The IELTS general reading test requires candidates to read short pieces of text that have been taken from a variety of sources, including books, notices, magazine articles, and instruction guides. They are then asked to answer 40 questions about these passages.
In today’s article, we are going to look at various sample questions that closely resemble real IELTS general reading test questions and also we will see some tips on how to answer these correctly. We will divide these into question types in order to more effectively understand how the test is constructed and focus on the most common ones.
Multiple Choice Questions
Although it is impossible to predict questions for the IELTS general reading test, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will encounter some kind of multiple choice question because these are very common. This sort of question asks you to pick the correct answer from a list of options.
In fact, there are three different ways that this question could be formed. You could either be asked to pick one correct answer from four options, two from five options, or three from seven options. Each correct answer would gain you one point towards your total score.
Let’s see how this could work by answering the following question about this passage:
- There is no cat in the world that likes being restrained and watching a big drop of something come at her eye. Your cat’s extreme dislike for eye drops might have you thinking you need to go to your veterinarian in order to get the job done. However, with some patience and gentle restraint, administering eye drops is something you can do at home. It may take a few tries before your cat becomes a willing participant, but her eyes will feel much better when you can successfully give her the eye drops.
Which TWO of the following are required to give a cat eye drops?
- A veterinarian
- The ability to take your time
- Specialist tools
Did you find the correct answers? They are (B) and (D). We can find this out because these are synonyms of the phrases “some patience” and “gentle restraint.” Knowing how to find and use synonyms is incredibly important in IELTS reading and can help you quickly and effectively locate the right answer to a question.
Note that (A) was a deliberately misleading answer – and yes the exam makers will put in these trick questions! Here, “veterinarian” was mentioned in the text but it was in a negative sense. It suggested that people might think they need to go to a vet, but the word “However” tells us this is not true. Answers (C) and (E) were not mentioned at all.
True, False, or Not Given
The next most common type of question is the TRUE, FALSE, NOT GIVEN type. As the name clearly indicates, you need to read a passage and then find out whether a given statement is true, false, or not given.
This can be quite simple when divided into true or false, but often the not given part is difficult. Sometimes you know a statement to be true or false, but it is not explicitly stated in the text, so not given is the only possible answer.
Let’s do another practice question:
- If the paint on a bike is old or chipped, painting over it with a few fresh coats of paint is a great way to give it a brand-new, glossy look. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay a professional to retouch a bike for you. With the right tools and some time on your hands, you can paint a bike that will turn out looking polished and custom made.
Here is the statement to which you must answer TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN:
- Professional biker painters will do a better job of retouching a bike than the average cyclist.
Can you figure out the correct answer? It is NOT GIVEN. That’s because this statement is not included in the text. If you have experience with this sort of thing, you might think that FALSE is correct because it is certainly the most likely answer, but in fact it is not stated at all.
If we look closely at the text, we can see “you don’t have to pay a professional to retouch a bike for you,” which tells us some information related to the statement, but it does not tell us whether or not the professional would be better. Another clue is the fact that there is no mention of “the average cyclist.”
Identifying Views and Opinions
Next, we might be asked to find an idea in the text and then say whether or not the author agrees with this. This is similar to the above, but with a slight difference. The answers will be YES, NO, or NOT GIVEN. Pay attention to the question because if you write “TRUE” instead of “YES,” you will not get any points, even though the examiner knows what you mean.
Again, it is very important that you can distinguish between NO and NOT GIVEN because sometimes the answers can be a little confusing.
Read the following paragraph and ask whether it agrees with the statement that follows.
- Growing your own chili peppers is a great project if you’re a container gardener looking to spice things up, want to take on a new gardening challenge, or just love hot peppers and want to have your own supply. Chili peppers can be grown inside, but you shouldn’t expect your plants or your peppers to be as large as outdoor- or greenhouse-grown ones. The key to successfully growing a chili plant is to ensure it gets plenty of light, heat, moisture, and humidity.
Does this statement agree with the author’s views?
- It is important for indoor chili growers to manage their expectations.
So what is the correct answer here? It is YES. That’s because the text says, “you shouldn’t expect your plants or your peppers to be as large as outdoor- or greenhouse-grown ones.” The key word was “expect,” which we could see in both the statement and reading passage. We can find this and then determine that the author wants people to be careful not to expect too much – in other words, they should manage their expectations.
There are various other questions available for IELTS general reading tests. You should practise often with these:
- Matching headings
- Matching information
- Matching sentence endings
- Sentence completion
- Summary completion
- Table completion
- Diagram labelling
- Short answer questions
All of these require specific skills, but here are some IELTS general reading tips that you can follow:
- Use synonyms to find information in the passage.
- Don’t assume. Find the right section, then reading carefully.
- Practise skimming and scanning so you don’t waste time.
- Learn how to guess the meaning of difficult vocabulary…
- and if you can’t figure it out, just ignore it.
- Practice time management so you can finish within an hour.
- Just move on if a question is too difficult.
- Always take a guess and never leave a blank space.
- Make notes as you go. Underlining is helpful.
- Read the questions first and then search for answers.