Commonly asked questions
How many sections does the reading test have?
There are three sections in the reading test. Each section consists of a reading passage and 13 or 14 questions. There are 40 questions in total. The whole test lasts an hour and you are advised to spend 20 minutes on each section. Altogether you have to read a maximum of 2750 words.
Is there any difference between the sections?
Section 1 may be a little easier than the other sections and Section 2 may be easier than Section 3.
What is the reading test like?
You will receive an answer sheet, and a reading test booklet with the passages and questions in ti. Each passage will be on a different topic.
Where do I write my answers?
You can write on the question booklet but you must write all your final answers on the reading answer sheet.
What topics will I find in the reading passages?
The topics are of general interest but related to an academic subject. They often deal with global issues, such as the environment, language, conversation, tourism, etc.
Will I be able to understand the passages?
Although the topics may seem unfamiliar to you, none of the passages will contain technical information or specialist vocabulary that is not explained or cannot be understood by an educated reader. Sometimes, however, you will need to ignore unknown words or guess their meaning.
What sort of questions will I get?
There are many different question types in the reading test. Often you have to choose the correct letter or write some words. If you have to write an answer, you will never have to use more than three words and/or a number.
Will I get every question type in the test?
No. Each section of the test usually contains two to four question types, so in one complete reading test you could get a maximum of 12 different question types. (Usually you will get about eight or nine.) Sometimes the same question type occurs in more than one section of the test. Remember, you may get a mix of the reading question types in any section of the test.
What general approach should I take to the reading test?
Do the sections in the order they come. Read the title and sub-heading (if there is one) of each passage and use these to form an idea of what the passage is about. The read quickly through the questions and not what type they are. Read the passage quickly before you start doing the questions to see how the topic is developed and note the main ideas. Start with the first set of questions. When you go on to the second set of questions, you may have to go back to the start of the passage to find the answers.
How can I improve my score in the reading test?
You can help improve your score by making sure that you know what each question type tests and by having a general approach for each set of questions. The following passages, divided into three sections, provide you with an Action Plan for each set of questions.
What else can I do to prepare for the reading test?
You should read as widely as you can and practice reading quickly to get the main ideas. You should also familiarize yourself with ideas and vocabulary related to topics of global interests or concerns.
How is the reading test marked?
There is one mark per question and this makes a total of 40 marks. Your mark is converted into a Band Score of between 1 and 9. You can get half bands in the reading test, e.g. 6.5.
Is correct spelling important?
Your spelling must be correct and your handwriting must be clear. The answers must come from the reading passages, and you will lose marks if you copy words incorrectly. You should not use abbreviations unless they are in the passage, and you should check plurals.