The IELTS General Training’s Reading section differs from the Academic module of the test, in ways that’ll affect your studies. As you’ll see, the reading level in an IELTS General Reading practice test isn’t as steep as the Academic Reading test, the variety of passage types in the General Reading section can complicate matters! Studying well for the General Reading section will require you to prepare for these different passage types.
IELTS General Reading: Your Questions Answered
Let’s start with a lightning round of answers to common and important questions! ⚡
What’s in the IELTS General Reading section?
- It takes 60 minutes total; 20 minutes per section.
- This total includes the time to transfer your answers from your Question Sheet to the Answer Sheet; I recommend leaving some time at the end of the test to do this.
- It has three different sections with different types of passages:
- Section 1: Two or three “everyday life” short texts that you’d come across visiting or living in an English-using country, such as advertisements or a list of activities.
- Section 2: Two workplace-related texts, such as workplace safety warnings or staff instructions.
- Section 3: One longer text, often some sort of academic topic.
- It has 40 questions/items total
- Section 1: 14 questions/items
- Section 2: 13 questions/items
- Section 3: 13 questions/items
How hard is the IELTS General Reading section?
- It really depends on the person and their background in using English.
- The best thing you can do to gauge your skill level is to take a practice IELTS General Reading test (we have links to some great practice tests at the end of this post). For some, this section might be a walk in the park. For others, it might feel like climbing up a cliff barehanded.
- You can read a more detailed answer to this question in this post: “How Hard is the IELTS?”
How can I prepare and practice for the IELTS General Reading section?
- There’s quite a bit that you can do to prepare for the General Reading section.
- Start regularly reading quality writing: Regularly reading quality writing will improve your overall reading skills, which, in turn, will improve your ability to do well on the General Reading section. Read articles from The Economist or The Guardian — anything that’ll familiarise you with written British English.
- Get quality test prep materials: Get a hold of quality test-prep materials. Quality study materials will guide you through the unique challenges of the IELTS General Reading section, teach you useful strategies, and provide you with official IELTS-like practice materials. It’s crucial that these study materials include practice tests.
IELTS General Reading Practice Test From Magoosh
Quality practice tests are a crucial assessment tool for improving your reading skills for the IELTS General Reading section. Practice tests help us realistically assess our strengths, our weaknesses, and our general skill level. It allows us to clarify what we need help with and what we should focus on in our studies. So, it’s a good idea to periodically take practice tests during your studies
Free Practice Tests
Here’s our IELTS General Training Reading Practice Test (PDF) that you can use to take stock of your current reading level. This practice test only deals with the IELTS General Reading section. Here’s also a full General Training Practice Test (PDF) that includes a Reading section.
How to Use the Practice Tests
Keep in mind that you want to use these to gauge your current skill level. So, it’s important to mimic test-like conditions and rules. This means you should:
- Complete the test in one, uninterrupted sitting.
- Time and hold yourself to the time limits: no more than 60 minutes total, and no more than 20 minutes for each section.
- Don’t just put your answers on the question paper; write your answers down on a separate answer sheet like the actual IELTS paper-delivered test. Here are several ways you can get an answer sheet. You can print out:
To calculate your score, use the IELTS General Training Reading test table in Magoosh’s IELTS score predictor article.
Other IELTS General Training Reading Tests
I also recommend checking out practice tests from the official IELTS creators (British Council, Cambridge, IELTS, and IDP). You won’t find practice tests that come closer to the real IELTS than the creators themselves.
The British Council website offers both an IELTS Academic and IELTS General Reading practice test — two of each, in fact. Note that these Reading practice sections are part of larger full-length free IELTS practice tests from the BC.
Cambridge, the company that publishes the official IELTS preparation books, offers some free PDF excerpts of their IELTS exam print tests online, including a GT Reading test, linked below:
- IELTS.org General Reading Practice Test (PDF)
- IELTS.org General Reading Practice Test Answer Key (PDF)
More Practice Sets
Beyond the practice sets, IELTS test takers can benefit from additional General Reading practice sets as they get started in their studies. Here are some great resources for more practice materials. Most of these sources are not full Reading practice tests, but rather smaller sets of questions.
- IELTS IDP’s Reading practice sets (paper-based IELTS)
- IELTS IDP’s IELTS CDT Reading practice sets
- IELTS.org’s sample question page for the IELTS paper test (includes sample questions for both Academic and GT Reading)
- IELTS-on-Computer sample test questions from IELTS.org (also includes Reading)
- Magoosh’s guide to using official IELTS websites to find resources for IELTS Reading and the other sections.
- Magoosh practice sets for each of the twelve IELTS Reading question types
- Magoosh’s free IELTS Practice Tests for Academic and General (includes full Reading practice tests)
- Magoosh IELTS Premium (includes video lessons, practice questions, and full-length tests for all four sections)
Beyond the practice tests and sets, it’d be a great idea to check out the following resources as you gear up for the IELTS General Training module. You’ll want to read through the study resources to get a firm grasp on what you’ll need to know for the General Reading section. And you’ll want to check out the study plans as a way to structure your studies.
- The Complete Guide to IELTS Reading
- IELTS Reading Practice Tests and Resources
- Academic IELTS vs General Training IELTS: What’s the Difference?
- IELTS General Training Writing Practice Test (PDF with Answers)
Free Magoosh Study Plans for General Training
With these resources, you should be well-situated to get started studying for the IELTS General Reading section. All the best, and happy studying!