Do you wish to get a high Band Score in IELTS Reading? If yes, you must have a good reading speed. However, for that, you need to be an avid reader. You can do well in the IELTS Reading exam if you are in the habit of reading. Read newspapers, journals, and magazines regularly. Otherwise, it can be very challenging for you. The IELTS passages are long and you require a good reading speed to read and comprehend the given text. Moreover, by reading a variety of articles, you will be able to comprehend different types of passages.

Factual passages have various facts. Note down or underline the different facts that you come across and find them by locating the keywords given in the question.

Sometimes an issue or a particular situation is explained or described. Such passages may have facts and figures also. You must match the information.

In an argumentative passage, the author presents his opinion – for or against – about a topic or a study or a situation. In such passages, you must understand the author’s tone, i.e. his positive or negative response to it.

The pros and cons of an issue are presented by the author in an analytical passage. You must understand the scope of each paragraph so that you can differentiate them according to the pros and cons.

Discursive passages present arguments for or against a particular theory. Look for the words of contradiction to understand different opinions and views.

If you become familiar with different types of passages, you will read and comprehend faster than others.

The IELTS Academic Reading test consists of three sections – each section has one text. They are authentic texts and are taken from newspapers, books, journals, and magazines. The IELTS General Reading test also has three sections. Section 1 has two or three short texts or several shorter ones on everyday life. Section 2 has two texts related to the workplace. Section 3 has one long discursive text about authentic general topics.

The difficulty level increases with each section, so you should keep more time for the last section.

Therefore, if you read newspapers and magazines voraciously, you will be able to comprehend the passages without much difficulty. These texts may also contain non-verbal material such as diagrams and graphs.

In addition, you have 40 questions based on them. In 60 minutes you should be able to read and answer them after locating information in the passage. To locate information, you should read and comprehend the text given to you. Without a good reading speed, you may not be able to answer all the questions or you may not be able to locate the exact information.

Whether you want to prepare for IELTS Academic Reading or IELTS General Reading, you must develop the skills of speed reading, paraphrasing and locating answers.

Though you get 40 questions in both Academic and Reading, the scoring varies a little in both. For instance, in the Academic Reading test, for 19 to 22 correct answers you get 5.5, but you score 5.5 in the General Reading test only if 27 to 29 answers are correct. Good reading speed will enhance your speed of answering the given questions, thereby giving you a better score.

The first step is to practice with shorter articles of different types given in newspapers, journals, and magazines. Always note down the main points. Cross check your points with the original article. Also, note down the words that you do not understand. Find their meanings and summarize the article.

How to practice with shorter articles:

  1. Read the heading to understand what the text is about.
  2. Look for who, what, when, where, why, how.

When you have to scan the text for information to answer the question, these are words near which you find your answers. This are the words that help you to understand the passage. Don’t spend time on other words. A big mistake that many make is to read everything word by word. That wastes a lot of time. To speed read you should know what to give importance.

Who Was Steve Jobs?

(You can read the complete article at Paul Jobs was an American inventor, designer, and entrepreneur who was the co-founder, chief executive and chairman of Apple Computer. Apple’s revolutionary products, which include the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, are now seen as dictating the evolution of modern technology. Born in 1955 to two University of Wisconsin graduate students who gave him up for adoption, Jobs was smart but directionless, dropping out of college and experimenting with different pursuits before co-founding Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976. Jobs left the company in 1985, launching Pixar Animation Studios, then returned to Apple more than a decade later. Jobs died in 2011 following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

  1. Read chunks of words together – but focus on key words only. In the text given below,the double slash (//) indicates a break between the different groups of words.The underlined words indicate where your attention should be.
  2. Use your finger or a pen or pencil to quickly move to the informative and impact words.

Who Was Steve Jobs?

(You can read the complete article at



While Jobs was always an intelligent and innovative thinker,// his youth was riddled // with frustrations over formal schooling.// Jobs was a prankster// in elementary school due to boredom, //and his fourth-grade teacher// needed to bribe him to study. //Jobs tested so well, //however, that administrators wanted to skip him// ahead to high school// — a proposal that his parents declined.//

After high school,// Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.// Lacking direction// he dropped out of college after six months// and spent the next 18 months //dropping in on creative classes at the school. //Jobs later recounted// how one course in calligraphy //developed his love of typography.//

Second, take as many IELTS Reading Practice tests as you can. First, skim through the passage by following the steps of speed reading. Then go to the questions and read them to understand what you are required to do. Paraphrase the question and scan the passage. Locate the keywords in a similar fashion by speed reading some paragraphs.

There are many free tests available on the net. But the main strategy lies in understanding different types of passages quickly and correctly answering the questions based on them. For this, you must familiarise yourself with different types of passages that you can expect in the IELTS exam.

Once you develop the skill of comprehending a passage, start focussing on speed reading and paraphrasing. Focus on keywords and read faster than your normal speed. Do this even when you read a novel or a newspaper.

Your reading skills for IELTS will improve if you understand the strategy of locating information in the passage. The passages may be lengthy and you might forget the content. So, make notes of the key points in each paragraph without wasting any time. Paraphrase the questions and locate information in the passage on the basis of your notes. With regular practice, you will improve your IELTS Reading speed as well as score.

Sometimes, vocabulary becomes a major hurdle. If you feel that you are not able to comprehend what you read because of certain words used in the passage, you must work on synonyms. Note down the words that are challenging for you and find out their synonyms. Start paraphrasing the paragraphs with difficult words by understanding the meanings of the words in reference to context.

How will vocabulary help you?

While taking steps to enhance your vocabulary, understand the different ways in which a word can be used and also different forms of the word. Become familiar with the homophones too – similar sounding words, for instance, tortuous and torturous. Tortuous means winding – with curves and twists, whereas torturous means painful. A drive in the higher mountains can be torturous for some because of the tortuous route.

Moreover, a word is used differently as noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. For example, success – noun, succeed – verb, successful – adjective, successfully – adverb. This is significant as you have to quickly understand the way the word is required in a particular answer and how it is given in the passage.

Another reason why a good reading speed is crucial for your IELTS exam is that to do well and get a high band score you should not take more than one minute to locate information and answer the question. Moreover, you should ideally keep 20-25 minutes for the last passage. The last text is the most difficult of all and will need more attention.Therefore, it becomes essential for you to master the strategy of speed reading. However, remember that it will need a lot of consistent effort and practice. The ample number of free online practice tests will equip you for the exam if you practise them regularly and overcome your weaker areas.

Whatever it may be – a practice test/novel/ magazine/ newspaper, read fast. Do not get lost in the words or the information. When you read faster, you are more absorbed in what you read. You get so engrossed in what you read that mind becomes logical, leading to active reading. Speed reading makes the mind more active. It stops you from getting stuck on hard and unimportant words. You read faster, you comprehend better and you answer more questions.

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