IELTS Academic Reading Test

The IELTS Academic Reading test is slightly different in format to the General Reading test and taken for a different reason.

I’ll begin by explaining why you would choose the Academic test and then give you all the information you need in order to understand the test, including samples from real IELTS test papers.

Here’s an outline of what we’ll be covering: 

  • Why take IELTS Academic Reading
  • Test format
  • Types of text
  • Links to my step-by-step strategy pages for the 12 question types
  • Sample tests

Why Take IELTS Academic Reading

When choosing which IELTS exam to take, the most important consideration is why you need an IELTS qualification.

University Study

It is essential to take the Academic test if you want to apply for a place at a university or other higher education institution in an English country or in a non-native English-speaking country where courses are taught in the English language.

The USA has traditionally favoured TOEFL over IELTS but the IELTS qualification is now becoming much more widely accepted in US universities, schools, and within professional organisations.

* Important – Individual universities and colleges have different score requirements, so it's essential to check the exact requirements of the institution you want to apply to.

It's also common for there to be different band score requirements for different courses at the same university.

Professional Registration

IELTS Academic is also generally preferred by professional bodies in English-speaking countries and required for registration. This is particularly the case in fields such as,

  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy
  • Accounting
  • Engineering
  • Law
  • Teaching

Check out the IELTS Exam section of the website for more information on:

  • The band score system
  • Band score requirements

You’ll also find links to the British Council search facility that gives valuable information on employers, governments, immigration authorities and professional bodies around the world that accept IELTS, and the minimum band score requirements for each.

In addition to this, it contains a database of thousands of educational institutions across the world that accept IELTS.

The Test


60 minutes

Test Format

The IELTS Academic Reading test is made up of three parts and a total of 40 questions. You are recommended to spend 20 minutes on each part.

Each of the three sections contains one long text with sets of two or three different types of questions attached to it.

There are 12 main types of questions:

1)  Matching Headings                  7)  Summary Completion

2)  Multiple Choice                        8)  Matching Sentence Endings

3)  Short Answer                           9)  Sentence Completion

4)  Name Matching                       10)  Matching Paragraph Information

5)  True/False/Not Given              11) Table Completion

6)  Yes/No/Not Given                    12) Diagram Labelling

Click the links to see a step-by-step strategy and ‘how to’ example for answering each type of question.

This wide variety of question types is used in order to test a broad range of reading skills.

Text Type

The reading texts are taken from real books, magazines, newspapers, or journals. They will be on general interest topics and, for some question types, will contain diagrams, illustrations or graphs.

The texts will vary in style and could be:

  • Factual
  • Descriptive
  • Analytical
  • Containing opinion

Skills Assessed 

The Reading test is designed to assess your ability to:

  • Read for gist
  • Read for main ideas
  • Read for detail
  • Understand inferences and implied meaning
  • Recognise writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • Follow the development of an argument


Each correct answer is awarded 1 mark. Your score out of 40 is converted to the corresponding IELTS band scale level.

Sample IELTS Academic Reading Tests

These sample IELTS Academic Reading tests come from one of the official IELTS websites where they can be downloaded for free. There's a link to it below.

They cover three different question types:

  • True/False/Not Given
  • Multiple Choice
  • Summary Completion

Use them to get familiar with the layout of the instructions and as practice tests to improve your skills in preparation for your reading exam.

I've added a PDF of each sample test that you can download to make it easier to work on.

All the answers are at the bottom of the page.

Sample Test 1 – True/False/Not Given 

Download PDF of Sample Test 1

Click this link for my Step-By-Step Strategy for Answering 'True/False/Not Given' Questions.

Sample Test 2 – Multiple Choice 

Download PDF of Sample Test 2

Click this link for my Step-By-Step Strategy for Answering 'Multiple Choice' Questions.

Sample Test 3 – Summary Completion  

Source of sample tests: IELTS Essentials.

Download PDF of Sample Test 3

Click this link for my Step-By-Step Strategy for Answering 'Summary Completion' Questions.


  Test 1 – True/Flase/Not Given 

  1   False

  2   Not Given

  3   True

  Test 2 – Multiple Choice 

  1 A   abolishing pay schemes that are based on age

  2 C   allows the expertise of older workers to be put to use

  3 D   appeal to distinct groups of older workers

  4 B   older people are good at running their own business

  Test 3 – Summary Completion 

  1 E   material

  2 G   fundamental

  3 B   complex

  4 F   easy

Click this link to find out more about the General Reading Test.

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More Reading Test Pages

IELTS Reading Test – Understand the format, question types & marking system & know what skills are assessed. Also learn success strategies, key reading skills & discover top tips.

IELTS Reading Skills – Master the skills of skimming, scanning & detailed reading. Understand the importance of topic sentences & how to use context for meaning & unfamiliar words.

Top 7 IELTS Reading Tips – Each tip will take you a step closer to the high score you want. They are the key to top marks in your test.

9 More Tips For IELTS Reading – Learn valuable practice techniques & discover a secret that may gain you extra marks.

IELTS Reading Practice – Discover the top 5 things you must do to prepare for your reading test.

How to Complete the IELTS Reading Test in 60 Minutes – Top 6 Recommendations.

IELTS Academic Reading  – Why you should take IELTS Academic Reading, test format, text types & sample tests.

IELTS General Reading  – Why you should take IELTS General Reading, test format, text types & sample tests.

Reading Practice Samples – Short activities to improve your reading skills & help you learn topic vocabulary.

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