The IELTS Academic Reading test can be a challenging component for many test takers. It requires a combination of strong reading skills, time management, and effective strategies to score above an IELTS band score 6. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore essential tips and techniques that will help you boost your performance and achieve a higher score on the IELTS Academic Reading test. Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience with the test, these strategies will provide practical ways to enhance your reading abilities and maximize your potential.


1. Understand the IELTS Academic Reading Format

To get a higher band score in the IELTS Academic Reading section, you must first learn the format and structure. The Academic Reading section of the IELTS consists of three parts and 11 different question types. By understanding the test format and preparing for each question type you’ll encounter on the exam, you can better allocate your time, identify question patterns, and approach each section strategically.

Here are all 11 question types: 

  1. Multiple choice
  2. Identifying information
  3. Identifying writer’s views/claims
  4. Matching information
  5. Matching headings
  6. Matching features
  7. Matching sentence endings
  8. Sentence completion
  9. Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion
  10. Diagram label completion
  11. Short-answer questions


There are 11 lectures explaining how to answer each IELTS Academic Reading question type, available with a TG Pro membership. When you’re ready to practice with these question types, try a mock test and see how each question type differs. 


2. Skim and Scan for Answers

Skimming and scanning are essential techniques for quickly locating specific information within a passage. Since you’ll only have 60 minutes to divide among 3 long reading passages, it’s important to save time on questions that require specific answers. This means you do not have to read the entire passage, and the IELTS Academic Reading will not test you on the complete understanding of every passage. To skim efficiently, look over the title first to determine each paragraph’s relevance and importance to the main topic. Take advantage of text formattings, such as headings and subheadings, which often contain the main ideas or key points. Instead of reading every word, focus on understanding the context and extracting the essential information. This will help you gather the core concept of each passage quickly, allowing you to focus on answering the question rather than grasping the entire reading passage.

Once you’ve skimmed the passage for its key points, then read the questions. Many question types will present you with an excerpt from the reading passage, which asks you to find the exact information from the passage and write or choose an answer that matches the given information. This is where scanning the text will allow you to quickly find the answer within the passage. Scan each paragraph for the keywords given in the question. Then, read the relevant piece of the passage sentence by sentence. Practicing with advanced research articles and college-level publications will help you improve your scanning skills.

If you’d like to see how your skimming and scanning skills stack up, try a free IELTS Academic Reading mock test


3. Improve Your Academic Reading Skills 

If you’re practicing for the IELTS Academic Reading section and have weeks to improve, I highly suggest incorporating reading habits into your study sessions. Developing strong reading skills is important for scoring higher than a band score 6 in the IELTS Academic Reading section. For a higher band score, you must improve your reading comprehension, speed, and vocabulary. If you’re struggling with basic comprehension during your sessions, start with daily IELTS Exercises first before diving into mock tests. You’ll find 68 pages of grammar practice material to help guide you through your study sessions. Then, download a Vocabulary list to expand and refine your vocabulary skills. Practicing grammar exercises and vocabulary will help raise your accuracy and contribute toward a higher band score in IELTS Academic Reading. 


4. Master Time Management 

With 60 minutes to answer 40 questions, time management determines how well you’ll do in your IELTS Academic Reading test.

The rule of thumb is to divide your time strategically among the passages based on their length and difficulty level. Aim to spend around 20 minutes on each passage, leaving some extra time at the end for reviewing your answers. If you find a particular passage challenging, it might be more beneficial to move on to the next one and return to it later if you have time.

If you encounter a difficult question or are running out of time, make an educated guess and move on to the next question. However, since the IELTS doesn’t deduct points for wrong answers, it’s better to attempt all the questions than leave some unanswered. Guessing intelligently might still earn you points.

Timed tests, no matter the format, can be daunting to face on exam day. Stay prepared and regularly practice reading exercises with a timer to improve your reading speed and develop a sense of timing. It helps to simulate the exam environment as closely as possible during your practice sessions to familiarize yourself with working under timed conditions. All TestGlider IELTS mock tests are timed according to IELTS time guidelines, so go ahead and try the 20-minute rule for each passage with a free mock test


5. Practice with Updated Sample Tests 

Practice makes perfect! With more than four million users taking the IELTS yearly, there are lots of sample tests out there that do not reflect the current materials you’ll see on your own exam. Practicing with updated IELTS Academic Reading sample tests will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re taking the IELTS computer-based exam, I highly recommend that you practice on a computer to get used to the exam interface. 



Scoring higher in the IELTS Academic Reading test requires consistent practice, advanced understanding of academic vocabulary, and time management skills. By understanding the test format, learning to skim and scan, improving your grammar and vocabulary skills, mastering time management, and simulating realistic testing environments, you’ll be well-prepared to achieve a higher score. Remember, practice regularly, stay focused, and approach each passage strategically. With dedication and the tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to reach your goal IELTS band score.