General strategy for IELTS Reading

shutterstock_108299510While there are specific tips and strategies in approaching the different types of questions, here is the general approach to the IELTS reading passages.

  • Use your pre-reading skills and orientate yourself to the reading and questions. Preview the passage by reading the title and any subheadings that stand out.  From this, you get a sense of the general topic and the audience the passage is written for.  Now, after this you could try a couple of different approaches.  There is no right way for everyone.
  • Skim over the questions first to get a sense of what you will be reading about. The questions are almost like a quick summary of what you’ll be reading – as they will ask about key points. The questions will help you predict the content and will guide you on what to look for. Please note, some people feel more comfortable skimming over the passage first, then skimming the questions. The main point is to gain an overall sense of the main idea and organization of ideas in the passage to help you answer the questions quickly.
  • Read actively. This means, read with your pen – underline or circle key words, write  short quick notes on the side to help you locate important key points.

There are specific strategies for the different kinds of reading task questions, which I’ll talk about in a later post. But as a general approach to all questions there are 4 things you should do.

1) Make sure you understand the instructions first.

2) Then read the question carefully and underline key words. 

3) These words are your target words for scanning (locating) in the passage.

4) Once you find the key words in the passage,read carefully and in detail around (before and after) the key word to find out the answer


I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

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