermore, as a caveat, it is important to answer according to the specified number of words. If "NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS" is specified, the correct answer is one or two words. Please note that more than 3 words do not apply to the answer. When transcribing, it is safe to check the plural and singular forms and check the spelling.

Matching Questions

It is a question of choosing the correct combination among the sentences and choices in the question. Often the theme will be the events, speakers, eras, names, etc. mentioned in the text. In order to make a correct match, it is necessary to search the text for the keyword of the presented sentence. At this time, please note that the text of the question is often out of the order of the paragraphs in the text.

When you find the keyword, read the surrounding text accurately. If you read the questions first to find the keywords, you will spend less time returning to the text and reading them back later.

Multiple Choice

It is a question of choosing the appropriate answer from four options to the question. The feature is that the questions are given in order according to the flow of the text. Grasp the question text and the keywords of the choices, and find a part in the text that can be explained logically. If you read the keywords in the text and don't find the answer right away, you may need to read the surrounding text.

It tests your ability to quickly catch and accurately grasp specific information. The choices may include clues, so be careful not to easily choose the answer with just the keywords.

In addition, it is important not to stick to clearly wrong choices in order to reduce the time spent on questions. Read the four options to develop your scanning ability to instantly remove snags and incompatible sentences.

List Of Headings

The question is choosing the right heading for the title of each paragraph. This problem requires the ability to understand and summarize the gist of the text, rather than perusing the details.

It will be easier to find the answer if you read the options before reading the text. Also, by reading through the options, you can get an idea of what will be said in the text. If you read all the sentences in the text carefully, you may run out of time. Basically, it's more efficient to focus on the first and last sentences of a paragraph. In many cases, explanations and concrete examples are inserted in the middle of paragraphs.

In addition, it is effective to mark the keywords and read them while comparing them with the question options. Keywords are not always used as they are, so you may find hints by reading carefully with related words and paraphrases.

How to study IELTS reading and how to proceed with measures

Many people want to know how to study in order to take the IELTS reading exam. It is a different test from TOEIC and Eiken, so if you are new to the test, it will be easier to demonstrate your strength if you prepare for the test according to IELTS. Here, we will introduce effective measures for the IELTS reading test.

First, measure the gap between your current level and your goal

After deciding to take the IELTS Reading test, it is recommended that you first check your current ability. Understand the IELTS scoring system and check your level with a collection of questions and practice exams. Reading can be self-scoring, so set goals based on your current level. It will be easier to make a study plan by calculating the time you can spend learning English before the exam and how many questions you should answer correctly.

Also, if the score you want to get is decided in advance for the purpose of studying abroad, you need to check the gap between your ability and your goal. You will be able to recognize how poor your understanding and correct answer rate are, and find measures to overcome your weaknesses and score points.

Improve your vocabulary

Vocabulary is an important factor in reading English sentences and answering questions correctly. By continuing to improve your vocabulary, you will be able to increase the percentage of correct answers. As you improve your vocabulary, you will be able to avoid stumbling on unknown words in the middle of a sentence and solve many problems in time.

English is a different language from Japanese. Even if you try hard to learn a new word, you often forget it after a while. Repetitive practice is essential for improving vocabulary. It is recommended that you use the vocabulary repeatedly and continue learning until it becomes established.

Also, when memorizing words, it is an effective way to make full use of your five senses and fix them in your memory. Use the voice data that comes with the vocabulary and practice while speaking out, such as shadowing and reading aloud. By learning while incorporating inputs and outputs in a well-balanced manner, the meaning of words can be easily remembered.

Furthermore, in order to increase the score by leveling up, it is effective to memorize adjectives and adverbs in association with each other, and to study synonyms and antonyms together. It will be easier to find paraphrases in the exam text.

"Practical IELTS English Words 3500" to improve your vocabulary according to your goals

" Practical IELTS English Words 3500 " is a collection of English words for those who take the IELTS test, and it is easy to take measures according to the target band score. It is divided into 1000 basic words and 2500 important words, and the basic words cover the vocabulary required to obtain a band score of 5. The content is such that measures can be taken up to a high level of 7.5 or higher, which is also effective for advanced users.

You will be able to acquire a good balance of words that frequently appear in IELTS without being biased toward maniac English words. It's also convenient to carry, so you can make word learning a habit. It can be said that it is a recommended word book for people of intermediate level and above.

Recommended level Intermediate to Advanced
author Keiichi Naiku
publishing house Obunsha
Price (tax included) 2,750 yen

If you want to learn by associating words, "IELTS English words by field"

" IELTS English Words by Field " is a perfect vocabulary for memorizing words by associating them with synonyms, antonyms, and derivatives. It contains many new words that even high-level learners can learn, which will increase your motivation. Realistic example sentences by native English speakers are recorded, so you can improve your listening and speaking skills at the same time.

It is a vocabulary book that can expand your knowledge of vocabulary such as animal and plant names and disease names, and contains 5500 words. You will be able to acquire practical English with example sentences that match the latest examples in each field. Since it is organized by field, you can also use it to intensively study the fields you are not good at.

Recommended level Intermediate to Advanced
author Logo port
publishing house Open gate
Price (tax included) 2,750 yen

If you want to improve your vocabulary efficiently, "IELTS Essential English Words 4400"

" IELTS Essential English Language 4400 ", edited by thoroughly analyzing the past problems of IELTS, contains 3300 essential English words and 1100 English idioms. In addition, IELTS question examples and supplements about words are described, and you can check frequently used synonyms. The example sentences explain where you can use it, and it will be easy to understand.

By learning repeatedly, you can improve your IELTS score. You will be able to acquire vocabulary efficiently.

Recommended level Intermediate to Advanced
author Lin Gong
publishing house Beret Publishing
Price (tax included) 2,970 yen

Practice grasping the main points without reading all the sentences

The IELTS reading test requires you to call 3 long sentences and answer 40 questions within 60 minutes. It is often a game against time, and even if you decide the time allocation in advance, it may not work.

In order to demonstrate your ability in the test, it is effective to practice grasping the main points without trying to read all the sentences carefully. In the reading test, it is more important to answer as many questions as possible correctly than to understand each sentence. It is a good idea to read the questions in advance and read the long sentences so that you can grasp the main points while grasping the keywords.

It is natural that an unknown vocabulary appears in a long sentence, and it is important to read it while guessing from the context. If you can grasp the main points asked in the question, you can answer correctly and score even if you do not understand the meaning of the sentence partially.

Improve reading comprehension with extensive reading and careful reading

If you have enough time to study before the exam, it is effective to take measures to improve your reading comprehension by doing extensive reading and careful reading. Careful reading is the process of carefully reading a single sentence while looking up unknown words and grammar. You can also check what the pronouns mean to get an accurate understanding of the author's intent. By confirming the role of conjunctions and their position in sentences, you will be able to read while understanding the logical relationships between paragraphs and sentences.

After reading the text carefully, it is recommended to read extensively. If you try to solve the problem again, you will notice the parts that you did not fully understand in the careful reading. It is also effective to set a time for each passage and train them to read quickly.

Extensive reading of sentences that have already been read and reading of new sentences in parallel will gradually improve your reading comprehension.

Speed up reading English sentences

IELTS is an exam in which all questions are given in English. If you think about English in your head and change it to Japanese, you will run out of time. Understanding English without translating it will save you time reading.

Training is required to understand English as it is, but you will gradually get used to it by reading the above-mentioned extensive reading and reading English magazines and news regardless of the exam questions. Choose a theme that interests you and speed up your reading while having fun.

When preparing for IELTS, it is easier to score by reading as many English sentences as possible and improving your ability to read the sentences faster than by translating the long sentences into Japanese.

Understand the question pattern

IELTS has three long sentences of about 900 to 1000 characters, and is characterized by a large number of questions. If you are not familiar with the question patterns and how to solve them, you will run out of time. It is important to understand the types and patterns of questions from the preparation stage and to understand the points when solving the problem. In some cases, if you know the gist of the question, you can derive the answer without reading all the question sentences.

One way is to check all the questions at the same time as the exam starts on the day. Keep track of what is being asked and continue reading the long text. Mark the keywords and read long sentences with the feeling that you are looking for the key part of the answer. If you find a sentence related to a keyword and can't understand it, reading the surrounding sentences may have hidden hints.

It will be easier to get points in the actual performance if you solve the past questions, match the answers, and understand the tips of how to solve. It is important to make sure that the problem you can solve is correct.

Get used to time allocation in a mock exam

If you decide the time allocation for the exam in advance, you will be able to calmly solve the problem on the day. If you take a mock exam while measuring the time with a collection of questions, you will know the time that can be spent on one long sentence, and you will be able to grasp the pace of solving the questions.

If you have time before the exam, it is recommended that you try to solve it several times. It is also important to balance the important parts of the question so that you can take the time, without trying to force the speed reading.

Also, with IELTS, you can aim for a high score without getting a perfect score. Don't spend too much time on difficult or incomprehensible questions, and try to get the correct answers.

『IELTS 16 Academic Student’s Book with Answers with Audio with Resource Bank』

If you are taking the IELTS test for the first time, we recommend that you try solving the problem in " IELTS 16 Academic Student's Book with Answers with Audio with Resource Bank ". With a model answer, you'll get the hang of how to solve the problem. By solving practical problems in parallel with vocabulary books and grammar books, you will gain applied skills. You will get an image of the actual performance, and you will surely be able to score the questions that you can answer correctly.

Recommended level Intermediate to Advanced
author Cambridge University Press
publishing house Cambridge English
Price (tax included) 3,950 yen

For mock exams, "IELTS British Council Official Questions"

The IELTS British Council Official Questions, which provides comprehensive preparation for ELTS listening, reading, writing, and speaking, comes with a mock exam. The test question format and flow, evaluation criteria, strategies, and exercises are posted, so you will be able to take sufficient measures for the test.

It comes with one mock exam in the same format as the actual one, and you can practice the answer sheet in the same format as the actual one. Also, it is nice to have free audio downloads, learning advice, and parallel translations of questions and answers. You will be able to grasp your weaknesses and take measures before the test.

Recommended level Intermediate to Advanced
author British Council
publishing house Obunsha
Price (tax included) 2,860 yen

For indoctrination of reading comprehension, "Practical IELTS Skill-Specific Problem Collection Reading"

" Practical IELTS Skill-Specific Question Book Reading " is a collection of questions to improve reading comprehension and raise the band score. You will be able to improve the reading comprehension required for IELTS by conducting basic training such as reading aloud and slash reading. By correctly understanding the structure of the sentence, you will be able to understand the logical expansion of the sentence.

With a wealth of exercises and one mock exam, you can repeat the exercises so that what you have learned will take hold. If you study one book repeatedly, you will be able to answer calmly even in the actual production. The answering process is carefully explained, so you can get the hang of how to derive the answer.

Recommended level Intermediate to Advanced
author Yasunori Matsuzono
publishing house Obunsha
Price (tax included) 2,640 yen

Understand question patterns that analyze the types and trends of mistaken problems

It is important to understand the score and ability in practical questions, mock exams, and past questions, but it is also important to analyze the wrong questions. Checking why you made a mistake will give you tips on how to solve the problem and reduce careless mistakes. If you have a tendency to make a mistake, you can expect to improve your score by focusing on it.

The point is not to finish with just scoring, but to be aware of the tendency of mistakes and the types of questions that are easy to make mistakes. It is also recommended to identify the part you want to strengthen in particular and study with a collection of problems specialized in that field.

In the exam, you should have known the answer, but you may lose your score due to misspelling or omissions. It will be easier to score if you review it, including mistakes that you will not notice unless you practice it. It is a point that cannot be underestimated because the score may increase just by improving the wrong answer due to careless mistakes.


This time, I introduced the outline of IELTS reading, the types of questions, and the points of exam preparation. IELTS has a large number of questions, so there are many cases where you run out of time. In parallel with basic training such as vocabulary and grammar, you can grasp the pace of solving problems by using practical problem collections such as mock exams. Let's do it through a mock test to understand the areas you are not good at and your current ability and take measures.

In reading learning, it will be easier for you to establish your knowledge if you also practice output such as speaking. For rare jobs in online English conversation, one-on-one lessons provide in-depth learning support from your teacher. You can set goals freely, so if you want to improve your English steadily, why not try EnglishPhonetics English Conversation once.