Top Tips for IELTS

Reading tests

How to practise

Practice is obviously important for IELTS but it is important to practise intelligently. Here is a little advice:

My suggestion is that you do each reading at least 3 times:

1. test yourself
2. do an open book test where you look at the answers as you do the reading – to see where the answers come
3. retest yourself a week or so later.

The important stage here is stage 2 – that is where you are going to learn. You will little or nothing just by doing test after test. Aim for quality not quantity if you want to improve.

Band score

If you want to know what your band score is, you can try my online band score calculator.

Dominic Cole’s IELTS Blog practice

This will contain a series of reading practice exercises to train you in the individual question types by giving you interactive exercises with detailed feedback on how to get the correct answers.

 multiple choice

Tuition fees  – multiple choice reading practice

Concrete – multiple choice

text completion

Weather forecasts – text completion

paragraph headings

Cats – matching paragraphs to headings

true false not given

Samrukia Nessovi: lesson with online or downloadable reading exercise

Birdwatching – true/false/not given questions

Official IELTS practice

An excellent place to start with 7 practice exercises showing you the different question types

academic reading practice

Cambridge IELTS 4

A download of the reading from the Cambridge book

Cambridge IELTS 4

British Council

These are truly excellent materials. There are 8 practice readings which give you advice on IELTS reading skills and then 2 complete academic reading papers. My advice is to go through these practice readings first to learn the skills without worrying too much about the timing. Then do the tests as timed exercises.


practice 1 – The Beetle’s Life Cycle

practice 2 – Brain Reorganisation

practice 3 – Tourism in Cyprus

practice 4 – Hi-tech

practice 5 – To sleep, to sleep

practice 6 – Desktop Publishing

practice 7 – Reading Skills (this is also good for General Training part 3)

practice 8 – Recruitment Trends

IELTS reading tests

My suggestion is that these tests you should do timed, but only after you have practised.

Test 1.1 – Job satisfaction

Test 1.2  – The Education Gap

Test 1.3 – Developing Environmental Management Strategies

Test 2.1 – Birth of a Profession

Test 2.2 – Rethinking Europe

Test 2.3 – The MBA Muddle

British Council China – mock tests

As with the listening tests, the British Council says these are mock tests. Be very careful, they are not in exact exam format and in particular be careful with the timing. In the exam you have either 13 or 14 questions for each text, here you do not. They are good preparation, but maybe not great exam practice.

Aral Sea – 11 questions

Bird Body Language – 14 questions

Ergonomics – 10 questions

Ethnic Groups in Singapore – 10 questions

4 Early Important Films – 10 questions

Language Conservation and Revitalisation – 10 questions

The Right and Left Brain – 7 questions

Volcanoes – 10 questions

Culture Shock – 10 questions

Early Clocks – 10 questions

British Council China – reading practice

A series of truly excellent timed reading exercises. In each case, the texts much shorter than IELTS readings but they are excellent practice for your reading skills -especially scanning, the skill of finding information quickly in a text.

Learn online reading practice 


These tests are for general training candidates.

Reading practice test 1

Reading practice test 2

Masterclass (very highly recommended)

Masterclass is produced by Oxford University Press one of the very best publishers of English language textbooks. The quality here is excellent, as good as anything you will find on the internet.

One bonus is that these tests form a complete exam and that you can practise the full range of questions.

A second bonus is that you can download the tests. A strong suggestion is that you download these and do the exercise on pen and paper. Online tests are not the best way to prepare for the exam.

Reading practice 1

Reading practice 2

Reading practice 3

The answers

Holmesglen – an IELTS reading tutorial

This is superb. It is a complete 23 page tutorial on how to approach the dfifferent types of questions you may find in the reading test.

Reading tutorial

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