top of page

Common errors made in IELTS Reading

IELTS Reading test is one of the more manageable modules, but one should not take it lightly.

If you are struggling to score a band seven or higher, you have reached the right place. Academic and General Training students have a different variant of the test paper. It is mainly because they take the test with contrasting intentions.

Tips to do well in IELTS Reading

To illustrate, a person who appears for the Academic test wants to pursue higher studies in a native English speaking country; hence, he might be required to read and understand long research papers, journals.

It is why the IELTS Reading passages for Academic students would be based on environment, technology, science, and so on.

On the other hand, IELTS Reading passages for General Training students are based on history, notices, advertisements, etc.

The people are expected to read memos, respond to them, or notices and ads; therefore, the passages are designed in the same manner. They are shorter in length, and the complexity is less as well.

The Reading test duration is similar for both the test-takers, that is one hour. The student has to complete 40 questions in this stipulated time.

Though it seems easy to answer 40 questions in 60 minutes, let’s not forget reading and understanding around 2500-2700 words.

Hence, accomplishing this humungous task requires learning and implementing strategies to save time and arrive at the correct answer.

  • Always scan the questions first to know what has to be answered.

  • The passages are long; therefore, identifying the keywords and marking them is crucial.

  • Paragraphs should be read one by one and understood. If your comprehension is not strong, you will spend a lot of time in this activity.

  • One will rephrase the questions; the meaning of the sentences has to be well understood, and do not blindly follow the keywords.

  • Some of the questions in the Reading section follow the chronology of the passage like True, False, and Not Given type as well as Completion type of questions. It makes it easier to locate the answers.

Let us talk about the seemingly easy part of the Reading test that is Completion type questions.

Why do I say it is seemingly easy as if the student does not pay attention to the finer details of the passage and the statements; this section can take away all the joy!

Common errors in IELTS Reading

Therefore, we will look at the common errors that the student makes and how to avoid them.

  1. Not adhering to the word count.

  2. Not reading the instructions on the word count thoroughly.

For example,

• Write no more than three words

• Write not more than three words or/ a number

Situation: The answer to be written in the blank is One hundred fifteen

Instruction 1

Incorrect answer: 115

Correct Answer: One hundred fifteen


The former set of instructions reveals that the student can write ONLY in THREE WORDS and not more than that.

It also indicates that the student cannot replace a word with a number like One hundred fifteen to 115 pounds. Hence, the student loses a mark here.

Instruction 2

Correct answer: 115

Correct Answer: One hundred fifteen

Explanation: The latter set of instructions says that the student can write either in THREE WORDS or A NUMBER. Hence, both One hundred fifteen and 115 are correct.

3. Scan the meaning of the questions, mark keywords.

4. Look for synonyms and parallel meanings when looking for answers.

5. However, do not write synonyms for the answers. Write the exact phrase from the passage.

Let us look at an IELTS Reading practice passage.

Sample paragraph

Thai food is internationally famous; whether chilly hot, or comparatively bland, harmony and contrast are the guiding principles behind each dish. The characteristics of Thai food depend on who cooks it and the place where it is cooked. Dishes can be refined and accommodated to suit all tastes. In the beginning, Thai cooking reflected the characteristics of a waterborne lifestyle.

Sample Questions

Choose NOT MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Although the main tenets of every meal are 1 .................... and 2 ...................., the final taste is determined by who cooks it. At first, the ingredients used in Thai cooking were the result of a 3 ....................... way of life.

Did you guess the right answers? Well, here are the correct answers with their explanations.

Let us analyze and decipher the questions. Statement one talks about “tenets,” but what can we relate this to in the passage. That would be ‘guiding principles”.

Once this is comprehended, the answer to questions 1 and 2 is quite simple.

1. Harmony and 2. Contrast

In the second sentence, the keyword to ponder upon is “way of life,” which in the passage is equivalent to “lifestyle.” Hence, my answer lies near to this. We can conclude the response to be “waterborne.”

3. Waterborne

It is just a minuscule representation of questions and how they are framed in IELTS Reading passages.

Whether you are a student of IELTS Academic or IELTS General Reading, practice is a must. You can avail several IELTS practice passages from the top IELTS institute’s website.

If needed, do not hesitate to take a counseling session to recognize your weak areas on work on it. So here is to Happy Reading and stay hooked for more tips coming your way!

About the Author

I am a certified IELTS teaching professional and have vast experience in training IELTS students to crack their test successfully and nurturing the IELTS trainers with their training journeys.

bottom of page