IELTS Reading Questions: Question Types, Pro Tips, Sample Questions 

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ielts reading questions

The IELTS reading section throws 40 diverse questions at you in 60 minutes, testing your comprehension, speed, and ability to glean context. Don’t fret! Being familiar with the IELTS Reading question types and commonly asked questions can give you a solid idea of what to expect during the actual test. Dive deeper into specific questions, their types, and the best tips to tackle this crucial section with confidence. That being said, read the entire article to know more about IELTS reading questions. 


IELTS Reading Question Types

There are 14 different types of IELTS reading questions. The maximum time limit for completing the said section is around 1 hour. The reading section of the IELTS exam comprises three passages and 40 questions in total. Each passage of the IELTS reading section usually consists of three to 4 different types of questions. That being said, the section may pose a challenge to some students, however, with a prior understanding of the IELTS Reading Question Types, it can be aced without much hassle. Here are some of the most common IELTS reading question types that you must know. 

List Selection

Whilst attempting the list selection questions in IELTS reading, students must navigate a sea of options to grasp the correct one. These assessments gauge their ability to rapidly sift through information, grasp its essence, and pinpoint specific details within the provided text. To overcome this challenge, a methodical approach is recommended. Firstly, familiarise yourself with the potential answers, then translate them into different forms, and finally, embark on a quest through the passage to locate the elusive match.

Multiple Choice Questions 

Whilst tackling MCQ questions in IELTS reading, you must be able to accurately pinpoint the correct answer among a handful of options. These questions assess your capacity to scan meticulously for specific information within the passage and grasp its deeper context. To ace this challenge, adopt a strategic approach: firstly, rephrase key points in your own words, then embark on a targeted search to locate the precise match within the text.

Sentence Completion Questions

These questions require you to fill in the gaps with words from the passage itself. Individuals are required to scan for specific information, select appropriate words, and understand the given context behind the passages. To ace such questions, you must be able to properly locate and identify the required word to fill in the gap. 

Matching Paragraph Information Questions

These questions require you to match the information given in the question with the information found in the passage. In such questions, students need to meticulously compare and analyse the given information. These questions demand the ability to scan efficiently for specific details, identify accurate connections between the passage and provided prompts, and formulate suitable answers that reflect the information found. 

Matching Heading Questions 

These questions require you to choose a suitable heading from the list that matches the content provided in the passage. Selecting appropriate headings from a provided list demands a precise understanding of the passage’s structure and intent. These questions assess your ability to differentiate between the central theme and supporting details, grasp the author’s objective, and navigate the broader context. To achieve optimal performance, it is recommended to familiarise yourself with the potential headings before delving into the passage itself, thereby equipping yourself with a roadmap for efficient comprehension.

Pro Tips and Tricks to Score Better

While many find the IELTS Reading Section intimidating, it’s crucial to remember that dedicated preparation and a thorough understanding of the format hold the key to scoring better. By investing time and effort, you can effortlessly navigate the complexities of this section and overcome all obstacles behind you. That being said, here are some of the best IELTS reading tips to help you score better in the exam. 

  • Inculcate a habit of daily reading. Reading more will enhance your vocabulary and proficiency in the English language. 
  • You should read the given passages once or twice before attempting the questions. This will help you identify and navigate your answers. 
  • You must analyse and comprehend the general gist behind the passage. This will help you identify and find your answers. 
  • Whilst attempting the questions, ensure that there are little to no grammatical or spelling errors. 
  • Inculcate a habit of highlighting the keywords related to the passage and the questions. This will help you easily navigate to your answers in the passages. 

Having equipped yourself with valuable IELTS reading strategies, it’s beneficial to take the next step and familiarise yourself with the types of questions you might encounter during the exam. Explore some sample questions to solidify your understanding of the format and assessment style. 

IELTS Reading Questions: Commonly Asked Questions With Answers

IELTS Reading Questions: Here are some of the most frequently asked IELTS Reading Questions. Refer to these questions and their answers to get a solid idea about what to expect during the actual exam.  

1. Ques:  Read the given passage and answer accordingly- 

“ Glass, in one form or another, has long been in noble service to humans. As one of the most widely used manufactured materials, and certainly the most versatile, it can be as imposing as a telescope mirror the width of a tennis court or as small and simple as a marble rolling across the dirt. The uses of this adaptable material have been broadened dramatically by new technologies glass fibre optics — more than eight million miles — carrying telephone and television signals across nations, glass ceramics serving as the nose cones of missiles and as crowns for teeth; tiny glass beads taking radiation doses inside the body to specific organs, even a new type of glass fashioned of nuclear waste to dispose of that unwanted material.

On the horizon are optical computers. These could store programs and process information using light – pulses from tiny lasers – rather than electrons. And the pulses would travel over glass fibres, not copper wire. These machines could function hundreds of times faster than today’s electronic computers and hold vastly more information. Today fibre optics are used to obtain a clearer image of smaller and smaller objects than ever before – even bacterial viruses. A new generation of optical instruments is emerging that can provide detailed imaging of the inner workings of cells. It is the surge in fibre optic use and in liquid crystal displays that has set the U.S. glass industry (a 16 billion dollar business employing some 150,000 workers) to build new plants to meet demand.

But it is not only in technology and commerce that glass has widened its horizons. The use of glass as art, a tradition that spins back at least to Roman times, is also booming. Nearly everywhere, it seems, men and women are blowing glass and creating works of art. «I didn’t sell a piece of glass until 1975,» Dale Chihuly said, smiling, for in the 18 years since the end of the dry spell, he has become one of the most financially successful artists of the 20th century. He now has a new commission – a glass sculpture for the headquarters building of a pizza company – for which his fee is half a million dollars.

But not all the glass technology that touches our lives is ultra-modern. Consider the simple light bulb; at the turn of the century most light bulbs were hand-blown, and the cost of one was equivalent to half a day’s pay for the average worker. In effect, the invention of the ribbon machine by Corning in the 1920s lighted a nation. The price of a bulb plunged. Small wonder that the machine has been called one of the great mechanical achievements of all time. Yet it is very simple: a narrow ribbon of molten glass travels over a moving belt of steel in which there are holes. The glass sags through the holes and into waiting moulds. Puffs of compressed air then shape the glass. In this way, the envelope of a light bulb is made by a single machine at the rate of 66,000 an hour, as compared with 1,200 a day produced by a team of four glassblowers.

The secret of the versatility of glass lies in its interior structure. Although it is rigid, and thus like a solid, the atoms are arranged in a randomly disordered fashion, characteristic of a liquid. In the melting process, the atoms in the raw materials are disturbed from their normal position in the molecular structure; before they can find their way back to crystalline arrangements the glass cools. This looseness in molecular structure gives the material what engineers call tremendous “formability” which allows technicians to tailor glass to whatever they need.

Today, scientists continue to experiment with new glass mixtures and building designers test their imaginations with applications of special types of glass. A London architect, Mike Davies, sees even more dramatic buildings using molecular chemistry. “Glass is the great building material of the future, the «dynamic skin»,’ he said. “Think of glass that has been treated to react to electric currents going through it, glass that will change from clear to opaque at the push of a button, that gives you instant curtains. Think of how the tall buildings in New York could perform a symphony of colours as the glass in them is made to change colours instantly.” Glass as instant curtains is available now, but the cost is exorbitant. As for the glass changing colours instantly, that may come true. Mike Davies’s vision may indeed be on the way to fulfilment.” 

The diagram below shows the principle of Coming’s ribbon machine.

Label the diagram by selecting NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the Reading Passage to fill each numbered space.

Correct Answers: 

  1. (6)- Molten Glass
  2. (7)- Belt of Steel
  3. (8)- Lightbulb

2. Ques: Attempt the questions based on the given passage below. Match the headings below with the appropriate paragraphs. 

  1.  A notorious Mexican drug baron’s audacious escape from prison in July doesn’t, at first, appear to have much to teach corporate boards. But some in the business world suggest otherwise. Beyond the morally reprehensible side of criminals’ work, some business gurus say organised crime syndicates, computer hackers, pirates and others operating outside the law could teach legitimate corporations a thing or two about how to hustle and respond to rapid change.
  2. Far from encouraging illegality, these gurus argue that – in the same way big corporations sometimes emulate start-ups – business leaders could learn from the underworld about flexibility, innovation and the ability to pivot quickly. “There is a nimbleness to criminal organisations that legacy corporations [with large, complex layers of management] don’t have,” said Marc Goodman, head of the Future Crimes Institute and global cyber-crime advisor. While traditional businesses focus on rules they have to follow, criminals look to circumvent them. “For criminals, the sky is the limit and that creates the opportunity to think much, much bigger.”
  3. Joaquin Guzman, the head of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, for instance, slipped out of his prison cell through a tiny hole in his shower that led to a mile-long tunnel fitted with lights and ventilation. Making a break for it required creative thinking, long-term planning and perseverance – essential skills similar to those needed to achieve success in big business.
  4. While Devin Liddell, who heads brand strategy for Seattle-based design consultancy, Teague, condemns the violence and other illegal activities he became curious as to how criminal groups endure. Some cartels stay in business despite multiple efforts by law enforcement on both sides of the US border and millions of dollars from international agencies to shut them down. Liddell genuinely believes there’s a lesson in longevity here. One strategy he underlined was how the bad guys respond to change. To bypass the border between Mexico and the US, for example, the Sinaloa cartel went to great lengths. It built a vast underground tunnel, hired family members as border agents and even used a catapult to circumvent a high-tech fence.
  5. By contrast, many legitimate businesses fail because they hesitate to adapt quickly to changing market winds. One high-profile example is movie and game rental company Blockbuster, which didn’t keep up with the market and lost business to mail-order video rentals and streaming technologies. The brand has all but faded from view. Liddell argues the difference between the two groups is that criminal organisations often have improvisation encoded into their daily behaviour, while larger companies think of innovation as a set process. “This is a leadership challenge,” said Liddell. “How well companies innovate and organise is a reflection of leadership.”
  6. Cash-strapped start-ups also use unorthodox strategies to problem-solve and build their businesses up from scratch. This creativity and innovation is often borne out of necessity, such as tight budgets. Both criminals and start-up founders “question authority, act outside the system and see new and clever ways of doing things,” said Goodman. “Either they become Elon Musk or El Chapo.” And, some entrepreneurs aren’t even afraid to operate in legal grey areas in their effort to disrupt the marketplace. The co-founders of the music streaming service Napster, for example, knowingly broke music copyright rules with their first online file-sharing service, but their technology paved the way for legal innovation as regulators caught up.
  7. Goodman and others believe thinking hard about problem-solving before worrying about restrictions could prevent established companies from falling victim to rivals less constrained by tradition. In their book The Misfit Economy, Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips examine how individuals can apply that mindset to become more innovative and entrepreneurial within corporate structures. They studied not just violent criminals like Somali pirates, but others who break the rules to find creative solutions to their business problems, such as people living in the slums of Mumbai or computer hackers. They picked out five common traits among this group: the ability to hustle, pivot, provoke, hack and copycat.
  8. Clay gives a Saudi entrepreneur named Walid Abdul-Wahab as a prime example. Abdul-Wahab worked with Amish farmers to bring camel milk to American consumers even before US regulators approved it. Through perseverance, he eventually found a network of Amish camel milk farmers and started selling the product via social media. Now his company, Desert Farms, sells to giant mainstream retailers like Whole Foods Market. Those on the fringe don’t always have the option of traditional, corporate jobs and that forces them to think more creatively about how to make a living, Clay said. They must develop grit and resilience to last outside the cushy confines of cubicle life. “In many cases, scarcity is the mother of invention,” Clay said.” 
  1. Jailbreak with creative thinking_________
  2. Five common traits among rule-breakers ____
  3. Comparison between criminals and traditional businessmen _____
  4. Can drug baron’s espace teach legitimate corporations____
  5. Great entrepreneur ______
  6. How criminal groups deceive the law _____
  7. The difference between legal and illegal organisations  _______
  8. The similarity between criminals and start-up founders ________

Correct Answers: 

  1. C
  2. G
  3. B
  4. A
  5. H
  6. D
  7. E
  8. F

So, that was all about the IELTS Reading Questions. Hope the blog has covered all your major queries regarding the topic. 


Q1. How many questions are in the IELTS reading?

Ans. The IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions.

Q2. How to score better in IELTS reading? 

Ans. Crack the IELTS reading section by strategically pre-reading the questions, systematically highlighting keywords throughout the passages, and carefully analysing the information presented in the introductions and conclusions.

Q3. Which part of IELTS reading is difficult?

Ans. True/False/Not Given questions are often seen as the most challenging part of the  IELTS reading section. 

Related Reads:

IELTS Reading Tips and Tricks, Strategies, TechniquesIELTS Reading – How to Improve Your Score!
How to Get a High Score in IELTS Academic Reading?Different IELTS Bands: Listening and Reading Score
IELTS Sample Tests: PDF (Download), Exam PatternMistakes to Avoid in the IELTS Reading

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