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IELTS Academic Reading Test: Preparation Tips With Academic Reading Score

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

ielts academic reading

The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an internationally accepted English language test for non-native English-speakers to study, migrate, and work in English-speaking countries. The test has two modules: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. IELTS Academic is taken by students who plan to study in English-speaking countries. The test consists of four sections: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The IELTS Academic Reading section is a vital and compulsory section of the IELTS Academic test. 

The ‘Reading’ test assesses English skills including the student’s ability to read passages and recognize the writer’s opinion, attitude, reasoning, and argument. The 60-minute-long examination tests the proficiency of students in understanding the important ideas, opinions, and details in a passage. It has 3 sections and 40 questions related to the passage. The passage topics are not of general interest but are academic in nature.

Tips For IELTS Academic Reading section

The IELTS Academic Reading section consists of three long passages and the difficulty increases as one proceeds in the test. The test is designed to test the English language proficiency among students entering college or university. An IELTS reading score of 8 means that an applicant is proficient in the English language. Here are some of the most important tips to get an 8 band in the IELTS Academic Reading section: 

  • Read the three long passages by investing two to three minutes for each passage. Students need to go through the entire passage to gain an understanding of the concept, format, and information in it. The key is, quick skimming helps students answer at least 50% of the questions in one go. 
  • Scan and locate the correct answers and information relevant to the passage. Students need to practice quick scanning of the provided passage. The quicker they are, the better it is. IELTS Reading has a strict time limit. So, students unable to manage the task within the stipulated time have to submit an incomplete test. 
  • Use the keywords. Keywords are given in the question paper. They help the students locate the right answers in the long passage. 
  • Students need to have an excellent vocabulary. If they are unable to understand the meaning of a particular word, they should try to understand the meaning of the sentence or the words around to find a cue. 
  • Answers should be grammatically correct.

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test

Students should keep the following points in mind when taking the Academic Reading Practice test:

  • The Academic Reading test takes 60 minutes to complete. 
  • There will be three sections, each with a long text ranging from 2,150 to 2,750 words.
  • The exam questions are based on the journal, newspaper, and magazine articles and these topics will be of general interest.
  • Non-verbal resources such as graphs, tables, and diagrams may be included in the text.
  • If there is any jargon in the text, a separate vocabulary is provided for it.
  • Multiple-choice, matching information, matching sentence, flow chart completion, table completion, and other question types are available dependent on the content provided. 
  • There will be a total of 40 questions with one mark for each correct answer. Scores out of 40 are converted to nine bands, which are given in full or half band format.

Types of Questions in IELTS Academic Reading Test

  • Short answer type questions
  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Sentence/note completion questions
  • Complete the table type questions
  • Label the diagram type of questions

Matching type questions which includes matching the sentence endings, matching the features type questions, matching the heading type questions, complete the summary type questions and True/False/Not Given or Yes/No/Not Given type questions.

Computer-Delivered IELTS Academic Reading Test

The computer-delivered IELTS test has no difference in terms of content, format, difficulty level, or scoring. As a result, the type of Academic Reading questions asked are the same as in the paper-based test:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Identifying Information (True/False/Not Given)
  • Identifying a Writer’s Views/Claims (Yes/No/Not Given)
  • Matching Information
  • Matching Headings
  • Matching Features
  • Matching Sentence Endings
  • Sentence Completion
  • Summary Completion
  • Note Completion
  • Table Completion
  • Flow-chart Completion
  • Diagram Label Completion
  • Short Answer Questions

Instructions for Academic IELTS Reading Test

  • Students are not allowed to open the question paper until they are told to do so.
  • Students are required to write their names and candidate numbers in the spaces at the top of the page.
  • Students are required to read all the instructions for each part of the paper very carefully.
  • All the questions need to be answered.
  • Students must complete the answer sheet within the time limit.

At the end of the test,  students will be asked to hand over both the question paper and the answer sheet.

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IELTS Academic Reading Sample 1 

Questions 1-12 are based on Reading Passage 1 below and should take about 20 minutes to complete.

Population Viability Analysis

Part A

To make political decisions regarding the extent and type of forestry in a region, it is critical to comprehend the aftermath of those decisions. Population viability analysis is one approach for measuring the influence of forestry on the ecosystem (PVA). It is a tool for forecasting the likelihood of a species becoming extinct in a given region over a certain time period. In the United States, utilising population viability to aid wildlife management has been a big success, and there is now huge potential for using population viability to enhance wildlife management in Australia's forests. When the last individual of a species dies, it becomes extinct. This concept, which emphasises the role of luck and chance in the extinction process, is a suitable starting point for any discussion of extinction. To create an extinction forecast, we must first understand the processes that can contribute to it, which can be divided into four broad categories which are discussed below. 

Part B

A) Early attempts to forecast population viability were based on demographic uncertainty, which means that whether or not an individual survives from one year to the next is essentially a question of luck. Some partners may have multiple young in a single year, while others may have none at all. Because of the random nature of death and birth, small populations will fluctuate greatly, and these chance variations might result in species extinctions, even if the population number should increase on average. Extinction is improbable if the number of individuals in a population is greater than 50 and the population is rising, even if the ability to reproduce is questionable.

B) A certain amount of inbreeding is unavoidable in small populations. This is especially true if there are only a few people of one gender. If a species has just 20 individuals and only one of them is a male, all future members of the species must be descended from that one male. Individuals of this type are less likely to live and reproduce in most animal species. Inbreeding raises the likelihood of extinction.

C)  Natural selection acts on the raw material of variation within a species. A species that lack genetic variety is unable to evolve and adapt to changes in its environment, as well as new predators and diseases. The loss of genetic diversity caused by population size reductions will increase the chance of extinction.

D)  Other aspects, according to a recent study, must be considered. The ecology in Australia changes dramatically from year to year. Many species' existence becomes even more precarious as a result of these oscillations. Natural disasters such as fires, floods, droughts, and epidemics can lower population sizes to a fraction of their normal levels. When these two additional aspects of uncertainty are taken into account, the population size required to be confident of persistence over a few hundred years may rise to several thousand.

Part C
Aside from these mechanisms, we must consider a population's dispersal. A species found in five isolated locations, each with 20 individuals, will not have the same chance of extinction as a species found in a single location with 100 individuals. Forest-dependent organisms will be compelled to flee areas where logging (the cutting down of forests for wood) happens. Ground-dwelling herbivores could reappear in the next decade. However, arboreal marsupials (animals that dwell in trees) may take a century or more to restore to pre-logging levels. Animal population sizes will continue to shrink as more forests are logged. Regardless of which theory or model we employ, a decline in population size reduces a population's genetic diversity and raises the risk of extinction due to any or all of the mechanisms outlined above. As a result, it is a scientific fact that increasing the amount of land that is loaded in any location increases the likelihood of forest-dependent creatures becoming extinct.

Questions 1 - 4

Do the following statements given below agree with the views of the writer in Part A of Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 1-4 on the answer sheet write:

YES              whether the statement agrees with the writer
NO               whether the statement contradicts the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is not possible to say what the writer thinks about the statement

1. Scientists want to know how forestry affects native creatures.

2. For many years, PVA has been used in Australia.

3. When only one individual of a species remains, it is said to be extinct.

4. Extinction is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Questions 5-8
These questions are based on Reading Passage 1 Part B.

The author describes four processes that may contribute to the extinction of a species in paragraphs A to D.

You are required to match the list of processes (i-vi) to the paragraphs.
Fill in boxes 5-8 on the answer sheet with the appropriate number (i-vi).

NB. There are more processes than the paragraphs given below, so you are not required to use all of them.




5. Paragraph A

6. Paragraph B

7. Paragraph C

8. Paragraph D


i) Loss of ability to adapt

ii) Natural disasters

iii) An imbalance of the sexes

iv) Human disasters

v) Evolution

vi) The haphazard nature of reproduction



Questions 9-11
Based on the reading of Part C, complete the following sentences below:


While a species' population may be increasing, there is always the possibility that small isolated groups ......... (9).....… The survival of a species is contingent on a balance between the size of a population and its .......... (10) ......... The likelihood of forest-dwelling animals becoming extinct is raised when........... (11)...........

Question 12:
Fill in box 12 on the answer sheet with the appropriate letter A-D.

The passage could also be titled as

A. The conservation of native flora and fauna

B.  Influential elements in determining survival probability

C.  An economic argument for forest logging

D. Efforts to prevent the extinction of a species


  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. No
  4. Not given
  5. vi
  6. iii
  7. i
  8. ii
  9. will(/may) not survive, [or, will (/ may/ could) become extinct]
  10. locality/ distribution
  11. logging takes place/ logging occurs
  12. B

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IELTS Academic Reading Sample 2

Questions 1–13 are based on the reading passage below and should take about 20 minutes to complete.

The Dover Bronze-Age Boat

A wonderfully preserved boat, discovered by chance in a muddy hole some 3,000 years ago, has had a significant impact on the archaeological study.

It was the year 1992. In England, workers were constructing a new road through the centre of Dover to connect the old port with the Channel Tunnel, which would be the first land link between Britain and Europe in over 10,000 years when it opened just two years later. The Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT) sent a small crew to work alongside the workers, noting fresh finds made possible by the machinery.

A wooden structure was discovered at the bottom of the deep hole, six metres beneath the present streets. Archaeologists discovered the true nature of the site after cleaning away the waterlogged site that covered the timbers. They had discovered a prehistoric boat that had been preserved by the type of sediment it had been buried in. Dover Bronze-Age Boat was given the name after that.

About nine metres of the boat's length were recovered; one end had to be left behind because it was beyond the excavation. There were just four beautifully carved wood planks left: two on the bottom, united along a central seam by a difficult system of wedges and sewn to the others; and two on the top, joined along a central seam by a complicated system of wedges and stitched to the others. Moss pads were used to seal the seams, which were then secured with wedges and yew threads.

When the boat was abandoned in antiquity, the timbers that closed the retrieved end were removed, but much about its original design may be deduced. Missing top sideboards were also discovered. The boat had been purposefully discarded, deconstructed, and damaged, rather than being a wreck. Like other Bronze-Age items, it may have been "ritually slain" at the end of its existence.

In retrospect, the fact that the boat was discovered and researched by orthodox archaeologists, who naturally focused on its cultural setting, was crucial. Ancient boats were frequently only examined from a narrow technological standpoint at the time, but the Dover boat reached a wide audience. The Dover Bronze-Age Boat Trust convened a symposium in 2002 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the discovery, where this convergence of different cultures was evident. Other speakers discussed the boat's social and economic circumstances, as well as religious perspectives of boats in Bronze-Age communities, in addition to technical studies regarding the boat. Many speakers came from other countries, reigniting the discussion regarding cultural ties.

The Dover boat had been restored and presented within seven years after its excavation, but it was clear that there were concerns that could not be remedied just by analysing the old wood. The solution appeared to be experimental archaeology: a half-scale or full-scale boat reconstruction would allow testing of various ideas about the boat's construction and the missing end. Returning to Dover to look for an unexcavated northern end of a boat was considered, but practical and financial obstacles proved insurmountable—and there was no guarantee that the timbers had survived the preceding decade in the changing climate.

In 2004, detailed plans to rebuild the yacht were drawn up. Archaeological evidence was beginning to point to a Bronze-Age community straddling the Channel, united rather than divided by the water. Archaeologists had a responsibility to enlighten the general public about their shared cultural past in a region presently divided by languages and boundaries.

The boat project started in England, but it was always intended to be a European partnership. Reconstruction was just one component of a larger plan that included a big exhibition as well as a comprehensive educational and outreach programme. Early in 2005, discussions with archaeological groups, universities, and heritage organisations on both sides of the Channel began. There was a lot of interest and support, and the initiative was officially launched during an international symposium in France in 2007. In 2008, financial assistance was assured, and the project, then known as BOAT 1550BC, began in June 2011.

At the beginning of 2012, a small group of people began building the boat on the Roman Lawn outside the Dover Museum. In 1996, a full-scale recreation of a mid-section was built, largely to test the performance of Bronze-Age replica tools. However, because the hull shape was the focus of the project in 2012, modern power tools were utilised to carve the oak planks before switching to archaic equipment for polishing. Because of worries regarding scaling and a tight timeline, the replica haft-scale was chosen. Stitching was done with any synthetic material.

Meanwhile, the show was being readied for its debut in July 2012 at Boulogne-sur-Castle Mer's Museum. 'Beyond the Horizon: Societies of the Channel & North Sea 3,500 Years Ago' brings together for the first time a spectacular collection of Bronze-Age objects, including several new commercial archaeological findings and some of the past's great riches. The recreated boat served as the centrepiece, serving as a symbol of the maritime ties that linked the communities on both sides of the Channel.

Questions 1-5

Complete the chart below.
For each response, choose only ONE WORD from the text.
Write the answers in boxes 1-5 on the answer sheet.

Key Events

  1. the boat was discovered during the construction of a 1……………

    2002-an international 2…………… was held to gather information

    2004- 3……………. for the reconstruction were produced

    2007- the 4…………… Of BOAT 1550BC took place

    2012- the Bronze-Age 5…………… featured the boat and other objects

Questions 6-9

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text?
On your answer sheet in the boxes 6-9, write
TRUE      if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE      if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN     if there is no information regarding this

  1. Archaeologists realized that the boat had been damaged on purpose.
  2.  Initially, only the technological aspects of the boat were examined.
  3. Archaeologists went back to the site to try and find the missing northern.
  4. Evidence found in 2004 suggested that the Bronze-Age Boat had been used for trade.

Questions 10-13

Answer the questions below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the text for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 10-13 on the answer sheet.

10. How far under the ground was the boat found?
11. What natural material had been secured to the boat to prevent water from entering?
12.  What aspect of the boat was the focus of the 2012 reconstruction?
13. Which two factors influenced the decision not to make a full-scale reconstruction of the boat?


  1. Road
  2. Conference
  3. Proposals
  4. Launch
  5. Exhibition
  6. True
  7. False
  8. False
  9. Not given
  10. 6/six meters/meters/m
  11. (pads of) moss
  12. (the) hull (shape)
  13. cost and time

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  • 15 writing assignments with correction and feedback 
  • Two full-length mock tests
  • One-to-one analysis of two full-length mock tests

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many passages are there in IELTS academic reading?

The IELTS reading test spans one hour and includes three passages from various sources such as journals, books, magazines, and reports.

How to get 6 band in IELTS academic reading?

Candidates must prepare for IELTS academic reading in the same way they would for any other exam. Even native English speakers must prepare by learning about various types of questions and developing the required skills.

Candidates should know their weaknesses, this is the only way they can improve their scores. If they are getting answers wrong due to their understanding of the passage, then they need to improve their language. If they are getting wrong answers because they did not find the information or ran out of time, then they need to work on their technique and strategies.

Students can find many free practice tests for IELTS online and can practice IELTS reading tests to develop their skills, enhance their vocabulary and test themselves under exam conditions to check their scores and evaluate their performance.

How to practice for IELTS academic reading?

Before students answer any question, they should read each question properly to make it easier to find answers later. If students are taking IELTS on the computer, they should make notes or even highlight any section of the text.

While answering, students need to ensure that they are using the correct spellings as given in the passage.

At times, there may be questions to assess one's comprehension of the reading. The question could, for example, be about the theme, stressing certain words or ideas that represent the passage's major point.

While reading, it is usually a good idea to make notes of essential words. If there are any crucial dates, for example, students should make a note of them. It is easy to detect them when a question is posed around the same.

What is the difference between academic and general IELTS reading?

The difference between IELTS Academic and General IELTS reading is nothing but just that they are meant for different types of test-takers. Academic IELTS is designed for students who wish to apply for admission to a university in another country where English is the primary language of communication. In terms of employment and immigration, the general IELTS is designed for professionals and migrants.

General IELTS is preferred if a person wishes to work or relocate to an English-speaking country such as Canada, the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand.

How to solve IELTS Academic reading questions?

Students should learn to skim and scan. Rapid eye movement and spotting keywords methods are used in these reading questions. Skimming is the process of fast reading to get a broad overview of the material. To gain a sense of what the material is about, read the opening paragraph carefully. Pay close attention to the opening few sentences of each paragraph; this will reveal the text's key topic. Always read the last paragraph carefully, as here is where the summary is usually found.

While scanning, students need to be sure to always underline important information and numbers. They do not need to read every word, they need to look out for information like names, dates, figures, statistics, etc.

One should focus on the ideas and not the words. Students should explain to themselves what they have just read. The mini-analysis helps them to focus on the ideas, and the message rather than the words in front of them.

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