This article will give you a general idea about 11 common question types that usually appear in IELTS Reading.

Let’s dive in

As to get the highest band in IELTS test as your own target, it is vital that you have to keep on working with all four skills which are Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. Practice makes perfect, but you definitely need to know what you have to deal with before thinking about how to deal with. In the Reading sections, there are 11 common types of question that you will see very often in the IELTS test. Without further ado, this article will tell you what types they are and some of the notes for you to do the test.

IELTS Academic Reading – Must-know points

1. The general content of IELTS Reading texts

For most of the time, the texts in IELTS Reading will be collected from books, magazines or newspaper. Therefore, it is no need for you to worry because the content will not be too academic, even non-professional people can understand it. The essays can be written in different styles and forms such as a report, description or an argument.  Photos, graphs, and tables will show up sometimes, but in case there are special terms, there will be an explanation in the text as well.

2. Notes while sitting for the IELTS exam

You are free to draft or write your answer in the question booklet but do not forget to transfer it into the answer sheet, your result is only valid and approved in the answer sheet only.  Moreover, the transference must be done during the test time due to the fact that you will not have extra time for this. And also, while copying your answer into the answer sheet, remember to check back on the spelling and grammar, each answer is equivalent to 1 point so do not miss it.

The Reading test will last for 60 minutes with 3 essays and 40 questions in different types. Let’s find out about the common types.


1. Multiple Choice

In order to do this type, you will have to choose 1 out of 4 answers (A, B, C, D) or 2 out of 5 (A, B, C, D, E), or 3 out of 7 (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) then write your chosen answer in the answer sheet.

The question can be given in 2 main formats:

1.1. Completing a sentence

You will be given one part of the clause only and what you have to do is find out the other part that fit in based on the answers.


Completing sentence

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 9–Test 2–Reading-Questions 27-31

1.2 Answering a question

There will be a question and you have to find a perfect match answer for it based on the given answers.

The questions will show up in corresponding order with the information in the text from top to toe. It means that the paragraph which contains information for answer to the first question will be placed above the paragraph includes the answer to the second question.

Example Answering a question

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12–Test 6–Reading-Questions 10-11

2. Identifying information

This type refers to True/False/Not given question. You will see a lot of statements and the question ask you: “Do the following statements agree with the information in the text?”. You have to identify whether the statements and the information in the text are the same, different or not exist at all. Then choose True/False or Not given for each statement.

What might confuse candidates in this type of question is that sometimes they fail to distinguish between “False and Not given”. Whereas “False” means that the information from the text is reverse to the statements, “Not given” tends to say that the information is either agrees or disagrees with the statements. For easier understanding, you can consider the statements do not exist in the text. Therefore, you need to clarify these two terms clearly enough as to avoid mistakes in the test.

Once again, bear in mind about the definition of each term True/False/Not given

  •         If the text agrees or confirms the information in the statement, the answer is TRUE.
  •         In case the text contradicts or is the opposite of the information in the statements, the answer is FALSE.
  •         If there is no information or it is impossible to know, the answer is NOT GIVEN.

In contrast, one small tip for you to do this type of question is to stay objective. Never use your own knowledge on the mentioned field to judge whether it is true or false. The answer must be based on the information from the texts only.

Exampleidentifying information

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12–Test 5–Reading-Questions 1-5

3. Identifying writer’s view/claims

This is the Yes/No/Not given type. You will be given some statements and asked “Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer” and your task is to find whether it is yes/no/not given.

In this type, a small note is that you also need to be very clear in two terms “No” and “Not given”.

ExampleIdentyfying writer's view/claim

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12–Test 5–Reading-Questions 37-40

If you have read until this part, there might be a concern that pops into your head about the differences between True/False/Not given and Yes/No/Not given type. Basically, these two types are quite identical in the way you solve it, which is identifying information. The only thing that differs the two types is that True/False/Not given refers to FACTS while Yes/No/Not given refers to OPINION.

4. Matching information

The paragraphs will be labeled using letter A, B, C, D and so on. There will be some of the statements and you will be required to find where the information in the statements is located in the paragraphs.

You will be asked to look for small details such as reason, explanation, description, comparison or conclusion in the text. Sometimes, there might be more than one statement that has the information mentioned in the same paragraph. For instance, statement 14 along with 17 contains the information that exists in paragraph C. In this case, the exam will allow you to choose an answer twice. So, it means that you can match paragraph C with both 14 and 17.

In addition, not all the paragraphs consist of the information in the statements and so there will be answers that are not needed. For example, in every statement given, none of which mentions the information in paragraph E then you will not use paragraph E as your final answer.

ExampleMatching information

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12–Test 6–Reading-Questions 1-3

5. Matching Headings

There will be a list of headings (usually represented and labeled in Roman number like i, ii, iii, iv…). Each heading will tell you the main idea of a paragraph. You are responsible for matching the headings with each paragraph or section in the text (each paragraph or section also named A, B, C, …). In the exam, the number of headings usually higher than the number of paragraphs, so there is a chance that some headings will not be used. Additionally, each paragraph has one heading only, but there will be paragraphs that not asked to match or made use of as an example.

Examplematching headings

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12–Test 5–Reading-Questions 27-32

6. Matching features

This type of questions requires you to find detail feature and information about a person, an object or a place in the text. You will be provided with proper nouns like names and then match them with the statements that include the information about features of the objects.

Examplematching headings

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12-Test 6–Reading-Questions 4-9

7. Matching sentence endings

You will be given a list of unfinished sentences and a list of answers A, B, C, and D… Those unfinished sentences contain the information in the text. You will need to complete those sentences by reading the text and choosing one correct answer from the given list of answers.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12–Test 7–Reading-Questions 37-40

8. Sentence Completion

You will complete the sentence by filling in the gap with given numbers and words. Pay attention that the words and numbers are taken from the text, not from your own background knowledge.

The questions are in the same order as the information in the passage. This means that the answer to the first question will be found before the answer to the second question, and so on.

Examplesentence completion

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12–Test 5–Reading-Questions 14-21

9. Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion

In this type, you will need to complete a summary of a section of the text based on the information provided in the text. The summary can be displayed in 4 forms:

  •         Summary: A summary contains some connected sentences of text.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12–Test 5–Reading-Questions 33-36

  •         Note: A note consists of sentences which indicate the main content of a section of the text.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 1 –Test 3–Reading -Questions 1-9

  •         Table: A table summarizes some ideas in a random paragraph, some columns and rows are lack of information. You have to fill in them.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12-Test 6–Reading-Questions 27-31

  •         Flow-chart: A flow-chart demonstrates steps of a process  displayed using arrows


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 9–Test 1–Reading-Questions 34-39

Some notices

  •       The answers don’t necessarily occur in the same order as in the text.
  •      The answers usually come from one section rather than the entire text.
  •         You may be asked to complete the summary using words from the text or choose the answer from given words.
  •         In case you have to use words from the text to fill in the missing information, make sure to read carefully the requirement about the number of words you are can use. For instance, ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, “NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS” or “ONE WORD ONLY”. Pay attention or you will lose your mark for that.

10. Diagram label completion

You are asked to finish labeling the diagram based on the description given in the text. You will be given a diagram describing a progress perhaps. In this diagram, there will be some gaps for you to fill in, these gaps could be steps of a  process or parts of an object.


  •           The answers don’t necessarily occur in the same order as in the text.
  •       The answers usually come from one section rather than the entire text.
  •      The diagram may demonstrate some types of machine, or of parts of a building or of other elements that can be represented pictorially.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 11–Test 1–Reading-Questions 20-26

11. Short answer questions

As to solve this type of question, you will need to find words in the text to answer. All questions usually relate to factual information about the details in the text. Answers can be in the form of words or numbers.

Exampleshort answer questions

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 9–Test 1–Reading-Questions 8-13

Question type of 8, 9, 10, 11 – Some important notes to remember 

  •        You can use figures or words to write numbers Numbers can be written using figures or words.
  •         Contracted words are not tested. (e.g. don’t, can’t, etc.).
  •       Hyphenated words like ‘high-tech’ will be considered as one word only.
  •         Always remember to check the word limit requirement.


As to get a good mark in IELTS Reading, there is no other way for you but buckle down to practicing and put your effort into it. It will take time but at least you get what you deserve to get. However, you can always make use of some tips to make things easier.

On the other hand, in case you do not have enough time as you wish to swot up on IELTS  or you find the previously mentioned methods ineffective, then stay calm. It is not the end of the world. You still can apply an alternative solution which is to try to read as much as possible. You can read news, books or anything in English. This will help to sharpen your subconsciously learning English as well as grasp more new words.

Method of “Read more, listen  more” contributes to learning English unconsciously

There is a saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, learning English is not in just a moment. It has to be a progress. This means that you can totally be a master of English by acquiring a habit of listening, reading or watching different materials in English every single day. The method will help you to imitate English and feel like it is a part of your life, naturally without being forced. In addition, you will also learn more new words about different topics.

If you hesitate about how to find good and reliable sources to learn, you can go online and visit CNN or BBC to read news. However, in case you are afraid that you might overwhelm with too many new words, then eJOY can assist you. Here are the reasons:

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2. Easy and convenient

The world of English in eJOY is yours as long as your device is access to Wi-Fi. You are able to watch videos, read online news or look up for words in dictionary. However, remember to save everything you need in case your Wi-Fi doesn’t work, you can still watch videos and read news offline.

3. Learning through play

eJOY can provide you with more than 10000 videos of 18 different topics divided into 7 levels. All you need to do is choosing your favorite topic, watch the videos and enjoy!  You can look up for new words while watching the video without opening more than one tab. After that, using Wordbook to save the new words and play game with them everyday. For an even bigger surprise, eJOY also brings to you 6 games to practice with 4 skills of Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.

4. Information updating

You can always catch up with the latest news, learn new words through the videos about politics, or science via eJOY or any websites like YouTube using eJOY extension. Watching these academic videos will help you to broaden your knowledge and at the same time, expand your vocabulary. This will definitely help you to get a better mark in IELTS Reading.

Studying English with eJOY brings you so much fun, isn’t it? Do not forget to download eJOY free and start to experience right away. Good luck!

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